DIY Appliance Repairs

Lots of appliance problems are better off dealt with by throwing the appliance away. But some things can be fixed by a handy landlord. We're going to start collecting suggestions for "cheap and easy" DIY appliance repairs.

Oven Ignitor

oven ignitor

The "oven ignitor" is left of the gas pipe.

Problem: Oven does not hold temperature, or does not light

Price: $30

Time: 30 minutes

Tools required: Wrench for hex head bolts, headlamp flashlight

Tools that might be needed: Wire cutters

The oven ignitor is responsible for glowing white hot and igniting gas that enters the oven. If it doesn't glow white hot, it will send a signal to shut off the gas flow.

Oven ignitors for common ovens come in two shapes and are pretty standardized: round and flat.

You have to pay attention to what kind of connection the ignitor comes with. They should all have plastic clip connectors, but sometimes when you buy one there's no clip. If that's the case, use the ceramic wire nuts they provide to wire the ignitor to your old clip ends (cut them off the previous ignitor).

This YouTube video gives the basic procedure:

stove warning label

You will need to stick your head in the oven. Make sure it's not hot (duh) and MOST IMPORTANTLY, do a sumo squat and put your weight on your legs. Don't lean on the door or it may tip over and take you and the gas line with you.

oven ignitor

Old burned-out ignitor (left) alongside new ignitor (right).

Leaking Refrigerator

Problem: Fridge is dripping water out of the food storage area and onto the floor

Price: $0

Time: 60 minutes

Tools required: Hair dryer, very hot water in an easy-pour container like a measuring cup, flashlight

Tools that might be needed: Socket screwdriver or wrench

Modern fridges have an "automatic defrost" that temporarily warms the freezer and melts the ice down through a tube and into an evaporation tray. If the tube freezes up, the freezer melt will overflow the drainage area, move across the bottom of one or both of the compartments, run over the food and leak out the door onto the floor.

Take everything out of the freezer and put it into coolers. Unplug the fridge. Remove the back panel from the freezer, taking care if there are any wires connected to disconnect them. Look for the drainage tray. It's blocked with ice. Use a hair dryer to melt it down to the tube opening. Pour some boiling water very slowly onto the tube opening. Alternate hair drying and pouring hot water until you can see what you pour come out the bottom of the tube under the fridge and into the evaporation tray.