Fixing the dishwasher

The Internet Is Saving Me a Fortune in Appliance Repairs

Geek Culture
Fixing the dishwasher
Last weekend’s fun home project gets underway. Photo by Brad Moon

I often tend to think of the Internet as a time and money suck. I don’t even do the Facebook thing, but far too much of my day seems to involve being online. And too much of that time is taking advantage of the one-click, delivery-to-the-door shopping experience. It’s just way too easy to buy another hard drive, a better keyboard or — while I’m at it —  a new computer, thanks to Amazon and others. However, much as the Internet has drained my time and resources, it also gives back. For example, I’ve saved a small fortune in appliance repairs.

Let me explain how this works.

We bought a new high efficiency, front-loading washing a few years back. And once the warranty was up, right on cue it began having problems draining. I’m not the world’s handiest guy, but I’m willing to tackle a project given decent instructions. Before calling for service, I searched online using the appliance make, model and symptoms. Bingo, I found a YouTube video from someone purporting to be an appliance repair technician, showing exactly how to remove a panel, drain the excess water and pull a likely clog from a concealed filter.

No mention of this procedure in the manual, just a call for service number. And word on the street that the “repair” runs around $250 per call.

With the washer no longer under warranty and the video for guidance, I unplugged the power, took out some screws and sheet metal, got a little wet, but removed a handful of dog fur, coins and granola bar wrappers out of innards of the machine. It worked perfectly after that.

I’ve got the washing machine filter clearing down to a science now after having done it a dozen times or so (with my daughter starting to do her own laundry, it’s a regular lost and found in that filter).

Last weekend it was the dishwasher, also recently out of warranty. After weeks of shutting off repeatedly mid-cycle, it refused to run altogether. A quick search on the error code (which was supposed to be a service call, according to the manual) and I found another YouTube video showing the fix for what is apparently a common problem with this model. The How-To video was comprehensive enough that I was able to pull out the dishwasher, remove a shield to access a float tank, remove the tank, dissemble it and clean out all the guck that had accumulated, then put it all back together good as new.

There’s no way I would have figured that one out on my own and I can just imagine what the repair would have cost. A lot more than an hour or two of my spare time.

I should have spent more of that spare time reading the crappy reviews for the dishwasher on Amazon before buying it, but at least I can get cheap OEM replacement parts online should I need them.

I wouldn’t attempt anything truly dangerous, no matter how good the instructions, and I’m careful to corroborate any repair advice — just in case someone is putting out fake instructions that end in a write-off — but I’m feeling like the Internet has become somewhat of an equalizer between consumers and manufacturers/service centers.

Of course, any money I’ve saved inevitably goes back to back to feeding, clothing and entertaining kids, or keeping up with the latest tech toys so the win is short-lived.

The web giveth and it taketh…

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5 thoughts on “The Internet Is Saving Me a Fortune in Appliance Repairs

  1. Boy, do I know where you’re coming from about cleaning the trap on the washer. With two teenage boys, I am regularly culling coins, paper clips, robotics parts, etc. from that trap. In addition to getting great info from the web, having a trustworthy repair guy can also be a money saver. Mine told me that American dimes can get caught and block the pipes in my Swedish washer, and showed me exactly where they stop. With an extension mirror and curved needle nosed pliers, I can pull those suckers out every time, saving an expensive service call.

  2. Sears Parts Direct is a great resource for parts and owner’s manuals. They even sell parts for products they do not carry in store. And Sears has been doing this for decades before the internet.

  3. Until you get into some really specialized things (which sadly I get a lot at work), there is little the Internet cannot solve for you.

    I swear proper search techniques and validation of results (making sure enough agree, and looking for disagreement which is credible, all in a timely fashion) should be taught in schools as a life skill.

    There are also quite a few sites which acquire and host manuals for ancient equipment that predates digital documentation. If you have any user manuals for obscure things, I would say look for it online as a PDF, and if you cannot find a copy easily, scan to PDF and upload somewhere. Help out any number of random people years down the road that way.

  4. I kid you Bing search saved me $170. My Samsung dryer wasn’t drying and I was IMing with a Sear rep to buy there repair service when I decided to wait and run the search of the model number. Come to find there was a parts suppler who had free YouTube videos on how to troubleshoot and repair my dryer. I ordered the part, followed the steps in the video and had the job done in about 2 hours.

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