Three appliance problems you might fix yourself
By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Feb. 14, 2013
Appliances are expensive to buy and to repair. Don't reach for the phone every time yours are not working properly. Here are three very common problems that you almost certainly can fix without calling a handyman or, worse yet, a specialist.
Stovetops can become problematic at a moment's notice. Have you ever discovered that all your gas burners worked pretty well until you cleaned them? They are such simple units, yet we have a hard time getting them back in working order.
If your gas burner doesn't light, check the adjustment of the burner top - especially if yours has electronic spark ignition. These tend to have a round plate on top of the burner itself. Assembling it slightly off-center can hamper the flow of gas. The same is true of the burner itself. Disassemble the unit, carefully look at the pieces, and be sure the burner is aligned with the spark electrode.
Check for gas. If you can you light the burner with a match, it is not getting an ignition spark. Listen for a clicking noise when you turn the knob, and look for a spark. If you smell gas, can light it with a match, hear a click and see a spark, then every thing is working. You almost certainly have just put things together wrong.
If the 'eye' on an electric stovetop does not heat up, perhaps you did not put it back together right. It's almost as easy as putting a plug in a socket, but you have to be sure it is seated well. If only one eye does not work, try swapping it with one that does. If the problem moves with the eye, that one probably needs replacement. Take it to a supply store, have them check it, and get a new one.
Here's another common problem you might be able to fix. All of a sudden your refrigerator doesn't keep things cold. Don't jump to the conclusion that your unit is on its way to the junkyard. Check to see if the controls inside are set correctly. They can be knocked off the proper setting pretty easily. Reset them, if you think they are out of proper adjustment, and see if the problem goes away.
The next step is to check the refrigerating coils. Under your refrigerator, or perhaps behind it, there is a series of condenser coils. They look something like a radiator in your car or home. Their function is to remove heat from the refrigerator. When dirt, dust, hair and other debris obstruct the coils, they cannot transfer the heat from the coils to the air outside the refrigerator. Some vacuum cleaners are equipped with tools that can be used to clean the area under and behind your refrigerator. But for about $10, you can buy a long, slender brush that helps you gently and safely clean a collection of dust and debris from the coils.
How about a disaster in the bathroom? Toilets don't usually clog slowly. They kind of jump up and surprise you. But if you do notice the water is going down slowly, take some action. Don’t wait for it to overflow. If you and your family discard junk in the toilet, break the habit. Toilets are very smooth on the outside, but once the water swirls out of sight, it takes a crooked path to your drainpipe. That unseen path is as rough as the concrete on your sidewalk. It is not smooth at all. Anything that does not instantly absorb water will cling to the insides of the toilet bowl.
Plunging will loosen many of those forbidden objects. However, when those objects collect inside, they will likely not shake free. Buy or rent a plumber's "snake," and work it down the toilet as far as it will go. If that doesn't do the trick, you will need to remove the toilet bowl, and clear the obstruction. I have done this many times, but it may not be an easy task for a casual DIYer. Once, by doing so, I discovered one of my children had stuffed a giant bar of bath soap down there.
If something suddenly does not work (or work correctly), the first question to ask yourself is "what changed?" Did you clean the unit? Did someone move it? Who used it last and when? That will usually point you toward the problem.