They Just Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To…

by Susan

Is it just me, or do our household appliances not last as long as our parents’ appliances did?

Janice’s fridge just broke down and had to be replaced a couple weeks ago and my clothes washing machine just dropped dead at the ripe age of 4 and forced us to replace it. Now both Janice’s new (and very expensive) fridge is already causing her grief and our brand new (and also pricey) washing machine sounds like it’s got a built in set of rocks being tossed about during each cycle. We called the store where we got it and fortunately they’re going to replace it on Monday with a new one.

But what is the deal? I remember my parents having the same washer, dryer and fridge basically our entire childhood. Sure the repair man had to come by every once in a while to fix something, but he didn’t come and pronounce the machine dead.

How about you? Have your major appliances lasted long lifetimes? Did the fridges, washing machines and dishwashers of your childhood seem to live longer than yours do now?



Email Author    |    Website About Susan

Susan Carraretto and her identical twin, Janice Croze, created 5 Minutes for Mom in 2006. Susan loves all social media, but her top addiction these days is Pinterest. She recently published a children's book titled "The Pest Detectives" which you can download now in digital format for free.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah S. August 19, 2007 at 9:49 pm

No doubt, they don’t make ‘em like they used to! I, too, remember my mom replacing her washing machine after 27 years. And I currently have a 17 year old washing machine — but I’m pretty sure it’s at maximum life span. Here’e hoping the replacement lasts more than 4 years!

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2 Barb August 19, 2007 at 9:57 pm

Sounds like my house!Last year I had to replace a fridge which we had at least 6 years,compressor or something died, a microwave that lasted 6 months and an air conditioner, in the middle of summer.I just wonder what will give up the ghost next!

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3 Demeter August 19, 2007 at 10:39 pm

My 3 1/2 year old water heater broke this last week and I can’t get it fixed until the 30th. One guy said it was the thermocouple, but he didn’t have Kenmore parts. Another guy said it was the gas valve and it would be $396. I said for $396 I can wait two weeks and get it fixed under warranty. Thank goodness it’s summer!

The old water heater that was in before this one was probably 15-20 years old.

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4 Sibyl August 19, 2007 at 10:44 pm

I really feel the same way. I think that the companies have figured out that no matter what it costs people are going to go and purchase things. Appliances now days has so many electronics instead of just mechanical I think that has quite a bit to doing with it. Now one thing we have started doing is getting the extended warranities on our major appliances. Just 2 weeks ago one of my a/cs went out we were fortunate, because they replaced it no charge even instilation because we had purchased it. Same thing with my washing machine. This is the first one I have had with push buttons and electronics, it has had major problems that have been fixed but there again I was fortunate to get the ext warranity. I think the bottom line is—less than excellent quailty in the making, and electronics. They seem to go out faster than the old fashioned mechanical workings.

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5 Sue August 19, 2007 at 10:44 pm

Yeah, we now live in a society of people wanting the newest, biggests, prettiest equipment/appliances and we want these things NOW — so, companies have had to learn how to make these things “look” or “play” the part of what a consumer wants and make it the cheapest quality — make it fast, since our society wants everything RIGHT NOW – it costs so much more these days for companies to advertise and be on the cutting edge — so, they cut back in the quality of the material/equipment to make money.

It used to be you found the local appliance store by word-of-mouth…now, everyone uses the internet and small mom & pop stores that still sell quality, are being run out of business…..it’s sad.

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6 Emily August 19, 2007 at 11:38 pm

We actually are experiencing some difficulties as well
our whirlpool washer konked out on us the other day … thinking its the sensor.
handy man should swing by my house as well
i do agree it is sad
hoep you get it fixed
emily

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7 Kara August 19, 2007 at 11:44 pm

I agree, things this day are just not of the same quality as they used to be. For example, we have a microwave that is probably 25 years old, it runs great still. My parents always buy the cheap WalMart microwave that I see everyone has, and they have to replace it every year!

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8 Biddy August 19, 2007 at 11:53 pm

they do it on purpose…so you keep buying them! just like new cars – they are made to last only a short time, so you’ll go buy a new one…it’s ridiculous!

my grandmother just got rid of her 1950′s fridge!

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9 Teresa August 20, 2007 at 12:02 am

I 100% agree! My husband is a builder and built our home a year ago. So our state of the art, Swedish dishwasher should be good to go, right?!?! Well, I am currently washing dishes by hand waiting for the repair man to come on Tuesday and my parents appliances are the same ones that we had when I was growing up and they are running fine. They have to be at least 15 – 20 years old! Crazy times!

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10 Deb August 20, 2007 at 12:05 am

My mom’s still using the same washing machine and vacuum cleaner that she had the entire time I was growing up! I’ve been through at least 3 vacuums myself – I should see if I can borrow hers… ;)

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11 Karen August 20, 2007 at 2:19 am

Remember the old Maytag commercials where the guy was just sitting around waiting for a service call? You’re so right – they just don’t make them like they used to – everything is made with “cheaper” parts because our society is into “best price” and not “best value”.

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12 Susan August 20, 2007 at 5:31 am

The dishwasher that came with our house died within a year. The previous owners had bought it rather recently. In fact it had JUST passed it’s 2 year warranty, so it was either pay hundreds to fix it or get a new one. Crazy!

