Anyone responsible for the care of a home knows the frustration of waiting for repair services to show up and the nuisance of taking appliances out to shops for repair and having to return to pick them up. Time is one of life's more precious commodities, and few people look forward to spending their days running errands like these.
Therefore when we call for help or spend the day running around delivering and picking up belongings, we'd like to think it was really necessary. Yet the appliance industry tells us that over a quarter of all service calls are unnecessary and could be performed by the consumer.
Too many people reach for the phone the minute a problem arises. Today's technical culture has convinced them they're not smart enough to handle their most routine problems. They need electricians to replace plugs, plumbers to fix a faucet washer, specialists for their cars, TVs, appliances, and lawn doctors for their grass.
When a belonging is not worth the price of repair, it's abandoned. Lamps are discarded when all they need is a new plug, appliances thrown out when all that is needed is a little oil or cleaning. At times it seems we live in a throwaway society.
You don't have to be a mechanical genius in order to take care of some of the more common problems that occur in homes. It takes a little knowledge plus a few basic tools, a positive attitude, and a bit of curiosity to be able to handle many of our home problems.
Learning any skill requires time and determination, and home maintenance is no exception. There was a time when I would have said that every home should have a basic home maintenance reference book, but today with the World Wide Web at the tips of our fingers, a book is not as necessary as it once was.
But a good hardware store is still the mainstay of keeping a home in running order. It's worth the time it takes to shop around until you find a hardware store where the staff are career hardware persons with the knowledge and willingness to give you advice and encouragement. Many of the things we buy in a grocery store can be bought in a hardware store. So if you need an excuse to shop in a hardware store, buy your light bulbs, batteries, or cleaning products there and then browse through the tool and hardware sections to get acquainted with the store. Once you have found a good hardware store, I think you'll agree that it's the consumer's lifeboat when it comes to dealing with home maintenance problems.
If you know what you want and are not urgently in need, you can shop at the many hardware stores that are now online. There are some advantages to shopping online particularly if the weather is bad. It is easy to comparison shop; you can save time and gasoline; the shipping costs can be offset by the savings in gasoline and sales tax (unless you live in the same state as the merchant).
For starters, when a problem crops up, check the obvious. Ask yourself has a circuit breaker or fuse been tripped? Is the appliance or lamp plugged in? Is the electrical receptacle live? Is the electrical receptable controlled by a wall switch? Has your water been turned off? Has a light bulb burned out? Is a filter clogged? Has a reset button tripped? Is a drive belt broken? These are common problems with simple solutions.
For example: A refrigerator lamp that burns out can give the impression the fridge is not working. Garbage disposers and some hair dryers have reset buttons that trip if the appliance overheats. An upright vacuum cleaner with a broken drive belt will continue to pickup some dirt but very poorly. When the aerator/filter on the spout of a faucet is clogged the water flow will be greatly reduced.
The next time you are faced with a problem resist the temptation to reach for the phone, you can often save a lot of time and money if you first check the obvious, find the papers that came with the appliance and look for a troubleshooting chart, log onto the web and Google the problem.
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