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To fix or not to fix

Compressors are costly and in less expensive units, it's usually on par to buy a new fridge than fix it, says Chalmers.

When it comes to stoves, carefully cleaning elements is part of good maintenance. Experts agree that if you want your oven to perform at maximum output, invest in quality replacement parts -- don't expect the same heat from a generic hardware store burner as you'd get from the manufacturer's version, which you'll find at a specialty appliance shop.

Another kitchen favourite, and perennial problem, is the dishwasher. A new pump and motor -- often the sticking points with a fickle dishwasher -- will cost about $200. You can buy a new dishwasher for $300, but if yours is a relatively new $800 model, you're better off investing in the repair.

The trouble with the pump and motor is get they get clogged with food. While some owner's manuals will say there's no need to rinse dishes, our experts disagree: "It's a dishwasher, not a garbage compactor," says Pambis.

When the freezer goes on the blink, in most cases it's better to buy a new one, says Chalmers.

"Compressor, relay or thermostat -- that's what usually goes wrong with a freezer," seconds Pambis, adding a new compressor will run about $300, while new freezers go for as little as $200.

Washers and dryers
You can spend anywhere from $500 for a washer and dryer to thousands of dollars. This first step dictates whether or not a repair or replacement is in order. Quality, name-brand front-loading machines are almost always worth fixing.

The best way to avoid mishaps is to ensure that dryers have proper venting and opt for aluminum, not plastic, hoses for the washer.

Extended warranties
Some consumers try to cover their backs by investing in extended warranty plans, but experts call it money down the drain. "I always say don't: it's a waste," says Nahroo, who points out that while parts are under warranty, customers are usually expected to pay for the service call and billable hours. Expect to pay fees of $50 to $120 for a service call, plus the same for every hour of work.

Pambis agrees "It's not worth it." He points out that when buying four appliances, an extended warranty can cost $1,000 or more -- money better saved and spent on repairs or invested upfront in higher-quality appliances.

The same points on brand names and warrantees aren't necessarily true for another major household item -- the television.

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-- Posted: June 29, 2007
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