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13 Melissa August 20, 2007 at 7:01 am

Definitely. My parents and in-laws have appliances that have lasted years and years. But in the past eight years we’ve had to buy two dishwashers and two washing machines. So far it’s only one refrigerator, one dryer, one microwave, and one range. Not that they don’t all have bad days sometimes.

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14 Laura Peric August 20, 2007 at 7:48 am

I remember moving into our first detached house as a kid and all the appliances in the kitchen were the same shade of 70′s avacado green. I was 4 or 5 when we moved in and 14 when we left. All of those appliances were still just humming right along when we left.

My husband and I have been living in our apartment for less than 4 years and just yesterday our dryer gave up full stop!! It had been making some pretty loud squeaking sounds for awhile and then when my husband went to start it up the knob would not budge. Even after getting pliers it still would not move. Arghhhh…

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15 Mikki August 20, 2007 at 8:59 am

We moved into our new home almost 2 years ago. I LOVE my kitchen and we decided to upgrade a little on the appliances. Two days into our new fridge they were replacing it because the condenser was bad. A week later they were replacing the ice cream shelf in it because it blocked the ice machine.

The appliance guy that came to fix them said he has been working on these things for years and they just keep getting made more and more cheaper. Even the one’s you spend more money on!!

It’s all crazy.

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16 Anna August 20, 2007 at 9:09 am

No. They really don’t make em like they used to. My father ALWAYS buys his appliances from thrift stores or from garage sales because even though they are as old as dirt, they last just as long if not longer than a brand new one. (and he gets his for $25 or less)

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17 liz- monkeykisses August 20, 2007 at 9:29 am

No they dont make them like they used to.. happens to us all the time. Our central air conditioning unit is on the fritz. Doesnt have too much longer. Good thing It started to cool down!

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18 Debi August 20, 2007 at 9:36 am

You hit the nail right on the head! My mom and I were just talking about this. Her spare fridge (which is in their basement, but used on a daily basis) is probably over 50 years old. It was used when they got it 45 years ago!

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19 T with Honey August 20, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Yes, they did last longer before. There are quite a few reasons for this. First, there are some short cuts being taken to mass produce our appliances. Next, they can’t use some of the same materials they used to. For example, soldering to put metal or electronic components is often less sturdy because they had to remove toxins like lead that made the connections harder, more durable.

But most of the problem is due to mass production. It is hard to do rigorous quality assurance on such a large scale and you have to cut costs to achieve high enough profits to keep your shareholders happy. *sigh*

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20 Shera August 20, 2007 at 1:20 pm

I soooo agree with you! It is unbelievable to me that we pay such extravagant prices for new appliances only to have them last 2 to 5 years! I have been very disappointed the last few years, especially with washers and dryers! I know I do a lot more laundry than most people, but I still believe that appliances should last at least 10 years. Just my 2 cents LOL!

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21 Heidi August 20, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Since December, we have replaced our refrigerator AND our clothes dryer! It wasn’t a shame for either of them~ they were both ancient~ we got our dryer for $25 when we were first married, from a couple who had bought it in the 70′s and were remodeling. I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. Frig~ we paid $75 for and were, at least, the third owners; so it, too, had been around for awhile.
I do NOT expect our new appliances to last nearly as long as those two did. Oh, and did I mention the spare frig in our basement is one of those really old ones with the little freezer door inside the main door? That thing is STILL going strong! LOL

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22 Sarah August 20, 2007 at 7:22 pm

I was just having this same conversation on Sat. I truly believe that almost everything was built better. I was talking specifically about electronics. My brother’s 1984 clock radio still works.

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23 Char August 20, 2007 at 8:46 pm

We bought a fridge 4 years ago for our new house…..as the one that came with it was old and not working. It wasn’t the fanciest, most expensive one….but it was what I wanted in an appliance, and it kept my food frozen. Just a month ago the freezer stopped working and my ice cream was melting. Apparently I had a mother board gone bad…..who knew freezers had mother boards!

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24 Celeste August 21, 2007 at 3:24 pm

It is the plastic. My sister has my mama’s old fridge in her garage and it still works. It is around 40 years old. My 6 year old side by side had to be replaced this year. My 5 year old washer had to be replaced last year. I go thru a coffee maker every year. Stupid.

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25 Amy August 22, 2007 at 2:00 pm

My grandmother had to rent out her home so that she could receive 24/7 care. I decided to rent it from her and I have lived there now for 2 years with all her old appliances. They are not pretty will all the miles they have on them but I don’t have any problems with them either. Old yet dependable.

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26 Mark May 1, 2009 at 11:23 pm

I agree they don’t last as long, but my question is why? I mean, take appliances made in 1985 for example. Why did the manufacturer build them with such quality knowing that they would last years and years? Did they not realize even then that they would not be getting that customer back probably for a long time? I don’t know what’s different. There was competition back then, as their is now, advertising back then, as there is now. I just don’t get it. We are so technologically advanced now yet we can’t make a freaking appliance last? Why did they not purposely produce appliances that would have a shorter lifespan then as opposed to now? I’ve lived in my new home now 4.5 years. ALL my whirlpool appliances that came with the house are still working. I had a small problem with the ice maker and the washer. My heat pump went out twice due to the refrigerant coil rubbing against something when the outside unit came on and off and the vibration caused the coolant to leak out, then the capacitor went out. This was in one summer.

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