Sometimes items can be easily fixed at home without the need for an engineer. Read our troubleshooting guides here.
1. Quick and easy steps to fix common dishwasher problems at home on your own
1.1 Dishwasher is smelly
This means that the dishwasher filter should be washed. This filter is located at the base of the dishwasher and it helps catch large food particles so they do not get stuck in the inside of the machine and cause disruptions to the dishwasher.
This filter can be easily removed for regularly cleaning and a weekly rinsing under the tap would suffice.
1.2 Dishwasher basket is wobbly
This means that the wheels of the dishwasher are probably stuck or missing and this is resulting in the dishwasher basket wobbling. A replacement can be clipped on easily to secure the basket again.
1.3 Dishwasher is not cleaning well
When this happens, it could mean that the dishwasher spray arms are clogged. Good news is that this is a quick fix as the spray arms (which are the long, flat plastic parts of the dishwasher that rotate and spray water around the machine) just have to be unclipped and cleaned.
1.4 Dishwasher is not draining
Dirty water gets drained out of the dishwasher through the drain pump and this drain pump can gradually become blocked with debris which may cause drainage problems. This pump is found at the bottom of the machine and can be taken apart, cleaned out and put back in place with relative ease.
Note – The dishwasher will need to be tilted back and have its base plate unscrewed and removed for the pump to be reached.
1.5 Dishwasher is leaking
When the dishwasher leaks, it is highly plausible that the door hinge is loose and not closing properly. The side panels of the door can be removed for the hinge mechanism to be inspected.
2. Common washing machine problems that happen and how to repair them
2.1 Washing machine does not turn on
When this happens, the first thing to check is if your washing machine is getting power. The outlet voltage can be checked with a multi-meter. If there is no electricity flowing to the washing machine, the household electrical panel can be checked to see if any circuit breaker has been tripped.
When the washing machine’s motor is overheated, it would shut down automatically to allow it to cool before it can be restarted.
Ensuring that the lid of the washing machine is closed properly would resolve this as an open lid may prevent the machine from turning on and running the wash programme.
2.2 Washing machine is not draining properly
A clogged drain hose could hinder the washing machine from being drained properly. The drain hose can be removed and a garden hose may be used to flush any blockages in the drain hose.
Another solution is to check if the drain pump is jammed. The tub should be drained and disconnected so the pump can be inspected for foreign objects. If foreign objects such as socks, pens or coins get wedged between the basket and the tub or becomes lodged in the pump, the washing machine will not be able to drain fully.
Too much detergent
Using too much detergent will cause too many suds that will result in the washer not being able to drain in a timely manner.
2.3 Washing machine is not spinning properly
When the washing machine becomes overloaded, it would become unbalanced and not be able to spin properly. Moving the clothes around to redistribute the load might help or simply reduce the current load for the machine to spin properly.
Switches and Settings
A faulty switch would cause the washing machine to malfunction. Additionally, the setting of the speed selector switch has to be properly positioned and should not be set between different speeds.
If a foreign object is stuck in the drain pump, a ‘humming’ sound may be heard when the washing machine is full of water.
2.4 Washing machine is leaking
Leaks could be caused by:
- The drain hose that may be clogged or cracked.
- The fill hose that could be loose and require tightening.
- Potential leaks in the water-inlet valve caused by a build-up of rust or mineral deposits within the valve.
- Too much detergent that was used with hard water and a water softener.
- A front-loading door seal that is faulty and causing water to seep out.
- A drain pump that needs to be replaced because the seal is failing.
2.5 Washing machine is not dispensing detergent
When this problem happens, a possible DIY solution is that the dispenser has to be cleaned. An ideal method of regular maintenance is to clean the dispenser monthly with a cup of warm distilled white vinegar. The vinegar should be poured into the dispenser and the washer should be run on a regular cycle to flush out any existing built-up residue.
Additionally, the type of detergent product used would also affect the washing machine’s performance as well. A powder bleach should not be used in a washer that is designed for liquid bleach as this would also cause clogs to happen.
2.6 Dryer is making a strange noise or vibration
This could be caused by a failed dryer drum seal due to frequent overloading or contact with foreign objects. In this case, the drum seal would need to be replaced.
2.7 Dryer runs but does not heat up
Blocked ventilation, a clogged lint screen or a consistently overloaded machine would lead to a faulty thermal fuse and if this fuse gets broken, it would also need to be replaced.
2.8 Dryer does not run
Similar to the point above, this happens when the thermal fuse is broken due to the same reasons and would also have to be replaced.
