With 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.
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.
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.
I 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.
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 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.
I 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.
The 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?