The Safest Way to Repair an Appliance During Fall’s COVID-19 Spike is to Tackle the Project Yourself

A broken washing machine or refrigerator is always frustrating, but these days it can be scary as well with the rise of COVID-19 cases we’re seeing as we move into the colder holiday season. You don’t want a big repair bill, unnecessary exposure to people outside your household, or to go without a crucial appliance for too long. So, what should do if an appliance that is fundamental to running your household breaks down right now? The quickest and lowest risk solution is to tackle the repair yourself.

Luckily, many appliance problems can be solved easily at home without calling a repair professional. Even if you don’t know a thing about repairs, many fixes are super simple. At least a quarter of all appliance repair calls are resolved with no-brainer solutions like pushing a button or flipping a circuit breaker.

Before you contact a repair person, see if the issue is something you can handle yourself. Start by identifying your appliance model number and doing a quick internet search to see what you might be getting yourself into to make your repair. It also helps to take a look at Consumer Reports product reviews, member surveys, and interviews with repair experts or refer to the CR Facebook page. Other options include contacting the appliance manufacturer’s customer service for advice and guidance, or calling your local repair shop to see if it can offer any free advice, and help you with minor issues, like if you accidentally put your refrigerator in showroom mode, which stops the cooling.  Repair Clinic offers more than 4,000 free troubleshooting, how-to, and maintenance videos as well as all the parts to successfully accomplish your appliance repair.

It’s Worth Trying to Fix it Yourself, Waiting for an Appliance Repair Pro Will Take Weeks During the Holiday Season COVID Wave

In addition to safety concerns, you should factor in that increased appliance usage and appliance shortages have led to boom in business for repair technicians. According to the statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, before the pandemic, home appliance repair was projected to decline by 6.9% from 2019 to 2029, from 38,400 to 35,800 workers. But now that people are home more because of the pandemic they are putting more wear and tear on their appliances. Washing machines, stoves, refrigerators, and dishwashers are being put through the ringer. As a result, repair technicians are busier than ever.

Prior to COVID, customers would normally wait two or three days for a technician to come. Now, labor statistics project consumers are waiting one-and-a-half weeks or longer for a service repair visit. And while this is great for the industry, and the labor market, it’s a huge issue for consumers. Industry statistics for new appliance installation is even more strained, with people waiting ten to twelve weeks for appliances they’ve purchased. Not only are technicians and experts over-extended, but inventory for new appliances is at an all-time low, creating another demand issue for the industry and for homeowners.

DIY Appliance Repair is the Fastest, Cheapest, and Safest Option During the Pandemic

Tackling an appliance repair by yourself can be intimidating, but we are here you make your do-it-yourself repair experience as easy and safe as possible. After you diagnose your appliance issue or failure, and order the appliance replacement part(s), there are several rules you must follow as you attempt to make any type of appliance repair.

  • Always make sure the electric power and/or the gas supply to the appliance is shut off before you test the appliance to diagnose the problem or make any repairs. If you turn the power on to check your work after making a repair, do not touch the appliance; just turn the power on and observe. If adjustments are needed, turn the power off before you make them.
  • If the parts of an appliance are held together with screws, bolts, plugs, and other take-apart fasteners, you can probably make any necessary repairs. If the parts are held together with rivets or welds, don’t try to repair the appliance yourself if you are inexperienced. Call a professional service person.
  • Replace any broken or malfunctioning parts with new parts made especially for that appliance. If you cannot find an exact replacement for the broken part, it’s okay to substitute a similar part as long it has been vetted and recommended by the manufacturer. Our site automatically links customers to manufacturer-approved substitution parts.
  • Before you make any appliance repair, make sure the appliance is receiving power. Lack of power is the most common cause of appliance failure. Repair Clinic offers dozens of testing and diagnosis videos to help you navigate the repair process.
  • Before you can repair your appliance, you’ll have to disassemble all or part of it. All major appliances are different, but the disassembly procedure is about the same: Remove the parts in reverse of the way the manufacturer put them together. You can learn how to disassemble your appliance here.

Recommended COVID-Related Resources to Read Before You Repair Yourself or Call a Pro

In-Home Repair Services Guidelines from OSHA

CDC Guidelines for Hiring In-Home Services or Repairs During COVID

CDC Recommendations for Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers
Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19

Consumer Reports Guide to Coronavirus

ASHRAE, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Guidance for residential and commercial air handling during the pandemic

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