Watching DIY Home Repair YouTube Videos Saves Me Hundreds
- I called a repairman when my washer broke and he charged $100 just to get out.
- To fix the problem, he estimated the cost at $250. But in the hour before he arrived at my house, I googled.
- From a YouTube video, my wife and I were able to fix the problem and save some money.
My wife and I are fortunate to be paying below market price for our rental home in the up and coming neighborhood where we live in Seattle. Our landlord seems to prioritize trustworthy tenants over getting the best price, so rent increases have been infrequent and reasonable in the more than nine years since we moved in. Our relatively low monthly payments help keep our cost of living affordable in an otherwise expensive area, but there are tradeoffs.
In particular, we are aware of how often we approach our landlord about issues regarding the property. If we paid the market rate, we would have no qualms about raising any concerns that are the owner’s responsibility. But since we appreciate our situation and want to both express our gratitude and stay on his good side, we try to save him from small repairs or other problems.
That’s why when our washing machine broke down one evening mid-cycle, we were inclined to take care of it ourselves rather than report it to him.
We called a handyman to diagnose the problem
Neither of us are very handy, so we knew “fixing it ourselves” probably meant hiring someone else to fix it, but we made some basic attempts to get it working. We tried turning it off and on again, unplugging the machine to reset the electronics, and checking for clogs in the basin and plumbing; nothing worked. Not knowing what else to do, we started looking for a repair company.
After a few calls, we found a convenience store available immediately. It was $100 to get the guy to our door, and based on our description of the problem (which he assumed was a clogged or burnt drain pump) he estimated that the repair would cost another $250. This was below the threshold that we would normally involve our owner in, so we agreed and gave our address to the repairman.
Once we hung up the phone, I started looking online for washing machine repair information to confirm that the estimate we received was accurate (which it was). After sorting that out, I decided to look into what repairing or replacing a drain pump entails.
I looked around the back of our model washing machine – a Fisher & Paykel GWL11 – and searched the web for repair instructions. I was surprised to find that what seemed like a narrow search yielded a plot results, including videos, message board discussions, links to spare parts for sale and more. I dove.
During the hour that elapsed between when we called the repairman and when he arrived, I found one particular video on YouTube that gave a step by step tutorial to find out how to unclog the drain pump on our machine. The symptoms depicted in the video were consistent with how our unit was not cooperating. I looked a second time when the repairman arrived, and I began to wonder if calling him hadn’t been a hasty mistake.
I shared the tutorial with my wife as the repairman dragged his gear to our laundry room to diagnose the problem. After about 10 minutes he confirmed it was actually a clogged drain pump and it would cost $250 to unclog it. He asked if we wanted him to continue.
My wife and I looked at each other, undecided. On the one hand, the YouTube video gave us hope that we could repair the pump ourselves. On the other hand, we had to admit the possibility of failing or even making things worse, in which case we had to pay an extra $100 to have the repairman come back to us on top of the cost of the repair. We decided the risk was worth taking, so we thanked the repairman for coming, paid him $100 for the visit only, and then got to work.
We were convinced we could fix it ourselves using a YouTube video
We reviewed the video and collected the tools we needed for work: our mini shop-vac to empty the tub of the washing machine; a plastic tub and towels to collect the remaining water that drains from the disconnected drain pump; a concrete block to support the machine so that we could pass under it; a flashlight; plastic bags; packing tape; and a multi-tool.
Reaching the drain pump in our cramped laundry space required an awkward contortion, so we took turns with one of us pointing the flashlight, checking video on the laptop, and delivering tools while the other did the dirty work.
It was awkward, it was messy, and I imagine people familiar with home repairs would have chuckled watching us fumble through the process. But in the end, our washing machine was fully operational about 90 minutes after we fired the repairman, and we were $250 better off. Triumphantly, our only regret was that we didn’t find the video sooner and tried to fix it ourselves from the start to save the $100 we paid for the repair visit.
The experience allowed us to do more DIY repairs – and also showed us our limits
Our experience with the washing machine encouraged us to try our hand at DIY repairs more often, and it wasn’t long before another opportunity presented itself when the heat stopped blowing through our car. Turning to the web again, I found several automotive message board threads that led me to believe the problem was a dead blower motor resistor – an inexpensive and easily replaceable part.
This time YouTube provided several tutorials (specific to our car’s make, model and year) that walked me through what to buy at the local auto supply store and how to install it. . $11 and 30 minutes later the heat was working fine.
Likewise, YouTube helped us fix a faulty latch on our screen door, install a wall panel in our basement for sewer line access, and even reprogram our modem when a power outage occurred. restored factory settings (rather than paying $80 for a technician to do it). None of these repairs were expensive or overly complex, so despite lacking essential handyman skills and with little intuition to fix things, we were able to get them done with the proper guidance.
Our newfound willingness to attempt repairs has also helped us recognize our limitations. For example, when water mysteriously started dripping from a light fixture in our kitchen this spring, we immediately knew it was a problem we weren’t equipped to fix and instead advised our owner.
If a repair is still beyond us after reading discussions and watching tutorials, we have no qualms about seeking professional help. But we’ve only learned what we really can’t do by first learning what we box do, and both are empowering in their own way.
DIY repair videos seem to have become a cottage industry on YouTube, and I’m grateful for the armada of experienced vloggers who share their skills and insights online. The next time something needs fixing at our house, I know the first place I look for advice.