I have owned rental property and been my own property manager for 15 years, but with the real estate meltdown, economizing on hiring outside help became critical.
During the past year, I began repairing appliances myself whenever I could, the fixes I was comfortable with. I also found out I could buy my parts inexpensively online.
This year we had an extremely hot summer, and about eight of my properties blew air conditioning capacitors. Every time the HVAC technician came out it was $200. This made such an impression on me, I decided to shoulder surf while he changed a capacitor one day, and saw that it only took him about 15 minutes.
I asked him for the old capacitor and looked up the part online. He had told me it was a $125 part, but actually, it was about a $25 part. I started to do the math. 15 minutes for $200 is not a bad way to make a buck, I thought, and you’re clearing most of that. And, I was not his only client.
With real estate in the tank, I had been looking for some way to earn some income, so I started thinking about becoming an HVAC technician. At the very least, I could fix my own air conditioners and save a bunch of money, and maybe even make some cash fixing them for other people.
I started looking into it. I found some good training programs and started to get excited. Then I hit the deal killer. It turns out that an apprenticeship of 4 years is required in my state in order to become a licensed HVAC technician. I was not looking for a lengthy apprenticeship. I was just trying to make some cash.
But it had gotten me thinking. What could I do for that kind of income?
At the same time, I had a refrigerator in my basement that was broken, and I had been putting off replacing it. I had called an appliance repair guy and he had asked me could I hear the compressor running, and I said, “no.” He said I may need to replace the relay, which would cost $140, or at the very worst the compressor was shot and I would need a new fridge.
I went and looked at some used and scratch and dent fridges, but I just couldn’t bring myself to buy one. It was a little beyond my comfort zone, but I wanted to try and fix it.
I had been reading about basic electronics, and I had come across a couple of DIY articles online that told me to test continuity and resistance, but I had been skipping that step and making educated guesses about what was broken. I had gotten lucky so far, but I was nervous about buying parts that wouldn’t solve my problems since you can’t return most electrical parts.
I studied my model, and I confirmed that if the relay assembly wasn’t working, the compressor wouldn’t come on either. I went down to the basement and ripped out the relay. In order to test if the relay was the problem, I found a site davesrepair.com that teaches you how to make a refrigeration compressor test cord, and I went out and bought the parts and made one.
You know what? When I plugged my test cord in, the compressor came on. Bought a relay online and fixed my refrigerator for about $65.
It was at that point I realized I liked appliance repair enough to see what it took to become an appliance repair technician.
2 Replies to “Choosing Appliance Repair”
Great website you’ve got here. We’ve got a few investment properties here in New Zealand and are just getting quotes for fixing my sister in-law’s oven who lives in one of our houses next door.
Some companies charge like a wounded bull! My wife said I should chuck in my 9 to 5 and do this for a living. Your site shows how this is possible.
Thanks so much!
Thanks for the kind words. It’s extremely gratifying to get the great response we do from people visiting this site. Best of all, I’m able to share my real world experiences of starting my appliance repair business from scratch with those who are curious or interested in starting their own appliance repair business. I strive to make my story have value to others and encourage them to take the plunge whenever they are ready.
I don’t know what your current occupation is but I left real estate development in November of 2010 because of the terrible market conditions we are experiencing here in the States. It has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. All I can tell you is this trade is easy to startup (minimal tools and equipment), not expensive to operate, and fairly easy to learn if you get the right training materials.
I love troubleshooting and repairing appliances in people’s homes. I love the fact that they are so grateful when I show up, and again when I finish the repair, not to mention the sizable check they write for my services.
I bought Harry Raker’s home study course in November 2010 and went out on my first service call January 4th. That was less than 2 months of study. Plus that was from a cold start – I had no previous experience with professional appliance repair (I did muck about with some simple fixes in my rental properties).
Harry Raker, aka “Uncle Harry” has the best home study course I have found, but most important are his supplemental support services. He has a vast library of service manuals (necessary to do individual service calls) and his Appliance Repair Wizard gives you all the troubleshooting guides you will need to service any call. He also has phone and email support for any problem you may run across out in the field. I quickly made up the complete cost of the course from my service calls and I can’t think of any other career that could pay itself back so fast.
All that said, I wish you the best of luck if you decide to try out appliance repair for yourself.
Thanks again for the nice comments.