Is it Repairable, Returnable, Covered by Warranty or Replaceable?
Household appliances have been saving people time and energy for decades now. But they have also been causing endless frustration to people over the years when they breakdown.
Do It Yourself or Call in the Experts?
Of course, not every problem that occurs with your refrigerator or electric range will require a professional. There are numerous little jobs that even a novice can fix.
If the problem seems out of your scope, though, don’t just turn a blind eye to it and call in a professional. Taking the time to learn more about the problem and what it takes to fix it can help save you a lot of money.
What to Expect
You will discover particular idiosyncrasies with different appliances including your washer and dryer, your gas range or your fridge. If the appliance causing you problems is your garbage disposal unit you will need to call a plumber.
Types of Appliances
A major appliance is a large machine which accomplishes some routine housekeeping task, which includes purposes such as cooking, food preservation, or cleaning, whether in a household, institutional, commercial or industrial setting. An appliance is differentiated from a plumbing fixture because it uses an energy input for its operation other than water, generally using electricity. An object run by a watermill, however, would be considered an appliance.
Major appliances are differentiated from small appliances because they are large, difficult to move, and generally fixed in place to some extent. They may be roughly divided into refrigeration equipment, stoves, washing equipment, and miscellaneous.
Small appliance refers to a class of home appliances that are semi-portable or which are used on tabletops, counter tops, or other platforms.
Small appliances include kitchen appliances:
- blender, bread maker, electric jug, electric kettle, electric can opener, electric frying pan, electric BBQ, electric deep fryer, electric clocks, electric crape maker, food processor, ice cream maker, mixer, microwave oven, rice cooker, popcorn maker, sandwich toaster, toaster, toaster oven, waffle iron
Personal care products:
- curling iron, electric toothbrush, hairdryer, blow-dryer, electric shaver, electric cutters, electric massages
- carpet cleaner, humidifier, vaporizer, de-humidifier, iron, vacuum cleaner, sewing machine
Typically household electrical entertainment appliances such as:
- CD and DVD players, televisions, camcorders, radios, stereo systems, home cinema, satellite control
Major household electrical appliances including:
- air conditioner, bread maker, dishwasher, dryer, freezer, furnaces refrigerator, furnace, stove, range, oven, vacuum cleaner, water heater, washing machine
Small Home Appliance Care
If the cord can be detached, always unplug the cord from the wall before removing it from the appliance. Unplug small electrical appliances, such as coffee makers, toasters, blenders, etc. after using them. Do not leave them on the counter plugged in. Fires can start if an electrical component malfunctions. This is especially true of appliances with clock-timers or sensors.
Do not put a plugged-in electrical appliance where it can fall or be pulled into water, as in the kitchen sink, bathroom lavatory or tub. Drain all water before plugging any appliance nearby. Electrical appliances are “live” when plugged in even when the switch is off. If it falls into water, you can be electrocuted if you touch it.
Never plug in an electrical appliance either “on” or “off” anywhere near water, and go away and leave it if there are children around who could pull it into the water and be electrocuted.
Never wrap power cord around a hot appliance. Do not wrap a cord too tightly around anything. Coil loosely, and keep free from kinks and knots which can break wires internally.
Plug only one heating appliance into any circuit at a time unless the circuit is a heavy-duty appliance one. This includes hair dryers, curling irons, and room heaters.
Unplug and cool any appliance before cleaning. Wipe with a damp cloth, and dry with soft cloth or paper towel. If grease or food spills on exteriors, use sudsy cloth, followed by damp cloth. Do not get any moisture into electrical parts. Do NOT immerse any appliances or parts in water unless specifically labeled “immiscible” in care guide.
Wash interiors of appliances used for food preparation such as inside of fry pans, slow cookers, etc. taking care not to get electrical parts wet.
Do NOT wash waffle-irons or cast iron surfaces.
Clean bottom of fry-pans, etc. after each use to avoid grease buildup. Use fine soap-filled steel wool pads for stubborn grease.
Follow special label or care guide instructions with appliance for specific parts or materials.
Can Openers: If possible, remove cutting part and wash in suds, rinse and dry thoroughly. If not removable, wipe with damp sudsy cloth after each use to keep clean.
Coffee Makers: Clean after each use to remove coffee oils and residue which will cause poor flavor in the next pot of coffee. Wash with warm sudsy water, rinse and dry. On aluminum percolators, remove hard water deposits with either a soap-filled steel wool pad, or by perking with 1-2 tablespoons cream of tartar dissolved in water; rinse thoroughly.
Do not use alkalis such as baking soda, or chlorine bleach on aluminum. On chrome-plated and stainless steel pots, use commercial coffeepot cleaner to remove stubborn stains; do not use them on aluminum unless the label recommends it.
For electric drip coffee-makers, if minerals and scale build up from hard water, periodically run a solution of half white vinegar and half water through it to dissolve scale. The heated solution may have to be run through the unit one or more times if buildup is heavy. Thoroughly rinse all parts of the unit. Run plain cold water through a cycle to remove all traces.
Irons: Empty iron while hot so heat will dry out cavity. Always dry and cool before putting away.
To remove melted plastic and fabrics, heat at low setting just until material softens, and scrape off with a smooth piece of wood, a wooden spatula or half a clothespin. If some remains, make a paste with baking soda and water and rub or try silver polish. Wipe off with damp cloth. For a non-stick sole-plate, rub gently with nylon mesh pad and suds. Acetone or nail polish remover may remove melted polyester.
