Three Simple Household Repairs That’ll Save You Hundreds

Knowing that you CAN fix stuff yourself is half the battle.

In the past year, I’ve done three appliance repairs that I’m sure would have cost me three or four hundred dollars if I would have called a repair service. All of these are common problems that are cheap and easy to fix.

Front loading washer wouldn’t drain properly

Front loading washer: removing the front panel

Remove the front panel. Look for the screws that hold the front panel on and remove them. You’ll probably need a hex driver for this. You’ll find the pump and filter behind the panel.

Our front loading washer seemed to be working fine; it just wouldn’t spin the water out of the clothes. After fooling with it a bit, I was convinced it was some major problem like a switch or relay, and I was just about to call a repair service.

Then I remembered that the pump has a filter that I’ve never cleaned and figured it was worth a look. It took about 15 minutes to remove the access cover and get at the filter, and sure enough, the filter was clogged. After I cleaned it out, the washer worked fine.

Front loading washer: cleaning the filter

Clean the filter. Some washers like this have a separate filter that you can twist off. Others have a filter that’s built into the pump. You’ll have to remove the hose from the pump to clean this type.

Dishwasher not cleaning the dishes

A clogged filter can cause dirty dishes. To clean the filter on your dishwasher, pull out the lower rack and remove the filter cover. If the filter isn’t removable, use a wet/dry vacuum to clean it out.

Cleaning a dishwasher filterA few months ago, I noticed that the dishes weren’t getting clean. Sometimes it’s because I put too many dishes in the dishwasher at a time, but even sparsely packed loads were coming out dirty. So I tried the easiest fix I know. I removed the bottom rack. Then I removed the spray arm to get at the filter, and of course it was filled with bits of broken glass and other gunk. I cleaned it out, put everything back together and washed a load of dishes. It worked great! Even though for me this was a repair, you can avoid the problem in the first place by cleaning the filter regularly.

Dead outlet

Resetting a tripped GFCI

Look for a tripped GFCI. If you have a dead outlet, first check the main circuit box to make sure it’s not a tripped circuit breaker. You may also find a GFCI circuit breaker that needs to be reset. If this doesn’t solve the problem, look for a tripped GFCI outlet somewhere else in the house.

Last summer we were getting ready to build our annual shed and needed power to run the saws and the compressor. The trouble was that the outdoor outlet didn’t work. After checking the circuit breakers, we figured the outlet must be protected by a GFCI somewhere else in the house. We checked everywhere and were just about to call an electrician. Then the homeowner moved a mattress aside that was being stored in the utility room and found a tripped GFCI outlet behind it. Believe it or not, this is a common problem that I’m sure many homeowners have called an electrician to solve. The next time you have a dead outlet, make sure to look for a GFCI outlet somewhere else in your house. There’s a good chance you’ll fix the problem and save yourself $100.

— Jeff Gorton, Associate Editor

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