If you’ve ever had a small appliance break on you just when you need it most, you know how frustrating it can be. If you’re like most people, you aren’t really in the position to just run and out and replace an appliance on a moment’s notice, or pay big bucks to have a professional repair it. If it’s a convenience and not a necessity, you’re even less likely to want to blow your budget on it if you can avoid it.
As a single working mom of four, money was always short. I can’t even tell you how many times I had to do without until I could afford to get broken appliances replaced or fixed by a professional.
If my vacuum cleaner stopped working, that was it. I didn’t know how to take it apart and I was too afraid to even attempt it. I bet I replaced at least ten vacuum cleaners because they stopped working in my lifetime, maybe more. Of course, I now know that more than half of those I could have fixed myself.
As I’ve become more involved with prepping over the last ten years, and as YouTube has become the go to for step by step tutorials, it’s became clear that if small appliances could be repaired by a professional, then there must be way to take them apart and fix them.
Benefits of Repairing Your Own Small Appliances
The knowledge and ability to fix small appliances on your own can save you a ton of money and inconvenience. You can put that money you would have spent on paying a professional repairman into your preps!
There’s also a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with repairing something yourself. It’s doable and you don’t have to be an expert, you just need some basic knowledge about how things work, a LOT of patience, the right tools, and maybe a few parts.
The Fundamentals of How Small Appliances Work
Before you work on ANY type of electrical appliance, always make sure to turn it off and unplug it from the wall. It’s a good idea to wear protective work gloves if possible to avoid cutting yourself on a sharp metal casing or appliance blades, etc.
If you’re just learning how to repair small appliances on your own, the first thing to understand is they fall into some broader categories. It’s also important to understand as much as you can about the basics of electrical circuits in appliances as described in the video below:
Appliances that Heat
Below are just a sample of small appliances that heat. I’ve included how to videos next to a few of them. If you need a how to video on any other type of appliance, simply look for a tutorial on YouTube. You’d be amazed at what you can learn by watching someone else do something successfully.
Always make sure you are following any safety procedures for the type of item you are working on. I recommend watching any tutorial video in its entirety so you know what you’re getting into.
Also, before doing any repairs yourself, make sure you review your warranty for the product. If your appliance is still under warranty, making any repairs yourself could make your warranty null and void.
Appliances that Move
Most of the small appliances that move or are motorized were created to make manual tasks easier and more time efficient. We could accomplish these tasks manually or in the case of the washing machine, by packing up and heading to the laundromat with our clothes when our washer breaks.
But in today’s modern world, many people have too little time to do task by hand anymore. In addition, there’s a whole generation who has been raised with these modern conveniences in every home, they know no other way.
So, when one of these motorized appliances break down, you can either pay a professional repairman big bucks, do the tasks by hand, or learn to fix it yourself.
There are of course some small appliances that don’t fit neatly into one category. Although these small appliances can be a bit more complex, it’s still possible to fix some problems with these machines yourself with enough knowledge. And it’s typically cheaper too.
As you can see from some of the how to videos above, many small appliance repairs can be done easily and quickly once you have the knowledge of what to look for.
Identify the Problem
One of the first things you need to do if you’re going to repair your own small appliances is to make sure that you correctly identify what the problem is. If the appliance isn’t working at all, start by trying to plug it into a different electrical outlet or by testing the electrical outlet.
If you can verify that you have power to the appliance and it still isn’t working, you can check for continuity in the appliance using a multimeter:
Check the plug and wire connecting the plug to the machine. If the appliance seems to be getting power but isn’t operating correctly, you’ll have to do a bit of trial and error testing.
Unplug the machine and test for continuity in each area to identify the problem part or wire. Here’s an example of how to identify a problem with a dryer:
The Right Tools for The Job
One of the things you’ll discover when you begin to repair small appliances on your own is that having the right tools for the job will make everything a lot easier.
There’s nothing worse than trying to use a flat head screwdriver on a Phillips screw. There is a time for improvising but it’s better to start off with the right tools. Some additional tools you may want to have handy if you are going to learn to fix things on your own are listed below.
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- Set of wrenches in different sizes (Metric and English)
- Putty knife
- An open end wrench that is adjustable
- Nut driver set (English and metric)
- Standard Pliers
- Channellock Pliers
- Wire Cutters and/or Wire Strippers
- Wire Connectors
- Power Drill/Driver (nice to have)
How to Find Replacement Parts to Repair Small Appliances On Your Own
Once you’ve diagnosed the problem, you may need to replace broken components, such as plugs, switches, fuses, or control boxes. There are a variety of ways to get replacement parts depending on the type of appliance, the part needed, your local area, and your budget.
- You can check the owner’s manual to get the name and number of the part.
- If you don’t have the owner’s manual, you can remove the non-working part and take it with you to match to replacement part.
- Once you have the part number or the broken part in hand, visit the retailer where you purchased the item to see if they stock replacement parts.
- Depending on the type of component you need, you may be able to find the same component in discarded appliance at the junkyard or a even a from a flea market vendor.
- You can contact your manufacturer, describe the part or give them the part number and request a replacement part be shipped to you.
When to Call in a Professional Repairman
Even though it’s possible to fix many simple problems yourself, you may need to consider calling a professional repairman instead.
Each specific situation is different and you will have to decide for yourself when you need professional help. But one of the first indications that you may need to call a professional repairman is if you can’t diagnose the specific problem with your appliance.
Although you may be able to eventually fix the appliance through trial and error and replacing one component at a time, you could end up spending a lot more money and time than if you called a professional.
Are you ready to try to fix a small appliance on your own or have you done it before? Let us know in the comments below.