Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Do It Yourself and Save Money

A great way to save money is to learn how to do routine home repairs yourself. I can do many minor repair and maintenance items. When we lived in a 100 year old house, we had about $500 to $1000 in savings a year. Now we live in a 20 year old house and probably save about $300 to $500 a year.

Here is an example of a typical do-it-yourself project for me.

Last week our dishwasher stopped draining. The issue had been occurring sporadically, but we had been able to correct the problem by using the “cancel” cycle. This time, we had to manually scoop out the water.

Being an engineer, I am inclined to try to fix things myself. Here are my usual steps to fix something. If these three steps don’t resolve the problem, we call in a professional service.

Look for the obvious. I checked for a clog. In the past, I had removed paper labels, which seem to help the issue. This time I didn’t find anything. If the dishwasher didn’t turn on at all, I would look for typical obvious causes such as blown fuses, tripped circuit breakers, a switch in the off position, or a door not being closed.

Read the instruction manual. Often the answer is available in the “trouble shooting” section. The manual listed a number of issues, but not “water does not drain.” By now, I had concluded that I needed to look into the pump. However, the instruction manual didn’t have a diagram of the pump.

Ask a repair technician. I have found that repair services are willing to diagnose issues over the phone for no charge. The technician immediately asked if a garbage disposal had just been installed. Most people forget to remove a tab that allows the water to drain. Next he speculated the drain tube was clogged. I kept asking about the pump. Although he was pretty sure it was the drain tube, he explained how to access the pump inlet.

To make a long story short, it turned out the technician was correct. The drain tube was clogged with food sediment. It took about a half an hour to take apart the tube, clean it out and replace it. This repair took about an hour since I “needed” to look at the pump:-)

Money saved - $69.95 service call and labor charge ($70 per hour). I know some people consider the fixing thing an economically bad use of time. For me, I consider this $139.95 of “found” money since I can use the money for something else.

To note, I also know my limitations:-) I can change out light fixtures and switches, but not rewire a house. I can install a thermostat, but not a furnace. I can repair a faucet, but cannot solder pipe. For the areas which I have little skill, we hire professionals.

Photo Credit:, Jane M. Saywer

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2006 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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