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:
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 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).