Whether due to bad luck or a lack of maintenance, certain appliance problems occur frequently. In many cases, they can be recognized and fixed quickly, without needing to call a professional technician. Here are some basic repairs that are easy to handle on your own.

Unclogging a washer drain filter

Your washer stops and the tank won’t drain itself? Many small objects (such as coins, hairpins, baby stockings or reusable wipes) can get washed away during the drain cycle and become stuck in the drain filter.

Start by unplugging the washer, then raising the appliance slightly (by resting it against a piece of wood) so that you can unscrew the front panel. Have a towel and a large plastic container handy. Slowly unscrew the drain filter and collect the water that drains out using the container. Continue until the flow dries out. If your laundry room is located in the basement and has a floor drain nearby, you can also empty the water directly into it.

Completely remove the drain filter and rid it of any accumulated debris or small items. Finally, put the part back where it was, screw the front panel back in place, return the unit to its original position and reconnect it to power.

To prevent this kind of problem, empty your pockets before washing your clothes and avoid overloading your appliance.

Cleaning refrigerator coils

Your refrigerator suddenly stopped working on a hot day? Dirt and animal hair build-up on the coils’ surface can cause the condenser to overheat and set off a safety switch.

Unplug the refrigerator and locate the coils. Depending on the model, you’ll find them either at the back of the appliance or in front, hidden behind the grill. Vacuum away the dust. You can use a coil brush (available in hardware stores) to clean hard-to-reach spots.

If the safety switch has been triggered, you may have to wait a few hours before it cools down and the appliance resumes working on its own.

Unclogging a dishwasher

If plates and glasses come out of the dishwasher encrusted with dirt, or if the appliance stops in the middle of the wash cycle and the bottom of the reservoir is full of water, food build-up in the filter is probably the cause.

Unplug the appliance or close the circuit breaker for your safety. Remove the bottom drawer completely to allow easier access to the reservoir. Unscrew the food filter to clean it, and remove any food scraps that may have accumulated in the drain. If you can’t spot the filter (e.g., if the dishwasher is filled with opaque, dirty water), refer to your user guide for instructions. Make sure that the drain hose is clear, that it’s not being crushed by any objects, and that nothing seems to be stuck in it.

Put all the parts back in place, reconnect the dishwasher and start a quick wash cycle, paying attention to the appliance to make sure it now functions properly.