We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Crap Appliances

19th March 2017

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Now refrigerators last 8–10 years, if you are fortunate. How in the world have our appliances regressed so much in the past few decades?  I’ve bought and sold refrigerators and freezers from the 1950’s that still work perfectly fine. I’ve come across washers and dryers from the 1960’s and 1970’s that were still working like the day they were made. Now, many appliances break and need servicing within 2-3 years and, overall, new appliances last 1/3 to 1/4 as long as appliances built decades ago. They break more frequently, and sooner, than ever before. They rust and deteriorate much quicker than in the past. Why is this happening, and what’s really going on? I’ve been wrestling over these questions for years while selling thousands of appliances, and more recently, working with used appliance sellers and repair techs all across the country. The following is what I’ve discovered.

4 Responses to “Crap Appliances”

  1. Soren Kierkaagard Says:

    My 18 month old Whirlpool electric oven recently started to blister and flake off porcelain chips from the bottom of the interior cooking cavity following a self-clean cycle. My 18 month old Whirlpool microwave apparently is cause of electrical shorts and under recall. My 1 month old Samsung washing machine can self-destruct in the spin cycle I learned. I’m on my 3rd dishwasher and Lord knows how many replacement heating elements across 15 years in this house. Yup… crap appliances.

  2. lowly Says:

    Yeah, well, the good stuff costs more and folks aren’t willing, or able, to pay for quality. They want it all right now, which means something has to give. Cars are going the same way, what with plastic parts that should be metal.

  3. RealRick Says:

    American made appliances (and there are a few) are likely to have paint issues because of EPA’s restrictions on solvent emissions. Same is true of cleaning the steel before painting. Painting over corrosion is only delaying the inevitable.

    Check out water heaters if you want to see how self-destruction can be incorporated into the design. Most are made the same, but the ones with longer warranties have a larger sacrificial anode (piece of magnesium). While they used to last 20 years or more, they now last 6 -8 years and building codes have “adjusted” to require them to be elevated on a pan that can collect leaking water.

    I had an old washing machine that lasted well over 20 years, through 2 apartments and 3 houses. It finally got to a point that lots of little things were breaking and couldn’t be replaced. I researched and bought a new, low water usage, front loader. It lasted about 3 years. I was watching a football game and my wife came in and said that something was wrong with the washer. How do you know something’s wrong?, I asked. “Well, it’s making a funny noise and smoke is coming out of it.” Yes, my wife somehow caused the washing machine to catch on fire.

    Around that same time, I received a notice that my dishwasher (about a year old) was subject to a recall notice. Seems that one of the parts had a tendency to fail and cause the dishwasher to catch on fire.

    Around the time that the original washer gave out, the compressor in my refrigerator gave out. The repairman that I called listened to my description of what it was doing and advised that I buy a new one. “It will cost less than repairing the old one, thanks to all the EPA crap with Freon.” (We did that to fix the Ozone Hole that is still there and now doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Freon.) The new refrigerator seemed to work great until 5 minutes after the warranty expired. A tiny piece of plastic broke off in the door and ruined the ability to send ice cubes down the chute. I called Sears and they explained that you can’t fix or replace that part, you have to replace the whole door which sells for $600 (about 1/2 the cost of the fridge.) I finally got a tech to tell me that it was actually manufactured by Whirlpool and I might get cheaper parts there. It was cheaper, but not by much. I don’t mind reaching in the freezer to get ice cubes; I mind paying for the privilege of getting them through the door, but having that ruined by poor design.

    A friend had a refigerator that leaked out all the Freon and wasn’t worth repairing. He couldn’t dispose of it because it requires a technician’s certification that the Freon is gone ($200 – thanks EPA!). Then a contractor doing some work for him asked if he could have it so that he could fill it with Tannerite and blow it up at his uncle’s farm. A noble and happy ending (for everybody but the EPA and the Brady anti-2A folks).

  4. bluebird of bitterness Says:

    Planned obsolescence is one of my pet peeves. I would gladly pay more for appliances that weren’t forever falling apart and needing replacing, if I only knew where to get them.