3. A step by step guide on how to troubleshoot common refrigerator problems
3.1 Fridge is too warm or too cold
When the fridge is too warm or too cold, the issue could lie with the air damper, baffle or diffuser. What this does is that it balances the air flow from the evaporator fan housing. It also controls the amount of cold air which enters the fresh food compartment. A higher or lower than average fridge temperature could be because the baffle has been damaged.
The baffle is usually located where cold air enters the refrigerator’s fresh food compartment and is encased in plastic, with a Styrofoam lining to prevent air leakage.
Once located, ensure that air is flowing freely and that the airflow is not blocked or restricted. Some refrigerators have a temperature sensing bulb to adjust changes in the interior temperature. If this bulb is in an incorrect position or damaged, adjust or replace this bulb to resume normal operation.
3.2 Fridge is leaking
The fridge door gasket or seal along the outside of the refrigerator door could be the culprit if a fridge is leaking. Fridge door seals are typically made of vinyl material and have a flexible magnetic strip inside to create an airtight seal.
If there is moisture forming along the edge of the door, the gasket needs to be checked for damage. A defective gasket with just a tiny amount of air leakage may result in water leaks or defrost issues.
Note – When replacing a gasket, it is helpful to first place the new gasket in the tumble dryer for a few minutes to make it more pliable and hence easier to install.
3.3 Fridge is noisy
This could mean that there is a problem with the condenser fan. The condenser fan circulates air (i) throughout the condenser coil to remove heat and (ii) over the drain pan to evaporate and defrost water.
After disconnecting the power and removing the rear access panel, ensure that there is no trash or obstruction that is preventing air flow. In addition, the fan motor and fan blade can be likewise checked for signs of wear and tear and replaced if necessary.
3.4 Fridge does not turn on
This could mean an overload relay issue, and that the overload relay could be overheating or arcing. New refrigerators tend to combine the overload relay into the side of the compressor. A multi-meter can be used to check the overload relay. The fridge’s start capacitor provides increased starting voltage to the compressor windings and if this is defective, then the compressor may not start.
3.5 Fridge has frost in freezer
When the fridge has frost in the freezer, this is the result of warm, moist air that had become trapped in the unit when the fridge door opens and closes. An amount of frost in the freezer is a common occurrence but too much frost could damage the refrigerator.
Excessive frost within the freezer indicates a possible problem of a damaged freezer door or a lid gasket. A faulty freezer door or lid gasket may let warm air in when the freezer is closed, allowing frost to happen. Another possibility could be a faulty freezer defrost sensor, heating element or defrost timer.
What you can do when you face cooker or oven issues at home
4.1 Cooker does not turn on
This could mean that there is no power supplied to the cooker. The household electrical panel can be checked to see if any circuit breaker has been tripped. If yes, this should be reset.
4.2 Cooker elements do not heat up
This could be that:
- The thermostat has tripped.
Solution: Turn off the oven and wait until it has fully cooled down before trying again.
- The Timer is set to Auto.
Solution: Set the Timer to Manual.
- The clock time is not set.
Solution: Ensure that the clock time is set properly.
- The element has failed.
Solution: The faulty element will have to be replaced.
4.3 Oven does not heat to correct temperature
This could be the result of a faulty temperature sensor. The temperature sensor is located within the oven to measure its heat, ensuring that the appliance does not overheat.
This sensor should not be touching the oven wall as this will cause it to measure internal temperatures incorrectly.
4.4 Oven does not cook food evenly
This could result from issues with the heating elements or temperature sensor.
The oven can be preheated so a visual test can be done to see if the heating elements are lit or glowing. If they are functioning correctly, then the issue could be with the temperature sensor. Any faulty parts should be replaced.
Note – Small adjustments to the position of oven racks or new cookware might also help.
4.5 Oven light does not work
When this happens, the oven’s bulb can be replaced to resolve this problem. Should it still not work, then it could be due to a faulty light switch, connecting wires or electronic control system.
4.6 Oven door will not close
This can be solved by replacing the oven door hinges. Oven door problems can also be caused by door springs in some models, or the gasket that lines the inside edge of the oven door and all these parts can be replaced.
Simple solutions to fix common microwave problems
5.1 Microwave does not turn on
When the microwave does not turn on, it could be due to a number of issues. A check can be done to see if the microwave is plugged into power by checking the wall plug. The door switch and door latch assembly are the next two items to inspect as the microwave will not turn on if the microwave door is open. It could also be that the thermal fuse and ceramic fuse need to be replaced.
