Home appliances work hard, year after year. It’s easy to take them for granted until they don’t.

Before you call in a repair technician, try these appliance troubleshooting tips. They can save you time and money! Almost every seemingly broken appliance has an easily fixable problem. Whether it’s a freezer that’s not cooling or an oven that’s not heating.

1. Flashlight

You may have to call a professional to fix some appliances, but others are very simple to troubleshoot and repair. Knowing how to tackle these basic problems can save you money and stress in the long run.

The switch on a flashlight has two metal contact strips that connect to the battery spring and the bulb when you press the switch. Over time, these contacts can become corroded or bent, preventing them from making a clean connection.

Try bypassing the switch by using a piece of bare wire to see if this fixes the problem. Always remember to turn off breakers and use a noncontact voltage tester or multimeter before working on electrical wiring. Also, be sure to work in a well-lit and ventilated space.

2. Electrical Tape

Whether it’s a phone charger, a power cord on an appliance, or even your headphone cord, electrical tape is a handy tool to have around. It can cover small holes and frayed areas of wire, as well as help mark which cores are hot, neutral, and ground on a plug.

A multimeter can also be used to test for voltage on appliance parts like switches. With the probes plugged into the negative/common jack and the function switch set to AC VOLTS, touch the probe tips to the input and output connectors of the switch to see if there is voltage present. If it’s not, you may need to replace the switch. Be sure to turn off your breakers and work in a well-lit and ventilated space.

3. Screwdriver

Modern appliances make many tasks much faster and easier, but they can also be very frustrating when they stop working. Thankfully, most appliance issues aren’t as severe as they seem.

Before calling a repair technician, try some simple steps to get your appliance up and running again. For example, if your garbage disposal seems to be having problems, check the reset button. This button is used to clear a jam and can fix the problem in seconds.

Electric screwdrivers often break down due to the accumulation of dust, dirt and copper filings on their armature. To restore the functionality of your electric screwdriver, clean the copper connections by sanding them to remove any deposits and then wipe down the rest of the device with a soft cloth.

4. Screwdriver Bits

Appliances make life easier, but they can also be a pain when they stop working. Thankfully, many appliance problems are easy to troubleshoot and fix.

One common problem is called ‘cam-out,’ which occurs when the driver bit slips out of the recessed slot in the head of a screw. This can be damaging to both the screw and the driver bit. Some types of screw heads and bits, such as the Phillips head (cross or cruciform shape) and the Pozidriv alternative, are specifically designed to prevent cam-out.

Always turn off the power to an appliance before beginning any work! Use a non-contact voltage tester or multimeter to verify the circuit breakers and electrical wires are turned off. Then you can start to investigate the problem.

5. Multimeter

While some appliance problems may require a professional to fix, many can be fixed by a homeowner. By taking the time to learn how to troubleshoot appliances and knowing which tools are needed, homeowners can save money by preventing expensive repair services.

One of the most common causes of appliance malfunction is a faulty switch. This can be caused by a simple switch setting misadjustment or a broken onboard switch component. Using a multimeter can quickly verify the condition of a switch by checking its continuity. Set the meter to the voltage AC (voltage) function and attach the test leads to each outlet prong. Connect the black probe to the outlet’s hot wire and the red probe to the neutral connector (white wire) or ground hole.

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