One of the downsides of home ownership is, when something breaks, it’s on you to get it fixed. In a rental, you call the landlord when the fridge stops working or there is a leak in the roof, but when you own your home, it’s on your shoulders.
So when your appliance eventually breaks or your AC won’t turn on one morning, you have a decision to make. Do you get it repaired or replaced?
Research, Investigate, and Plan
Depending on how severe and important the broken appliance or part of the home that's impacted will determine how long you have to do some research into your options. Something important to daily life like a fridge, running water, roof, or heat/cooling in severe weather months needd to be handled immediately. But if the issue is something you can live without for a while, like an oven or a television, you can do research.
The first thing you do is try and figure out what the problem is. You can do this by troubleshooting the issue, looking online to see if other people had the same problem you are having, and maybe consult with an expert. Depending on the situation, many contractors and repairmen might offer free or cheap consultations to help you determine what the problem is.
There are a few questions you need to answer about your situation before making a decision:
- Is your item still under a warranty?
- How old is the thing that is broken?
- What is the average lifespan of the broken item?
- How much would it cost to get it repaired versus replaced?
- If a new part is needed to fix it, is that part easily available?
- Can you fix it yourself or do you need an expert?
- What is the value of the broken item when it works correctly?
If you have the answers to these questions, you are ready to make a plan to get it repaired or replaced.
Check Your Warranties
Warranties are often overlooked in the panic of trying to get something fixed, but they can save you a lot of money if something breaks unexpectedly. Many expensive appliances and home items like roofs or fences come with two kinds of warranties: a full warranty and a limited warranty.
A full warranty basically covers if something goes wrong with the item, they will fix or replace it to the point of good as new. You buy a new fridge and within six months breaks, a full warranty will probably replace the fridge or hire someone to repair to work properly. Typically, full warranties have a short time frame, usually for a year after purchase. Sometimes, you can purchase longer full warranties through the manufacturer or the store you purchased the item from to have longer coverage.
A limited warranty is a bit more difficult to understand. Typically, the limited warranty will only cover specific parts, defects or conditions for your appliances or parts of your home. For example, your fridge might have a limited warranty on a piece in your ice maker that is prone to breaking, but won’t cover it if the fridge stops working entirely.
Check to see if you have any warranties that could help cover costs or fix the problem without you needing to do the work yourself.
How Much is it Worth Versus How Much it Costs to Fix
You know how if the cost of fixing your car after an accident is more than the value of the car, the insurance “totals” it and only pays the value of the car, not how much it costs to fix the damages? You should see if fixing your broken appliance “totals” it by costing more than it is worth.
There isn’t a set value for many older appliances, but the general formula is to divide the original purchase price by the average lifespan of the appliance in years and then multiply the result with the number of years remaining till your appliance would reach that average lifespan. For example, if you have a toaster that cost $100 and is expected to last 10 years, it has a value of $10 per year. Then, it breaks after two years, meaning your toaster has about $80 of value left. If the cost to fix the toaster is over the $80, it would “total” the toaster, meaning you should just buy a new one rather than repair it.
How Much Longer Does the Repair Give You?
Everything breaks eventually. The roof on your house to your electric toothbrush will all break sometime. A question to consider is: how much a repair on your broken item will extend its life?
For example, a roof on a house should be replaced every 15-20 years, depending on the roofing materials used. If you are in year 19 and your roof starts to leak or you see some loose shingles, it would make more sense in the long term to just replace the whole roof rather than fix a singular problem, just to have to replace it in a year anyways.
When considering a repair, you should weigh if it’s going to extend your item’s lifetime considerably, or at least help it reach its expected lifetime. If it won’t, replacement is the option to pursue.
Can’t Afford to Repair or Replace
When it rains, it pours, and it seems like appliances break and the home starts to fall apart at the worst possible time. For the more costly parts of home maintenance and expensive appliances, you might not be able to pay for it out of pocket. It might seem like going with a cheaper repair or patch job is the only option because you can’t pay to replace, even when it’s the smarter choice.
But as a homeowner, you do have options for help when it comes to those larger costs. The first is to figure out a payment plan with whoever is doing the repairs or replacements. Many contractors and stores offer ways to purchase on credit and do monthly payments. You could also take out a small personal loan, like Pioneer’s Signature Loan, to pay for them, which may have lower interest rates than the contractor or store have.
If you have a lot of upcoming repairs and replacements coming up, you could also utilize your home’s equity to cover the costs. Pioneer’s Home Equity Line of Credit lets you make any purchases necessary during a set draw period, with you only paying the interest during this time, and then after the draw period, has you paying it off monthly later. This can give you the flexibility and time you need to pay for things you need done now. It’s great if you have a lot of renovations or repairs you need to make, but just can’t make the money work right now.
Get All You Can With Smaller Expenses
Not every replacement or repair is huge, but can still drain your wallet. If you want a little bit of extra flexibility and get an extra perk, use a credit card with a point system to pay for it. This should be used when you know you can pay it off within a month or so and don’t want to get into a pay monthly loan plan.
This is great for buying cheaper appliances or smaller repairs on the home, like a new air fryer or some repairs on your sprinkler system.
The bonus is that you can also rack up points for your credit card to redeem later. For example, if you use Pioneer’s Visa® Credit Card, you get 1 point per $1 spent that you can redeem later for gift cards, hotel stays and more!
Learn more about Pioneer's Visa Credit Card