How to Get Local Repair Help

faucet3 How to Get Local Repair Help

Local repair services include plumbers, electricians, roofers and other service businesses.

The Fix-It Club offers hundreds of free Fix-It Guides for repairing broken things around the home and garage. Occasionally you won’t be able to or won’t want to fix it yourself. That’s okay. There’s someone else out there who can perform refrigerator repair, bicycle repair, plaster repair, jewelry repair, or any other repair you need done. When should you consider hiring someone for a local repair?

  • When it’s something you shouldn’t be messing with, such as a microwave’s magnetron or a freezer’s refrigerant
  • When you can’t find replacement parts, but think maybe a repair pro may know how to make it work
  • When it’s quite valuable and you don’t want to take the chance of perhaps damaging it during repair
  • When you just can’t figure out what the heck’s wrong with it, but want it fixed

Who can you make a local repair? Depending on what it is, you can contact the manufacturer or service center. Alternately, check area telephone books for appropriate listings such as Appliances, Major, or Appliances, Parts & Supplies, and Automobile Repairing & Service. Retailers from which you purchased merchandise may be able to direct you to local repairs centers. Also, ask among friends and neighbors because they can give you value judgments on whether specific repair services are customer friendly.

First check to determine if local repair is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Even if it isn’t, ask the manufacturer to recommend a repair service. You’ll find many manufacturers have websites that include parts and repair information as well as referrals.

You can make sure you select the best local repair service for the job by asking a few questions:

  • What experience do you have repairing this item?
  • What training or certification do you have?
  • Do you charge a flat rate or an hourly shop rate? What is that rate?
  • Do you have a minimum charge?
  • Is there a charge if you can’t fix it?
  • May I see your shop? (You’ll see how your item will be treated.)
find an expert1 How to Get Local Repair Help

Finding and checking a fuse can save you an expensive trip to a repair shop

Remember to read anything you sign because verbal agreements are not binding. If the repair service says “$49.95″ and the service contract you sign says “whatever we want to charge,” you may wind up with a $500 repair on a $100 item. Most repair agreements include space for a do-not-exceed price; if not, write it in. And make sure the estimate includes both parts and labor. Ask what could happen to make the estimate go up. Ask if final bills usually come in under or over the estimate. Leave no room for surprises.

What should you tell the local repair person? Indicate the symptoms and list the things you’ve done to attempt to alleviate them. For example, “The unit won’t turn on. I’ve checked the electrical cord and it works, but I haven’t found any fuses.” Any information you can provide means less time the technician needs for diagnosing and should mean a smaller final bill.

find an expert2 How to Get Local Repair Help

The fuse inside this blender is sealed, but can be accessed by removing the base

Should you bring the unit in assembled or unassembled? That depends on whether you feel comfortable assembling the unit once it is fixed. Also, will the unit need assembly before the repair person can test it to make sure it’s fixed? The best advice is: Bring it in assembled. A pro may actually charge more if it comes in unassembled. You can also call the shop and ask which is more efficient.

On other option: Get the parts and tools you need to repair it yourself. The Fix-It Club is standing by to offer you free instructions and a wide variety of repair resources for fixing broken things around your home and garage. Visit the Fix-It Club often. It’s free!


Home Repair Safety

safety first1 Home Repair Safety

Many electrical appliances have warnings on their outside case to tell you of potential dangers to safety.

The Fix-It Club is dedicated to showing you how to easily and safely make hundreds of household repairs. Repair safety is a very important part of fixing anything, whether you are performing gas furnace repair, roof repair, yard trimmer repair, gas cooktop repair, electrical cord repair, or even jacket repair.  In one infamous example, technicians decided to find out what would happen if they tried to run the system with the various safety mechanisms defeated — at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Fixing your toaster won’t start a mushroom cloud of nuclear waste, but it can hurt you if you don’t apply some common-sense repair safety rules:

Caution!

Houses built before 1978 may contain lead paint. Before disturbing any surface, get a lab analysis of paint chips from it. Contact your public health department for information on how to collect samples and where to send them.

safety first2 Home Repair Safety

If the electrical device you’re working on doesn’t unplug, make sure the power is turned off to the circuit you’re working on.

