Simple Appliance Repairs for Landlords (or Homeowners)

Appliance repairWith any issue, if you can do some simple appliance repairs as a landlord, you can save a ton of money.  In my rentals, I find that some appliances are worth fixing, some are not.  Here are a couple of recent simple appliance repairs that I have completed.

I typically buy fairly cheap appliances.  I always buy new, and make sure that they are 100% clean for all new tenants.  Of course, I also expect the tenants that are moving out to keep them clean.

Refrigerators

I buy top freezer refrigerators, ~18 cubic feet.  No ice maker.  They run ~$500, delivered.  A refrigerator is probably not worth fixing if it does not get cold any longer.  It makes sense to try and clean the coils, but for an appliance person to come out to troubleshoot the issue is ~$100.

A new compressor, evaporator coil, or most any other part will run another $200+, if you are lucky.  It may even be more.  If my refrigerators run $500, it is not worth fixing.  For $500, I get the old one removed, and a new one brought delivered for free, even up two flights of stairs.

With a new appliance, you have a 100% clean appliance that is under warranty.

Ranges

I buy electric coil top stoves.  I always buy ranges with a self-cleaning option.  It is amazing how clean the range can get with a simple click of the switch.

Ranges can be fixed.  I have replaced main circuit boards, the coil burners, and the range element.  I recently had a range element go out, and it is a simple fix that takes about five minutes.  Be sure to flip the circuit breaker off before you start.

Range Heating ElementI had a tenant that texted me about the range element being all fried.  He thought that the wiring was all messed up.  They do look a bit like there is a major electrical malfunction, but in reality it’s not.

I try to find parts on the internet, and often you can find the list price part being $50, and the cheap parts place only $15.  Be sure to shop aggressively for appliance parts.

 

Dishwashers

I buy dishwashers with a grinder.  They cost ~$300.  When they go out, buy a new one.  If a dishwasher leaks, that can be fixed, most likely.  To clean them, put a quarter cup of calcium, lime, rust remover (CLR) in the bottom of the dishwasher and run a cycle.  Stop it mid-cycle if you can, to let the CLR do the work.

Buy a generic version of CLR for ~$10 a gallon, rather than a name brand.

Dryers

Dryers can be fixed.  There is not much to them.

I recently fixed a dryer that was not turning.  I assumed it was the belt slipped off, or broken.  I happen to have a brand new extra dryer in my storage room, so I just swapped the machine out.  I had great intentions of fixing the dryer as soon as I brought it home, but the room where it was being stored is not heated.  I waited until spring.

In the spring, before I could fix the dryer, I had another one go out.  It was not heating, but it was turning.  Luckily, there was a dryer in the common area for the tenant to use, and that took away any emergency.

I was able to take the heating element off the spare dryer, bring it over to the tenant’s place, and change it in a matter of 10 minutes.  All was well and the tenant was happy.

So now I had a dryer that needed something to fix the heat, and something to make it turn.

Dryer Motor CapacitorI had to do some troubleshooting.  The first issue or not turning was not the belt.  The belt was firmly attached and all looked well.  It could have been the motor, the circuit board, or the motor capacitor.  A capacitor is easy to check, especially if you have a ohm meter or a Greenlee 5715 tester (like I do…).  In this case, the capacitor tested bad.  For ~$50 and 20 minutes, it is easy to replace.

 

Dryer ThermostatThe lack of heat problem was another issue.  It could be a thermostat, or a heating element.  There is also the possibility of a bad circuit board, but not likely.  A dryer thermostat is also easy to test.  They should have continuity across the terminals.  In my dryer, one tested bad.  I ordered a new one, for a similar dryer to the one I had.  By using the substitute part, which I found new on eBay, I saved ~$140.

So, two simple fixes, and my dryer is ready to go.  I will keep it as a spare until I need it.

An appliance repair person would have probably told me that the dryer was not worth fixing.  A new one is $750, for these small apartment sized dryers.  Saving the $750 is as good as having another apartment rented out, except there are never any complaints…

Do you do your own appliance repairs at home or a rental?  If you have rentals, what is your repair strategy?

 

 

 

24 Replies to “Simple Appliance Repairs for Landlords (or Homeowners)”

  1. Good tips Landlord. I haven’t repaired appliances. The only appliances I had fail were a 25 year old Kenmore washer dryer pair. I figured it was about time. I’m sure this day is coming though. Have a great weekend
    -Bryan

    1. Thank you for reading!

      Many of my appliances are less than five years old. But I have 24 ranges, 24 refrigerators, 24 dishwashers, and a bunch of washers and dryers. It is inevitable that I will have issues, and knowing a bit about how to fix them helps save cost immensely.

