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Safety Standards for Appliance Repair for the Do It Yourself Home Handyman

Updated on May 9, 2010

Washer Dryer Safety Precautions

Unplug the appliances before attempting to service.

Turn the gas off to gas appliances. Gas dryers use electricity, too, be sure to unplug them for service.

Warning:  clothes or shop towels with gasoline, solvents, or other flammables should never be washed or dried, they can cause damage to the machines and are an extreme fire hazard.

Washing machines can be dangerous when in the spin cycle. Do not defeat the interlocking lid, or lid switch. Do not leave a step stool or step up near a washer where a child can climb and look into a washer. There is risk of drowning and other serious injury.

Turn the water off before servicing a washing machine. Check the condition of the hoses, bubbles in the hose, cracks or checks, replace the hoses. This could save you from a flood.

Check the condition of the dryer vent, damaged vent or plastic vent should be replaced with vent rated for dryers. Damaged or ripped lint screen should be replaced. A bad lint screen can cause an unsafe condition in the dryer with lint build up.

Caution should be used when opening a washer or dryer case to avoid scratching or cutting yourself on the sharp edges. Many points on these appliances are sharp and can cause injury.

Use safety equipment: eye protection, rubberized gloves, and plastic handled tools.

Refrigerator Safety Precautions

Unplug a refrigerator before servicing, cleaning, or testing. If you unplug your refrigerator, leave it unplugged for at least 20 minutes this will allow the compressor to cool. If you try to start it up too soon, it may experience an overload.

A thorough cleaning and vacuuming of the condenser coils will help your refrigerator operate smoothly and efficiently.

Did you see someone clear ice build up with a knife or screw driver?  Don't ever do this.  It is extremely dangerous.

Do not ever clear ice build-up on the evaporator coils with a sharp object, or ice pick. Severe damage could result to the appliance and an unsafe situation could be created. Knowingly allowing Refrigerant to escape into the atmosphere is a crime and is punishable with stiff fines. Clean Air Act states in part, "With respect to enforcement, civil penalties of not more than $25,000 per day for each violation may be assessed."

Proper Tools

Use the Proper Tools, these tools are an inexpensive investment.
Use the Proper Tools, these tools are an inexpensive investment.
Use the specified lubricants.  Other lubricants may shorten the life of parts and cause premature failure.
Use the specified lubricants. Other lubricants may shorten the life of parts and cause premature failure.
Use Factory Specified Parts.
Use Factory Specified Parts.

Electric Range Precautions

Extremely dangerous electrical appliance. Unplug your stove from the wall before servicing. Even if you are repairing or replacing parts that are energized with a switch. Turning the switch off is not enough. You must unplug the stove.

Many sharp edges exist, use caution in handling any parts or removing covers and protectors.

Self Cleaning ovens create extremely high heat. Make sure that all instructions are followed precisely. Remove all combustible materials from the top and sides of the stove.   Cleaning may be more successful if large bits and pieces and spills are cleaned before the cleaning cycle begins. Make sure you remove the racks in the oven before you begin the cleaning cycle.

Dishwasher Safety Precautions

If the dishwasher is plugged in, unplug it.  Often the dishwasher is wired directly to an electrical box.  Test the electrical connection with a no contact voltage detector until you find get a positive result.  Turn the circuit breaker off.  Test the same electrical connection with a voltage detector to determine that there is not electricity.   Proceed with caution.

Turn the water off to the dishwasher before servicing. 

Improper installation of a dishwasher could cause catastrophic water damage.  Make sure all the manufacturer's instructions are followed accurately. 

Never, never, never operate a dishwasher while you are not at home.

General Electrical Safety for Appliance Repair Handiman

Electrical work and jobs can be simple, but they can also become complicated fast.  For example, you need to replace a light switch.  Simple enough.  Turn the power off to the circuit, test for power, and oops there is power.  Now what do you do?  Let's go a step further.  You discover that another switch turns the same light on and off. Do you know how to wire a simple switch so that two switches can operate the same light?  These are common scenarios that make a simple job complicated.  If you are not confident and prepared, electrical work is not a place to make mistakes.  Electricians have many years of training and experience, turn to them when you are unsure.

Please follow all of the warning tags and labels located in various places on appliances. These warning labels are for your safety and they can protect you if you follow them. Have you ever been shocked? If your answer is yes, then you know it can happen. But, it can be avoided.

If you do not know what you are doing, call an electrician to turn the power off. Most appliances can be disconnected from the power by unplugging them.

General Rules: Do not work, disassemble, dismantle, or attempt repairs or electrical testing except non-contact testing on an appliance until it is unplugged. It must be unplugged in order to be safe from electrical shock and possible severe injury.

Non-contact testing is when a device can be used to detect, sense, measure, or otherwise test electrical connections, wiring, and devices without exposing the wire, connectors, or devices.  A good example of this is the Voltage Detector.  This device can be used to test for voltage anywhere like extension cords, power cords, plugs, and devices without coming into contact with the bare wires.  It is safe to use even by amateurs.

If the appliance cannot be unplugged as in some dishwashers, the circuit breaker must be turned off and the power tested with a voltage detector.

If you are working on an appliance, receptacle, power cord, or other electrical device that requires the circuit breaker to be turned off. Turn the breaker on and off yourself. Do not rely on a helper. Always test the circuit at the point of where you are working with a voltage detector. Tag the circuit breaker with a note: "This circuit is being worked on, do not turn this breaker on." If the panel box can be locked, lock it while you are working on it. If you take a break, like for lunch, check the circuit breaker before going back to work. Then test with a voltage detector at the point of work.

Additional Precautions: Wear rubber based gloves, use plastic handled or rubber coated tools, wear shoes, do not test by probing with a screwdriver or knife blade even when you know there is no power. Handle electrical connections and devices with great care, test them often while you are working on them.


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