5.2 Microwave door does not close properly
This issue may occur when the door hinges or springs loosen from their original factory tightened state. It is crucial that this problem is resolved as heat and smells can escape the appliance if the door does not close properly, in addition to other malfunctions that may arise from this issue. The microwave door might be difficult to close if it will not latch and therefore, the door latch assembly, hinges and torsion springs can be inspected for loose screws to be tightened and for any damaged parts to be replaced.
5.3 Microwave plate does not turn
The microwave plate is an important feature of the appliance as it has to turn smoothly for the food to be cooked evenly. The plate simultaneously supports the food and turns to ensure this even cooking process. When the plate does not spin, check the wide-guide rollers underneath the plate to see if they are positioned properly as well as the pronged coupler in the middle of the microwave to see if it is cracked.
5.4 Microwave door is stuck closed
It is helpful in this scenario to know that in addition to the microwave push release door switch, there is usually at least one other manual override so that the microwave door can be opened without the usual push release door button. Locate the manual door override for the model of microwave and take a look at the latch assembly. The door handle or button release mechanism may also require repairing in this instance.
5.5 Microwave does not heat up
This could happen as the microwave appliance ages. The microwave light may come on and it ‘hums’ but no heat is created. The first thing to do here is to check the door switch to make sure that it is latching properly as if it does not, the cycle will not start. If the door switch is working fine, then the issue is likely to be with the voltage diode or the magnetron and for the latter, the microwave will be required to be replaced.
5.6 Microwave is making a noise
If the noise is coming from a rattling microwave plate, it would be good to investigate the pronged coupler in the centre and guide roller. Alternatively, the problem could come from the drive motor, magnetron, the high voltage diode or the cooling fan.
5.7 Microwave is sparking
When the microwave sparks, stop the microwave and turn it off. Sparking could be from metal debris inside the microwave which would cause this to happen as the presence of metal reflects the microwaves and causes sparking to happen. Sources of metal debris could include any peeling off paint from the inside walls which exposes the inside metal or a possibly damaged metal rack support.
Sometimes, it could also be that food particles have been stuck inside the microwave and become burnt, causing sparks to happen.
Note – When using the microwave, do not place food tins or tin foil in the appliance during cooking. There should be no loose metal in the microwave (even a strand of steel wool) and a microwave-safe dish should be used to heat the food in.
5.8 Microwave touchpad does not respond
A common trait of most microwaves is that it would beep when a button is pressed. If the microwave touchpad does not seem to respond when pressed, it could be the membrane switch (that determines the responsiveness of each button) that is causing the problem. Otherwise, the control board which controls overall responsiveness is malfunctioning.
5.9 Microwave exhaust fan is not working
Some microwaves have an exhaust fan and when this fan stops working, the air filters should be washed and cleaned if they are of a charcoal or metal mesh material. Alternatively, the exhaust fan can be taken apart into all their moving pieces, cleaned and reassembled. Should there be a broken part in the exhaust fan, it would have to be replaced.
5.10 Microwave light does not turn on
The microwave bulb can be replaced, depending on the model of microwave. If the bulb is in good condition, then the control board might be the root of the problem.
Troubleshooting tips for the home vacuum cleaner
6.1 Vacuum cleaner has lost suction
A number of reasons could affect why the vacuum cleaner has lost suction:
- The vacuum cleaner floor head and brush bar requires cleaning.
Solution: Turn the vacuum cleaner floor head over and examine it. If the vacuum cleaner does not have a brush bar, check the air pathways and any bristles around the edge of the tool. Remove any hair, fluff and dust that has been trapped which would block the airway. Any debris must be cleared to ensure that the airway is free. If the vacuum cleaner floor head does have a brush bar, and it is covered in hair and carpet fibres, this does affect how well the vacuum cleaner can pick up dirt, dust and hair. To remove the trapped hair, cut along the brush bar with a pair of scissors and pull out the hair and fluff to clean the machine.
- The vacuum cleaner filter is clogged up and needs to be cleaned.
Solution: There are usually two filters on a vacuum cleaner: the motor filter which is located at the back near the exhaust feature and the allergen filter that is most commonly found nearer to the dust bag. These two filters should be cleaned at least once a month and the right way to clean them would be stated in the manual as this varies from model to model. Self-cleaning filters will only require a dial to be twisted and a simple shaking of dirt off it while washable filters need a wash by running them under a tap and be left to dry completely for at least 24 hours (or longer) before use again. Replaceable filters would just need to be replaced periodically.
- The vacuum cleaner dust bag needs to be emptied.
