Buy New or Repair

My beautiful Whirlpool refrigerator with french doors broke while I was in San Diego. I came home to a whole lot of spoiled and moldy food in both the freezer and the fridge. My home smelled worse than a garbage dump and inside the refrigerator smelled like there were animals rotting in there.  In a moment of panic and disgust, I threw out everything in the refrigerator, whether it’s opened or sealed in it’s original package. I just wanted everything out of the refrigerator and out of my home. I think I threw away about $200 – $250 worth of food. In hindsight I probably could have saved a few things that were still in it’s original package.

My neighbors bought their refrigerator around the same time I did, and when theirs broke last year, the husband just went out and bought a new one without hesitation. My fridge costed about $2K brand new 8 years ago, and I was not about to let it go so easily. If it was the me 8 years ago, I would have replaced it in a heartbeat. The now frugal me want to try to fix it by myself. I spent a  day watching tons of YouTube videos hoping I could fix it myself. One of the most frequent problems of a warm refrigerator is because of dusty condenser coils. I went to Home Depot and bought coil brushes and cleaned every single coil. When that didn’t work, I emailed my friends to recommend a repairman. The responses were either “I haven’t had to fix my refrigerator” or “don’t bother fixing it, just buy a new one”. I was surprised that so many of my friends just replaced their refrigerators without trying to fix them.

My refrigerator was so stinky that I was really tempted to go buy a new one after those email responses, but the frugal side of me won’t allow it. To replace the exact same model would cost another $2k. That is a big chunk of money. I did some comparison shopping and I was willing to settle for a cheaper side by side refrigerator, if I couldn’t find the same model.

Luckily, I was able to find a decent repairman on Yelp. After 10 hours of waiting and him making two trips to my home, my refrigerator was fixed in less than 15 mins for $270. It was just a faulty starting switch relay. If the fix is small then it makes perfect sense to fix. If in the case where the compressor dies, it would cost close to $500 to fix it. I would probably opt for buying a brand new one.

Since it was a small switch that costed $85, I chose to fix it. That fix saved me close to a thousand dollars and I didn’t have to break my piggy bank. Even though it was an inconvenience and costed me $500-$600 total for this incident, I am glad it didn’t take a bigger hit on my budget and my emergency fun. From this incident, my neighbors and friends said they will try to fix broken refrigerators instead of buying brand new ones next time. I am glad this incident has created a teaching moment.


Lady Butterfly



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