If your parent or grandparent has ever lamented, “They don’t make them like they used to,” referring to appliances or cars, they’re right. They don’t. While appliances used to last decades, sometimes 50 years or more, today, manufacturers design them to last ten years. Some appliances break down within two to three years.
Business and Design Changes
While in some respects appliances do more now, since many include ice makers and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, in other ways the changes caused items to last less time. According to appliance refurbisher and reseller Ryan Finlay, new appliances break more quickly and more often due to four key business and manufacturing changes:
- a lack of business competition,
- parts designed to fail,
- changes in paint and paint techniques,
- changes in metal thickness.
Lack of Competition
While once many companies made appliances, many of the larger firms bought out the smaller companies. For example, your grandma probably waxed poetic over her Electrolux washing machine or vacuum cleaner. That Swedish firm isn’t the tiny company it once was though. It bought and merged with: the original Electrolux choosing to retain the famous name, Adora, Americana, Frigidaire, Gallery, GE, Gibson, Eterna, Hotpoint, Profile, RCA, Tappan, Westinghouse and White. It now forms the second largest appliance manufacturer.
The US firm, Whirlpool forms the largest appliance manufacturer. It also gobbled up smaller firms and merged them under its name. These include: Admiral, Amana, Crosley, Estate, Ikea, Inglis, Jenn Air, Kenmore, KitchenAid, Kirkland, Magic Chef, Maytag, Roper, Sub Zero and Viking.
Two firms not known for their appliances decided to enter field a few years ago. You may have used a LG or Samsung cell phone or tablet. Now, you can buy their air conditioners or microwaves, too.
That’s it. Four firms actually manufacture the majority of home appliances. Despite the machine saying “Maytag” on the outside, it’s really a “Whirlpool.” Lack of competition between brand proves poor for consumers because it results in a lack of innovation.
Parts Designed to Fail
Design flaws that have been known for twenty years still have not been corrected. With respect to washing machines, timers and motors fail more often. The lid switches get glued together now and break easily, splitting apart.
On refrigerators, the door seals no longer get screwed on, but are now glued. Moisture and glue don’t mix so the seals pull away from the door. The leads to the fridge using more energy to cool until you get it repaired
Changes in Paint and Paint Techniques
Technique means a lot when it comes to painting an appliance. Take washing machine lids, for example. Dipping a lid in paint results in every cranny and crevice receiving paint. That’s how they used to do it, but now, lids get sprayed with paint. That results in missed areas because of the angles of lid. The areas receiving no paint rust more quickly. Some lids rust within the first year of ownership, says Findlay. This results in rust flakes dropping into the wash.
Another issue is too little paint. Older model appliances received multiple coats of paint. Now, only a thin coat gets used. That also causes appliances to rust more quickly.
Changes in Metal Thickness
While today manufacturer’s tout the lighter appliances, that came at a cost. Older appliances used thicker metal. It weighed more. It also withstood rust and dents better. They use a thinner metal now, shaving off 20 to 40 pounds of weight. It also takes on damage much quicker though.
What You Can Do to Make It Last Longer
Don’t despair. You can do a few things to make your new or recently purchased machine last longer. If you need us, we’ll help.
That faulty switch that gets glued together? Just wrap a twist tie around it tightly. It’ll last longer.
Buy smooth-faced appliances when you can. They hold paint better.
Clean your appliances weekly inside and out. Dust on the outside traps moisture onto the surface.
Treat them with a scratch guard product. Try not to scratch them because a scratch tears off the paint. Where there’s no paint, rust can build.
Rust proof them using products like Krylon or Rustoleum’s NeverWet . These add a rust-preventing clear coat to the appliance’s paint job.
Fix a rust spot by sanding it to the bare metal, then repainting it using appliance epoxy. Then treat the entire machine with Krylon or Rustoleum.
Even your grandparents’ appliances broke down eventually. When something does go wrong, call CS Appliance Service for repair help at (781) 953-9600, serving the greater Boston metro. We’ll help you fix it. Visit our Facebook to learn more about our commercial and residential appliance repair services based in Charlestown, MA.