Repair Theory in a digital age should be easier, right? We all crave an immediate answer because we don’t have time. We quickly turn to the internet to get immediate answers, but the part we miss is “showing our work.” Remember that part of the assignment? That’s part of the theory. Not just to understand what broke, but why, how, and what can be done to prevent it in the future.
For example, replacing a fuse might get the appliance working again, but did it fix the problem? This is an example of when theory helps DIYers and Technicians understand the bigger question of WHY, rather than WHAT.
“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it. You have to let it all go. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind. ”Morpheus
Appliance Repair requires knowledge in many areas. As a former professional appliance service technician, I developed skills in electrical, carpentry, and plumbing…to name a few. You’re not taught everything up-front because you simply can’t cover everything. My trainer, a 30+ year professional in the field, taught me the ‘theory’ behind repair.
Become the appliance. Think about how it operates. Think about it. Watch it. Learn how it operates and which parts work together to make it do what it does. Figuring out how it works will help lead you to figuring out why it doesn’t work and what can be done to repair it.
Listen to your customer. Listen to the appliance. You can often audibly determine the issue without lifting a finger.
- “I was doing a load of horse blankets, and then…”
- “I put in a disposal and now my dishwasher wont drain.”
- “It takes too long to dry.”
Start the appliance and listen to it. Close your eyes. Listen to the motor motor, listen to the impeller impel, listen to the pump pump, listen for clicks, bumps, thumps, beeps…and try to form a mental image of what is happening inside the appliance that could be causing that to occur.
Perhaps, if you’re having problems finding the answer, it may be that you’re asking the wrong question. Never assume or believe you ‘know’, because the appliance gods will often humble you. Be humble. Be curious. Ask questions.
Use all your senses. That’s the basis of theory. You can hear a broken motor coupling. You can see the white-powdery-leftovers of a snubber ring. You can feel the heat that results from a failed condenser fan motor. You can smell the burning of a seized motor. Proprioception is a ‘sense’ you will develop. Using your mind’s eye to ‘see’, as your fingers thread a screw or route a belt around the pulleys. Having the ability to use these senses properly will make you a successful technician.
“Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize, just as I did, there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.“Morpheus
Lastly, start and end your repair and use the most critical sense of them all, common sense.
Prepare. Be safe. Unplug or turn off power. Turn off or disconnect water. Whatever is necessary until you determine that it is safe and can be tested and operated safely. Why do construction crews setup cones, signs, flags, barricades, and lights weeks before they start working? Why do pilots walk around the aircraft after they land and again before loading passengers? Safety. Preparation. Learn to use an electrical meter. Learn how to test for voltage and continuity. This is a lesson and a skill that may save your life…in addition to making you a better technician.
Use common sense. Wear safety equipment. Prepare. Think through the problem. Listen to your customer. Listen to your appliance. Appliance repair is a skill anyone can learn. Remember Neo’s training? Was he stopping bullets on day one? No. Did he make the jump? No. But, if you believe you can, if you trust in your self, if you prepare, you can and will free your mind. The possibilities are endless.