In a world where inflation has tightened its grip on most of our wallets, the allure of repairing our own appliances can seem like a great idea. With a simple internet search, we can access pages, blogs, and videos of DIY tutorials promising cost-saving solutions. However, beneath the surface of this seemingly harmless endeavor lies a web of hidden costs and problems that can quickly turn this money-saving venture into a financial nightmare. In this blog, we'll dive into a few untold stories of DIY appliance repairs, reveal some real-world dangers you may face, and expose the issue with relying solely on internet wisdom. Together, we'll learn the price one pays when you forgo professional expertise for well-meaning but misguided online advice. Prepare to challenge your own knowledge and change the way you look at broken appliances for the rest of your life.
The Pitfalls of Guesswork and Improper Diagnosis
Imagine this: you're finishing up your final load of laundry. You pull your clothes out of the dryer and find that they're cold and wet. You go to restart the dryer, thinking maybe you didn't set something right, and it doesn't start. Your clothes are still wet and cold, and your dryer is down. You pull out your phone and do a quick search to find thousands of results on what could be wrong. The phrase "start switch" keeps popping up, and you come to the conclusion that you're going to buy the part and attempt it yourself. After all, how hard could it be?
This exact scenario happens every day. I see people coming in asking for parts often, and in many cases, they are asking for a part that I have rarely replaced in my career. I don't blame them, as I would most likely do the same thing. When situations like this arise in my shop, I try to help as much as possible, which includes providing a little bit of education. When it comes to doing some sort of repair, you don't want to just wing it or "shotgun" the parts, as we call it. There's a certain amount of certainty that I look for when I'm trying to diagnose something, and without that, you're just guessing. There are a few skills that anyone can learn that can make diagnosing small issues much easier. For instance, I tell my DIY clients that they need a multi-meter in their house. This one tool can help solve many household problems, including basic electrical issues.
Safety First - Respect for Electricity
If you want to dive into the world of household repair, there are different things you'll need, or else you can seriously injure yourself or someone else in the house. First and foremost, you need to have respect for electricity. A lot of people are afraid of electricity, and that's totally fine. When I'm teaching someone, I always prefer them to be afraid of being shocked because that means they will respect it and not go around touching things without the correct precautions. Electricity can quickly hurt you, and if it's not put back together correctly, it can seriously harm someone else. Statistically, there are 400 deaths by electrocution with another 4000 non-death injuries every year. However, with the correct precautions, you can keep from being a part of this statistic and work alongside electricity like tens of thousands of people do every day.
The Importance of Proper Disassembly and Knowledge
Another thing every DIYer needs is the ability to step back and assess a situation to learn the best way to take something apart. You want to learn how it comes apart without randomly removing screws or stressing plastic panels. A simple 10-minute job can quickly turn into a multi-hour job with just one wrong move. I remember a dryer a few years back that had a decorative plastic ring that went around the door and control panel area. In order to do almost any repair on this dryer, you needed to remove this "beauty ring." Unfortunately, for most of us techs that worked on this dryer the first time, we weren't aware of how this flimsy plastic piece was attached, and we broke almost every tab. Not only did this add time to the repair because now I had to replace this piece I didn't bring with me, but it was a $150 part! This scenario isn't even the worst outcome I've seen. I remember a customer trying to save money by replacing a small part on his dryer. I sold him the part and explained the basics of how to perform the job. A few hours later, the man comes back holding his control panel. Come to find out that while he was working on his dryer, he dropped the control panel with the wires attached, ripping the wires out of the board and ruining his dryer.
Knowing When to Call a Professional
I personally have a rule of thumb: if I have the potential to break something else while working on something or if the part I'm replacing costs more than $75-$100, I'm going to call a professional. As I said earlier, breaking something else can be detrimental to your appliance, and "shotgunning" parts can quickly become very expensive. Currently, in my shop, I have a few-year-old stack washer and dryer. This stack came into the shop because every time the customer put in a new part, a new problem arose. The issue is, he's already spent enough money to have purchased another stack, in his own words. After several hours of diagnosing, I still cannot figure out what is going on. There are several pieces of plastic that have been broken and "repaired," missing screws, missing wiring schematics, and the potential that whatever they replaced actually made things worse. Unfortunately, I had to call the customer and tell him I'm cutting my losses, and he should as well. If we were to add up everything that was spent on this unit, it adds up to a little over $4000. $1499 for the original stack, $1000 in erroneous parts, $89 from our shop for labor to say it's unrepairable, and another $1499 to buy another stack. It breaks my heart, and I wish there was something that could be done, but at this point, there's no use putting another $400 in parts to try and figure it out.
Empowering You with Knowledge
In a world where most things continue to rise in price and where every penny counts, the allure of DIY appliance repair can be overwhelming. However, as we've discovered in this short blog, the hidden costs of relying solely on advice from the internet can quickly evolve, resulting in wasted time, frustration, and even thousands of dollars spent on a still broken appliance. But fear not! We have not left you empty-handed. Alongside cautionary tales, we've shared valuable tips, tricks, and professional insights that can empower you to make informed decisions when it comes to your machines. From understanding when to hire a professional to providing DIY guidance backed by years of expertise, we aim to equip you with the knowledge you need to repair things successfully. Stay tuned for our upcoming blogs, where we'll dive deeper into the fascinating world of appliances, uncover more industry secrets, and help you navigate the often murky waters of DIY repairs. Join us on this journey of knowledge as we strive to empower you to make the best choices for you, your family, and your appliances.