Consumer Reports: 10-year track record for appliances

There was a rehab of our Harvard Square condo about 10 years ago. I was up there recently to teach a class at MIT and can give the following report on appliance durability.

The LG refrigerator was plugged in 10 years and has performed flawlessly, including the ice maker(!). That’s 24/7 operation for 10 years. Go Korea! (#Truth from the NYT: “LG refrigerators seem to make the most owners the happiest”)

With only light usage (apartment vacant much of the time and many restaurants nearby), the KitchenAid range has gotten stuck on (burning gas) twice and the control panel developed a buzzing sound. See KitchenAid tries to burn our house down a second time and High-end KitchenAid range with burner stuck on.

With only light usage, the top-of-the-line KitchenAid dishwasher failed completely once (needed a new circulation pump) and then failed almost completely more recently (would not dry; control panel flaky and often locked itself). In its favor, the machine was very quiet. It was just recently replaced by a $1300 Bosch with “CrystalDry” technology that is purportedly amazing, but in fact leaves massive amounts of water on top of coffee mugs. (Maskachusetts law prevents retailers from swapping dishwashers without a licensed plumber, so it isn’t easy/simple like in some other states.) It was challenging to find the desired Bosch dishwasher in stock, so I guess 1300 Bidies is below the market-clearing price (see Is inflation already at 15-30 percent if we hold delivery time constant? from June 2021). The previous Bosch required 7 service visits to work at all, so I guess I should be doubly grateful that this new one seems to work, albeit not nearly as effectively as a Whirlpool that I put in back in 1996. The default cycle time is 2 hours and 39 minutes. Maybe they will soon need a “days” field for the timer?

The plumber who came to deal with the dishwasher was also tasked with restoring flow through a shower valve and a kitchen sink. Cambridge water is full of sediment and minerals that clog up plumbing fixtures. Ten years was long enough to disable the shower (no hot water; new Hans Grohe temperature control valve required; thanks to Hans Grohe for keeping parts available a decade later!) and reduce flow in the kitchen to less than what a bathroom sink had.

Two of the Levolor custom cellular cordless blinds (over $100 each) failed such that they won’t pull down all the way. The 10-year warranty is worthless in this situation because Levolor demanded that the old blinds be sent back and then they will rehab them and return them after 6 weeks. That’s a long time to go in a bedroom with the street lights pouring in!

The Schlage electronic locks are still working perfectly, though it was impossible to buy a new 9V lithium battery as I had wanted/intended to.

I can see why Floridians tend to reject any house older than 20 years and strongly prefer a brand new house. Nothing lasts and it is tiresome to be an amateur property manager. As I dealt with all of the issues above, the words of my friend in Houston rang in my ears: “I won’t go anywhere north of Washington, D.C. because everything is dilapidated. In New England they call it ‘charm’.”

Meanwhile, back in Florida, the Bertazzoni in-wall microwave wall suffered a disabling failure when a clip holding a browning coil to the oven roof broke. Cost of a replacement, including shipping: $40. Cost of a new standalone microwave from Walmart: $55, That’s luxury!

13 thoughts on “Consumer Reports: 10-year track record for appliances

  1. I have owned stand-alone houses and attached condos, I now rent. Even though I am not perfectly happy with my landlord’s maintenance standards, I’ll take calling and bugging my landlord to fix something over fixing things myself over all other options.

    • This might be my retirement plan in a couple of short years. Cash out on my FL single-family home and rent! Tomorrow, I’m not looking forward to spending much of my Saturday digging up and repairing a broken irrigation line.

  2. The lion kingdom’s 700W microwave was $30, 23 years ago. 700W is pretty useless unless you’re trying to eat less. Wouldn’t have bothered working 23 years ago if I knew what the income was going to be worth.

  3. When I moved in 2018 from an apartment to a house, it had no appliances; well, it did have the built-in oven range — my daughter tells me in Germany you sometimes need to provide those too! Found a beautiful Maytag Neptune pair on CraigsList, but the seller would not respond. Then found an old washer & electric dryer pair for $200. Bought those, and as I was picking them up, he says “do you need a refrigerator?”, which he then sold me for $50.I guess I dare not ever replace them now (and they all date to the early 1990s, so they will likely last forever?)!

