Repair or replace?
By: Smile Elite
November 01, 2022

In an economy where we are all trying to save a dollar wherever possible, the question to repair or replace when something breaks down and doesn’t operate as it should is a big one. So, is it better to repair, or replace, the offending item?

Generally, repairs cost less than replacements.

A simple rule is when the cost of repair is less than the value of the item, you should repair it. Whether you DIY or hire a professional never spend more than 50 percent of the cost of a new product on repairing an old one. If the item has broken down previously, replacement may be a wise choice, as constant repair costs can quickly outweigh replacement costs. Likewise, if an appliance is more than 50% through its lifespan and if the cost of one repair is more than 50% of the cost of buying new, you should replace rather than repair. So do your homework, get a repair estimate, and work out what’s best for you.

Many things can be repaired and made to look like new again, replacement may not always be needed. However, if you have repaired these items a number of times before, keep in mind you always have the call out fees and material costs for repair, unless you are a handy DIY, so replacement may become a better option.

The following is a list of commonly replaced objects that can often be repaired:

Rotten windows

Many areas of rot can be cut out of the timber, rebuilt, then sealed/painted. Opting to repair these can save hundreds, if not thousands, in replacement costs. If the damage is too severe then replacement should be the choice.

Cupboard doors and hinges

Really need to be assessed case-by-case.

Shower areas

Shower area damage can vary. From replacing old grout, to having to rebuild the entire shower. Shower leaks that can be repaired with a bit of silicone are limited. Vanity units with swelling from water are better replaced. Likewise, replacement tiling will also require waterproofing re- done. Leaking showers also indicate issues with waterproofing. Fixing these is costly and time consuming, but don’t hold off till it’s too late.   


Depending on door type, a few good repairs can do the trick before a replacement becomes necessary. Replacement becomes necessary when the door as an entire unit is beyond repair. 

External Leaks

If you have become the silicone king, this can worsen leaks, as water can find its way through gaps in the layers. Additional layers won’t solve the problem.


When old appliances don’t work, it’s easier to make the decision to replace versus repair, sometimes you are faced with a repair-or-replace decision when a newer appliance breaks down unexpectedly. Budget wise, you may have to look to repair, but sometimes replacing with a new, energy-efficient model may be the better option.

Guidelines to help you resolve the repair-or-replace dilemma.

Is it broken?

Don’t panic and make sure: 

  • It is plugged in
  • Check circuit breakers haven’t tripped
  • Look for uneven flooring, as this can stop some appliances from turning on
  • Check lint and dust for clogging

Check to see if the manufacturer’s warranty still applies. Warranties often cover the cost of repairs from one to three years after purchase date. If current, schedule a service 

The older your appliance, the wiser it is to replace rather than repair.

Typical lifespans of major appliances.

ApplianceAverage Lifespan (Years)
Exhaust Fan10
Range, electric13-15
Range, gas15-17
Range/oven hood14

As appliances age, repairs will steadily increase. If an appliance is more than 50% through its lifespan and if the cost of one repair is more than 50% of the cost of buying new, replace rather than repair.

Most companies have a “call-out charge” for repair estimates so factor that in, but some waive that charge if they do the repair. 


If your handy, read your user manual (found online) to troubleshoot, plus YouTube tutorials to do simple appliance repairs yourself. But be careful.

The downside: 

  • Electrical replacement parts are often non-refundable
  • Large appliances are heavy/bulky with potential for injury if not handled correctly. 
  • Some appliance warranties are voided when you DIY
  • Always unplug the machine to avoid electrocution

Eight items generally cheaper to replace than repair. Do your homework and assess the costs.

 1. Most appliances

 2. Car parts

 3. TVs

 4. Coffee machines

 5. Cordless vacuum cleaners

 6. Clothing

 7. Hot water heaters

 8. Gaming consoles

Mobile phones

The most cost-effective choice is often to repair your phone, as the cost of a new phone can be prohibitive. 

14 Signs you need a new phone

  • Battery dies quickly. 
  • Screen isn’t working
  • Mic isn’t working
  • Phone moves slowly
  • Buttons stop working
  • Apps crash or stop working altogether
  • Phone heats up rapidly
  • Phone is damaged


Repair, replace, refund, cancel

  • When a business sells a product or service that doesn’t meet basic rights, known as consumer guarantees, it must offer the consumer a solution.
  • Consumers can choose between a refund or replacement when a product has a major problem.
  • Businesses must fix minor problems with products or services by at least giving a free repair.
  • Consumers have a right to alter the agreement with a service provider when a service has a major problem.
  • Businesses must not tell consumers to take the problem to the manufacturer or importer.
  • Businesses have a right to have their costs of providing a solution to a consumer repaid by a manufacturer, where the problem is the manufacturer’s fault.

Saving money is important, but there’s a limit to how many times you can repair a broken item. So, weigh up the costs of consistently repairing the same item, versus replacing it. 

Do your research and make an educated decision.

Acknowledgements: House Logic- Douglas Trattner, Universal Tradesman, Mikey Rox, ACCC