The 5 Questions You Should Always Ask Before Buying a Big Appliance

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

No matter what you’re in the market for — a fridge, a range, a dishwasher, or all three — there are five key questions you should ask yourself. Run through this list before you even go to a single store — and answer honestly.

1. What’s my budget?

This seems so obvious, but so many shoppers go into the store with an unclear budget and then get carried away by all the shiny bells and whistles. Before they know it, they’ve overspent on a single appliance and have nothing left for the others.

Figure out how much you’re willing to spend in total. And if you have, say, a dream oven, check to see if that leaves enough money in the budget for anything else you need to buy. If that adorable French range leaves you with -$200 for a fridge, you probably have to reconsider.

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2. What are the features I just can’t live without?

Are you set on a door-in-door refrigerator (the kind that has a mini door that gives you access to the stuff on the actual door)? Do you prefer glass shelves over wire ones? Think about your list of must-haves before you start looking at models. This way, you’ll have a much easier time narrowing stuff down when you start browsing the aisles.

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3. Will it fit in my kitchen?

Appliances always have a way of looking smaller on the showroom floor. They just do; it’s science. Bring a tape measure and measure the appliance, and then go home and do the same for the space you have — all before you place a single order. Be sure to measure with doors open, too. Just because an oven fits in a space, doesn’t mean it will fit when you open the door. Also, make sure to measure any obstacles it will have to go through in order to get to its final home — including doorways and openings between your cabinet and island.

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4. Will my kitchen stuff fit inside it?

Do you feed giant groups of people at once? If you need to fit 16 place settings into the dishwasher, that’s something you need to keep in mind. Do you exclusively use giant stock pots? You’ll need a cooktop with larger burners. Do you have larger-than-usual dinner plates? Bring them to the showroom with you and try them out on the sample units — that’s why they’re there.

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5. Does this finish fit into my lifestyle?

Almost everyone wants stainless steel these days, but the truth is that stainless steel is quick to show fingerprints and smudges. If yours is a house with little hands or you’re just not willing to put in the effort to keep the surfaces clean, you might want to consider a different material.

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