Easy DIY Fixes for Common Household Appliance Problems
Living in a time when machines handle housework is great, isn’t it? We have dishwashers to clean our dishes, refrigerators to prevent food from spoiling, and ovens to cook our meals. Innovation is a huge time saver, and it spares us from endless chores. Here at Modernize, we help homeowners create the homes of their dreams—and we know that even the little things matter. If one of your appliances isn’t cooperating, put that baseball bat away because we have some solutions to help you take matters into your own hands.
It’s one of the most taken-for-granted gizmos of the appliance world. However, this little fella allows us to throw most bio waste down the drain and—presto!—it’s shredded up and disposed of through our pipes, never to be thought of again. But when it doesn’t work, digging in the drain to pull up last night’s Chinese can be pretty disgusting. Is it the food that’s clogging it up or what? Sometimes you might have an avocado pit or piece of metal that’s jamming up the blades, but other times your garbage disposal has been working overtime and its overload feature shuts it down. The solution is simple. Just hit the reset button usually found under the unit and you should be back in business.
When a light goes out, it’s usually time to change the bulb. Sometimes the solution is even easier, like when a bulb simply comes loose (chandeliers, I’m looking at you) so all you need to do is screw it back in. But other times, it’s a whole different problem altogether. The circuit breaker can get tripped when it’s overloaded. It can also trip when there’s a short circuit or a ground fault. Usually, though, it’s just overloaded—which means you’re running too many devices on the same circuit at the same time. If this the case, just turn off a couple devices to reduce the electrical load and your lights should come back on no problem.
Ever use the dishwasher to wash a load of dishes only to discover everything is still pretty dirty? It’s not fun to say the least. Chances are the food filter is clogged and can’t do its job. To remedy this, remove the filter cover and use a vacuum to clean off the screen. If you want to test the float switch, jiggle it up and down. If it’s operational, you should hear a clicking sound. If it’s jammed, clean out the gunk and wash it off.
Oh boy, this is a biggie. There’s nothing worse than when a fridge shuts off. The clock is ticking and food will spoil if you don’t get it up and running again. It’s one thing if an appliance isn’t functioning, but it’s another if you have to throw out a bunch of groceries because of it. So, what do you do? Start with checking the condenser coils (the black-tubed grid usually found at the bottom of the fridge behind the grille, or in the back). There’s a good chance the coils have gotten dirty from dust and debris, and especially fur (if you have pets). Turn off the power, remove the access panel, and carefully vacuum (with the brush) the coils, fan blade, and motor. The vacuum brush should do the trick, but if you want to be extra thorough, you can always hit the hardware store and grab a coil cleaning brush.
Stovetop and Oven
It doesn’t matter if you have an electric stovetop or a gas burner, it’s frustrating when the burner won’t come on. With an electric stovetop, check to make sure the range is securely plugged into the outlet. If that doesn’t work, check the breaker to make sure a fuse hasn’t blown, or try a different outlet. With a gas burner, you’ll want to make sure there’s no food on the igniter. If there is, clean it off and try your burner. This can also be an issue for an electric ignition stove, and in that case you’ll need to clean the little nub that’s on the stove top or under the strike plate. But if you have a standing gas pilot range (you’ll know if you do—they’re old), it’s a different ball game altogether. You’re going to have to open the lid and get to the pilot light. If that’s out, you’ll very carefully stick a needle into the pilot hole to remove any soot. Brush away any debris and relight the pilot. You should be good to go.
As for the oven, if that’s not heating up, you’ll want to troubleshoot based on the issue at hand. If it’s a gas oven and it’s not not heating up, you may have a faulty igniter. If your burners ignite, but you don’t hear the clicks and that whoosh sound when you set the temperature on the oven, you’ll probably need to replace the igniter. And with an electric oven, if the elements aren’t glowing when you turn it on, it’s time to replace them.
No doubt about it, troubleshooting can be a nuisance when an appliance isn’t doing its job, but by testing the simplest problems you may find their solutions are just easy. Have a little patience and give these a shot—you never know—it may save you some peace of mind and a visit from the handyman.