One of the best ways to build your DIY cred, without attempting a hugely complex project, is to fix something that sounds like a hugely complex project. Something like replacing a broken car door handle or doing a fix to a large appliance. Both turn out to be much easier than they sound.
You know those ugly old washing machines that you grew up with? Aside from being bullet proof, it turns out they are amazingly easy to fix. The machines are easy to diagnose, and the damaged parts are extremely easy to replace. Not bad for machines that were manufactured thirty years ago.
In fact, with washing machines there are only about three things that commonly go wrong. They leak, get stuck in a specific setting, or they stop spinning clothes. I have taken care of two of the three issues, without any training on the subject. (All though I did read up on the getting stuck on a specific setting issue)
The fixes are as simple as cleaning out a hose, reconnecting a hose, or just replacing a part.
Stuck in a specific setting – This was the problem with the first washer that I fixed. It would fill the tub up with water and then stop. No washing, no draining, and no agitation (other than to me!). It was like the machine just died at that point. I could manually turn the dial to spin cycle and it would spin and drain the tub. It was so frustrating! Finally I took the top part off the machine (where the control panel is) and saw a small hose dangling. and another piece that it clearly fit on. Project complete! The hose regulates the water level based on the load size. After a hundred years of working they wiggle off or get clogged.
Solution – Check that water regulation hose first. Reattach or Replace.
Leaking – A leaking washing machine can be nerve racking. You tighten pieces, check the rubber washers, and tighten some more. Still every time you turn on the water it seems to spray everywhere. I was having problems with the connections on the washer that Ann and I are currently using. The cold water would spray everywhere when turned on. It was coming from where the hose connects to the back of the washer. I used new rubber washers, tightened the hoses, cleaned off the connections, used some plumber’s wrap, and re attached them numerous times. Still that cold water kept spraying. Eventually on the third time that I had taken the panel off (pictured) I noticed there was a HUGE CRACK in the valve that regualtes the water. The machine had been in storage for a year and the small amount of water trapped in there froze and the piece cracked.
After about 10 minutes looking around online I was able to find the part number and get one ordered. While it did set me back $30 with shipping, it is much better than having to buy a whole new machine for 20 times that.
Solution – Find exact place of leak. Tighten hoses, replace rubber washers, or replace cracked parts as needed.
Motor Problems – I haven’t had to deal with motor issues yet, but it is another common washing machine problem is motor issues. It could be a burnt out motor or a broken drive belt. You might need to do some investigating and disassembling here. Be sure to unplug the machine before doing any sort of electrical work.
Solution –Just like the previous two issues, pinpoint the problem area and replace/reallign/reattach the part that needs repair.
While I am certainly nothing close to an expert in this arena, I’m willing to take a look at most any appliance. Even if I can’t fix it, I can get a better understanding of how it works. The only appliances that you shouldn’t try fixing is a television or computer monitor. They have capaciters that can hold their electric charge for many years after the last use.
Washing machines happen to be easy to repair most of the time, but sound quite daunting. Just make sure that you turn the water off and unplug the machine before starting to work. Any appliance repair can potentially be dangerous, so use your head. If you aren’t comfortable with the task and don’t feel you can do it safely contact an expert who can.
Let me know in the comments about other appliances that are easy to fix or ways to build your ‘DIY street cred’