10 simple, under $50 DIY appliance repairs that can save you hundreds of dollars

Many of the most common appliance problems can be fixed with RepairClinic’s troubleshooting and how-to information, an inexpensive replacement part and 20 minutes of your time.

As one happy customer recently wrote, “A $10 part, a free how-to video and 20 minutes, and we have a fixed washing machine. RepairClinic just saved me at least $400. I cannot believe how easy it was! Thank you!”

Here are 10 common appliance problems and fixes:


1. Problem: Dryer is taking longer than expected to finish its drying cycle

Common cause: Lint buildup in dryer venting.

Lint buildup in dryer venting causes air restriction, premature component wear and risk of fire.

Fix: DIY dryer venting cleanout from the inside of the dryer to the outside.

Cost: $39 for a vent cleaning brush

Estimated repair time: 30 minutes

20-foot dryer lint cleaning brush

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2. Problem: Refrigerator is running nearly constantly

Common cause: Dirty condenser coils.

Your refrigerator keeps your perishables fresh by removing heat in order to keep its interior at the set temperature. Heat is dissipated through the refrigerator’s condenser coils – the black, radiator-like coils located at the back or beneath the refrigerator. Due to their location and because of their warm temperatures, dust and dirt collect quickly on the coils, causing the refrigerator to have to work harder to remove the heat.

Fix: Clean off the condenser coils

Cost: $9 for a long-handle brush

Estimated repair time: 10 minutes

long handle bristle brush

Common cause: Worn refrigerator gasket.

The gasket is the rubber seal between the door and the refrigerator’s interior. It keeps the cold air in and the warm air out. The gasket has the important job of sealing the refrigerator to keep cold air in and warm air out. Since the refrigerator door is opened and closed frequently, the gasket wears out quickly. Sagging and tears in the gasket cause warm air to enter the refrigerator – and forces the refrigerator to work harder.

Fix: Gasket replacement

Cost: $50 for a new gasket

Estimated repair time: 30 minutes*

*As reader Larry Lengle wisely pointed out, because gaskets are folded for shipping purposes, installation may take longer than 30 minutes. Sometimes, the locations when the gasket was folded require additional attention to ensure proper sealing. It’s a good idea to take the gasket out of the box and allow the bends and folds to straighten out for a week or so to save time during installation.

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Washing Machine

3. Problem: Washing machine is making thumping noises and vibrating floor

Common cause: Washing machine is unlevel.

Fix: Adjust the legs.

Note that you’ll need a helper for this DIY job. Raise the washing machine and rest front legs up about three inches from the floor. Turn the front legs until they’re at the same level. Bear in mind that the closer the machine is to the floor, the less it should vibrate. Next, use a wrench to tighten the locking nuts to prevent the legs from turning. Lower the machine back down to rest on all four legs. For front loader washing machines, follow the same process to adjust the rear legs.

Most top loader washing machines have self-adjusting rear legs. Tilt the washer up a few inches and rest on its front legs. Return the machine to rest on the floor. If the rear legs do not self-adjust, you may need to use a hammer to tap on the legs.

Cost: $0

Estimated repair time: 10 minutes


red lawn mower on white

4. Problem: Lawn mower engine won’t start

Common cause: Weakened or faulty spark plug.

Fix: Install new spark plug

Cost: $4 for a new spark plug

Estimated repair time: Two minutes

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5. Problem: Icemaker won’t make ice

Common cause: Restricted or bad water inlet valve.

Fix: Water inlet valve replacement

Cost: $40 for a new water inlet valve

Estimated repair time: 30 minutes

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6. Problem: Dishwasher isn’t cleaning well

Common cause: The dishwasher isn’t getting enough water to do its job properly. An insufficient water supply may be caused by a defective or clogged water inlet valve.

Fix: Water inlet valve replacement. You can access the water inlet valve beneath the dishwasher, just behind the removable front kick plate.

Cost: $40 for a new inlet valve

Estimated repair time: 30 minutes

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7. Problem: Glassware is foggy after washing in dishwasher

Common cause: Fogginess or cloudiness on glassware is etching – permanent damage caused by using too much detergent in a dishwasher.

Fix: Reduce the amount of detergent used to prevent any future damage; try using only half the amount of detergent and see how it goes. Unfortunately, once etching appears on glassware, there’s no way to remove it.

Cost: $0

Estimated repair time: n/a



8. Problem: Oven won’t heat

Common cause: Failing oven igniter.

If the oven igniter glows for more than 90 seconds without igniting the gas flame, you’ll know it’s the cause and that it will need to be replaced.

Additionally, you can test the oven igniter to determine if it’s open for continuity or not:

Fix: Oven igniter replacement.

Estimated repair time: 30 minutes

Remember to enter your range’s model number in RepairClinic.com before searching for an oven igniter in order to find the exact one that fits your unit. Oven igniters all look similar but vary in design.

Shop replacement parts for ranges, ovens and cooktops.

9. Problem: Oven doesn’t bake evenly

Common cause: Failing heating element.

A heating element is the thin, black tube located at the bottom of an on oven. When it’s operating normally, it will glow red. If it’s failing in some places, you’ll see burned out or blistered sections.

Fix: Replace heating element.

Cost: $40

Estimated repair time: 30 minutes

RepairClinic has model-specific heating element replacement how-to videos. Enter your oven’s model number to find the replacement heating element and how-to video for your model.

Shop replacement parts for ranges, ovens and cooktops.

 Washing Machine

10. Problem: Washing machine fills and agitates but won’t drain or won’t spin

Common cause: The lid switch has failed mechanically or electrically.

Fix: Test the lid switch to confirm that it’s broken. If confirmed, replace the lid switch assembly.

Estimated repair time: 30 minutes

Here’s how to test your washing machine’s lid switch assembly:

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Washing machine repair help

Have you done any of these repairs? How’d it go? What other repairs would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.

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