Coin-operated or not coin-operated? Repair or replace?

When I moved into the duplex, there was an old coin-operated washing machine in the basement laundry room. It worked fine, except for that it left the clothes really, really wet. But only sometimes. I had bigger initial issues to deal with, and my first group of tenants brought most of their laundry to their parents’ houses, so I got used to using it as-is.

My current tenants recently asked me if I could have it looked at. I try to keep my tenants happy (I want them to stay forever!), so I looked into getting it fixed or replaced.

I discovered that new coin-operated washing machines cost $600-$800, even at the scratch-and-dent place, I looked into getting a non-coin op machine; still $400, but cheaper than a coin-op. But then would my water bill go way up? Would people start washing clothes with reckless abandon? Would they invite friends and neighbors to come over and enjoy the free laundry? Most likely not, but the coin operated machine does at least partially subsidize my water bill.

I also opened up the washing machine’s access panel, to see what I could see, and wrote down the model number, and some part numbers. I called an appliance parts store, asking them if it sounded like an easy fix. They said no, but recommended a cheap appliance repair person, who also had a good review on Angie’s List .

REPAIR (by far the cheapest option)
After a $59.99 service call fee, the repairman was in my basement taking the machine apart. Unfortunately, he too was stumped. He could put in some used parts that might solve the problem, for about a hundred dollars. I told him I’d think about it.

He also said that the washer was probably 10-15 years old. I did a quick online search, and discovered that the average lifespan of a washing machine is about 7-12 years. So it doesn’t make sense to put any more money into it.

I hated to spend the money, but a coin-operated machine seemed the way to go. I could get a reconditioned one for $400, but then it would be like I was buying back my broken and then fixed machine, at the end of its useful life.

I found a place that could sell me a new Whirlpool for $660, including tax, the coin kit, and delivery; it was the cheapest one i could find. It didn’t seem so bad after I did the math: at $1.50 a load, if everyone in the duplex (including myself) did one load a week, it will pay for itself in two years. In one year, its cost would be down to what a not coin operated one would have been… It’s a larger initial investment, but a non-coin operated machine would never have the opportunity to pay for itself.

I just hope that the tenants aren’t mad that I upped the price from $1.25 to $1.50.


I really should have gotten the machine fixed or replaced sooner. I’m sure that the tenants were pretty annoyed by it by the time they left me a note. I feel like I kind of dropped the ball on this one.

Replacing the appliance is ultimately less hassle than numerous visits by a repairman, and then once the new model is in place, there (hopefully) won’t be any more issues with it for a while.

Doing the math, and knowing the useful lifespan of an appliance makes replacement seem like less of a financial blow.

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One thought on “Coin-operated or not coin-operated? Repair or replace?

  1. I used to install coin op laundry machines a long time ago. It was common practice to up the price a little when they get new machines. (its only a quarter). Also whirlpool is an excellent choice and easy to repair. PS: They can last forever if you take care of em. 7-12 years is bullcrap.

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