For someone staring at the possibility of an appliance repair bill, one question they may have is about whether the work needs to be done. Take a look at how appliance owners can determine whether that's the case.
Turning It Off and Back On
Sometimes a system just needs to go through a power cycle to get back to normal operating condition. If simply turning it off and then back on doesn't do the trick, you may also want to consider unplugging it for a minute or two, plugging it back in, and trying to cycle it again. Unless you're worried there's an electrical problem with the machine, this is a cost-free trick to try, even if it doesn't stand a great chance of working.
Fuses and Breakers
There are plenty of cases where the problem is further downstream than the appliance. Go to the electrical panel for your house and identify the right section for the part of the house where the appliance is. If one of the breakers is switched off, try turning it back on to see what happens. Notably, a second kick to the breaker is probably a sign there may be trouble.
Some appliances also have fuse panels built-in. It's always worth the effort to access the panel and see if the fuse is blown. Unplug the appliance before doing this. Remove the fuse and see if it looks smoky. If so, take the fuse with you to a hardware place so you can find a replacement.
Appliances plugged in near sinks and bathroom fixtures may be on circuits with what are called ground-fault interrupts, too. Some people also install ground-faults on outdoor power sockets. If an appliance is plugged into one of these, hit the reset button, and try to run the appliance again.
For appliances that vent out of the house, such as dryers or range hoods, you should check the condition of the vent. For example, small particles of lint and pieces of dryer sheets sometimes clog the screens on vents. Simply clearing these out may fix an appliance that is running but doesn't appear to be getting the job done.
If you're comfortable disconnecting water lines, this is a great place to check for trouble. Dirt, debris, and mineral build-up can clog water lines into things like dishwashers and washing machines. If you can see into the area where the lines tie in, you may be able to spot a clog and remove it with needle-nosed pliers.
For more information or help, contact an appliance repair service.