Many people have problem appliances, but this homeowner has had just about everything break recently - his fridge, then his dishwasher and cooktop, and then finally his microwave. "You get gun shy around your own appliances." Side-by-side refrigerators with icemakers are among the most problem-prone appliances, according to a Consumer Reports survey of its subscribers. 31 percent needed repairs by the time they were four years old. Celia Lehrman "Bottom-freezer refrigerators with icemakers needed repairs almost as often - 28 percent of them." Other products that tend to break within four years? Dishwashers - 20 percent. Self-propelled gas mowers - 23 percent. Lawn tractors - 28 percent. So when is a repair worth it? Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman Consumer Reports "Our general advice for newer appliances and electronics is to fix them rather than ditch them if the cost of the repair is less than half the cost of replacement." Consumer Reports did find some products are getting more reliable. LCD televisions now have a seven percent repair rate, compared to 15 percent in 2010. Even laptops are improving. It's 24 percent now. It was 36 percent.
Celia Lehrman "It's annoying when something breaks. And more than half the people in our survey opted to not go for repairs." Still, if it makes sense to fix it, Consumer Reports says go with an independent shop. Those surveyed found independents better and cheaper than authorized repair centers.

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