Solution: A full dust bag would hinder the effectiveness of a vacuum cleaner and reduce its cleaning power. The dust bag or dust container should be regularly replaced or emptied and it is recommended to do this before the maximum fill line marked on the canister is reached. Full suction power will be restored once the canister is emptied or when a fresh and new dust bag is installed.
- The vacuum cleaner hose and cleaning tube is blocked.
Solution: When the hose and cleaning tube of the vacuum cleaner is blocked and there is an obstruction, the vacuum cleaner loses suction power. It is possible to have socks, clumps of hair and fluff, or debris such as bottle caps lodged in the vacuum cleaner after a vacuum. A quick visual inspection can confirm if this is the case.
Typical television problems and their DIY solutions
7.1 Incorrect picture size
When this issue occurs, the image on the TV will look squashed, stretched or cropped. This means that the aspect ratio the TV is currently set to is not the most ideal for viewing. This picture size setting can be found on the TV’s menu and most options would include a Zoom, Stretch, Wide or 16:9 Aspect Ratio feature. This feature can be readjusted to a setting that best suits the viewer’s preference.
7.2 Inaccurate colour
The default picture mode of TVs are intentionally calibrated to set the colour white to appear slightly bluer than the actual white colour and this setting is known as the ‘white balance’ which is designed to make the picture look cool. This calibration applies to Normal, Standard and Vivid picture modes. To change the colour setting of the TV, the White Balance or Colour Temperature option can be located on the TV’s menu and this setting can be readjusted to a Cool, Normal or Warm.
7.3 Turning captions on or off
To turn programme captions on or off, a Closed Caption button is located on the TV remote and it can also be accessed from the TV menu.
7.4 Audio delay
An audio delay happens when the video and audio feed are not in sync and the picture is seen before any corresponding sound is heard, and this creates a ‘voice-over’ effect. To correct this audio delay, this feature can be readjusted under the Audio settings on the TV menu.
7.5 TV turns on but no picture is displayed
When the TV turns on but does not display a picture, it is because the TV is on a wrong input. When this problem happens, the input can be corrected by pushing a button on the TV remote that is labelled ‘Input’ or ‘Source’ or sometimes, ‘TV/Video’.
The trick is to continuously press the ‘Input’ or ‘Source’ button to cycle through all the inputs until the TV can display a picture which means that it is now on the right input. If the TV is on the right input but there is still no picture being displayed, then the cable or satellite receiver needs to be checked to ensure that it is turned on and all connections are secure. Additionally, the cable box can be reset by simply unplugging it and plugging it back in.
7.6 Echo effect
When an ‘echo’ effect can be heard from the TV, this probably means that there is a separate sound system such as an external sound bar or a surround sound system that is turned on as well and audio feed is coming from both the external sound system and the TV speakers. Audio volume should only be coming from one source and in this case, the TV speakers should be disabled or muted to cancel this apparent ‘echo’ effect that is happening from audio sound playing from both sources.
7.7 Pixelated TV picture
When a TV image is pixelated, it gives the viewer an impression that it is ‘cutting in and out’. This is because the picture will look like it is breaking up and the screen will portray a bunch of random squares. When this happens, the most likely reason is that the signal is weak or the connection is loose. A check should be done for all the connections from the wall to the cable box, and from the cable box to the TV to ensure that all connections are secure. If necessary, the connections may be unplugged and reconnected.
When iPad problems happen and how to fix them
8.1 iPad app keeps crashing
When an iPad app crashes, it means that it stopped unexpectedly and closed on its own. If this incident keeps repeating itself, the first solution is to close the app. For a new iPad with no home button, the crashing app can be closed by swiping up from the bottom and pausing in the middle of the screen. For earlier iPad models, the home button should be double clicked.
For iOS12 devices, the crashing app can then be closed by picking them up and swiping up. For earlier iOS systems, the app icon should be pressed and held. When the icon wobbles and shows a close (X) button, the X button should be pressed to close the app.
By doing this, the app is being force quit and hence it is cleared from memory. This first action should help stop the app from crashing again but if this does not work, then the next solution is to uninstall the app altogether. The way to do this on an iPad is to hold down the app icon and press the X button when the app is wobbling.
After which, the app can be downloaded from the App Store for use again.
8.2 iPad screen is frozen
When the iPad screen freezes, it could be due to a software conflict or memory corruption that puts the iPad on a loop. One method to resolve this is to turn the iPad off and then on again. This can be done by pressing and holding the power button, and then swiping the slide to power off if the iPad has a home button. Alternatively, if the iPad has a facial recognition feature, then the device can be turned off by pressing and holding either volume button and the top button until the power off slider appears.
