Appliance Repairs You Can DIY
The idea of a leaky dishwasher or refrigerator on the Fritz was worrying enough at the height of the pandemic, but the outlook for a major appliance repair or replacement is unlikely to improve this year.
And last year, when homeowners may refuse to have a repair technician in their home, people who hadn’t considered the do-it-yourself approach reconsidered their options.
“Lots of people did DIY,” says Chris Zeisler, technical service manager at Repair Clinic, an online clearing house for equipment repair parts and instructional videos. “A large part of what we offer is answering the question: ‘Do I want to tackle this?’ or ‘Wow, that’s beyond my capabilities.’ “
We asked our test engineers and Zeisler and other device repair experts which fixes are easy enough for most people – vs. which should always be left to a professional.
Do-it-yourself device repairs
Clogged Ignition Orifices In Area: Boiling over can leave burners on a gas range with clogged ignition orifices, resulting in a burner not igniting properly – or a weak or uneven flame. Remove the burner heads and clean the openings with a toothbrush.
Cleaning the moisture sensor in your dryer: does your laundry still feel damp after the sensor-controlled cycle has ended? Clean the tumble dryer internal moisture sensor, which is often located near the lint trap, with a soft cloth and a mixture of mild soap and water. Dry with a clean towel. (Also check the lint trap and vent channel to make sure no lint builds up.)
Replacing a Fridge Door Gasket: If your refrigerator door is bleeding a draft or even popping open on its own, it’s likely time for a new gasket. First, make sure yours isn’t all dirty: spills and food scraps can build up and prevent the gasket from sealing properly. If the inspection reveals any cracks or damage, it’s time for a new gasket. Remove the old one and install a model-specific replacement. Please refer to your user manual for more information.
The story goes on
Replacing a Dishwasher Gasket: Do you see water pooling on the floor in front of your dishwasher? First, check the door seal for cracks or other damage. If the seal is no longer perfect, obtain a model-specific replacement seal that you install around the edge of the cavity.
Repairs you should (probably) never try
Fixing a leak in the sealed refrigerant system of your refrigerator: It is best to avoid contact with the potentially toxic gases in the circulating refrigerant. The production of solid connections to copper parts also requires brazing (similar to welding).
Replacing the bearings on a front loading washer: They are usually on the back of the drum so you will have to disassemble the outer casing and drum to access them. To do this, you need to keep track of all of the electrical connections so that you can reassemble them later.
Tinkering with microwave electronics: A microwave capacitor can hold a high voltage charge well after it has been disconnected from the mains. Failure to properly discharge the capacitor before touching metal parts or wires could result in shock or even electric shock.
Working on a device under guarantee: Doing repairs yourself can invalidate the guarantee. So read the fine print before you begin.
Editor’s note: This article also appeared in the August 2021 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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