Should You Buy a Used Appliance? Weigh the Risks and Rewards

by Michael Franco
A group of white appliances including two refrigerators and an oven range and a washing machine are displayed against a gray background

Major household appliances are expensive — especially if you want a high-quality product that will stand the test of time. If you’re a bargain hunter (and, let’s face it, who isn’t?), you may have considered purchasing a used appliance. Sure, used appliances are more affordable than brand-new ones, but are they safe purchases? It depends.

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If you’re in the market for a new appliance, you might be pleased to find out that buying used can save you money. However, it’s not without its risks. Luckily, there are used appliance retailers devoted to providing quality products at a good price point.

Looking to score a sweet deal on an appliance? Read on to learn all you need to know about buying pre-owned appliances.

Benefits of Buying Used Appliances

1. The Savings

It’s a fact: You can get a great deal on a top-of-the-line appliance by buying used, provided you know where to look, and you can stay flexible and patient. Usually, it's cheaper to replace a broken appliance with a used one, considering the cost of the new appliance plus delivery and installation.

When looking for a used appliance, avoid yard sales and websites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Instead, head to a used appliance store or even a local appliance repair shop. Typically, buying appliances from a store instead of an individual will help keep you protected in the event the appliance doesn’t work as advertised. For example, ReStore offers a 30-day store-credit guarantee that the appliance will work. Plus, all ReStore proceeds go toward preserving low-income housing.

If the ease of buying a Craigslist appliance is too great to pass up, take a precautionary approach and ask the seller lots of questions. Make sure you ask the seller how old the appliance is. Ask them for the model number so you can verify its age online. Then, ask the seller why they’re selling it. If the seller is moving, or selling the appliance because it doesn’t match their home's decor, it might indicate that the appliance is still in good shape. Depending on the answer to these questions, you may or may not find yourself a great deal on a quality appliance.

2. The Term ‘Used’ Is Relative

If you’re put off by the word “used,” you may be surprised to find out that the term covers a wide range of items. For example, a “used” electric dryer might be labeled as such because it was a floor model at a big box store. It might also be applied to a returned appliance. Maybe the appliance was too big once it was delivered, so it was sent back — technically “used,” but basically new. Of course, a used item could also be one that was actually used in someone’s home for a significant amount of time. In this case, you can expect the product to have appropriate wear and tear.

The word “used” can also refer to refurbished appliances as well. Refurbished appliances are used items that might have incurred slight damage and wear and tear at one point. They typically get factory repaired and tested, and they might only have insignificant cosmetic damage left. Buying a refurbished appliance can be a great option if you’re looking for a quality appliance that works great for an affordable price. That said, if you decide to buy a refurbished appliance, make sure you look out for any warranty that might accompany the appliance. Those that come with a good warranty offer some well-deserved peace of mind.

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3. Environmental Impact

To put it simply, buying a used appliance is good for the environment. Sure, it might be true that newer appliances are generally more energy-efficient than older models, but there’s still significant merit in purchasing used. According to a UN-sponsored environmental report, about 54 million metric tons of electronic waste was generated in 2020 alone. That’s roughly $57 billion (CAD 71.5 billion) in appliances.

In a perfect world, large appliances like refrigerators, washers and ovens would be used for as long as possible. That’s where buying used comes in. By purchasing a refurbished washer or dryer, you can help keep this electronic waste out of landfills — and save some money in the process. Talk about a win-win situation!

What Appliances Should You Not Buy Used?

Once you start shopping at used appliance stores, you’ll notice the selection is pretty specific. You’ll typically see appliances like used refrigerators, washers, dryers and ranges.

You probably won’t see microwaves or dishwashers very much. This is because they just don’t typically last that long. Dishwashers and microwaves typically last under 10 years, and when they break, the cost to repair these items is usually more than the appliance itself. In other words, stay away from purchasing a used microwave or dishwasher.

Use Common Sense

Buying a used appliance can save you a lot of money, provided you use a little common sense. Remember to do your research and ask questions. If you know where to look and what to look for, you’ll be able to do wonders for your home and your wallet.