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The Home Depot

5 Appliance Troubleshooting Tips and Tricks

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Appliance > 5 Appliance Troubleshooting Tips and Tricks
5 Appliance Troubleshooting Tips and Tricks

With regular use, household appliances will eventually break down or wear out. Often when something stops working on a refrigerator or dryer, it’s one part and not the entire appliance. If you have a little do-it-yourself experience, you might even be able to troubleshoot and fix your own appliances.


By learning five appliance troubleshooting tips and tricks from the pros, you’ll be ready to cut your repair bills down to size.

  1. 1.Eliminate the Obvious

    If you have a little do-it-yourself experience, you might even be able to troubleshoot and fix your own appliances.

    Before you get too far in over your head, take a few moments to check some things to make sure the problem isn’t something super simple. If your appliance isn’t operating at all – won’t turn on or run – the first thing to check is the plug to make sure it’s secure in the outlet. The next place to check is your fuse box or circuit breakers to make sure you haven’t blown a fuse or tripped a circuit breaker. After you’ve satisfied yourself that the problem is more complicated, unplug the appliance to break all electricity connection. If you can’t unplug the appliance, then cut power to it at your fuse box or circuit breaker box. Don’t forget to shut off a gas line if you’re repairing a gas-powered appliance.

  2. 2.Familiarize Yourself

    Take some time to get acquainted with the design of the appliance. With the owner’s manual in one hand and the appliance in front of you, study schematics so you have a firm understanding of the layout of the parts. Many manuals come with charts and diagrams of appliance parts. If you have an assembly manual as well, this can be invaluable for troubleshooting an appliance because you have even more in-depth information about where the important components lie within the appliance.

  3. 3.Safety

    Use a common tip among electricians and others who work on electric devices. Whenever you are working on electrical equipment and there is any risk of electrical shock, keep your nondominant hand in your pocket. The reason for this is simple – if you do receive a shock, the current will travel from your hand to the ground in a straight line. If you don’t have your hand in your pocket, the current will travel from one hand to the other – right through your heart – before it travels to the ground. The difference in electrical paths might mean the difference between an eye-opening jolt and a fatal shock.


    Wear shoes with rubber soles, wear eye protection and remove all jewelry before working with electric appliances, too.

  4. 4.Cleaning

    Whenever you’re servicing an appliance with a blower or a fan, the best place to start is with a thorough cleaning. Because these moving parts attract dust, it’s very likely that they have a thick coating of grime inside that may be preventing proper function.


    Use a new paintbrush to brush away the dust from the inside components. The soft bristles of the paintbrush should remove dust without damaging fragile parts. Avoid cans of compressed air on intricate components. You could end up displacing dust elsewhere inside the appliance, which could cause more problems.

  5. 5.Lubricating

    Although you may be tempted to try lubricating appliances to get them working again, it’s best not to add lubrication unless you are 100 percent sure of what you are doing. Sometimes adding too much lubrication can be more damaging to an appliance than having too little lubrication. If you do decide to lubricate, use light machine oil on metal parts and silicone grease on plastic parts.


    With a little effort and luck, you may just be able to save yourself the expense of a home service call.

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