Steps to Fixing Major Appliances

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How to Take Apart Major Appliances

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Spring clips can be difficult to locate. To remove a panel held by spring clips, use a putty knife to find each clip and gently push against it to release the panel.

Before attempting to fix a major appliance, it’s important to take it apart first. Disassembling major appliances can vary depending on the brand, but the procedure is generally the same: remove the parts in reverse order of how the manufacturer put them together. Consult the owner’s manual for diagrams and instructions on assembly. Keep in mind that you’ll have to put the appliance back together, so organize the parts in the order they were removed with fasteners close by. If you’re unsure about the reassembly process, take notes and make drawings as you work. Label all terminals and wires if more than one wire needs to be disconnected at a time.

To disassemble a major appliance, start with the obvious knobs and fasteners. Many knobs and dials can be pulled off their control shafts. Knobs may also be held in place with screws, springs or spring clips, or pins. All these types of fasteners are easy to remove. Housing panels are usually held by screws or bolts and may also be held in place by tabs. Sometimes, parts may be force-fitted and hard to remove. Never force parts apart; look for hidden fasteners. For example, there may be no visible fasteners holding the top of a washer in place. However, you can locate the clips that hold the top of the washer down by sticking the blade of a putty knife into the seam where the top panel meets the side panel. Run the knife along the seam until you hit an obstruction; this is a spring clip. To release the clip, push the blade of the knife directly into the clip while pushing up on the top panel. Repeat this procedure to locate and remove any other spring clips holding the top panel in place. Then lift the panel off.

Fasteners may also be hidden under a nameplate or company logo, behind a barely visible plastic plug, under a cork pad on the bottom of the appliance, or under an attachment plate. Carefully pry up the part that is hiding the fastener. When reassembling the appliance, snap the part concealing the fastener back over it, or, if necessary, glue it into place. If you can’t find hidden fasteners on force-fitted parts, warm the parts slightly with a heating pad to make disassembly easier. Inside the appliance, look for clips holding parts to the housing panel.

Before reassembling a major appliance, vacuum the inside of the appliance thoroughly to remove all dust and lint. Check for other issues and make any necessary repairs or adjustments. If the appliance has a motor, lubricate it. Check carbon brushes in universal motors for wear and replace them if necessary. Lubricate moving parts sparingly and ensure electrical contacts are clean.

Reassemble the appliance in reverse order of disassembly. Never force parts together or overtighten fasteners. Ensure moving parts, like armatures or gears, don’t bind. After reassembly, connect the power and turn it on. If it makes noise, smells, or overheats, turn it off and disconnect the power. Then go back over your repair.

Importance of Grounding Systems

Nowadays, houses have electrical outlets with a three-wire system, which includes a grounding device that functions similarly to the grounding wire in stationary appliances. It is crucial to plug large appliances with two blades and a prong into a grounded outlet or use a special adapter plug. It is highly dangerous to remove the prong from a three-wire plug to fit an ungrounded outlet.

Proper grounding is critical for metal-framed appliances. If the insulation of the power cord of a metal-framed appliance (such as a dryer or washer) is damaged or worn out where the cord enters the frame, it can charge the entire appliance with electricity. This can cause a shock hazard, especially in damp environments, even if the appliance is correctly grounded. Touching a charged metal frame in a damp area or while touching a water faucet or radiator can lead to surging of the current through the body, which can be fatal.

There are three ways to eliminate this hazard. First, ensure that the major appliances are appropriately grounded. Second, make sure the appliance cords are in good condition, not chafing against burrs or rough spots where they enter the frame. Third, add a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFI or GFCI) to the circuit. GFIs are monitoring devices that instantly shut off a circuit when a current leak occurs. They are required by the National Electrical Code for all new 15-amp and 20-amp outdoor outlets and wiring in bathrooms, where dampness is a common problem. You can install other types yourself, but a professional electrician should install the circuit-breaker type. GFIs are available at electrical supply and home center stores.

Safety Measures for Double-Insulated Appliances

Double-insulated appliances and power tools have electrical components isolated from any parts that could carry electrical current. However, they are not entirely shock-safe, and caution should be exercised while using them. For instance, never operate an electric drill while standing on a wet surface or drill into a wall where power lines may be present. It is highly recommended to have double-insulated appliances and tools repaired by a professional because their double insulation relies on a plastic housing and a plastic buffer between electricity-carrying parts. If these plastic parts are not correctly positioned, the appliance or tool can produce a harmful electrical shock. Appliances and tools that are double insulated are usually labeled as such.

As we have seen, safety measures around electricity are crucial. In the next section, we will discuss how to repair power cords and plugs.


1. What are major appliances?

Major appliances refer to household appliances that are large and are used for performing tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry. These appliances include refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers.

2. What are some common problems with major appliances?

Some common problems with major appliances include faulty electrical connections, clogged filters, broken belts, worn out hoses, and malfunctioning motors. These problems may result in the appliance not functioning as it should, or in some cases, not working at all.

3. Should I attempt to repair my major appliance myself?

It is not recommended to attempt major appliance repairs yourself if you are not experienced in this area. Repairing appliances involves working with electricity, gas, and water, which can be dangerous if not handled correctly. It is best to hire a professional for major appliance repairs to ensure safety and proper repair.

4. How can I find a reliable appliance repair service?

You can find a reliable appliance repair service by asking for recommendations from friends and family, checking online reviews, and looking for companies that are licensed and insured. It is also important to ask for a written estimate before hiring a repair service to avoid any unexpected costs.

5. How much does it cost to repair a major appliance?

The cost of repairing a major appliance varies depending on the type of appliance, the extent of the damage, and the cost of replacement parts. On average, the cost of repairing a major appliance can range from $100 to $400 or more.

6. How often should I have my major appliances serviced?

It is recommended to have major appliances serviced once a year to ensure proper functioning and prevent potential problems. Regular maintenance can also extend the lifespan of the appliance and save you money in the long run.

7. Can I prevent major appliance problems?

Yes, you can prevent major appliance problems by performing regular maintenance such as cleaning filters, checking electrical connections, and replacing worn out parts. It is also important to use the appliance according to the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid overloading the appliance.

8. What should I do if my major appliance breaks down?

If your major appliance breaks down, turn off the power supply and unplug the appliance. Do not attempt to repair the appliance yourself. Instead, call a professional appliance repair service to diagnose and repair the problem.

9. How can I extend the lifespan of my major appliances?

You can extend the lifespan of your major appliances by performing regular maintenance, using the appliance according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and avoiding overloading the appliance. It is also important to address any problems as soon as they arise to prevent further damage.

10. Can I recycle my old major appliances?

Yes, you can recycle your old major appliances. Many appliance retailers offer recycling programs, and there are also local recycling centers that accept major appliances. Recycling your old appliances is an environmentally friendly option and can also save you money on disposal fees.

11. What should I do if my major appliance is beyond repair?

If your major appliance is beyond repair, it is time to replace it. When shopping for a new appliance, consider energy efficiency, warranty, and the appliance’s features to ensure you are getting the best value for your money. You can also recycle your old appliance to reduce waste and help the environment.

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