The Hidden Dangers of DIY Appliance Repairs: When to Call A Professional

There is an abundance of information out there on how to repair, modify, and build nearly everything: YouTube tutorials and DIY blogs are exceptionally helpful resources for tasks as mundane as changing a headlight or as extravagant as building a home recording studio. With so much information shared by confident presenters, it’s tempting to tackle your own home DIY appliance repair regardless of the complexity. After all, many of us like the idea of saving some money and enjoying the satisfaction of fixing something with our own two hands. We get it!

But before you roll up those sleeves and tear apart your dishwasher or fridge, it’s important that you consider the potential risks involved with these types of repairs. In this blog post, we will uncover the unseen hazards that come with some seemingly simple tasks and call extra attention to when it’s smart to put down the tools, step away from the appliance, and call in the pros.

To DIY, or Not?

Over the past few years, there has been an impressive surge in DIY culture, powered by endless online tutorials, home improvement shows, and a growing desire for self-sufficiency in response to a culture of convenience. From home renovations to appliance repair, a DIY approach is a point of pride for many. There’s no denying the sense of gratification that comes with taking repairs into your own hands, and each DIY project translates to real-world skills that you develop along the way.

However, it’s important for your safety that not all tasks are suitable for DIY: especially when dealing with appliances.

Common DIY Appliance Repair Mistakes and Their Consequences

DIY appliance repairs can be risky if they aren’t done properly, which is why there are many times when it’s important to contact a certified technician. Here are a few of the most common repair mistakes that people make:

Compromising Safety

This is the big one. Your safety, and the safety of everyone in your home, should be paramount.

Firstly, many appliances are powered by electricity, meaning that any repair work involves the risk of a shock if there is a fault in your wiring. Even a minor shock can cause serious or fatal injuries, and an electrical failure can easily lead to a fire.

Many other appliances, like stoves and dryers, are powered by propane or natural gas. If they are not serviced correctly, they can leak gas into your home, creating a risk of fire, explosions, or severe health problems.

Lastly, reassembling the appliance correctly is absolutely essential. Even failing to torque a screw to the right specs may lead to malfunctioning parts, leaks, or other serious problems that can cause damage to your home or harm the people who live there.

Voiding the Warranty

Many repairs could void your appliance’s warranty, meaning that if you run into trouble with the appliance, you may have no option other than to foot the entire bill yourself for a repair or replacement. When a manufacturer sees that the tamper-proof sticker is broken, indicating that someone has been into the appliance, or there are other signs of unauthorized work, they’ll point out that there is no way to determine whether this is a manufacturer issue or something caused by the repairs.

Check your warranty before cracking your appliance open. If it is out of warranty already, you don’t need to worry about inadvertently voiding it.

Overlooking Critical Measures

Something as simple as replacing the seals on your oven seems like a very straightforward process: either the seals are seated correctly, or your oven door won’t close correctly. Right? Well, yes and no. While your repair may seem to have been done 100%, time will tell. Things like using the right type of seal, correct alignment, and ensuring the seal is going to last are all important things that might not be immediately apparent and can lead to strain on your appliance.

Overlooking simple but critical measures can ultimately render your repairs ineffective, either leaving you with the same problem; or worse, causing further damage. In some cases, this may even turn a minor issue into a major problem that requires a full replacement.

Using Incorrect Tools

DIY repair work may mean that you aren’t using purpose-made tools for the appliance, which a certified technician will have. Many appliances have screws and bolts that require specific screwdrivers or wrenches. Even if you are able to turn the screws with a different type, it can cause damage to the hardware, making it difficult to remove and reinstall.

Some tasks will require you to use electrical testing tools like multimeters to diagnose, locate, and repair issues. Proper knowledge of how to use these tools is essential to make sure the repair is done properly, and the appliance is safely reassembled.

Using makeshift or “good enough” tools or methods can ultimately cause more harm than good. Even the relatively simple act of disassembling an appliance without the right tools can warp components or break things which will only lead to more repair work.

Electrical Hazards and Safety Precautions

One of the most significant risks with appliance repair is working with electricity. Mishandling electrical appliances can lead to shocks, fires, explosions, and damage to your home’s electrical system.

Electrical shocks are the primary risk, even when an appliance is switched off and unplugged. Certain components can retain a charge and deliver a life-threatening shock.

Understanding the appropriate safety measures, like unplugging the appliance, using insulated tools, and wearing the correct protective equipment, are all great starts, but working with electricity requires proper training.

Working knowledge of how to correctly install and insulate wiring is a central precaution, as is understanding circuits and load capacities.

Gas Hazards and Safety Precautions

Gas-powered appliances like stoves, ovens, water heaters, and some clothes dryers also have unique risks that are much different than their electric counterparts. Mishandling them can lead to serious problems.

Gas leaks are one of the most immediate dangers when working with gas appliances. If a gas line or connection is damaged during the repair, gas can leak into your home and cause a fire or explosion. Even if it doesn’t ignite, the gas can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and can cause you to lose consciousness. Serious enough exposure can be fatal.

Another risk of an improper repair is carbon monoxide, which is an odorless, colorless, deadly gas. When properly-working appliances burn gas, they produce carbon monoxide but then vent this dangerous gas outside. If the gas is not igniting properly or the venting system is faulty, carbon monoxide can build up in your home.

Given these risks, and countless others, it’s best to have a professional handle your gas appliance repairs. Even something as simple as disconnecting a pressurized fuel line can be dangerous, so it’s important to have a trained and certified professional diagnose and repair the appliance in question.

Safety Certifications and Regulations

Professional appliance repair technicians have a variety of certifications they typically hold and adhere to strict regulations in order to ensure successful repair and safe handling. These certifications establish a standard of competency and also provide you with peace of mind.

There are several different certifications that appliance repair technicians can earn, including the National Appliance Service Technician Certification and Professional Service Association’s Certified Appliance Professional program. These certifications require technicians to demonstrate their knowledge of a variety of appliances and through a number of different repair processes.

In addition to certifications, appliance repair technicians also have a host of safety regulations they must adhere to, including those set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Fire Protection Association. These regulations address everything from proper handling of electrical and gas fittings to the appropriate personal protective equipment and safe work practices for the job.

When a technician is working on your appliances with the relevant certifications and a deep understanding of safety regulations, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to safely and effectively repair your appliance.

Instead of exposing yourself to the potential of lacerations, burns, strains, electrocution, poisoning, or serious damage to your home, hiring a trained and certified professional can give you the peace of mind you need. There are good reasons why certifications are so important in the world of appliance repair, and by working with licensed professionals, you can enjoy the benefits.

Why Professional Appliance Repair Is Usually Your Best Option

While the allure of DIY repair might be tempting, the risks and challenges often make professional repair a more viable — and safer — option. Not only do the professionals have the certifications, the tools, and the experience, but they will also save you valuable time and provide greater convenience that DIY work lacks. Even diagnosing the issue can be time-consuming and frustrating, often resulting in multiple trips to the hardware store for specialized tools in order to establish a repair strategy.

Professional repairs eliminate these frustrations and more, freeing up your time and energy while giving you peace of mind during a stress-free and convenient repair process.

Our conclusion? While DIY can seem like a great way to save money, these repairs often come at significant costs, including time, convenience, and safety. In contrast, a professional repair leads to a quick, easy, and low-stress solution.