This post is about your everyday household major appliances. What you bought way back when that worked fine for years (and years) vs what you were forced to replace it with when “ol’ trusty” finally gave up the ghost. Unfortunately, my wonderful wife and I had to go through this very same thing, replacing 2 major appliances and 1 could-be-considered a major appliance and all within a 2 year span of time.
The washing machine
Okay, once upon a time…
There was this washing machine, a top loader Kenmore, bought new sometime around 25 years ago. It worked wonderfully, never once failing to do the job right up until last year when it simply refused to do anything at all. Just died all at once. Alright, inconvenient but not unexpected. After all, 25 years of good steady service out of a washing machine is more than acceptable.
So we wandered up to our local Sears outlet and ended up buying a fancy front loading machine with all the bells and whistles to replace “ol’ reliable to the tune of around $700 marked down from $900 or so (what a bargain). Prices on washing machines have sure gone up. Still, it had an excellent rating and all that.
But it will probably only last 5 years.
That’s what the tech told us when it was being installed. “Yeah, don’t expect the electronics in this thing to last more than 5 years”, he said. “These are what you call throw away items”.
Ah, great. We just spent $700, marked down from $900, on a “throw away item” that will typically only last 5 years.
Right. On then.
The hot water heater
Once upon a time…
There was this power vented, gas fired, hot water heater (the kind where the exhaust can’t be piped into a chimney so it requires a blower and it’s own exhaust pipe to the outside) that was lurking in the corner of the utility room of our house when we bought it. I don’t know how old this thing was but the tech we had in to replace the pilot mechanism one year asked us where we got the museum piece from. Apparently this particular hot water heater was built back around 100 years ago? Well, at least 30.
I tried to drain the sludge off the bottom of it a few months ago and when nothing came out, not even water, I decided to have it replaced there and then before the bottom gave way entirely.
In comes the new power vented gas fired hot water heater with a price tag of $1700 (installed) instead of the usual $700 (installed) for the non-power vented type and the old one was carted off while I wept silently cuddling my checkbook to my chest. But before the “installation expert” left, who had basically stood around criticizing the two techs that were actually installing the thing, I asked him how long these new fangled, electronicized, computerized water heaters lasted these days. His reply?
“Well, don’t expect the electronics to last more than 5 years”, he said. At least he didn’t say it was a throw away item?
Once upon a time…again…
So maybe a microwave doesn’t qualify as a major appliance in this day and age but considering the microwave we recently replaced was built sometime around 1978 (Amana Radar Range), it most definitely qualified as “major” back then. Hence the inclusion in this post. It was also huge-ish and it had to be replaced with one that was just as huge-ish.
And just for the record, the old Amana had given good reliable service for 38 years before it went up to the great radar range in the sky.
So again we meandered up to our local Sears outlet…*
*Look, we live in a little town in Vermont near the Canadian border, which has the all-out audacity to call itself a city, that has anything you’ll ever need as long as it’s groceries, over priced cars and trucks, farming equipment and accessories and little else. All priced at what the market will bear–which is as much as they can get away with. Except our little Sears outlet. Now where was I?
…in hopes of finding another huge-ish microwave (and we tend to use every inch of that hugeness) with a price tag that wouldn’t force us to limit the groceries we needed to buy that week. In short, we found one with the same huge-ish dimensions as our antique had priced around $250. And this time we could damn well install it ourselves.
But while our usual Sears rep showed us the various microwaves available and the pros and cons of each, he also included what seems to be the standard disclaimer that comes with any modern consumer type appliance that could possibly contain a microchip. When asked what the approximate life span of these new microwaves were he responded:
“Well, these are basically throw away items these days so I wouldn’t expect them to last more than 5 years.”
So now we’ve had to replace just shy $3000 worth of appliances that, according to those that sell and/or install them, will only last 5 years before we have to either fix or replace them. Really?
I started thinking that the old USA had become nothing but a “throw-away society” quite a few years back but I never thought it would go this far or become this expensive. What’s really bothering me now is that my low-mileage new-ish car which replaced my old high-mileage one has several on-board computers and electronic gadgets installed in it including electronically controlled steering, brakes and and accelerator.
And it’s already 2 years old! That only leaves 3 years left before everything craps out. At least that’s according to what I’ve been recently told about anything that contains any sort of electronics.
So can anyone tell me how long a horse lasts?