  • For electrical repair safety, make sure the power source is disconnected before working on any electrical or gas system.
  • Turn the water off ahead of the fixture before working on plumbing.
  • Wear gloves if using caustic chemicals.
  • Wear safety glasses if using a saw blade or any tool that can throw debris.
  • Wear a breathing mask if working around dust or strong chemicals.
  • Never place a body part where it can get hurt.
  • Don’t use a tool for any task but its intended purpose.
  • Don’t stand on something that won’t support you.
  • Don’t try to fix anything when your thinking is impaired by lack of sleep, emotional stress, alcohol, medications, or illness.
  • Plan it before you do it.
  • Remember repair safety for all Fix-It jobs.
safety first3 Home Repair Safety

Some electrical devices have labels telling you of potential danger due to high voltage inside. Heed them.

Aluminum wiring was used in home construction during the 1960s and early 1970s — until it was discovered that its interaction with copper and brass electrical terminals was causing some house fires! The metals expand and contract at different rates and the aluminum wire was pulling away from the copper terminals. How can you tell if your house has aluminum wiring instead of copper? Aluminum wire is dull gray or silver; copper wire is dull orange. “AL” may be imprinted on the wire sheathing (covering). What can you do about it? You may want an electrician to upgrade your home’s wiring with new aluminum-compatible connectors or by adding copper pigtail wires to the end of all electrical connections. You may be able to do it yourself, but do so under the direction of a licensed electrician.

Caution!

Should you worry about asbestos? Asbestos is a fireproof, non-conducting mineral that was used in building materials for many decades — until OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) determined that asbestos fibers are a health hazard. Tiny asbestos fibers can readily break away from building materials and the fine dust can be inhaled or swallowed. And asbestos was in many types of materials that are now in homes today. Should you worry? To be a health hazard the fibers must be friable or loose in the air. Disturbing asbestos insulation or breaking up products that have loose asbestos fibers is a health hazard and requires an asbestos-removal expert. However, products like roofing that has asbestos impregnated in it (because it’s fireproof) aren’t a significant health risk.


15 Forever Car Maintenance Tips

The Fix-It Club is built on the premise that consumer items will last longer if you perform basic maintenance and simple repairs. We purchased our current car new and have followed these tips. It now has 200,000 230,000 miles on its odometer. Here are 15 things you can do to keep your car running smoother, longer, and more efficiently forever.

coolantcap2 200x150 15 Forever Car Maintenance Tips

Carefully remove the radiator cap when the engine is cool.

  1. Check the antifreeze/coolant level weekly. Some cars have transparent reservoirs with level markings. Fill to the level marking with 50/50 solution of antifreeze and water. Caution: Do not remove the pressure cap when the engine is hot!
  2. Inspect belts and hoses monthly. Replace worn, glazed, or frayed belts.Tighten them when more than ½” of slack can be depressed between the pulleys. Vehicles with spring-loaded belt tensioners require no adjustment. Replace bulging, rotten, or brittle hoses and tighten the clamps. If a hose looks bad, or feels too soft or too hard, it should be replaced.

  3. Check transmission fluid monthly. Do this while the engine is warm and running and with the parking brake on. Shift to drive, then to park. Remove the dipstick, wipe it dry, inert it, and remove it again. Add the approved type of fluid, if needed. Do not overfill!
  4. Check brake fluid monthly. First, wipe dirt from the brake master cylinder reservoir lid. Pry off the retainer clip and remove the lid or unscrew the plastic lid, depending on which type your vehicle has. If you need fluid, add the approved type and check for possible leaks throughout the system. Fill to the mark on the reservoir. Caution: Do not overfill!
  5. Check the power steering fluid level once per month. Simply remove the reservoir dipstick. If the level is down, add fluid and inspect the pump and hoses for leaks.
  6. airfilter1 200x150 15 Forever Car Maintenance Tips

    To check and replace a car air filter, remove the cover held on by screws or clips.

    Check the air filter every other month. Replace it when it’s dirty or as part of a tune-up. It’s easy to reach, right under the big metal “lid” in a carbureted engine; or in a rectangular box at the forward end of the art duct hose assembly.

