By Andrea Whitmer of So Over Debt
I may be alone on this one, but I seem to have a knack for breaking household appliances. It’s not that I don’t know how to use them; I’m always careful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I even read the manuals for things as simple as crock pots, just to be sure I’m not doing something horribly wrong.
Despite my efforts, even the most sturdy equipment fails under my touch; it’s like my skin contains a poison fatal only to refrigerators, dishwashers, and garbage disposals. Seriously. In eleven years as an adult, I have managed to destroy 4 washing machines, 5 or 6 hair dryers, two dishwashers, two microwaves, and too many printers to count.
I figure there are two ways I can deal with my inability to keep appliances alive. I could shun anything electronic and/or containing a motor, opting to live a minimalist lifestyle and eat only raw vegetables. Or I could just accept my fate as Andrea, Destroyer of Mechanical Things, and develop a plan to deal with the inevitable.
How to Deal with (and Prepare for) Broken Appliances:
Know the average life cycle of your equipment. Did you know that a refrigerator usually only lasts 10 years or so? Washers and dryers are only slightly better at around 13 years. Tell that to my mother, who kept her last set for over 20 years before passing them on to me. I’ve had them for 2 years without breaking them. (*crosses fingers*)
Knowing how long your appliances should last will help you (1) budget for new ones, (2) determine whether repairs are worth the cost, and (3) applaud when you exceed the usual limits.
Read the manual. Even if it should be a no-brainer, you’d be surprised how much the instructions can vary from one model to another. For example, my old oven had a self-cleaning feature that was apparently only functional in very particular circumstances. My current oven will switch to the self-cleaning option with a simple bump of the dial. I was so used to coddling the old one to get it to work, I once left the new one in self-cleaning mode for 2 days before I noticed.
Keep all paperwork, especially warranty information. One of the washers I owned was purchased at a discount because of a huge scratch across the back. When I used it the first time, it shook so hard it literally cracked my laminate flooring. Naturally I called the store where I bought it, only to be told that the “scratch and dent” models were sold as-is. Except for the fact that my paperwork clearly indicated a 90-day warranty. Not only did I get a brand new washer (not the scratch and dent version), but I also got an apology phone call from the owner.
Save money! Even if you aren’t as hard on your appliances as I am, they aren’t going to live forever. You need to be prepared for the day when you push a button or flip a switch and nothing happens. Instead of waiting for disaster to strike, possibly leaving you to depend on financing a replacement, start saving money NOW in an appliance replacement fund. Household equipment doesn’t wait for a convenient moment to fail - it only happens when you desperately need said equipment, preferably late the night before an important event.
Are you hard on your appliances? What plans have you made for moving on once you’ve sent them to the appliance graveyard?