Home Appliance Repair

Here’s a primer on troubleshooting home appliances and making repairs.

| July/August 1984

There comes a time in every consumer's life when that not-so-trusty old washer, dryer, stove, refrigerator, or air conditioner breaks down just once too often. The event is sure to take place when your monthly bills have already piled sky-high and there isn't enough money on hand to even think about paying for a new appliance or, for that matter, repairs.

Chances are, though, that there is another way out of this apparently bleak situation: You can probably fix the appliance yourself. True, some problems require the skills of a trained repairperson ... but such maladies are actually fairly uncommon. Most service technicians agree that a good share of their house calls are for minor malfunctions that customers could have corrected themselves. The secret to home appliance repair is simply knowing how to pinpoint the trouble. Nine times out of ten, the cure itself is easy enough to carry out.

This article is intended as a diagnostic and treatment guide to situations that virtually anyone, regardless of his or her mechanical know-how, can successfully handle. (We'll assume that major components such as electric motors or compressors are in good working order.) If you encounter a malfunction that isn't mentioned here, or if your machine is still acting up after you check out the possible problems and solutions we offer, then it may be time to call in an expert. You should also consult with a technician if you have to replace a part that you're not really sure you can install. Remember, too, that electrical components can't be returned once purchased ... so before rushing out to the store to buy one, be sure the part you think you need really is the part you need.

A Home Appliance Repair Guide

Any attempt at a do-it-yourself service call should begin with a thorough inspection of the machine involved. Although appliance manufacturers use most of the same basic components in their products, each routinely "brands" its models by locating the parts differently than its competitors. So it's important to familiarize yourself with the model at hand, even if you've worked on similar household helpers before. And do take time to read your owner's manual. Along with other helpful information, it'll probably contain a detailed diagram to help you find the appliance's various parts.

Of course, if the machine isn't running at all, the first thing you should do is make sure it's plugged in properly ... and then check for blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers.

If all seems OK in those departments, unplug the machine before you proceed any further: Working on any electrical device can be extremely dangerous unless you take that basic precaution. If the appliance can't be unplugged, at least cut off the power on the appropriate circuit. The shock of a high repair bill is one thing, but the shock of zapping yourself carelessly is quite another! Likewise, always make certain you shut off gas lines when working on a gas-powered appliance.

9/27/2015 11:50:32 PM

Great post. But most of people can fix minor problems. And if they got some guides and try to fix major problems it's good but they don't have enough technical knowledge so, it is better to hire local appliance repair.

9/26/2015 9:26:52 AM

Great read and as owner of a appliance repair business I always encourage my customer to try and repair them selfs. As I am just as happy to supply the parts. And if they can't fix it then I'm there to help!

4/13/2015 11:55:07 AM

I like your advice to start the repair with a thorough inspection of the appliance. I think that I have a tendency to just dive in and start tinkering. However, inspecting what you are about to repair, researching it, and having a plan of action will lead to much lower stress levels.

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