  7. Check oil every other fill-up. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean. Insert it fully and remove it again. If it’s low, add oil. To maintain peak performance, change oil every 3,000 miles or every three months, whichever comes first. Replace the oil filter with every oil change.
  8. Keep the windshield washer fluid reservoir full. When topping off, use some windshield washer fluid on a rag to clean off the wiper blades. In winter months, pay attention to the freezing point of the washer fluid.
  9. Check your car’s battery with every oil change. Use extreme caution when handling a battery because it can produce explosive gases. Do not smoke, create a spark, or light a match near a battery, and always wear protective glasses and gloves. Cables should be attached securely and be free of corrosion. If the battery has filler holes, add only clear, odorless drinking water.
  10. windshieldwiper 200x150 15 Forever Car Maintenance Tips

    Make sure your wiper blades are in good condition prior to winter.

    Inspect the windshield wiper blades whenever you can your windshield. Don’t wait until rubber is worn or brittle to replace the!. Wiper blades should be replaced at least once per year, and more often if smearing or chattering occurs.

  11. Be sure all of your car’s lights are clean and working. Check brake lights, turn signals, and emergency flashers, too. Keep spare bulbs and fuses in your vehicle.
  12. Keep tires inflated to the recommended pressure and check for tire wear. It helps if you own your own tire gauge. Check the tires regularly for cuts, bulges, and excessive tread wear. Uneven wear indicates tires are misaligned or out of balance. Keep a record of tire rotation. Rotate at the first 5,000 miles and every 7,500 miles thereafter.
  13. Look for signs of oil seepage on shock absorbers. Test the shock action by bouncing the car up and down. The car should stop bouncing when you step back. Worn or leaking shocks should be replaced. Always replace shock absorbers in pairs.
  14. exhausthanger 200x150 15 Forever Car Maintenance Tips

    Make sure the exhaust pipe has no holes and that the hangars are in good condition.

    Look underneath the car for loose or broken exhaust clamps and supports. Check for holes in the muffler or pipes. Replace rusted or damaged parts. Have emission checked at least once per year for compliance with local laws.

  15. Take good care of your car and it will take care of you! More car maintenance and repair instructions are available free online on the Fix-It Club’s Car Repairs section.

Does Your Warranty Cover Repair?

REMOTECONTROL Does Your Warranty Cover Repair?

Before disassembling appliances and devices for repair, check to see if the problem is covered by a warranty.

The Fix-It Club is ready to help you troubleshoot and repair or replace household things that break. But before you disassemble an appliance, electronic device or other gadget, consider whether it’s actually the manufacturer’s problem or yours. Many consumer items carry a limited warranty that the item will function for at least the specified time after the consumer buys it new. Does your warranty cover repair? Let’s find out!

What is a warranty?

A warranty is a guarantee by a seller or manufacturer to a buyer that the goods or services purchased will perform as promised, or a refund will be given, an exchange made, or a repair done at no charge. Warranties usually become effective when the manufacturer receives a warranty application from the buyer (not necessarily at the date of purchase) and are effective for a limited period of time. Warranties usually include limitations that exclude defects not caused by the manufacturer. Warranties are included in the price of the product.

Almost every purchase you make is covered by an implied warranty. The exceptions are items marked “as is” and sold in a state that allows “as is” sales. Implied warranties include warranty of merchantability meaning the seller promises that the product will do what it is supposed to do. A warranty of fitness applies when the product package or the seller tells you that the product is suitable for the described purpose.

Extended Warranties

Extended warranties are really not warranties at all. They are actually service contracts sold at an extra cost that is typically quite profitable for the retailer. That’s why so many retailers ask if you’d like to purchase an extended warranty when you buy something. In some cases, the retailer makes more profit on the extended warranty than on the product it sold you.

What is covered by a warranty? Warranties vary, but typically repair or replacement, though there may be a charge for labor (not parts) or shipping/freight costs. The manufacturer or the seller may be the one required to honor the warranty. The warranty term may be for 30 or 90 days or a year or more.

Fix-It Tip

As you shop for appliance and electronic replacements, open up the box and read the warranty card to find out how long the product or specific parts are covered for repairs or replacement. If the box is sealed, ask a clerk to open it and find the warranty information.

Won’t trying to repair something void the warranty? Maybe. Some warranties prohibit repairs not authorized or done by those authorized by the manufacturer. However, most things you buy will either not work as soon as you try to use them (they’ll be repaired or replaced under warranty) or the day after the warranty expires (fixing is up to you).

