You don't have to be an engineer to bring your broken appliances back to life. Save money and protect the environment by learning some quick repair techniques.

By Karen Wytmans
April 27, 2021
Advertisement

After years of productive cleaning, my Roomba vacuum, which I affectionately named Alice, began limping along. I replaced the filter and pulled out debris, but she still just wasn't herself. Eventually, the blue inspection light lit up, indicating the machine was dead. I started searching for a replacement and was shocked to find that new robot vacuum models could cost anywhere from $200 to $800. As I continued scrolling, I discovered a Roomba repair kit for just $19. Maybe Alice just needed a little refresh?

The repair kit for my vacuum model arrived with everything I needed to bring Alice back to life. And after a quick search on YouTube, I found a video called "Take Apart a Robot" by iRobot Education. Within an hour, Alice was up and running like new.

Woman Using iPad in Tool Shed
Credit: Kevin Kozicki/Getty Images

This experience made me realize how quickly we jump to jettisoning our old appliances and buying newer, more expensive models. But it's easy for anyone to repair malfunctioning mechanisms using just a few standard tools. So if you've got an appliance on the fritz, get to Googling, slip on your tool belt, and think of it as an adventure. YouTube is there to guide you along every step of the way, like a friendly neighbor who knows absolutely everything.

Plus, most appliances fail for three main reasons: problems with the power source, the equipment is in need of cleaning, or there are damaged parts. These problems all have easy fixes.

Check the Power Source

Perhaps the most common reason an appliance stops working is due to the power source. So that's the first thing to check. If your gadget is battery-powered, try replacing the battery. Even if an appliance runs off a specialty battery, the manufacturer will often sell them separately and make them easy to access and replace.

For lamps or light fixtures, make sure to check the bulb. Recently, my salt lamp wouldn't turn on. I checked that it was plugged in and getting power to rule that out. A quick removal of two standard screws, and I had the burnt-out bulb extracted. I found a replacement bulb for $1.99, and my salt lamp is like new. The vast majority of repairs come down to batteries and bulbs, which are easy to replace.

Clean Up Your Appliances

Another likely culprit for appliance failures is dust and grime. While this is especially true for vacuums, many other appliances can benefit from a good cleaning, too. Put on some gloves, grab the cotton swabs, and be prepared to dig in.

My coffee grinder succumbed to years of fragments lodged into every nook and cranny and eventually stopped working. The motor would hum instead of grind, but I had a suspicion a good cleaning would save the day. First, I unplugged the grinder, set it on some newspaper, and methodically started pulling apart everything I could easily detach. The fixture came apart quickly, and I soon cleared all the debris, using a lint-free cloth and cotton swab to get to hard-to-reach places. After reassembling, the grinder works like new.

Even printer rollers can benefit from a good cleaning. Has your printer stopped picking up paper? If you have an HP, the HP Support YouTube Channel is a great place to start.

Look for Damaged Parts

Finally, there might be a broken or damaged piece that's hindering your appliance. If you can identify the defective component, you can likely find a replacement for just the part you need rather than the entire product. Many kitchen appliances fall into this category. If you use a blender every day, you might eventually need to replace the blades or cups. Replacement blades for a Nutribullet, for example, cost around $13, while an entirely new Nutribullet system can run upwards of $100. If you have an issue with a piece breaking, odds are you are not alone, and manufacturers likely have those items readily available. You can shop online for all kinds of handy replacement parts.

Put Safety First

Pulling apart appliances can be a little intimidating at first. But don't be afraid you'll break it—because it's already broken! That said, you do need to protect yourself. First, always remember to unplug or remove the power source before taking apart an appliance. Next, always wear safety glasses, even if you don't think you need them. You never know when a projectile might be released. Sturdy gloves can also be helpful to protect your hands. Aside from safety gear, a simple screwdriver set is all you need for most appliance repairs.

Conduct Online Research

Google and YouTube are great resources, but sometimes it can be challenging to find what you need. Try using specific words in your search routine indicating the model number and the particular problem you are having, such as "Model 600 Roomba Blue Light Blinking." Always check the number of views and review the comments to ensure you have found a reputable expert.

Conducting this search should drive home the point that you are not alone in your appliance woes; if your appliance has failed, the odds are that many others have had the same experience with that product.

You can also go to the manufacturer's website directly and look for troubleshooting FAQs or consult the user manual. Call the manufacturer and see if they can send you a replacement part or advise on how to get your appliance up and running. If your appliance stopped working while under warranty, the manufacturer might be able to replace it for free. If it has failed because of a known product defect, they might also be willing to replace it for free or at a discount.

Believe in Yourself

Don't throw in the towel too soon. You might be surprised by how many tips you can pick up online, and there is a definite sense of pride when you complete a repair on your own. Plus, if it's already broken, you have nothing to lose by trying to fix it.

With the help of video tutorials and perhaps a few replacement parts, you can become an expert repair tech in no time. The cost savings are significant and learning how appliances work is rewarding—and even fun.

Comments

Be the first to comment!