If steam iron clogs from minerals in water, follow use-guide directions for cleaning, or use a commercial iron cleaner. A fine needle in the nozzle hole may open it again. Sometimes “steaming” will remove lint clogging the iron; fill with at least 1/4 cup water, set it to “steam”, and hold in the air or set flat on wire rack over heat and moisture resistant surface like counter protective mat. Let steam until empty. Using only distilled water in steam irons helps avoid mineral buildup.
Calling for a appliance repair
When your major home appliance breaks down, it is often a trying time to decide whom to call for service. You’ve seen the tabloid TV shows that have caught service technicians ripping off consumers. Your best defense is to become an informed consumer.
Price shouldn’t be the only consideration when requesting service. This service section will tell you what options are available to try to help you decide what route you should take.
Unlike the auto industry which use the serial or VIN number, the model number is the key reference to the appliance you have. The appliance’s serial number may identify the age of the product but generally is of little use otherwise (although there are some exceptions). Whenever inquiring about your appliance, you should have at least the brand name and the model and serial numbers off it.
Generally speaking, any information (besides the appliance’s brand) found in plain view the front face of an appliance like “Series 60” (or 70, 80, 90), “Kenmore 20”, “XL44”, “Heavy Duty”, “Fabulous 400”, etc. is just a marketing name and is usually of little use in identifying the actual appliance you have.
Appliance model numbers will consist of letters, numbers and often dashes and sometimes dots as well.
To get replacement parts for your appliance, next you’ll need to know which part(s) you require. Each and every individual part on an appliance has a part number. This is the means by which a specific component of your appliance can be identified and ordered. It is seldom that you will be able to order a complete door for your oven or refrigerator for example. Each and every part down to the individual screws will be a separate component, each with its own, separate part number.
If you don’t have access to a parts list or breakdown for your appliance, you may be able to get a part number right off the defective component. If possible, look on the old part to see if it is stamped with a part number to identify it. Most electrical components along with many molded plastic parts will. However, some manufacturers only put manufacturing codes on them which cannot be traced. Part numbers may consist of letters, numbers and dashes. Just numbers are the most common though.
If you find a number on the original part consisting of only 4 numerical digits grouped together (eg. 8912, A8912C) it is likely just the manufacturer’s date code for that part. In the examples shown, it would indicate the part was manufactured in the 12 week of 1989. Needless to say, this would not be sufficient information to identify a replacement.
Although sometime the parts depot may be able to tell from your problem description which part is required, don’t expect it! Appliance styles vary widely between brands and without seeing your unit, most clerks would only be able to guess at the cause.
Don’t be intimidated if you don’t know what a part is called. Try describing where it’s located or what it looks like. If all else fails bring the original part or a photo of it with you to a local appliance parts supplier as a sample, along with the product brand and model number of course.
Note: Oven and refrigerator thermostats usually have a sensor bulb attached to them that may appear to be a bare ground wire. If taking one of these as a sample, don’t cut it! Most true ground wires in appliances will be color coded green. And remember; always disconnect the power before servicing your appliance.
Don’t Be Surprised
It is an industry standard that electrical parts are often NOT RETURNABLE! These parts may be calibrated and can easily be damaged, by mishandling or improper installation, without showing any physical signs.
Items that are acceptable for return for credit will often be subject to a restocking charge of 15% to 50%. This is to help defray the cost of time involved and of parts listings needed to look-up the proper part for your machine.
Items (including electrical components) that fail to function within the given warranty period should be replaced by the supplier without a restocking fee. On-line merchants may require you to apply for a return authorization before they will accept returned goods.
Any items not stocked by the parts depot will usually require a deposit before ordering. This deposit can be anywhere from 50%-100% of the item value.
Specially ordered items are usually NOT RETURNABLE unless a mistake is made by the parts supplier or the manufacturer. It is your responsibility to ensure that the part ordered is the part that is at fault! Before ordering anything, be sure to ask or read the terms of sale the particular merchant adheres to.
Tips When Calling in Repair Services
Be Observant. Before placing a service call, make note of when the problem occurs. Note if, for example, the washing machine is noisy on wash or spin or if the appliance has been relocated recently. Have the person most familiar with the problem place the service call.
When requesting service on a refrigeration product (refrigerator, freezer, air conditioner), ask if the appliance should be left plugged in and running. In most cases it is required; however, sometimes this will cause further damage and should be avoided.
It is not usually possible to diagnose a problem if an appliance has already been disassembled. If you think you’ll save the technician’s time and your money by doing this, you are mistaken. In most cases, the appliance will have to be reassembled before a service technician can determine the problem. Don’t treat the service person like a servant. You’ll find that the nicest customers will get a technician that is willing to go out of their way for you when possible.
Be honest with the service technician and inform them of previous service or of failed attempts. They will find out eventually, better you don’t waste their time and your money diagnosing everything instead of getting right to the problem.
Sometimes it is not worth keeping an old appliance going, especially when we consider advances made in modern appliances and how they are so much more energy efficient today than 20 years ago. Some new appliances even do things that the old ones simply could not do.
This paper is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein constitutes legal, financial or other professional advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any relationship of any kind between the provider and the recipient. Some of these points may not apply in your area. Different term and conditions may vary from state to state and province to province. All articles, text and photographic material presented here is for the use and pleasure of the recipient only. Download PDF
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