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Nearly every household in America (approximately 122 million) has at least one major appliance such as a refrigerator or washing machine, and the majority have multiple. The average lifespan of appliances today generally ranges from 10 to 15 years, but within the first five years, many will have some sort of problem. The good news is that this creates many opportunities for repairs! Consumers can save hundreds of dollars annually by repairing, rather than replacing, broken appliances while also doing good for the planet.

To give you a small glimpse into the endless opportunities for repairs, here are the top five appliances with the most breakdowns and consumers’ top complaints. This information comes from over 381,000 home appliance surveys collected by the Survey Research team at Consumer Reports. 


Approximately 40% of refrigerators will have a problem within the first five years. The most common problems reported by consumers are that the machine is not cooling properly (23%), the ice maker is not working (5%) or the machine is leaking (3%). July has the highest number of refrigerator breakdowns in the year, followed by August and June. One reason for this is that refrigerators need to work much harder to keep food cold during the hot summer months.


Approximately 30% of dishwashers will have a problem within the first five years. The biggest complaints about dishwashers are that they are not cleaning properly (11%), not drying properly (9%), not draining properly (7%), and that the control panel is breaking or not working properly (7%). One example of what may break on a dishwasher that needs repairing is the drain pump. If the drain pump is broken on a machine, dirty water may not pump properly into the drain.

Washing Machines

Approximately 30% of washing machines will have a problem within the first five years. When it comes to washing machines, the biggest complaints include the appearance of mold on front-loaders (14%), a drum not spinning properly or not spinning at all (6%), and the machine failing to drain (5%). One of the most uncommon problems we see with washing machines is that they won’t start at all (only about 3%).

Over-the-Range (OTR) Microwaves

25% of OTR microwaves will have a problem within the first five years. The biggest complaints are that buttons on the control panel are breaking or not working properly (5%), the microwave is making excessive noise (4%), it is failing to heat food adequately (4%), and the door not locking or closing properly (4%). One of the most common repairs we see for microwaves are for a microwave plate that won’t turn.


Approximately 20% of dryers will have a problem within the first five years. For dryers, the most common problem is that it is not heating properly (20%). After that the next-most common problems are issues with the drum (8%) or the machine not starting properly (5%).


As of 2018, appliance repair is a five-billion-dollar business, demonstrating the vast number of opportunities for repairs and ultimately, success!

2 comments on “Top 5 Most Common Appliances that Break Down”

  1. Holly Bottega says:

    Blue Star Wall Ovens are the worst. I haven’t been able to use my oven for over a month. Since I bought it, I’ve had a problem with it about 1x every 3 to 6 months or more.

  2. Uncle Harry says:

    Blue star is a tiny manufacturer in Pennsylvania. Our experience with service on them is the same, all bad.

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