    • In 2010, when I moved into my newly-purchased 55-year old single-family FL home, purchased as a foreclosure, it had been stripped of appliances. On day one, I bought a used 10+ year-old Kenmore refrigerator for $100 from a guy who had it in his garage for beer. It’s well over 20 years old, looks good, and is and ice cold.

  4. See also: plumbing fixtures (faucets, cartridges, valves, toilet parts, valves, etc). After their useful life expires, everything starts to leak, and finding replacement parts for old no-name fixtures is near impossible.

  5. (To the chagrin of my wife, instead of buying a new one) I repaired old Whirlpool fridge by replacing old condensers, now it happily chags along again, who knows for how many years, fingers crossed.

    Hans Grohe are greedy lazy germans. One of the valves in the panel shower failed (constant leak), similar panels are not anymore. Single replacement valve is $400 (!), there are 4 to replace. Instead of paying $1600 for parts, I replaced it with Chinese panel shower from Amazon for $500. Sure not as fancy, but at least trivial to repair or replace completely. This price-gouging is worse than BMW!

    Meanwhile in other news:

    “Spring leaf out conditions have arrived in southern states. Spring is up to three weeks earlier than average (the period of 1991-2020) in parts of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. Austin, TX is 9 days early, Jackson, MS is 12 days early, and Charleston, SC is 10 days early. In central *Florida*, spring is 1-2 days later than average.”

    I see republicans are successful at fighting climate change on the local level.😂😂😂

  6. Your mistake is buying high end products. The units without all the bells and whistles last longer because they don’t have all the bells and whistles. Your dishes aren’t getting any cleaner in something that cost three times as much than a lower end model. Don’t fall for the marketing.

    • @Jim: True enough, but tougher to do in Cambridge where Philip also tries to get AirBnB renters. Residents and visitors to Cambridge expect a certain level of “discernment” and “good taste” and “interior amenities that comport with their own view of themselves” and “we are obviously very smart renters with impeccable taste” in their surroundings.

      So even though the older appliances are probably a better deal in a lot of cases, they would identify Philip too closely as a Deplorable who should be microwaving with a generator and some ribs, BBQ chicken, corn on the cob and hot dogs at the Mud Bog Races. His potential guests would have flashbacks to old episodes of “Cops” and “Jerry Springer” and say: “This guy lives in Florida full-time with the brain-damaged fascists. Forget it, he’s probably got a Confederate Flag in the upstairs closet. Let’s go.” Lol.

    • Jim: We did not buy the Bertazzoni oven. It came with the house. I don’t think a Bosch is high-end. They’re made in the U.S., after all. The more expensive Bosch units are substantially quieter and that’s important in a small apartment (or in our house, where the kitchen is open to several other rooms and, also, given that it takes more than 2 hours for a cycle to complete). I think with the $1000+ Bosch units you also get a stainless interior that will last longer than the plastic interiors on some cheaper dishwashers. And remember that 1000 Bidies is the new $500!

  7. Thanks for the insights. I think buying high end products make sense if they last longer. There is the cost for the product but also the cost for the installation, bringing electricity/plumbing up to the new code, etc. As noted, “Maskachusetts law prevents retailers from swapping dishwashers without a licensed plumber”. It would be nice to know which dishwasher lasts the longest, the new Bosch, the original Whirlpool, or the fancy KitchenAid. I guess the LG fridge did not convince you to go all out on LG.

    • Anon: Good point. It will cost $450-600 to swap a dishwasher in Maskachusetts (installation plus sales tax). So longevity is valuable. Consumer Reports: “New dishwashers from brands like Bosch, Miele, and Thermador (which is manufactured by the same parent company as Bosch) are the least likely to develop problems or break within the first five years, earning top scores for predicted reliability. Bosch and Miele also received our top rating for owner satisfaction, which is based on how likely a member would recommend the dishwasher to family and friends. Thermador received our second-highest rating for owner satisfaction.

      Three more dishwasher brands earned the second-highest score for predicted reliability. They are Ikea, Whirlpool, and Hotpoint. Ikea also earns the second-highest score for owner satisfaction, while Whirlpool earned lesser scores.”

      (Note that most Ikea appliances are made by Whirlpool)

      CR says that Electrolux, Samsung, and Viking are bad. LG is mediocre for reliability.

      Miele (German brains; German fingers) and Bosch (German brains; American fingers) are the highest in “Owner Satisfaction”.

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