What’s Your Oldest Appliance?

old whirlpool dryer

In 2010, my wife and I moved into a home built in the early 80's. One of the first things we did was replace most of the kitchen appliances that had been there since the original owner moved in.

While I hate to admit it, this was more of an aesthetic choice than a functional one. Most of the appliances worked, but were fairly ugly looking and not “up-to-date”. Though I will say, all of the appliances we purchased were somewhat “scratch-n-dents”. 

Eight years later, all of our appliances have now been replaced due to age, or having broken down. Our water heater lasted longer than it should have and was eventually replaced a few years back.

The only appliance that remains is this trooper:

old whirlpool dryer
Our 30+ year-old dryer.

It's a Whirlpool dryer, model #LG5801XSN0. I couldn't find a manufacture date on er, but pretty sure it's from the mid-80's.

And, she's still going strong. Well, sorta. It could certainly use a new belt and tune-up but it's gone through a LOT of loads in those years.

Why do the older appliances seem to last longer?

Seeing our good ‘ol faithful dryer got me to thinking about how a lot of these older appliances seem to last longer than the newer ones. I'm not sure you've found this to be the case, but we've personally experienced some major manufacturing flaws in a couple of our more “modern” appliances over the 8 years of living in our current home.

One of these breakdowns actually caused enough damage that we ended up tearing up our kitchen and replacing the flooring (the dishwasher had a slow leak that caused the flooring to bubble-up).

There's got to be a reason why they're not lasting, right?

One article I came across on Medium provides some reasons why appliances aren't like they used to be:

  • There are fewer appliance makers than years ago. Many of the major appliance manufacturers have bought up the competition. Less competition = bad deal for customers.
  • Parts are designed to fail. How is it that we haven't progressed in the manufacturing of long-lasting, durable appliances, like we have in almost every other human endeavor? Perhaps this is on purpose.

In our throw-away culture, we don't expect major purchases to last more than 5-10 years (and sometimes less).

We've almost been educated to accept it.

what is your oldest appliance

What can be done?

Of course there are ways we can prolong the life of today's appliances.

  • Refrigerators. I've written before about extending the life of refrigerators. One of the things you can do is clean the coils / vents regularly. Also, keep it full, within reason. And, don't block the vents. This will help aid proper air flow within the fridge.
  • Dishwashers. After our mishap, my wife wanted to help others prevent what happened to us and wrote about ways you can lengthen its life. One of the things is the opposite of your refrigerator: don't jam it full. Another: clean your dishes before putting them in.
  • Dryers. The more obvious one: clean the lint out after every load.

I'd be interested to know what the oldest appliance you own (and how you've managed to keep ‘er working).

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  1. I have that same old whirlpool dryer and it has been doing great for over 30 years! I’ve only had to replace the idler and belt. It is the best! New appliances are designed to fail. The industry isn’t even shy about it. It’s called designed obsolescence, look it up.

  2. Our oldest appliance? Our 1982 Jenn Air kitchen range that was given to us for free when a friend remodeled. It looks great, operates great and outlasted friend’s new range by a decade. Wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  3. I wish I would have kept my dryer. It was a 70’s green dryer given to me by my in-laws, in the early 90’s, so probably about 20-25 years old when I first got it. I sprayed it white with appliance paint after a few years. I don’t think I ever had to repair anything. I bought a new one in 2009 because I could afford it and the door broke and I had to prop it shut. I wish I wouldn’t have gotten rid of it. I have already had to repair my newer one.

  4. I have a houseful of 12 year old appliances. So i have been think replacing them as soon as possible. But some appliances are still work properly so i want to decided replace these items which is not work properly. If you had more insight i will greatly appreciate it.

  5. I have a houseful of 15 year old appliances, from when the former owner remodeled. I’ve had repairs on the fridge, stove, dishwasher, and dryer. And without exception, the repair person has said, “keep this as long as you can… they don’t make ’em like this any more.” Not sure how we became such a throwaway culture.

    • Always interesting hearing that from a repair person.

  6. Ha ha! We have the SAME dryer! It is also our oldest appliance. One of the things we inherited from a grandmother. It still works, so I’d hate to get rid of it. But probably not as energy efficient as newer models…

    • Oh, funny! Well, they made a good one there. You’re probably right on the efficiency though. That’s the one thing the newer appliances have on the older appliances. Could spend more operating them.

  7. I had a Maytag washer and I was happy with it, when it stopped working (lasted 10 years) I did not like many of the models today. Too much plastic, but luckily I stepped into a mom and pop store that sells a “Speed Queen”, this is a wonderful top loading (commercial grade) washer. I was so happy when I found this one. If you can, look into this model, they do make them to last = :)

    • Never heard of the Speed Queen, Sue. Had to look it up. They’re actually selling ’em on Amazon.

    • Maytag washer/dryer bought in 1989 replaced 2014 in a house where the average water heater lasts 2 years due to 1550ppm road deicing agents! I miss those machines! dryer still worked fine but had to get the set

  8. Really washers and dryers, I have always bought the lowest-of-the-line (Sears) without all the “fancy” choices. Most people use only the basic choices anyway, and there is less to go wrong. Therefore, in my adult life, I have probably had no more than 3 each (maybe 2, not sure). I’m 81.

    • Smart thinking J – going with the basics.

  9. We bought our house brand new in 2005, and it still has our original appliances. So we are going to have to save up for replacing them soon!

    • Hitting that 10+ year mark!

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