Tips for Successful Appliance Repair Visits

A few days ago, we made a repair visit for a front load washer not draining properly.  At the end of that post, I shared a list of useful tips for improving the success of appliance repair visits.  In this article, I will elaborate on each of these tips so you can put them into use for your DIY landlording.

Maintain an appliance inventory

One thing we have gotten in the practice of doing is maintaining an inventory of all the appliance in our rental properties on a spreadsheet. We also include information on each appliance’s purchase date, warranty period, brand, model, and serial number. Such an inventory allows for efficient retrieval of these key pieces of information when a repair call comes in. In the washer repair call, having the washer model information on record allowed us to research the issue before arriving onsite for the diagnosis and repair.

Prepare in advance for a repair visit

Before heading out to a repair visit, take some time to research the issue being reported. Consult the manual or repair help videos like the ones we found on RepairClinic.com. As you conduct your research, also make a note of the tools and supplies which you will need to bring with you.

For example, our research of the washer drainage issue provided us with the foresight to bring a baking pan and towels to catch the water accumulated in the washer. In addition, we also brought moving blankets since we knew that the dryer would have to be removed before the top panel of the washer could be disassembled. We were also prepared with a 2×4 piece of wood for propping up the washer to allow more comfortable access to its near-ground components.

Proper preparation can go a long way in making your repair call a smooth and successful experience. So do yourself a favor and make that small time investment ahead of time. You will thank yourself when you are onsite.

Utilize online appliance repair resources

An excellent source of information for appliance repairs is online appliance replacement part stores, such as RepairClinic.com and AppliancePartsPro.com. These businesses offer many guides and videos to assist and encourage their customers in DIY appliance repairs, which in turn helps to boost their sales. For example, RepairClinic.com has over 2,000 repair help videos on their website.

For our repair visit, a replacement part was not necessary. If a replacement part is needed, I would highly recommend purchasing from RepairClinic.com and AppliancePartsPro.com. Both sites offer 365-day return policies in case the part does not work out for you. I know from dealing with appliance repair professionals that these are extremely generous return policies. Most professionals only warranty new replacement parts used in their service visits for a period of 90 days.

I have used both RepairClinic.com and AppliancePartsPro.com in the past and can personally vouch for their quick shipping, good customer service, and hassle-free return policy.

Make easy work of moving heavy appliances with sliders

The washer/dryer stacking unit in the repair call barely fits in a tight, under-staircase laundry closet. The most difficult part of this repair job was getting this unit in and out of the closet. I struggled with this 380 pound beast during the initial installation so I arrived prepared with moving blankets. Placing these under the front feet helped the unit slide out easier across the floor.

However, when it came time to get the unit back in place, the moving blankets were no longer an option since they would be stuck underneath once the unit was slid back into the closet and there would be no way to free the blanket.

So I made a trip to my local Lowe’s and picked up appliance sliders. The Waxman 4-Count 3-IN Oatmeal Smooth Caster Cup that I picked out from my local Lowe’s store is also available online from Lowes.com.If there is not a Lowe’s in your area, these same sliders are also available from Amazon.

Once the washer/dryer stacking unit was placed on the four sliders, it slid fairly easily back into the closet. With these sliders in place I will no longer be dreading a repair call for the washer/dryer unit at this rental property.

Avoid repeated trips to the store for parts

While the nearest Lowe’s store was less than 3 miles aware, the trip there to purchase the appliance slider took an hour. Due to holiday shopping traffic. One strategy that I’ve learned and employed over the years is to always buy extra when shopping for supplies.

So on my trip, in addition to the Waxman Caster Cups which I eventually ended up using, I also purchased the Waxman 4-Pack 2-1/2 in Square Adhesive Backed Plastic Carpet Slider and Waxman 4-Pack 2-in Round Adhesive Backed Felt Hard Surface Slider as extra backup options:

 

Regardless of how close the typical big box home improvement store is to you, my experience has taught me that you can pretty much count on a trip to take a minimum of one hour, no matter how quick and sweet it may seem, The last thing you want to do is have to go back for a $5 part and add another hour to your repair call. Your time is more valuable than that.

The best part is, even if you end up not needing the extra $5 part you bought, you did not incur a $5 fee as insurance against wasting an hour for a second trip. Both Home Depot and Lowe’s will glad refund your money for the unused purchases and have a generous window within which they will accept returns.  So just bring the extra purchases on your next trip to receive a full refund.

Evaluate appliance serviceability when purchasing

As you gain more experience servicing appliance, make a note of designs which improves appliance serviceability. The nature of the washer repair call was actually rather simple. What should have taken about 10 minutes, dragged out to about 3 hours due to the tight confines of the laundry closet combined with the need to remove the dryer and multiple panels on the washer.

Here is a picture of a Whirlpool WFW75HEFW comparable to our model which requires that the front panel be removed to access the drain pump filter. The front panel screws are seated under the top panel so the top panel also needs to be removed. Since this is a stacking unit, the dryer sitting on top of the washer also has to be removed. So a simple maintenance task of cleaning out the drain pump filter turns into a huge 11 step ordeal:

  1. Pull the 360 pound stacking unit out of the laundry closet to access the stacking kit in the back.
  2. Unscrew the stacking kit in the back to detach the dryer from the washer
  3. Move the 140 pound dryer off the washer.
  4. Remove the top panel on the washer.
  5. Remove the front panel on the washer.
  6. Clean out drain pump filter.
  7. Reinstall the front panel on the washer.
  8. Reinstall the top panel on the washer.
  9. Lift the 140 pound dryer onto the washer.
  10. Secure the dryer to the washer by attaching the stacking kit.
  11. Push the 360 pound stacking unit back into the laundry closet.

Now compare this to the design on the Whirlpool CHW9160GW commercial front-load washer which has a separate front lower panel for easy access to the washer internals and therefore does not require the removal of the top panel.

With this model, the same repair call would have consisted of three steps and would been reduced to about 10 minutes of work with much less effort:

  1. Remove front lower panel.
  2. Clean drain pump filter.
  3. Replace front lower panel.

Better yet, consider this Samsung WF42H5000AW front-load washer, which has a dedicated door for accessing the drain pump filter.

With this unit, the same repair call would have consisted of three simple steps that would have taken less than 5 minutes and required even less tools and effort:

  1. Pop open the door to the drain pump filter (requires just a flathead screwdriver).
  2. Clean drain pump filter.
  3. Close the door to the drain pump filter.

The following video from Samsung demonstrates an additional feature of their design. On our Whirlpool unit, as the filter is removed, it is accompanied by a flood of dirty water draining from the unit. In this Samsung unit, a small, flexible drainage hose is available for draining the accumulated water prior to opening the drain pump filter. Now THAT is intelligent serviceability design!

Such serviceability features are a tremendous benefit for DIY landlords. Time is money so appliances which are more easily serviceable will definitely improve your property management success. If we had the Samsung unit, the duration of this service call would have been reduced by over 97%! Aside from the time savings, it would also also made it a one-person job. Moving a dryer off a washer unit is not something that is easily performed without assistance.

So does such superior serviceability design come at additional cost? Not necessarily. Currently both our Whirlpool WFW75HEFW and the Samsung WF42H5000AW. Both are large capacity front load washer with load capacity over 4.0 cubic feet. The Whirlpool is currently priced at $719 while the Samsung is $497.

So next time we are shopping for a front-load washer, we will definitely be taking this serviceability feature into consideration.

Happy DIY Landlording,

Mr. DIY Landlord

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