Today, refrigerators work for 8-10 years, if you're lucky. How did it happen that our home appliances so much passed in the last few decades? I buy and sell refrigerators and freezers made in the 1950s, perfectly working till now. I met washing machines and drying machines of the 1960s and 1970s, which still worked the same way as the day they were produced. And now household appliances break down and require maintenance after 2-3 years, and in general the new equipment serves a third or a quarter of the period that the technique made decades ago served. It breaks more often and faster than before. It rusts and collapses faster than in the past. Why is this happening, and what is going on? For years I have been tormented by these issues, selling thousands of pieces of equipment, and more recently – and together with sellers of used equipment and repairmen from all over the country. And that's what I found.
Refrigerator Hotpoint of the 1950s, which I bought several years ago. It worked perfectly, and the paint was factory-made. He is almost 60 years old.
1. Insufficient competition
In the world there are only four major manufacturers of household appliances, and before they were more than a dozen. Thanks to the competition between the companies, it turned out that the equipment served decades before it had to be repaired or replaced. Over time, they were all bought by Whirlpool and Electrolux.
Whirlpool (USA) owns and manufactures Admiral, Jenn Air, Magic Chef, Maytag, Amana, Estate, Inglis, KitchenAid, Kirkland, Roper, and A bunch of lesser known brands. Whirlpool – the world's largest manufacturer of household appliances. Whirlpool also produces equipment for other brands such as Ikea, Crosley, Kenmore, etc.
Electrolux (Sweden) produces Electrolux, Frigidaire, Gallery, Gibson, Adora, Americana, Eterna, Hotpoint, Profile, RCA, Tappan, White Westinghouse, and other lesser known brands. Until June 2016 owned GE (now it owns Haier).
Recently LG and Samsung have entered the household appliances industry – these are two other major manufacturers. They sell equipment under their own brand, and both produce small household appliances, such as air conditioners and microwave ovens, for other companies.
Haier (China): GE and Haier
Decrease Competition adversely affects consumers. Manufacturers can easily maintain high prices for machinery and spare parts, and understate standards. Since they own all brands, they can produce several types of poor-quality equipment, and this will not adversely affect the main brand. If any of the subordinate brands starts to take, they can make it disappear and start promoting any other.
Vertical modular washing machine with LED under the timer.
2. More parts are made so that they refuse
The quality, or life time of parts, is gradually decreasing over the last 10-15 years. Example: for top-loading washing machines and dryers, the two most expensive parts of the machines are the motor and the timer. For decades, there have been very few problems with them, but in the last 10 years there has simply been an epidemic of failures of timers and motors in washing machines and tumble dryers – they are denied, and they have to be changed. In the household appliances industry, a rollback occurred. If suddenly a person pays a repairman, and he finds the cause of the breakdown, it turns out that the spare part will cost $ 100, and the entire repair will cost several hundred. When people find out about this, they usually change the car. The faster the part breaks down, the faster the consumer buys new equipment. Motors operate a third or a quarter of the period during which they worked before. Switches are glued together and eventually crack and break (the solution is simple – to strengthen them with a screed, but although this problem has been around 20 years, no one does anything). Sealers of doors of refrigerators are glued, and not screwed with screws, because of what they gradually start to lag behind the doors, curtail and refuse – that, as you guessed, leads to their replacement. All these problems were identified decades ago, and for their present appearance there are absolutely no apologies, unless these companies do it on purpose. It can not be explained in any other way.
And it's not just the parts, but the whole design of the machines. For example, one of the most popular models of washing machines for all time were Whirlpool machines with direct drive. These stiralki were produced just over 30 years. Then a few years ago they replaced the direct drive with a "vertical modular washing machine". New cars can be recognized by LEDs under the timer, as in the photo, and they can often be found at the nearest dump. These are machines with one of the worst designs of all that ever were produced, and you will face serious problems in their work in 1-3 years. They replaced the most reliable car with the most unreliable.
Another example is the Frigidaire dishwasher. In retail, they can be found at $ 300, but they usually break down in 2-3 years. I talked with people repairing household appliances, going to hundreds of houses with broken dishwashers, and they joked that they call this technique "one-time dishwashers". Dishwashers can be found in virtually any home [США] since the 1970s – and how can they be manufactured in 40 years so that they break down after a couple of years of use? This is either incompetence, or, more likely, the planned obsolescence.
3. The topic of manufacturing high-quality equipment is too complicated
Who produces the best styalku? Previously, it was Maytag, then for some reason the quality of their stylals fell, and the best became Whirlpool with vertical loading. Whirlpool has been producing Kenmore stylaks for more than 20 years. Then suddenly Whirlpool stopped producing these amazing machines with direct drive a few years ago. Now LG makes the best machines with top loading. That's strange: those wonderful machines from Whirlpool, released under the brands mentioned above, left a good impression in the minds of consumers, but now they all get a bad reputation, because all new cars get disgusting quality. What was best became the worst, and millions do not know it.
