Archive for Home Repair/Maintenance

Choosing a Used Appliance — Choose Used First.™ — Thrift & Thrive, Chicago, IL.


Many of you have been following our story on not buying anything new for a year…a story which had several twists and turns throughout 2013, not the least of which was losing our beloved dishwasher. While we took some pretty tough criticism online for considering our broken dishwasher to be a big enough deal to discuss, I can assure you, it only highlights the fact that living entirely on used items (or living without) isn’t really as hard as one would imagine.

I mean, if living without a dishwasher is one of your top 3 worst parts of the year, you had a pretty good year.

IMAG1429Our need to replace the dishwasher stemmed from one particular nuisance, which, as peculiar as it might sound, was not the fact that we cook three meals daily for five people. Actually, after three months of living without the dishwasher, we were able to make quite a list of “pro’s” for continuing to wash by hand. After all, energy consumption was down, and the extra time side by side washing/rinsing/drying led to some pretty great conversations! However, when you own a home and something breaks, there is an inherent desire to want it fixed. Immediately. Even something as insignificant as a dishwasher becomes a thorn in a homeowners pride, and stacks heavily on the burdened shoulders of those who hear the word “weekend” as a synonym of “project.”


The new dishwasher strapped to the back of my trusty steed.

I was leery of purchasing a secondhand dishwasher (though I have successfully purchased several appliances this way in the past) not because of the fact that it was “used,” but more because it is not the easiest thing to test. However, when a friend contacted me after hearing one of my favorite places to thrift home building supplies had a pallet of dishwashers going cheap, I decided it was finally time. Beggars cannot be choosers, and after finding a relatively newer stainless GE Profile at $35 (retails around $500+) I just couldn’t say no. While I was cautiously optimistic about installing it myself, the hardest part of the installation was swapping a new PVC part for the old metal dishwasher tailpiece under the sink, which crumbled under the sheer strength of my hands. The entire project took me less than 2 hours to complete.

So, if you’re in need of replacing a major home appliance, buying used is a great way to be green and stick to a budget. While it took us 3 months to finally decide, our patience paid off. If you don’t know where to begin, I would suggest checking the following sources, in this order:

Rebuilding supply store or local used appliance store in your area. Google it. One exists in your area, I am sure. Chances are they have been in business for a long time, and you can ask around about reputation. The best thing about shopping at a local store for used appliances is that they typically come tested and with a guarantee. If they don’t offer you some type of assurance, I would be cautious and perhaps try another source. In my case, the dishwasher came with a 7 day money-back guarantee. That’s plenty of time for the least handy person to do a swap!

Auction houses, eBay and Estate Sales. Again, places like this have a couple of things going for them. First, they typically test everything that they get, and if they don’t test it, they often offer some type of guarantee. At estate sales, for example, the equipment is typically coming right out of the house, and those appliances generally have some life left in them. All of these sources have reputations on the line, and are typically not looking to profit from fraudulent transactions.

Craigslist or classified ads. While I list this as my last choice, I can honestly say that the only thing that held me back from hooking up with 3 different FREE dishwashers on Craigslist was the timing. Sure, there is a lot of bad press about the horrors of Craigslist transactions, and yes, it is literally impossible to verify the identity or reputation of any character you will deal with. However, I have to say that most people out there are as honest as you or me, and they are generally looking to part with good stuff at a fair price. Again, there are FREE dishwashers out there for the taking. Go get one!


Out with the old…

All in I saved several hundreds of dollars, and my dishwasher looks and runs great. It cost me $40 total, several months of dishpan hands and a Sunday afternoon…but I would say it’s well worth it. I plan on getting about 3-5 years out of this appliance (considering its age and condition) but I wouldn’t be upset at all if it only buys me a year. After all, what can you expect from an appliance that costs less than half the average delivery fee of a brand new one?

...and in with the "NEW!"

…and in with the “NEW!”