As Consumer Reports likes to say, do you fix it or do you nix it? There are times when repairing an older, worn-out item may be more beneficial than replacing it. Repairing something that is nearing the end of or at the end of its usefulness not only helps to save you money, but can also benefit the environment by reducing manufacturing and waste. Think of it as saving green by thinking green.
So what items should you repair and when?
The Run Down
- Think out of the “box store”. You may be able to fix that broken or worn down item instead of buying a new one.
- If you do buy a new item, make sure you get the best quality you can afford. High quality goods last longer.
- Consider old school solutions, like a shoe cobbler, a tailor, or even a jeweler. Jewelers not only sell but also repair.
- There are a wide variety of do-it-yourself (DIY) magazines and programs, even YouTube videos to help guide you in repairs.
- Always check your warranty. That broken item may still be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty or by your credit card.
Electronics and Appliances
It might seem like common sense, but appliances like gas cook tops and built-in refrigerators, and electronics such as digital camcorders and home-theater systems can be the most expensive items to fix given parts and labor as well as the number of service calls. Items like clothes dryers, electric cook tops, and digital cameras are shown to have the highest success rates when it comes to service repairs.
Try to buy high quality shoes when possible. Online sites have made it easy to find good deals on well-made shoes. The better the workmanship, the longer your shoes will last. If your shoes are in need of replacement, look for a neighborhood shoe cobbler. They are still around and are able to replace worn soles, fix broken zippers, and giving your shoes a professional polishing. Their services usually come in at a cost that is much, much lower than replacing your older footwear.
Jewelry and Accessories
Your local cobbler can also repair items such as leather belts and purses. You can also repair and update your accessories yourself with a change in the belt buckle or purse strap or even your watchband. If you have older jewelry or jewelry in need of repair, jewelers can fix broken clasps, refit rings, and restring necklaces or bracelets. The cost of repairs can be much less than replacing your old jewelry.
Not everyone knows how to sew. If you do, you can handle your own alterations and repair loose or missing buttons, even ripped seams, holes, and zippers. If you are among those who haven’t picked up a needle and thread since home economics class in high school, there is always the tailor. If you don’t know where to find a tailor, odds are your local dry cleaner has one working on the premises.
There are so many books, magazines, and television programs available on DIY projects it’s worth thinking about taking on a repair project instead of buying new furniture. If your favorite set of chairs or sofa is looking worn and in need of repair, but has a strong frame and is in good shape, recovering these items can save you money. You can find instructional videos on sites like YouTube and a multitude of shows on channels such as HGTV and the DIY Network.
The rule of thumb for Consumer Reports is that unless you’ve bought a pricey, high-end model, it might not pay to professionally repair many out-of-warranty products that are more than three years old. However, it can pay to contact the manufacturer while the product is under warranty. You may be entitled to free repairs. Before you invest in a repair job or in replacing something, call the manufacturer to see if you’re still covered under the warranty and to ask about their repair services.