When to repair or replace your appliances

When our 17-year-old refrigerator started wheezing, I fully expected we’d need a new one. I was shocked — and frankly a little disappointed — when a repair technician fixed it for less than $200. I had to postpone my dream of a shiny French-door replacement, but our no-frills Frigidaire is still working fine eight years later.

Our experience illustrates that the decision about whether to repair or replace major appliances can be more complex than general guidelines may imply. Getting more useful years out of your existing appliances can save money and keep potentially dangerous components out of landfills, where they may harm the environment. But on the other hand, a replacement could be much more energy efficient, repairs sometimes can be expensive and prices for new appliances have been falling recently.

All this makes the choice of repairing versus replacing a tricky one, says Dan Wroclawski, home and appliances writer for Consumer Reports, a nonprofit member organization that tests consumer products. In my latest for the Washington Post, learn when to repair or replace your appliances.