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When to DIY an Appliance Repair vs When to Call a Professional

How to Make an Informed Decision Before Taking Apart Any Appliance

By Donna MaurerPublished 4 years ago 5 min read
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When one of your appliances breaks down, it can be a real debate on whether to call in the big guns, or if you can try to fix it yourself. Large home appliances tend to be the most significant investments homeowners make, so it is essential to know when to repair or replace.

Most people that have a “handyman” in the household, can usually feel safe with that person troubleshooting and identifying the problem, especially if it seems easy enough to fix. But certain appliances or issues could be difficult to assess. In that case, when should you bite the bullet, and call someone that knows what they are doing? There are certain things you should be asking and assessing before you make the decision.

The Price

The inevitable first question that will come up is pricing, and how much is it going to cost to fix something on your own, versus having someone come in and fix it for you. The answer is that it will almost always be cheaper to fix it yourself. However, it is important to take into account that if you do not know what you are doing, don’t have the proper tools, etc. you could potentially be setting yourself up for disaster. Sometimes when you go into repairing an appliance blindly and haven’t identified the exact issue, you end up doing a couple of things:

  1. Creating more work for yourself because you have to test and repair multiple pieces or parts
  2. Believing you fixed the issue, only to find that the appliance breaks down again

Ultimately you end up spending more money, because you’ve either bought more parts, or haven’t fixed the problem and need professional help after all. Jason Farley from TX Appliance Repair in Dallas, TX advises that you “make sure that you feel confident enough before fixing an appliance, otherwise, you’ll more than likely create bigger problems for yourself.”

Time to Replace?

Could it potentially be time to replace the appliance that broke? It is a good idea to know the lifespan of your appliances, so you have a better sense of when it could be time to replace something instead of just repairing it, or calling in a professional. Obviously, if your appliance is only a year or two old, it is a safe bet that fixing it would be the better option. However, you could waste money by having someone come to take a look at a broken appliance that is 10+ years old, only to have the repairman tell you it is time for a new one! So make sure you take into account how old the appliance is.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, here are the typical lifespans of home appliances:

  1. Dishwasher: 9 years
  2. Washer/Dryer: 10 - 13 years
  3. Refrigerator: 13 years
  4. Stove: 13 - 15 years
  5. Furnace: 15 - 20 years
  6. Air Conditioner: 15 years
  7. Garbage Disposal: 12 years
  8. Microwave: 9 years
  9. Water Heater: 10 - 20 years

Most of these are pretty standard, but it doesn’t hurt to look up a particular brand–keep those owner’s manuals–or a style, so that you are aware of how long they last. Remember that the number can change based on how often you use your appliance, or how much repair has already been done. A rule of thumb to follow is, if the repair costs more than half of the price of replacing the appliance, you should go ahead and purchase a new one.

DIY Repair–With Help

Since you can usually extend the life of an appliance through a repair, instead of spending a lot to change it out, there are some helpful tools out there that can aid you if you plan on going the DIY route. YouTube has a ton of free video tutorials that can walk you through repairing common maintenance repair issues in appliances, such as how to fix a washer that won't drain, or repairing your refrigerator ice machine. These videos can help you feel more confident in figuring out why your appliance isn’t working, because they can show you first how to assess the problem and troubleshoot the cause, as well as taking you on a step by step mini-course on how to fix the problem when you’ve identified it.

Another way you can enlist help when fixing an appliance is to ask a handy friend, or even someone that might do contracting work, if they can help you. It might surprise you how knowledgeable your neighbor or co-worker is on how to repair home appliances.

Do not repair these yourself.

Keep in mind that there are certain repairs within your home on appliances that you should never try and fix on your own, such as electrical repairs, as it is just too dangerous. Electric issues with home appliances could bring things to light like bad wiring or buried wires within the home, and if you attempt to work on it yourself, the outcome could be far worse.

Other repairs that can be too dangerous to DIY include things like structural issues or plumbing–it is a better idea to have a professional come in on these tasks, even if they are going to be more expensive for you. These professionals have taken lots of training to be safe when repairing in your home.

Practice better maintenance/preventative measures.

Preventative measures are something to consider before an appliance breaks. If there are certain maintenance practices you can take that will extend the life of an appliance before needing to do any work, it is a good idea to exercise them. For instance, checking the vent on your dryer at least once a year for any build-up, and cleaning it out for the proper flow keeps it from becoming backed up where clothes don’t get dry or worse, emitting smoke because of a backup. Another tip is to vacuum your fridge condenser coils.

Even more simple things you can do are things like keeping your freezer full so that it works efficiently, running the dishwasher regularly (once a day), and not overloading clothes into your washer or dryer; these are excellent ways to prolong the life of your appliances.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to call in a professional or fix an appliance yourself is up to you as the homeowner. But these tips can certainly help to guide you towards the best option, like whether you can do the repair, if a professional needs to be called, or if it is just time to replace your old appliance.

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About the Creator

Donna Maurer

Donna is a hustling freelance writer who spends her time writing about everything from the music industry to the latest beauty and wellness trends. She contributes to numerous blogs and enjoys sharing insights from her own life experiences.

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