Monday, August 19, 2013

Fix It Yourself

In an age of economic insecurity, one has to develop self-reliance to survive.  Food costs going up at the supermarket?  Time to start planting your own garden.  Mechanic asking too much for that tune up?  Time to go to the library and find yourself a copy of the technical repair manual and get yourself some basic tools.

When my computer stops working, I have no problem troubleshooting and solving both hardware and software problems.  This is mostly because I've always been interested in computers.  I don't mind fixing my broken computer.  When some problem confounds me, I look up the answers on the Internet.  Google is the greatest repair tool ever made.  Somehow, somewhere, someone else has encountered the same problem as you, and more likely than not there is a solution somewhere.  For me, perseverance is key.  Don't give up and eventually you will solve the problem.

I've always been intimidated by cars.  Opening the hood, I see a tangle of tubes, wires and blobs that make no sense to me.  I've tried to repair my car in the past to no avail.  I don't have a car lift and painful arthritis limits my physical abilities.  Unfortunately, however, my vehicles don't seem to be considerate of my mechanical limitations.  Both my Ford Escape and my Toyota Avalon are currently experiencing issues.  After looking up the repair costs for both vehicles, it become apparent that without a little self-help and yankee ingenuity, I wasn't going to be driving them anytime soon.

"Necessity is the mother of invention," or so goes the saying.  I found myself stuck without answers.  So I decided to tackle the repairs as I would a computer problem--using Google and Youtube, along with using the Haynes Repair Manuals for my vehicles as a guide.  What do you know, the amount of information available to DIYers is amazing in the information age!  My Escape needed a tune up but half the spark plugs are buried underneath a labyrinth of tubes and components.  Youtube rescued me.  There turned out to be a video which showed me exactly how to change the spark plugs.  After watching the video two or three times, I was able to take on the job myself and complete it successfully.  What a tremendous sense of relief I had when it was completed and everything seemed to work fine.  And unlike my previous experiences, there weren't several "bonus" pieces left after I put everything back together.

With my new found confidence, I decided to tackle my electric dryer.  It sounded like a cat was being drowned whenever it would run.  After watching a Youtube video in which a repairman takes apart the same model dryer and replaces the blower wheel and the belt, I decided to give it a shot.  Judging by the sounds my dryer was making and consistent with the video, I was able to diagnose the problem, order new parts for $50, and put the thing back together again.  Now, instead of wanting to put it out of its misery, it quietly hums along as my clothes dry.  I just saved myself about $450.  Now that is a payday.

I'm not coordinated--dare I say "geeky."  If I can make some basic repairs on my own, I know you can too.  And who knows, you might save yourself a fortune and build your confidence in the process.  Half the time the broken thing is worthless in its current state so you have nothing to lose.  A broken dryer remains a broken dryer.

Good luck!

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