Three simple DIY appliance repair projects

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Check out these common appliance problems with simple, do-it-yourself fixes.

Problem: Dishwasher is not cleaning well or not cleaning at all.

Possible fix: Water inlet valve replacement.

When a dishwasher is no longer cleaning as it should, it may have a water flow problem. It may be underfilling, overfilling or not filling the tub. This is often caused by a faulty or restricted water inlet valve.

Hint: Before testing your water inlet valve, first check the float, if equipped on your model. If it’s stuck in the up position or does not move freely, there may be something lodged under the float (such as a lid or plastic spoon), which can prevent the tub from filling to the appropriate level.

Here’s how to test your water inlet valve:

A helpful tool for this job is a digital multimeter. This one works well:

Digital multimeter

Fortunately, water inlet valve replacement is a do-it-yourself job. Enter your dishwasher model number in our Repair Help. Remember, before completing any kind of dishwasher troubleshooting or repair, be sure to first shut off power to the dishwasher and the water supply line.

Replacement water inlet valves average around $20-80.

Problem: Dryer drum won’t turn.

Possible solution: Drive belt replacement.

If your dryer’s motor is running but the drum isn’t tumbling, it’s likely that the drive belt needs to be replaced. The drive belt is the skinny belt that wraps around the drum and motor pulley and is kept tight with an idler or tension pulley. Here’s an easy test to determine if the belt should be replaced or if further troubleshooting is required: When the dryer’s turned off, reach inside of the drum and try to rotate it by hand. If there is noise when the drum rotates, the rollers, rear bearings and glides need to be checked for wear or damage. If it spins easily, the belt is likely broken.

Drive belts wear out with normal use so it’s a given that at some point during the life of your dryer, you’ll need to replace it. A replacement dryer drive belt is generally under $20.

Fortunately, many do it yourselfers find drive belt replacement to be a simple job. In order to replace the drive belt, you’ll need to partially disassemble the dryer. It’s an easier job than you’d expect. Enter your dryer model number in our Repair Help for more information.

How to replace a dryer drive belt: First disconnect power to the dryer, as you must before doing any kind of troubleshooting and repair work. You’ll need to disassemble some pieces of the machine in order to access the belt and the tension pulley. Enter your dryer’s model number in our Repair Help to find how-to information specific to your model. Reach around the drum (or remove the rear-access cover depending on your model) and release the tension on the idler pulley and remove the old belt from the drum. Install the drum belt and rotate the drum to align the belt.

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Problem: Refrigerator isn’t cold enough.

Possible solution: Clean off dirty condenser coils.

If your refrigerator is failing to meet the set temperature, its condenser coils may be so dirty, they’re unable to properly remove heat in order for the refrigerator to perform as needed.

Condenser coils are the black, radiator-like coils located on the back or beneath a refrigerator. They’re responsible for removing the heat so that the refrigerator can reach the desired temperature. As you might expect, dust and dirt layers form quickly. When these layers thicken, it’s more difficult to release the heat. This results in increased energy consumption and may eventually lead to

If your refrigerator is “running” constantly, or noticeably more often than before, that’s a warning sign that cleaning of the condenser coils may be needed soon. If your refrigerator’s coils are located beneath the unit, first determine if the condenser fan motor is running when the compressor is on.

That’s why coil maintenance is so important. Twice per year (or more often if necessary), use a long-handled bristle brush and a vacuum to easily and efficiently clean off the coils.

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Have you already done any of these? How’d it go? Any simple DIY projects you’d add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.

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