There are many instances where common household appliances malfunction. Our first impulse is often to call a repair service and pay whatever it costs to have things working correctly again. However, in MANY instances, an untrained person can effectively diagnose and repair the problem, saving cash and the aggravation of waiting, waiting and waiting some more for that repair person to come.
Among some of the more common problems experienced and their often likely causes and solutions are the following:
The garbage disposal unit mounted under the kitchen sink jams, stalls or simply does not respond to the power switch being turned on. Sometimes with a hum and sometimes in silence.
There are at least three common causes that can be checked and repaired by a non-professional. These include 1) Something is jammed under or between the cutting blades. In this case, with the switch turned OFF, reach into the drain and try turning the blade(s) by hand. Remove anything that seems stuck inside. This is especially common with folks who are not accustomed to having a Garbage Disposal and have put something into it that it can't 'digest,' like celery, for example. 2) Like a computer and most other electronic devices, things sometimes need to be simply reset. On every Garbage Disposal unit, there is a "Reset" button. Again, with the power turned OFF, push it and hold it in for a few seconds, then turn the power back on and try it again. 3) Sometimes, for reasons I do not understand, the blades inside the Garbage Disposal seem to simply tighten themselves up so that they do not respond to the ON switch. This dilemma can be easily solved by inserting a socket wrench into the drain the size of the tightening bolt that secures the blades and giving it a twist.
I would estimate, based on many years of trying-to-solve-it-myself and then watching professionals do what they do experience that in about 8 out of ten times, options 1,2 or 3 will solve the problem. If these don't work, you probably need a new unit because they are, generally, the same strategies used by the person whop comes to your house and charges you upwards of $60. an hour to do for you.
The furnace does not respond to the thermostat settings and seems to have developed a mind of it's own going off and on ... more often off when you really need it on cold evenings.
Modern furnaces are reasonable complex machines often combining elements reliant on both natural gas and electricity. Ordinarily they are connected by wiring older than the unit itself to a thermostat that may have been replaced many times over the years. An electrician is apt to diagnose any problem with the heating system as being electrical. The furnace mechanic is more apt to see it as related to the heating unit itself. When it isn't working right, especially in winter, we may overlook some of the more common causes of furnace malfunction.
Two things are best checked before calling in either type of repair person. 1) Check the filters. Filters that have gone for a bit too long without being changed (especially including the one placed in the cold air exchange vent, if your system has one) can restrict the flow of needed air to the furnace to a degree that built-in safety shut-downs (pressure and safety switches, primarily) do what they are supposed to do and, presto, you have no heat.
The second thing to check, again because electricity is involved, is the old electric switch 'rebooting' gambit. Behind or next to every furnace that uses electricity for any of its functions, there is an accessible wall switch. Try turning it off for ten to fifteen seconds, and then turn it back on. This may do the trick just as rebooting a computer often 'repairs' slowdowns, freezes and other seemingly inexplicable problems.
The refrigerator is suddenly making a lot of noise and seems to be having a harder time keeping both refrigerator and freezer sections at the desired low temperatures.
Because refrigerators are big and heavy, most consumers never move them once they are delivered, installed, plugged in and filled with food. This is a mistake. Dust can collect and accumulate to a degree that will cause the above symptoms in two areas. Check 1) Under the refrigerator for accumulated schmootz as well as 2) behind it to the degree that the area is accessible.
Again, when working inside ANY electronic appliance, be sure to unplug it first! Dust covered areas that block the circulation of needed air can and do have a similar impact on the refrigerator that a clogged filter does on a furnace - with one important exception. With the modern furnace, safety switches will power it off. With refrigerators, the compressors wind up working harder to achieve the desired temperatures. That is where the louder noise you hear is coming from it trying to do its job and if you let the problem go on for too long, the compressor WILL burn out and cause a hefty repair or replacement bill.
I cannot overemphasize the consequences of allowing filters or vents to become clogged. This would apply to the exhaust vents on clothes driers as well. Cleaning out an accessible vent costs nothing. Replacing a common filter cost a few dollars. A repair call can dent your budget substantially.
Try not to overlook the obvious and simple. You may be able to save yourself quite a bit of money while concurrently raising your own pride in your ability to take care of things in your home yourself.
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