Product Recalls

More than 15,000 consumer items, including many things throughout a household, are subject to recalls by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). A recall is an announcement from the CPSC that a specific product offers a significant risk to consumers. You should stop using the product and follow instructions in the recall announcement. That may mean calling the manufacturer for a replacement or some other remedy. Each recall announcement is for a specific model of product and the remedy is different for each product recalled. You can find out if products you’ve purchase have been recalled by contacting the CPSC at 1-800-638-2772 or online at cpsc.gov. You also can report unsafe products that you think should be recalled. The website is also available in languages other than English as well as TTY.


Easy Repair Tool Kits

FIK9706 Easy Repair Tool Kits

The BASIC Fix-It Kit contains tools needed for simple household repairs. Tools are heat treated and chrome plated to resist corrosion, and contained in a handy blow molded case.

The Fix-It Club offers simple instructions on how to troubleshoot and repair or recycle household things that break. An important part of any repair is selecting the best repair tools for the job.

Tool Basics

A tool is any mechanical implement that cuts, turns, grabs, attaches, or provides some other useful function. To perform major appliance repair, small appliance repair and most other repairs around your household you’ll need at least a few basic repair tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, drills, and pliers. There are additional repair tools for specific jobs, such as a toilet plunger, level, clamps, paint brushes, caulk gun, etc. You can find basic repair tools at local hardware stores or online at Fix-It Club Tools.

Basic Repair Tools

Which repair tools do you need in your fix-it toolbox? We recommend these basics:

  • A good quality 8- or 16-ounce curved-claw hammer for installing and removing nails
  • An adjustable wrench (6, 8, or 10 inches long) for tightening and loosening bolts
  • A set of screwdrivers or a combination screwdriver with assorted tips (standard and Phillips) for tightening and loosening screws
  • Adjustable pliers (6, 8, 10, or 12 inches long) for holding or turning things
FIK9408 Easy Repair Tool Kits

The BETTER Fix-It Kit contains all the tools necessary for most household projects. Tools are heat treated and chrome plated to resist corrosion, and are contained in a sturdy blow molded case with a built in carrying handle for convenient storage.

That’s about it. For less than the cost of replacing many broken household things, you can have the basic repair tools you need to fix hundreds of things in your household. Just make sure you buy at least medium quality. A cheap hammer is hardly worth its price. A medium-quality hammer may last you many years. Besides, you’ll probably save the cost of the tools on your first repair — and you get to keep the tools!

Better Repair Tools

You also can expand your budget to upgrade any of the basic repair tools covered here. For example, you can invest a couple dollars more to get a better set of screwdrivers or even a power screwdriver with assorted tips. If you want to add on to this basic toolbox to make tasks easier — or to make even more repairs — you can get these:

  • A basic multimeter for testing electrical voltage, current, and resistance.
  • Hand or power drill with assorted bits for drilling holes in wood, metal, or plastic
  • Wire stripper for cutting and removing the outer wrapper (insulation) from around electrical wires
  • Retractable-blade utility knife for cutting softer materials such as plastics
  • Measuring tape for measuring the height, width, or depth of various materials
  • Hand, hack, or power saw for cutting wood, plastic, or metal (depending on the blade used)
  • Set of wrenches (open- and closed-end) with standard (inches) and metric (millimeter) sizes for bolts and nuts
  • Socket wrench set with standard (U.S.) and metric sizes using 1/4-, 3/8-, or 1/2-inch ratchet drives for bolts and nuts
  • Allen wrench set for tightening and loosening Allen-head screws and bolts
  • Files are useful for removing excess metal, plastic, and wood.
FIK0773 Easy Repair Tool Kits

The BEST Fix-It Kit is a versatile array of tools for a wide variety of household projects. Tools are heat treated and chrome plated to resist corrosion, and are contained in a sturdy blow molded case with a built in carrying handle for convenient storage. Features an easy-to-use cordless screwdriver with 20 versatile tips.

In addition to common screws and screwdrivers, you may occasionally run in to spanner and Torx fasteners. Both are designed to resist tampering. A spanner bit has a notch in the middle (for fasteners sometimes found on coffee makers). Torx fasteners have six points. In addition, Torx tamper-resistant screws have a post in the center that makes it even more difficult to open (found on some microwaves). If you need to get past one of these fasteners, you can purchase these special tools at larger hardware stores or auto parts centers.

