It's a sinking feeling when you open the refrigerator door to darkness and a blast of hot air, or when your kitchen floor is covered with suds from an overflowing dishwasher. In an instant, you know your day will be spent waiting around for a repair person, and your bank account could soon be a few hundred dollars lighter. Unless, that is, you can identify the problem and make the fix yourself. Sound crazy? It might not be, as our latest Repair or Replace report found.
While appliances have become more complex, and many contain more electronics than they did a decade ago, the options for DIY repairs have also increased. Even if you're not particularly handy, it's worth doing a little troubleshooting to see if you can suss out the problem—especially since a repair person will charge you around $50 for the service call alone.
The troubleshooting section of your owner's manual is the first place to look. Most manufacturers post the manuals online, in case your hard copy has gone missing. Often times, the websites also offer free technical support to help you diagnose the problem and make the fix. (Read "Can this dishwasher, fridge, and range be saved" for examples of specific problems).
Beyond the manufacturers, an entire industry as developed around DIY appliance repair. Sites like www.repairclinic.com and www.pcappliancerepair.com offer extensive repair advice for a variety of household appliances, as well as vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, and outdoor power equipment. They make money by selling you the parts needed for the repair, meaning the better their advice the more business they do. Might they overstate the simplicity of a particular appliance fix? It's possible. But even if you only use these services to identify the problem, you'll have a leg up when you go to call in the professional.