Learn New Skills with Basic Home Repairs

August 20, 2012



“I think the dryer is broken.” Those are words that no one really wants to hear, unless of course, your business is fixing other people’s dryers.

As much as we strive to live off the grid on our little homestead, we do have a number of luxuries afforded us by the modern day conveniences of electricity. An electric dryer is one of them.

As Laura has written before, we do have a clothesline. But for the size of our family and the ages of our kids, we’ve chosen to use an electric dryer to help with laundry. Could we live without it? Sure, but sometimes modern conveniences are nice.

It’s a Disposable World

If you walk down the isles of the closest big box store, I’m sure you’ll notice that many of the items on the shelves are not designed to last forever. You know that; manufacturers know that. It’s no secret.

It’s far cheaper for manufacturers to make a product that lasts for only a short while and can be tossed into the landfill when it breaks. They can use cheaper labor, cheaper parts, cheaper everything. When you’ve gotten your use out of it, just buy the latest and greatest model to replace it.

The days of taking your appliance to the repair shop are over.

Calling the Repairman

Durable goods, such as refrigerators and dryers, are the exception to the rule. Manufacturers are still cutting costs and using less expensive components, but the products are designed to be repaired.

When a durable good breaks, most people pick up the phone to call a repairman to come have a look at it. You make an appointment and he promises to be there sometime between 8:00am and noon.

He repairman usually charge a service fee to make the house call and then tacks on an additional fee for parts and labor for fixing the appliance. When he leaves, you have a functioning appliance again.

Learning Home Repairs

Preppers are not like most people. Preppers tend to be more thrifty with our finances and have a longer term perspective. We are less concerned with the “Opportunity Cost” of fixing it ourselves and are more concerned about becoming as self-sufficent as possible.

So, when our dryer recently went out, I wanted to fix it myself.

I turned to the internet for guidance. (I do have a background in servicing electrical appliances. In college I worked as an Electronics Specialist where I fixed all kinds of devices, everything from centrifuges to incubators. But it’s been many years and I’m a bit rusty on some of those things so I turned to the internet.)

I Googled “how to repair a clothes dryer” and a 1.7 million results were returned. I scanned the first few pages and found several links that were helpful. Some even had YouTube instructional videos to help.

After a few minutes, I had isolated the suspect components and how to replace them. Now all I have to do is run down to the parts place, pickup a replacement.

Learn While You Can

The internet makes broadening your knowledge and skill set much easier. If you don’t already know how to do something, just Google it. Most likely someone else has faced a similar problem and has documented how to fix it.

Of course you must use a certain amount of common sense when doing this. Anyone can post anything on the internet. Good advice can hard to discern from incompetent or malicious advice. So, browser beware.


Why go to this trouble?

  • Save money. Although it will probably take more time for you to fix it yourself, it will most likely cost you less money. You don’t have to pay for the time of the repairman. Only the parts.
  • Learn new skills. It’s good to stretch yourself and become more self-sufficient. Every time you do something that you didn’t know how to do before, you add to your repository of knowledge.
  • Times may get tough. Right now we have access to a wonder source of information – the internet. That may not always be there. You may have to give up internet access due to financial constraints, or the internet may be restricted or compromised due to a global conflict.
  • Adding value. With every new skill you learn, you add value to yourself. If you must convince another group that they should take you in, the more skills you can offer, the more likely they’ll accept you.

Do you do your own home repairs?

I also recently put these kind of skills to use when one of my kids put too many DVDs in the player and got it jammed closed. Rather than trying to find an electronics repair shop, I turned to my tool bag, popped the cover off and wrestled the DVDs free. And the player still works.

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4 Comments on “Learn New Skills with Basic Home Repairs”

  1. Carolyn Says:

    I admire anyone who can fix their own anything, because the manufacturers are indeed making things to NOT last. They don’t care about the impact this mindset has. I have been trying to learn how to do more around the house. Just the other day my 12 year old son asked me to make him a door, instead of buying one. He asked for a board and batten style, and I thought it was a great idea. Not only will it be more solid, but there won’t be any off-gassing from the door’s components. Your post was timely, educational, and a d@#& good bit of advice. Keep up the great work!


    • Joe Says:

      Thanks Carolyn! I appreciate your comment. You’re right; home repairs can go beyond just fixing an appliance. It can involve other minor improvement projects as well.

      Good point.




  1. The Forgotten Prep: Building a Nest Egg | - October 9, 2012

    […] one wants to hear that an appliance has broken. As I mentioned in a prior post, our clothes dryer went out not too long ago. I diagnosed and fixed it myself and it’s running great now (and hopefully […]

  2. Learn to Use Your Gear | - November 27, 2012

    […] Learn New Skills with Basic Home Repairs […]

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