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What to Do When a Major Appliance Breaks

You've set the oven to preheat in anticipation of a relaxing evening of noshing on a frozen pizza while watching a movie, when, after 20 minutes, your oven is still stone cold. Yup, I've been there, too. When my oven of four years decided to no longer be an oven a few weeks ago, panic set in at the thought of fixing or replacing the beast. After taking a few deep breaths, and sipping a glass of wine, I did a little research and got some answers. Here's what to take into consideration when one of your major appliances breaks.

Check your warranty 

Dig out your owner's manual from the dark depths of your junk drawer, and check to see if the appliance is under warranty. You can also call the store where the item was purchased to see if there is a manufacturer's warranty that covers basic repairs. This was the second breakdown for my range, with the first being under warranty, so I was fully aware I'd be paying out of pocket for this fix.

Make the call 

If you're a renter, make the call to your landlord. Explain the situation and inquire about a time frame for fixing the appliance. Do not attempt to troubleshoot or fix an appliance as a renter, as your landlord may not replace an item if it looks like it has been damaged. Each state has regulations set in place for landlords and renters, such as these from New York.

Read on for more.

Do the research 

If you own the appliance, hit the computer and see if there are any suggestions for an easy DIY fix. YouTube is a homeowner's dream, filled with helpful how-to videos that can save you money. But, if you're feeling unsure about tackling a broken appliance, research local businesses and check rates for sending a service assistant. Always get a quote before starting any work. I discovered that the cost to fix my issue would probably cost more than the range itself, sealing its fate.

Be prepared 

There may not be a quick fix in your future, which means preparing for dealing with not having that appliance for several days. If your fridge is on the fritz, remove food and store in a large cooler — or invite over all your friends for a feast. Without a range, be prepared to do some serious cooking in your microwave or toaster oven. Instead of splurging on takeout or unhealthy drive-through, get creative with fresh salads topped with steamed meats from the microwave.

Repair, replace, donate?

Consumer Reports found that some products are harder to repair than others, such as gas ranges or built-in fridges. When making the decision, look into tax breaks if appliances are donated (even for scrap), or replacing it with a floor model or used appliance for less of an investment.

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