well, the (insert appliance) is not working…now what?

home repair ge appliance neon sign
photo credit: Pete Zarria via Creative Commons

This Quick and Easy Home Repair Guide was inspired by my Pop. He can fix anything. In fact, he ran a repair shop and had a sign in front that said “We Fix Anything.” That’s how I was raised. In fact, I do not recall seeing a single repairman at our house. Ever.

After thirteen years of marriage, the Husband and I are first-time homeowners. Ok, apartment owners…same difference here in Brooklyn.

The first month or so went fine…then the clothes dryer simply stopped working. More accurately, the dryer would turn on and run a cycle, but the clothes remained wet.

About a month later, I opened the dishwasher to find it full of water. I sure as hell wasn’t buying new appliances – we just bought the apartment, but the appliances were 8 years old. I definitely wasn’t calling a repair man. I am a smart girl. I can figure it out. I also have my Pop on speed dial for any questions.

Here is my easy home repair guide – the rules are simple and will save you some time, money, and frustration.

1. RTFM (Read the Flipping Manual). Seriously. I hate reading manuals and instructions because I am stubborn and delusional – delusional that I am as smart as the engineer who made the device.

But, you will save yourself a lot of heartache and stress if you simply google the appliance brand name and model number, download the manual, and read it. At least read the troubleshooting section. Odds are you aren’t the only one with a washer that won’t drain, a TV that doesn’t see your new DVR, a dryer that won’t dry…you get the idea.

2. Have a tool kit. My grandmother gave me a small tool kit for a wedding gift. I thought the tool kit was a weird gift at the time, but I use that tool kit at least once a week. You can buy a tool kit for about $25 or just hit the hardware store and pick up a few items. You should own two screwdrivers (one flathead, one phillips), a hammer, and a set of pliers at a minimum. If you have no idea what I am talking about, just buy the tool kit. You will figure which tool to use for what as you go along.

3. Pop taught me, “if you can take it apart, you can probably put it back together.” Most appliance issues are a clogged this or a loose that. Extremely easy to fix if you followed rule one and rule two. Here is the cavet: If the parts aren’t easily coming apart according to the directions, stop. Taking an appliance apart isn’t a test of strength.

Also, most parts are not stand alone components and in order to replace what you broke, you will end up wasting money on components that were working just fine. Finally, most of the parts aren’t readily available (at least here in NYC), so if you break it, you are looking at a few weeks without the appliance.

4. Use your common sense. In all seriousness, before you touch anything, you must think through what you are about to mess with and consider if fooling around with the appliance is dangerous. I don’t do anything electrical. Ever. I won’t touch plumbing…although I do know how to turn off the water at the wall to keep a leaking appliance from flooding a room.

5. Keep up the maintenance. Once I disassembled the bottom of the dishwasher, held my nose as I cleaned the filter, reassembled all the pieces, and ran a test cycle, I returned to the manual. I was congratulating myself on fixing the issue and decided to read the maintenance section. But, why did I have an issue in the first place?

The manual said that I should be cleaning that darn filter every six months. Seriously? What a pain…and how disgusting. But then I thought about how much this fancy German dishwasher would cost new (and all the other uses for that cash)…and decided to put the dishwasher filter on my calendar alerts for every six months.

That’s it. That is the process for how I fixed the leaky blender, the non-heating clothes dryer, the flooded dishwasher, and the sink drain stopper.

Now I am looking around the house wondering what will be next to break. Hopefully, I can find the manual on google and figure it out. If not, I always have my Pop on speed dial. I will gladly give you his number….for a price.