Turning off the iPad resets the hardware to its default state and should solve the problem. Should this method still not work, the iPad has to be force restarted and this is done by:
- Pressing and quickly releasing the Volume Up button, pressing and quickly releasing the Volume Down button and then pressing and holding the Power button until the device restarts (for iPads with a facial recognition feature)
- Pressing and holding both the home button and the top (or side) button until the Apple logo appears (for iPads with a home button)
8.3 iPad does not turn on or start up
When this problem happens, plug in the device and let it charge for up to an hour. After a few minutes, the charging screen should appear. If the charging screen does not appear within an hour (or if the connect-to-power screen is still displaying), check the jack, USB cable and power adapter to ensure that everything is plugged in firmly and is free of debris and not damaged. Additionally, it would be a good idea to try a different USB cable or power adapter.
8.4 iPad does not connect to wifi
Occasionally, the iPad may face problems connecting to a wifi network. When this problem occurs, a check is to be done on the settings to ensure that the tablet can locate the wifi connection. If the tablet cannot locate the wifi network, then the router should be reset. The next step would be to restart the iPad as this will reset the hardware to detect a better signal.
The trick is to also determine if the problem is with a specific network or with any wifi connection in general. For network-specific problems, go to Settings, then Wifi, and tap on the network to ‘forget’ the network and then reconnect to the same network using the right credentials. If the iPad does not work with any wireless connection in general, then a reset of the device is recommended.
8.5 iPad does not charge
If the iPad does not charge when plugged into a computer, the USB port needs to be checked to determine if it is in good working condition or a power adapter can be used to charge instead. To check if a USB port is charging properly, observe the battery icon on the iPad. If a ‘lightning’ symbol shows, this means that the iPad is charging. It is also good to note that a power adapter tends to charge devices faster than a computer port. Other solutions include rebooting the iPad or turning on Airplane mode.
8.6 iOS update cannot be installed on iPad
It may be noted that for an iOS update to be installed on an iPad, the iPad must (i) be charged to over 50%, (ii) have its Low Power mode turned off, (iii) cannot have its device connected through a VPN and (iv) must be connected on a wifi connection.
Phone troubleshooting questions and solutions for an easy fix
9.1 Phone is slow to respond
When a phone has a Random-Access Memory (RAM) that is full of apps and files, its performance will decline and the device will start to become slow to respond. The solution here is to do a phone clean up and apps that are not used can be closed and deleted. In addition, the cache data can also be cleared. If a new app has been recently installed and the phone appears to have slowed down, uninstalling the new app might help speed up the phone’s performance.
9.2 Phone storage is full
In line with the point above, phone storage is taken up when many photos, songs, documents and other files are saved on the phone. Unused apps do also occupy the phone’s storage space and this does slow down the phone’s performance, as illustrated above. To resolve this storage issue, files and apps that are not used should be deleted and this would also include photos, videos, music, calls and texts. The cache data should also be cleared. Any files that are to be archived should be kept on an online cloud or a microSD card instead of on the phone storage itself.
9.3 Phone battery runs out fast
Battery life is an important aspect of the phone and various factors do help to prolong this:
- Screen brightness should be dimmed.
- GPS, Wifi and Bluetooth should be turned off when not in use.
- Battery saving mode should be turned on if necessary.
- Apps that use a lot of battery can be removed or disabled if not required. To check for the battery usage of individual apps, this data can be found under Settings.
9.4 Phone is overheating
This signifies a possible problem with the phone battery or the charger. It could also mean that there are too many apps running in the background. Unused apps should be turned off, screen brightness should be turned down and the phone can be turned to Airplane mode. The phone should also not be in direct sunlight. Taking the phone case off may also help to cool the phone down and not using the phone for a few minutes would also help.
9.5 Phone app is crashing or freezing
When a phone app crashes or freezes, it could be an app issue where there is a bug related to the app. Sometimes it is due to the app having added new options and improved details for better performance, causing the phone to not be able to support the latest version of the app and therefore leading it to crash. One solution would be to restart the phone to start using the app again. The app can also be stopped in the App Manager and clearing cache data is recommended at this point as well. A later solution after the above steps have been attempted is to uninstall the app and install it again.
9.6 Phone app is not downloading
Corrupt cache would most likely be the main cause of this problem. To troubleshoot this issue, the cache of the app can be cleared and one method is to do this from the App Store. Ensuring that the phone is running on the latest version of update would help solve this issue as well.
9.7 Phone does not connect to Wifi or Bluetooth
When this happens, turn the phone to Airplane mode for a minute and attempt to connect it again.
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