HomeownerHelpful Info: Home Maintenance

Appliance Repair

Appliance Repair Educational Content

Broken ice maker. Often, the water valve to the ice maker is the problem. You can actually make the issue worse by trying to fix the problem on your own. Call an appliance repair pro to check out the valve.

Water beading around the freezer. Some refrigerators use a small electric heater to prevent condensation. The electric heater is often attached to a power saver switch that allows you to turn the heater off. If that switch is flipped on, the heater is off, and condensation will form.

Dishes are not getting clean. Try a high-temperature wash or a scrub option. Also check your water heater’s temperature. It might be set too low.

Leaks. Inspect the door gasket for any cracks that might be allowing water to leak out. Even if the gasket looks fine, the rubber may have hardened over time.

Clogged drain screen or filter. If water stands in the dishwasher after a cycle, the drain filter is probably clogged. Try to clean the screen or filter yourself first.

Disposal is dead. First, try resetting the unit. If the red reset button on the bottom of the disposal has popped out, press it back in. If that doesn’t work, check the circuit breaker in your main electrical panel. Reset the breaker there if it’s tripped.

Disposal is draining very slowly. The drain line may be clogged. Disconnect the drain trap and try to remove the clog. If you can’t find anything, the clog might be in the pipe going into the wall. A sink auger clears these clogs.

Leaks. Washing machine leaks usually get worse over time. If they aren’t fixed, they can damage other parts of the machine as well as your floor.

Thumping. A thumping noise during a wash cycle is usually caused by an unbalanced load. Open the lid and evenly redistribute the clothing.

Clogged vent. If clothes are taking a very long time to dry, see if the vent is clogged. Dryers should have a four-inch, smooth metal vent line. Check the vent regularly. Clogged dryer vents are a fire hazard.

Clogged lint trap. Empty the dryer’s lint trap after every load. Do not start the dryer if the lint screen is not in place. Items like socks may get trapped in the exhaust vent and create a clog.

Appliances that stop working are not always broken. Check that the appliance is plugged in and that the electrical outlet has power. If your main electrical panel has any tripped breakers, reset them. Also check and reset any tripped GFCI outlets or panel devices. These steps may restore power to the appliance.

Once you verify that the problem is indeed with the appliance and not with the power supply, call an appliance repair company for help. When you schedule service, the company will need a few key pieces of information from you. At minimum, you should know the brand name and type of appliance. If possible, locate the owner’s manual for the appliance. That document often contains helpful information, such as the appliance’s year of manufacture or serial number. Be as detailed as possible in describing the problem.

Because household appliances typically get daily use, they will likely need repair at some point in their lifespan. There are, however, steps you can take to prevent problems when the appliance is new and when it’s older and has been repaired.

Refrigerator and freezer. A full freezer is more efficient than one that is not fully stocked. Frozen items help keep each other at the same temperature. This allows the compressor to run less frequently, extending the appliance’s lifespan. Replace your refrigerator’s water filter approximately every three months or when the refrigerator prompts you to do so. Overused and old water filters can lead to bad-tasting water and ice. They can also cause the refrigerator and ice maker to malfunction.

Clothes dryer. Check that your dryer vent hose is the correct length. The dryer vent hose should not bend or kink. Any obstruction in the hose can cause the dryer to overheat.

Clothes washer. Avoid running loose change, pocket knives, and other metal items through a wash cycle. These items can damage the washing machine’s internal components and pump system. Washing machine hoses can deteriorate over time. Avoid a surprise leak by replacing your washer hose approximately every five years.

Dishwasher. Extend your dishwasher’s life by rinsing dishes before loading them onto the racks. Don’t allow hardened food or bones to go through a wash cycle, since these types of items can damage the machine. Before you start the dishwasher, check that sprayers and moving parts aren’t blocked.

The decision to repair or replace a household appliance depends on several factors. Consider the age of the appliance as well as the cost of the repair. If the problem is minor and the appliance is relatively new, repair might be the best, most cost-effective solution.

In some cases, however, you will ultimately save money by replacing the appliance. Older appliances often do not meet current guidelines for energy use. Newer appliances that meet these guidelines cost less to run. If your appliance is nearing the end of its average lifespan, replacing it with a new, energy-efficient model will save you money in the long run. Be sure to ask your appliance repair technician for the specifics of the problem with your appliance. Some mechanical failures are very expensive to repair.

In these cases, purchasing a new appliance is the smarter move. Appliance repair technicians see a variety of appliance makes and models. They’ll be able to tell you whether the problem with your appliance is common. If you’re better off replacing the machine altogether, they can guide you on what to buy.