'Tis The Kitchen Appliance Season

James Jackson

As the New Year approaches, many resolutions made in the heady moments of the calendar change will likely go quickly by the wayside.

But even if you don't lose weight, exercise more, or give up smoking, there is one resolution that can’t be ignored for long – updating your kitchen and appliances. That’s because there’s a definite shelf life to these crucial tools of living, and waiting until they formally break down is never a good option.

The life expectancy of the appliances in your kitchen isn’t that long, and when they actually fail depends on usage patterns. But generally, your kitchen tools are likely to need replacement in about ten years to 15 years.

Experts estimate that gas ranges generally are the Methuselahs of kitchen appliances, lasting 15 years, with dryers and refrigerators typically going down at about 13 years. Dishwashers and microwaves, which are both used almost daily, last a mere 9 years. Yes, there are exceptions to those rules, but in an era of planned obsolescence, the parameters are fairly solid for appliance expirations.

In many cases, appliances are replaced before they wear out, because style changes, updated technology and family needs dictate a replacement is in order. However, sometimes the unexpected happens, and you need to get something new immediately.

TIMING AND QUESTIONS TO PONDER

The early part of each year is a time when older appliance inventory that lingered on the market may be available at a bargain price. Like car dealers, appliance vendors need to make room for newer models. The downside to shopping at this point is that the selection may be limited. Keep in mind that the end of each month is an excellent time to bargain hunt, as sales people on quotas may be looking to round out their portfolio with a final commission.

Before you go appliance shopping, there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself. Are you planning a major kitchen remodel, or just tweaking? Will the size appliance you bring in work with what you already have on hand? And should you consider replacing everything at once, presuming you have the budget and the patience?

TAKE IT FROM AN EXPERT

Frank Rojas is the Vice President of Ultra Bathroom and Kitchen, a California company that caters to the needs of trade professionals, including architects, builders, contractors, designers and developers. As such, they are veterans at anticipating what needs to be done to make kitchen remodels and appliance installations go smoothly.

Rojas advises creating a wish list as the first step in the process, “regardless if you plan on being in the home for the foreseeable future or are intending to sell the home. Since many people may not know what they want or even what is available, now is the right time to visit a showroom."

If you intend to stay in your home, take a long-term outlook, Rojas advises.

“A remodel done properly won't need to be done again for quite some time,” he says. “In certain cases an appliance may have been replaced or upgraded shortly before a remodel for one reason or another, in those cases that appliance may not need to be replaced. That being said, if the appliance does not work well with the new design of the kitchen, I would usually recommend swapping it out.”

If you only have a budget for one appliance, the refrigerator is the unit that should be targeted, he says. “If you can only change one appliance a good place to start would be refrigeration. It will have a huge impact on the look of a kitchen because refrigerators, in many cases, are the largest appliance in the kitchen. In addition, most newer models tend to be much more energy efficient that older models, preserve food for longer, and have improved interior layouts to maximize storage.”

Rojas emphasizes what he calls “thoughtful design” for anyone contemplating changing kitchens and/or appliances.

“When it comes to appliances, and the layout of the kitchen, thoughtful design is crucial. Keep an open mind, and know that just because someone you know either did or didn't like a product doesn't mean you will feel the same way they do. What works for someone else may not work for you, and that is why, at Ultra Bathroom and Kitchen, we take the time to ask qualifying questions to reveal what your specific needs are before making recommendations.”

The kitchen has always been the gathering place in most homes, and lately has morphed into becoming the main entertainment center. Now more than ever, the kitchen is truly the heart of the home. So it’s time to start getting heart healthy and planning your upgrades.

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