Five easy appliance fixes you can do yourself

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Jan. 5, 2012
- Contributed Photo

How many of us DIYers are willing to tackle almost anything when it comes to building, repairing, decorating and the like, but recoil from the specter of a non-functioning appliance? Here are five easy appliance repairs you can do with confidence.

When it comes to the stove or oven, it's easy to scratch your head, wince and admit, “I don’t really know how this thing works.” So when the burner lights, but the oven or broiler doesn't work, you will opt for a repair service. You might convince yourself to just buy a new one. Pull yourself back from that rather expensive precipice of despair.

Let's assume that the gas unit is plugged in and your oven does not heat up. In older units, you might know enough to look to see if the pilot light has gone out for some reason. In newer units, turning the oven on either fires an ignition spark or heats up a glow coil, which in turn ignites the oven's burner. The latter is more common these days, and easy to diagnose and fix.

If a bright glow does not appear in less than a minute after turning the oven on, the glow coil is almost certainly the culprit. Lift out the pan that covers the bottom of the oven. There you will see a small, rectangular holder, affixed to the burner. Remove the retaining screws, and replace it.

The second appliance problem is closely related. In the top of the oven is another burner for the broiler. It uses the same type of unit. If you turn the dial to “broil,” and the glow coil does not glow brightly, your burner will not fire. It can be replaced just as easily as the one for the oven.

If your oven is electric, solving the same problem is not much more complex. First, be sure the circuit breaker (240-volt) to the unit is operational. With the unit unplugged, unscrew the heating element from the back of the oven. Gently bring the wires connected to the element through the back wall of the oven. If the wires or the connector looks burnt or damaged, replace them. If the connection looks good, then the culprit is almost certainly the heating element itself. Test the element with a multimeter or bring it to your appliance parts provider. Reassemble the unit with new parts, plug it into the receptacle, and test the new element.

Let's carry the information already provided over to another appliance - your clothes dryer. A gas dryer uses the same type of unit the oven uses to ignite the burner. When the dryer is turned on, the tub rotates, and after a short while, the burner kicks on. In that short interval, the glow coil is supplied with electricity to make it glow and light the burner. If your dryer seems to run well, but the clothes come out wet, it is not producing the heat to dry your clothes.

This unit is usually accessible through a small panel at the bottom of the dryer. This panel may be held in place by a concealed screw, or it may have a spring clamp that can be released by sliding a putty knife into one of the seams. You should see a long cylinder in which the burner produces the heating flame. Somewhere on that cylinder the glow coil is attached. Test the dryer the same way you would test the oven. If the coil does not glow brightly, replace it.

One other malady that dryers experience is a worn or broken drum belt. In this situation, the drum will turn slowly or not at all. You can see what is happening inside your dryer by opening the top. Slide a putty knife in the seam between the top and the front of the unit at both corners and lift the top. You may also need to remove other screws that hold the lint trap in place.

If the belt stretched around the drum is loose or comes right out, it needs to be replaced. You will need to remove the rear panel, which is held on by several screws. Once the back is open, you will be able to see the route the belt travels, from the drive motor, passing over a tensioning pulley and around the drum.

Parts for appliances are readily available at appliance stores, as well as from Internet sites. Working with a local store is more convenient and timelier, and you might get some friendly advice and directions.

Let us know what you think!
Please be as specific as possible.
Include your name and email if you would like a response back.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the code without spaces and pay attention to upper/lower case.