Money Talks News: Why Today's Appliances Suck

"Today's appliances are more electronics than they are appliances. A simple power surge can take out a $2000 refrigerator in an instant."

Michael Muscarella has been fixing appliances for 26 years. He knows first-hand they break more often now than they used to, and he knows why.

"They predominantly have more electronic boards and controls in them, and the boards control every feature of the appliance. And if that board goes out, you lose the appliance."

Of course, this is just one repair guy. But there's plenty of evidence to back up what he's saying.

For example, Consumer Reports surveyed 27,000 consumers a few years ago to determine which appliances break within 3 to 4 years. Their results? More than 1/3 of side by side refrigerators with ice makers break within that time frame. A quarter of front-load washers, and 1 in five dishwashers. These are bad odds.

And I'm living proof. My side-by-side refrigerator here is only 7 years old. I put a $380 repair in it last year and I've put in two ice makers.

And guys like Michael aren't cheap. It can cost a hundred bucks just to have them show up. So what's a consumer to do?

First, do what you can yourself. There are plenty of online sites for advice and parts. That's how I learned to replace my own ice maker.

And know when to let go: Rule of thumb: If the repair costs more than half the replacement cost, throw in the towel and buy a new one.

Bottom line? Today's appliances are way more energy efficient, and they've got a lot more bells and whistles. You just might not want to get too attached to them.

Want more information on how to keep your appliances in good repair? Go to and do a search for "appliances." For Money Talks News, I'm Stacy Johnson.

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