3 Things to Do Before Calling a Repairman -- Savings Experiment

3 Things to Do Before Calling a Repairman
3 Things to Do Before Calling a Repairman

Having a broken appliance fixed can be costly, but did you know that a lot of common problems can be cheaply and easily repaired on your own? Here are a few simple fixes you should try before dropping big bucks on a service call.

If your dryer isn't drying like it used to, first thing to do is check your lint filter. Even if the filter looks clean, it could be covered by a nearly invisible film caused by dryer sheets. This film reduces airflow and forces the thermostat to shut off the heat before your clothes are fully dry.

To test your filter, pour some water into it. If the filter holds water, it needs to be cleaned. To do this, simply run the filter under hot water and scrub with a stiff kitchen brush and some laundry detergent. And don't forget to check the exterior dryer vent, too. Louver-door vent covers in particular are notorious for lint buildup.

Next, if your refrigerator stops cooling effectively or conks out entirely, check the condenser coils. Some units have these located on the back, while others are hidden behind a panel at the bottom. These coils are part of the ventilation system, and they tend to draw in a lot of dust and pet hair. All this buildup can cause your compressor to overheat and switch off. It's a really common problem, but luckily, it's easy to fix.

First, unplug your fridge. Then, get a coil-cleaning brush, which you can buy at home centers for around $5. Take the brush and scrub in and out between the coils to remove caked on dust, and simply vacuum up what's left. As an added bonus, clean coils will cool your fridge more efficiently, saving you money on your utility bill.

Lastly, if a burner on your stove won't turn on, the problem might be the food you spilled last week. Use a toothbrush to clean off any residue stuck on the igniter, which is that little ceramic nub on the stovetop or under the strike plate. Be sure that the strike plate itself is seated properly on the burner, too.

If the igniter sparks but there's still no flame, there may be a clog in one or more of the burner's holes. If that's the case, clean out the holes with a safety pin or a needle. Just don't use a toothpick since the tip can break off and become a fire hazard.

When it comes to appliances, a minor breakdown doesn't always mean major repairs. Give these tips a try and you'll keep your household running, without the hefty service bills.