Unlike cars that need regular oil changes and maintenance, appliances rarely need to be serviced or fixed. As a result, most consumers are confused about how to seek out the appropriate professional when the refrigerator loses its cool or the washer lurches to a stop in the middle of the rinse cycle. The Better Business Bureau claims to receive numerous complaints from consumers who feel that they’ve been swindled by appliance repair companies charging for unnecessary work. Armed with the following basic facts about dealing with this industry, you should be able to save yourself that call—and gleefully return to your laundry in no time.
  • The Brand-Name Is Important
  • On Cost
  • How Can I Learn More About a Repair Person’s Track Record?
  • Appliance Myths
There are two categories of appliance repair professionals: the small-job solo practitioner and the all-purpose generalist repair company. Narrowing down the list is primarily based on the type of appliance and its brand. For example, if you attempt to defrost your old GE fridge and stab the freezer cooling pipe with an ice-pick—releasing some freon in the process (bad for the ozone layer)—you have several options. One obvious choice is calling a repair professional who has “refrigeration” in his name. If this professional is certified to service GE appliances, he will be an appropriate choice. Another option is to contact an all-around repair company that has a refrigeration department.
The greatest advantage to hiring a small shop repair professional is the level of personalized service he will deliver. However, most small shops do not offer 24-hour emergency service calls like the larger repair firms, nor are they always as accessible. Obviously, those that offer these services do so at a premium, which is why larger operations tend to charge more.

Accessibility and cost are valid considerations, but one factor in your choice must not be overlooked: make sure the professional you choose has been certified by the manufacturer of your appliance. If you get your Viking range repaired by a professional down the block who is not Viking certified, your Viking warranty will automatically become void. Since not all service professionals guarantee their own work, you may be left with a fairly new and expensive range that no longer has any kind of warranty attached to it.

Be prepared to pay approximately $100 to $200 for an hour’s worth of appliance diagnosis and repair. If the service person has to order a part and return, you may be billed an additional “trip charge” for the second visit. The cost of replacement parts will also be added to your bill. Policies and rates vary from company to company, of course, but a repair technician should be able to give you a general estimate when you call and describe your problem. Pay your appliance bill by credit card, if possible, as it is easier to modify credit card payments in the event of a dispute over the services provided.

To get some helpful feedback about a repair professional, call the company and ask for references, preferably customers who required the same service as you. You can also screen an appliance repair company by checking its history with the local Better Business Bureau ( Satisfied customers will probably have one good experience to discuss, if the job was done properly. A dependable, honest and skilled repairman (particularly a highly specialized one) rarely maintains an ongoing relationship with his clients because, in his field, return business means he didn’t do the job right the first time.

  • The refrigerant in my window air conditioner needs to be recharged each year to work effectively.
    False. Household air conditioners should never require a refrigerant recharge. The gas travels in a sealed system and will not escape unless damage is done to the unit. If your a/c is not cooling as well as it did before, it probably only needs a professional cleaning.
  • When my kitchen sink waste disposal fails to function, I should call a plumber.
    False (in most cases). Even though plumbers can install disposals, most are not equipped to service the appliance itself. They will most likely take the whole unit to an appliance repair shop or advise you to purchase a replacement. However, if you suspect the problem lies in the plumbing connecting the disposal to your pipes, a plumber is the professional to call.
  • Refrigerators add coldness to the food stored inside it.
    False. Refrigerators do not add cooling, they actually remove heat from the food and the air inside the unit. This heat is then channeled to the exterior condenser and absorbed by the air in the room.
  • If I see water in the bottom of my dishwasher after the cycle is finished, the dishwasher must be broken.
    False. There should always be some water left at the end of a wash. This keeps the seals moist—otherwise they would dry out and leak. When the dishwasher starts, it will first drain the standing water, then fill with fresh water and begin the wash cycle.
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