Fix Anything in Your Home

by admin on August 6, 2010

What’s wrong with it? That’s the first big question in fixing broken things. Any broken things! It doesn’t matter whether it’s a door chime, a barbecue grill, a child’s toy, or a computer printer. 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.
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?
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 instructions, you disassemble, test, and, if needed, replace the part. Finally, you can brew yourself some coffee and know that it will stay warm.
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!
What household things can you 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.
Disassembling Household Things
Disassembling things is an important part of repair. You’ll want to be able to reassemble an item properly whether it’s done today, tomorrow, or once you’ve found some parts a month from now. Here are tips for smart disassembly:
* Find a place where you can leave everything out for an hour or a day, if you need to stop and get additional parts.
* Make notes on disassembly and needed parts numbers.
* For tougher repairs or when you know it will be awhile before you can get replacement parts, use a film or digital camera to take photos of the disassembly process.
* If you know you will be reassembling everything within the next couple of hours, lay the parts in a line as they come off, left to right, and reassemble right to left.
* Use old muffin pans, empty frozen dinner dishes, clean coffee cans, or other containers to collect parts as they are removed.
Intimidated by what you see when you open up something to fix it? Don’t be. Most things are made of components, more than one part. And each of these components is replaceable. It’s just a matter if figuring how the thing works, which parts or components don’t work, and replacing the problem part(s).
Most parts either twist on or plug in. For example, disassembling an appliance requires untwisting (unscrewing) fasteners that hold the outside body together. Once inside, you may need to unscrew or unplug other parts. Many components are plugged together, especially electrical parts. For example, a couple of wires enter one side of a plastic plug and other wires run out the other side. To disconnect the part, find a tab on the connector and lift it or apply pressure to it and carefully pull the connector apart. Install the replacement component by plugging the two halves of the connector together. Most connectors go together only one way, so it’s relatively easy.You’ll find that many consumer items are assembled using screws, clips, or both. In fact, if you don’t find a screw or clip, the manufacturer is probably telling you there’s nothing inside that the consumer can fix. You may be able to replace the entire component, however.
Some parts may be hard to remove because they are friction-fit (fit snugly) to a shaft. Don’t force friction-fit parts; they may break. Instead, use a wide-bladed screwdriver under the coupling to carefully twist and lift the coupling upward. If that doesn’t work, try heating the coupling slightly (try a hair dryer) to expand the part enough to pull it from the shaft. Or slip a pair of thin wood wedges under the coupling. Then push the wedges toward each other and lift. If none of these succeeds in separating the friction-fit part from the shaft, you may have to take the appliance to a professional.
Some manufacturers use a pressure clip to hold a product’s case together. To disassemble, look for a notch along the seam and insert the tip of a straight screwdriver to push and turn the clip, opening the case. Make sure you unclip all of the notches and remove all screws before disassembling the body or you could break one of the small clips.
You can fix it!

Dan Ramsey is the president of, offering simple instructions and tips on troubleshooting and repairing or replacing household things that break. Dan has authored 91 how-to books including Common Repairs Made Easy!


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