Basic Painting Tool Box

A basic tool kit for painting projects will include these items:

  • Paint brushes or paint pads for applying paint and other finishes to smaller surfaces (better brushes will cost more, but will last a lot longer and spread paint more easily and evenly)
  • Paint roller (frame and cover) and tray for applying paint and other finishes to larger surfaces (a better quality roller cover will last for years and apply paint more easily and evenly)
  • Cartridge gun for applying caulking and other sealers
  • Scrapers and sandpaper for removing paint and other finishes from wood, metal, or plastic
  • A-frame ladder or sturdy step-stool for reaching higher locations
FEFIG30 Easy Repair Tool Kits

These basic painting tools (tray, roller, cover, handle and brush) are all you need for touch-up painting jobs.

Fix-It Work Area

One of the keys to quick repairs is having a convenient place to work. Tools, standard parts, and good lighting are all together in one place. And it’s a place where you can leave things spread out if needed without complaints or losing parts.

Like where? To start, a corner of the dining room or a spare room will work. Parts and tools can be in a small tool chest or even a cardboard box. Nothing fancy, just efficient. Or you can use a small desk in an extra room or in your garage. A used student desk can be purchased for less than the cost of a repair and will give you working surface plus storage for tools and parts. Someday you may have a fix-it bench in the garage (as we do), or even a separate shop, with all the tools you’ve purchased with the money you’ve saved by fixing things yourself.


How to Repair Anything!

repair anything How to Repair Anything!

Following easy step-by-step illustrated instructions you can repair hundreds of household appliances and other things — including a coffee maker.

The Fix-It Club knows how to repair anything! Besides more than 200 illustrated FREE Fix-It Guides, FixItClub.com offers the Fix-It Process, a simple and logical way to troubleshoot and repair anything.

Fix-It Basics

What’s wrong with it? That’s the first big question in fixing broken things. Any broken things! It doesn’t matter whether you need door chime repair, gas grill repair, toy repair, or computer printer repair. You can repair stationary things, mechanical things, electrical things, and hybrid things. Figuring out what’s wrong with it is the most important task. Once you know what’s wrong with it, you’re well on the way to fixing it—or making an informed decision not to. Figuring out what’s wrong with something may sound obvious, but it’s often the step that keeps folks from fixing things easily.

household battery1 How to Repair Anything!

It’s easy to test small batteries that power dozens of small appliances and toys.

The Fix-It Process

Troubleshooting is a problem-solving process with the goal of returning an item to its as-designed state. The item doesn’t work at all, doesn’t work correctly, doesn’t work efficiently, or doesn’t stop working. You can fix anything if you know how to troubleshoot it. And you can troubleshoot if you understand how an item works and how to figure out why it doesn’t work. Here’s the process:

  • What does this thing do?
  • How is it supposed to work?
  • What isn’t this thing doing that it should do?
  • What’s the possible cause(s) of the problem?
  • What parts and tools will I need to fix it?
  • What are the steps to fixing it?
  • Once fixed, does it now work?
COFFEEMAKER4 300x224 How to Repair Anything!

Testing an appliance control or switch is easy with a multimeter or volt-ohm meter (VOM).

For example, a coffee maker, obviously, is an apparatus for brewing coffee. There are two types of coffee makers: drip and percolator. A drip coffee maker is designed to heat water then pump it to drip through the coffee basket and into a carafe. Most drip coffee makers also keep the carafe of coffee warm. That’s a drip coffee maker’s as-designed state; that’s what it’s supposed to do. What does it not do? In our example, the drip coffee maker doesn’t keep the coffee hot, though everything else works. Knowing how a coffee maker is supposed to work, you will identify the problem to be within the warming element or controls. To check it you need a multimeter for testing these components. Then, following the specific steps in the Coffee Maker Fix-It Guide, you disassemble, test, and, if needed, replace the part. Finally, you can brew yourself some coffee and know that it will stay warm.

Easy Repairs

faucet3 How to Repair Anything!

Learn how to fix any type of faucet with clear instructions from the Fix-It Club.

So, that’s the fix-it process . You can apply it to every thing that’s broken. That’s because the fix-it process works for every thing. It’s a simplified version of a time-tested problem-solving system. If it’s fixable, you can do it! Let’s take a look at some of the things that you can restore to working condition using the fix-it process. They include stationary, mechanical, electrical, and hybrid things. Every thing in your household falls into these categories. Now you know how to repair anything. Visit the Fix-It Club! It’s free!