Consider three key factors in do-it-yourself appliance repair that apply to any appliance you might work on, regardless of brand or type. You are well on your way to success if you know the model number of the appliance, the safety precautions necessary to work on it, and if you possess the appropriate tools.
Knowing the model and serial number of your appliance is the most important step in effective repair. You will need the model number to order parts, look up diagrams or find helpful information regarding repairs. The model number is also necessary for warranty information and dating.
On most appliances the model and serial numbers will be listed together on a sticker or tag and can be found on a wall inside of the door opening. Ranges often have the tag around the edge where the pan drawer shuts. Some washers have a sticker on the back of the console.
Keep these numbers handy if you plan to call an appliance or parts store. Sears has an excellent parts website that can provide part prices as well as exploded diagrams for your machine. (See Resources.)
Unplug your appliance before you work on it. Give it time to cool off if it is something that heats up like a dryer or a range. You can diagnose many appliance problems without the machine in operation, and those that can't be diagnosed are likely to be beyond the capabilities of a do-it-yourself repair. If you run into a problem that requires the machine to be running to diagnose it, consider calling a professional technician.
Most appliances are made from stamped sheet metal that is very sharp on the edges. Extra precaution should be taken when removing panels--especially along the inner edge of a panel. A thin pair of work gloves can help prevent cuts.
The majority of appliance problems are electrical in nature. To diagnose these problems you will need an ohm-meter. Most meters have a digital read out, but a simple analog meter is generally the best solution for diagnosis. You will be looking for continuity--that is the completion of an electrical circuit between two points. Check oven elements, thermal fuses, light bulbs, burners, switches and other parts simply by checking for continuity across two contact points. The ohm-meter is one of the most important diagnostic tools at your disposal.
The majority of home appliances use four types of screw heads: phillips, quarter-inch socket, five-sixteenths socket, and Torx. These four screwdriver types will get you into almost all appliances. Other necessary tools include a flat screwdriver, adjustable wrench, pliers, and a cup to hold screw or other parts. Also: don't forget a drop light so you can see in dark spots.
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