When I watch the actions of large manufacturers of home appliances, I recall the industry of mattresses. Which mattress will be good? How much should it cost? Where to buy it? You probably do not know this, like most people, since there are so many brands and models in the mattress industry that it is difficult to imagine. It seems that they every year come up with a dozen new models of beds, and besides in different stores the same mattresses are sold under different names! This is excellent for manufacturers, as consumers are not able to make them responsible for quality and make up an adequate system of reviews and assessments. And the home appliances industry is not better. Whirlpool makes the same stylalki and sells them under different names, just as other manufacturers do with other household appliances. It seems that manufacturers do not want users to prefer one brand to another, but instead produce a technique that needs to be replaced as soon as possible in order to increase sales.
4. Household appliances are manufactured in such a way as to rust quickly
One of the main differences between modern household appliances and that produced 40 years ago is the color quality. The new technique starts to rust in a year or two, although I've seen stilks and dryers of 40 years ago, which have not yet rusted. How can it be? I determined several main reasons for this.
Rusty cover at the modern washing-machine Whirlpool
A. Change in color technology. For a long time, the covers of the styrene were dipped into the paint, so that each surface, all corners and backstands could receive an adequate amount of paint to prevent rust. It was very effective, often the details did not rust for decades. Now the machine covers paint with spray guns. The problem with this approach is that some parts of the lid can not be painted physically because of corners and bends, so they do not get paint. Can you guess which part of the machine with vertical loading rusts first? Cap! I saw how new lids begin to rust for a year. Over time, rust is spreading, and the look is irritating, and then flakes of rust begin to fall from the lid to the car.
B. The quality and thickness of the paint has changed. Previously, household appliances were painted in several layers, so that the paint would last a long time. The appearance of scratches is inevitable, but when painting in several layers the probability of rust is reduced. Many new machines have very thin painting, the minimum amount that the manufacturer can afford. As a result, household appliances rust all over the surface.
V. The thickness of the metal has changed. Previously, manufacturers used metal much thicker. Structural support for the paint was naturally better, thick metal prevented paint peeling and resisted rust longer. Now the metal is so thin that when it comes into contact with water, it rusts through and through – it's never been heard of before. This can be judged by the difference in weight between old and new machines. Old cars often weigh 10-20 kg more new simply because of the thickness of the metal. This metal rusts and collapses much faster, and dents in it appear easier.
Such household appliances, like this 30-year-old freezer, were smoother, and the metal in it was Thicker
G. The surface of the metal has changed. Almost all cars had flat, smooth surfaces. They were easier to paint and clean, and they did not accumulate so much additional dust and moisture. New machines often have a relief surface – sometimes on the entire surface, sometimes on their sides. This is the worst possible surface – it accumulates dirt and moisture, accelerating rust. I live in Hawaii and you will be awfully surprised how quickly refrigerators with such a relief surface rust here.
When household appliances rust, people change it pretty quickly. Rusted machines are harmful to people and the environment, and one would expect that manufacturers will make cars with paint that does not go off with them for decades. But producers earn only on the sale of new equipment, and by producing fast-rusting machines, they sell more new ones.
What to do with rust? Buy a machine with a flat surface. Clean it so that it does not collect dust and accumulate moisture on the surface. Do not scratch the technique, especially the top of the washers and dryers, placing baskets with linen on them. After the appearance of scratches, the rusting process begins. Use water-repellent coatings, especially if you live in wet areas. After the appearance of rust, you can sand it to the metal with a skin and paint with epoxy paint (I recommend Krylon paint, it only takes 10 minutes to dry).
5. We need to start producing long-playing equipment
What is happening today in the household appliance industry is very funny. Everybody screams about ecology and energy efficiency. But what about the life time of household appliances, after which she ends up in a dump? If the old refrigerator or freezer lived for 40-50 years before the shift, and the new ones live on the strength of 10-15 years, this means that we produce 3-4 times more equipment. According to a very conservative estimate, we throw 2-3 times more equipment than before. How can it be better for the environment in general?
6. What we are doing to change the situation
The situation needs to be changed in two areas: the quality of new equipment and the purchase of second-hand equipment. Ilon Mask would already start working on an improved version of household appliances, powered by batteries and solar energy. But personally you can change the world only slightly; But you have to start with something. We partnered with Bobby Henderson to create the ApplianceSwap project, which describes all the steps of buying used equipment. We help people to look for used equipment near their place of residence and buy it. Also on the site are courses for those who want to organize their business, buying out of order equipment, repairing and selling the restored.
We look forward to the future of the home appliance industry. The situation can change, and it changes. When such new start-ups begin to ask what will be best for the buyer, good things can and will happen.
Have you observed how the quality of household appliances varies during your life?