Calgary's Mrs. Fixit on when to repair or replace your broken appliances

Old dishwasher giving you a headache? Calgary’s appliance queen has some advice on when it’s best to repair or replace a household essential.

‘The sad thing is it’s become a disposable world,’ says Patricia Warner

Patricia Warner is the owner of Bowest Appliances in Calgary.

Dented dishwashers, scratched stoves and blemished fridges — the castoffs of the appliance world are welcome at Patricia Warner's two Calgary stores.

Her showrooms are filled with hundreds of refurbished items.

"Could you imagine every day this amount of appliances going into the city landfills? That's why I do what I do," said the owner of Bowest Appliances.

"The sad thing is it's become a disposable world."

  • When your appliances break do you try to get them repaired or just buy new? Leave your comments below.

While Warner does have a few new items on the floor, she's in the business of repairing troublesome appliances. But she doesn't always recommend that homeowners do the same. 

They don't make 'em like they used to

Appliances used to last 40 years, said Warner. Now you'll be lucky if they survive a decade.

"Many products nowadays just aren't built to last and often, it's easier to just throw them out and buy a new one."

So, if you have a stove that's older than 10 years old it might not be worth the trouble to fix it. But if it's just a few years old and no longer under warranty, the problem could be worth investigating.

"In most cases it might be several hundred dollars cheaper to repair," said Warner.

Bowest Appliances refurbishes and sells castoff stoves, microwaves and fridges. (Falice Chin/CBC)

The problem with replacement parts

Of course, repairing an appliance is not an option if the part that you need in order to fix it is no longer produced by a manufacturer.

Warner said this is often the case, which is why she mines good working parts from non-repairable appliances and hoards them in her back room.

The problem with technology

"Everything used to be mechanical … now everything has electronic boards. Your refrigeration can have up to three, four, five boards."

"Electronics are usually the first thing to go on appliance," Warner told the Calgary Eyeopener.

If that happens, she said you're probably better off buying a new one because electronic parts can be very expensive to repair and replace.

Patricia Warner stands in her backroom, which is stocked with discontinued replacement parts for appliances. (Falice Chin/BC)

Maintenance is key

Appliances will last longer if you fix small issues early in the game.

"It can be as simple as replacing a hinge spring for a dishwasher, the part can cost you $12," Warner said.

But if you wait, it could cause more damage and end up being more costly later on.

Also, maintenance is key. To keep your dishwasher and washing machine clear of calcium deposits, Warner recommends running two cups of vinegar through a cycle, once a month.

"Depending on how the consumer treats and uses their appliance, they can make it last for quite a long time."

With files from the CBC's Falice Chin and the Calgary Eyeopener


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