Is it better to repair or replace an old washing machine

Sheena's washing machine, 22 years not out (yet)!
Picture: Sheena Grant

Sheena's washing machine, 22 years not out (yet)! Picture: Sheena Grant - Credit: Archant

Thrifty living, with Sheena Grant

I’ve written fondly of my washing machine before. It’s been loyal and dependable in a world that is often neither of those things. Over 22 years it has been there through the purchase of my first home, three house moves, marriage and the birth of my son.

But nothing lasts forever and although my washing machine is still doing what it was made to do very well - and probably for far longer than most other washing machines ever manage - I sense all is not well. When the drum turns there is a grinding, metal-on-metal kind of noise that becomes almost deafening as the wash cycle enters its spin crescendo.

Needless to say, I don’t know a lot about washing machine repairs - mine has never needed one - but I suspect it has something to do with the bearings. It’s left me with a dilemma: is it better for my purse and the planet to repair or replace?

According to consumer organisation Which? most people go for repair, if an appliance is relatively new. But if age is a factor, there’s more to consider.

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“One way of looking at the problem,” says Which?, would be to work out the current value of your appliance. You can do this by dividing its original cost by how long you expect it to last. This will tell you how much value it loses a year – and lets you work out how much it may be worth now. If a repair costs more than your appliance is currently worth, it may be better to replace it.”

Using this theory, Which? says the average age at which a washing machine costs more to repair than it’s worth is eight. On those grounds, it seems repair is not viable for me. But environmentally, it’s always got to be better, although Suffolk County Council says appliances taken to its household waste centres are sent for recycling. Many retailers also offer what they call a ‘recycling’ service.

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I thought I’d see what my local repair shop had to say. New bearings cost £100-plus but getting parts would be hard and they wouldn’t repair a machine so old. And it wasn’t even the oldest they’d heard of: 28 was their record. But it seems I inadvertently bought well. The Hotpoint WM series were “pretty good”. Mine still is, of course... for now.

Is your washing machine older? Email

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