  2. Two thoughts.

    Do you buy appliances that are covered by a warranty and do you attempt to fix these while they are under warranty?

    Second, do you worry about any liability that you may incur in trying to fix appliances, especially a range, should a negative event happen down the line?

    Is saving a few dollars on the repair worth it?

  3. My own newer samsung 2008 model went out. It wasn’t heating. I paid $25 for a new heating element, and $25 for a handyman. I’m too small to do any lifting. But I can do the diagnosing base on internet search.

    I once also change the washer water pump drain, or drain pump.
    As my confident in “fixing” the appliances grow, I’m currently ordering the parts for a washer and dryer at one of the apartment. They are working, but not at their best. Hopefully, everything will be fine.

    I can buy a used fridge around $200. There are several places that sell old appliances. And they warantee up to 3 months. Most of these guy are delivery guy, when they swap the old broken appliance, they fix it, then turn around making $180 or more on profit. Win-win.

  4. Lemi-Shine that you can get at Walmart can clean out the dishwasher too. Run the dishwasher empty and it does wonders afterwards.

    Just repaired a frig. swapping out a circuit board. Cost $79 with shipping from Amazon. Less than 15 min. and no complaints so far.
    Replaced the circuit board on my own stove last year for a little over $100 when a repair person was asking quite a bit higher.

    1. Thank you for reading!

      I have used Lemi-Shine to. It is a great product. The only problem I had was it costs ~$2-$3 to use, rather than the CLR product I use which is $10 per gallon. Also, I always seem to be out of Lemi-Shine.

      I do not think my cheap refrigerators even have a circuit board, I will have to look (they must have one somewhere…). Most of my refrigerator problems are from the cold going out, which is typically a leak in the lines, somewhere. Or a compressor relay. Great job on the repairs and thanks for the information.

  5. The circuit board is usually located on the bottom back with just a few 1/4″ socket nuts holding a panel on the outside. The freezer was not just keeping things cold and the same with the frig. part. Several good videos out there on this. (refrigeration control board)
    Had a good frig. in this unit as it was one that I used to live in.

    1. I am definitely going to look into how to troubleshoot refrigerators a bit more. If I can actually see the issue, rather than assume the Freon has leaked out, it would be a way to a fix, rather than replace.

      1. I work for the hospital so I’ve seen them fix the fridge with the following issues:
        thermostat (highly unlikely)
        clean the coil (this is only temporary fix)
        Compressor
        I have not seen a leak in freon (highly unlikely)

  6. Great information here! I’ve noticed that with a lot of people who live in apartments, that when something breaks, they call the landlord or maintenance. Most of the repairs that they are calling about are something that they could do themselves. I’m sure that for bigger problems that they better call someone. Either way, you don’t have to spend a whole lot in order to get your things working again.

  7. Isn’t buying a new appliances for every tenants expensive ? Even if you buy cheap ones, I mean a cheap fridge, cheap dryer ….
    I’m just amazed of how you deal with your appliances and tenants, because I know that landlords usually never change appliances until they are not working anymore. But this article proves me wrong about that.
    And if you think about it, what you are doing is better than fixing again and again which will end up costing the same amount if not less.

    I think I just answered my question.

    1. Thank you for reading!

      I only change appliances when it is necessary, but if a range is so dirty, they are not worth cleaning. Great tenants expect great apartments. I want nothing less than a great tenant.

      While I can generally find a tenant for any apartment condition, a tenant that would rent a sub-standard apartment I would not want.

  8. We are very fortunate to have a local repair guy in our town that is very reasonable with his pricing. He takes care of all of our repairs pretty quickly. If we do need to replace an appliance we go to Lowe’s and check their discounted alliances. I know a delivery driver there and you would be amazed at how much they’ll knock off of a price on a fridge for example when it has a small scratch on the side or a small dent because a customer won’t take it that way.

    1. Thank you for reading!

      Finding a reasonable appliance repair guy is great. Far too often, by the time a guy can get there, and tell you “It cost as much to get a new one as fix this one”, you could have had a new one delivered. I am able to fix many issues, but some are still not worth fixing.

  9. Thanks for the appliance repair tips. I didn’t realize that refrigerator repair could get so pricey. Now I see why, if it doesn’t even get cold anymore, it might be best to just get a new one.

  10. Thank you for the insights on repairing various appliances. I’ve had a dryer that was staining some of our clothes with these black marks. It sounds like it’s fixable as everything else with my dryer works fine. I’ll have to look into some specifics but I appreciate you sharing your repair experience with dryers to get me started!

Leave a Reply