How to buy and Appliance . . . No Sweat

AARRRGH! For many, this is the first thought that enters their mind, when needing to buy a major kitchen or laundry appliance. I can’t help you feel better about having to do it, but maybe this will help relieve some of the stress.

There are two major reasons to buy new appliances: 1) The old one broke down and is not reasonably fixable, or 2) You are remodeling, and want to update your appliances. You should follow the same path, but speed it up a bit when you need a washer, dryer, or refrigerator due to an unrepairable (or uneconomical) repair.

A little soap box: I would generally want you to take a little time and “kick the tires” of some appliances before you buy. This usually means going to a brick “n mortar store, where they have them displayed. If you are planning to buy online, that’s fine. I only ask that you not take advantage of the brick ‘n mortar store (usually a local), as they are spending a good deal of money to be able to have those displays. If you’re an online buyer (usually because it’s cheaper), make your decision based, well…online, through reviews and such. In most cases you will be able to return the online appliance if you aren’t happy with it after the purchase. In a nutshell, this is a main reason to buy from local dealers. Yep, it might cost a few dollars more, but you will get personal service and advice from someone who usually knows the products. Also, if you have a problem, you can walk in and talk to a person about getting the issue resolved. Another huge benefit to buying from local business is local economics. If you buy local, the money is spent locally, recycled through the business to employees, services, and suppliers, who are many times also local. It just makes sense. Buying online sends the money to wherever the business is headquartered.

OK, so if your washer, dryer or refrigerator breaks down, you are often in a hurry to replace it. If you were happy with your old one, and it lasted 8 to 15 years, you can’t go too wrong just buying the same brand and type. If you want something else, I would recommend buying the brands you remember having been around for a long time (most of them having originated in the USA).

1) What Brands? If you’re in a “big city”, you should be able to get service on most any brand, however, if you live in a smaller town, city, or rural area, be a little cautious of some of the boutique and foreign brands. You may not have a local appliance repair company to call, if you happen to have a problem with your new appliance. If your choice falls into this category, go online and search “brand name, repairs, your city”, and see that at least two companies, locally, service that brand. I don’t mind saying that I am partial to Whirlpool, Kitchenaid, Jennair, Maytag, Amana and Roper. I have to say that ALL brands seem to have more problems, in general, than the “good ‘ol stuff” before the turn of the century, so take any reviews with a grain of salt. The majority of people posting are the small percentage who had an issue, so reviews can be a bit skewed.

2) Appliance location in the house. Here are some of the sizing/location issues to consider:
Ovens: Is the cabinet opening (not the appliance width) the same as needed for the new appliance. Cabinet alterations can be expensive. It might be better to spend a little more for an oven that fits the cabinet hole (same for cooktops).

Washers/Dryers: The newer front load models are substantially deeper and taller than top load washers (and the dryer size will match). Make sure you have the extra depth (and possibly width) in your laundry room, with particular attention to doors that swing open into or out of, the laundry room.

Refrigerators: Measure everything! When you measure across a space, pay attention to baseboards or counter tops that will decrease the space size, and make sure you have enough height below a cabinet, for your new refrigerator. They are all different, and a half inch off can get ugly. Stoves/Ranges: Most are 30″ wide, so matching your opening size will be fairly easy.

Dishwashers are almost all 24″ wide, so that is not usually a problem. What can be a problem is the height of the opening. Most manufacturers require 34″ from the top of the finished floor to the underside of the counter (top of dishwasher cabinet opening). Be particularly careful about this measurement if you have wood or tile floors, which can reduce your opening by 1 to 1 1/2 inches. If you do have inadequate opening height, there are ADA compliant dishwashers that can be installed in much shorter openings.

I hope this information is helpful. If you live in San Luis Obispo County, and you need an appliance repair, please contact us at

Rich Johnson 5/26/18