Have a broken appliance? Tips for getting it fixed while saving money

Stefany and Spencer Elliott were excited to buy a home in New Jersey last fall.

But then?

"As soon as we moved in, we discovered that the refrigerator was no longer working," Stefany told Good Morning America. "We did a couple loads of laundry and discovered that there was a buildup in our dryer system."

They didn't have much experience with repairing appliances.

"My being able to kind of fix it was pretty much just turn it off and turn it on again," she said.

Because of the pandemic, it was hard to find someone who was available to fix it.

"When we figured out we had to do a lot of these things, we did a lot of Google searches, a lot of YouTube scrolling through videos," she said.

Consumer Reports has a formula: If an appliance repair costs around 50 percent of the original purchase price, it's time to replace it. But the pandemic messed with that option too.

"The pandemic has made that much more complicated now," said Sara Morrow, deputy home editor for Consumer Reports. "Appliance manufacturers and dealers that we've spoken with/they're telling us that the shortages aren't likely to ease up any soon."

Beyond the turn it off and turn it back on method, Consumer Reports advises simple repair techniques you can try.

"The refrigerator...if you're noticing that it's not keeping food as cool as it once was you can clean the condenser coil. This is something that you should really do every six months," Morrow said.

If your dishwasher isn't doing a good job cleaning, check the filter and spray arms to see if they're clogged and clean them.

For the clothes dryer?

"If you're noticing that your clothes are taking longer to get dry, investigate is the duct in the back behind the machine," Morrow said.

Clean out any lint that has built up, which is also a potential fire hazard.

And if you can't do the repair on your own?

You can check out RepairClinic.com.

Repair Clinic sells appliance parts. It's website also has more than 5,000 how-to videos for repairing appliances, 10,000 repair instructions and a 24/7 phone number to call for advice, all for free.

"We've seen demand for services increase because more and more things are breaking, there's tremendous need. There's also a need to save money," said Repair Clinic CEO Bob Burk.e

Doing their own repairs, the Elliotts said they saved more than $3,000.

"We're in a pandemic. We wanted to minimize the number of people coming in and out of our home. But it also turned into an opportunity for us to save a lot of money," Stefany said.
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