September 17, 2010

DIY Stove Repair

I have a theory that the major appliances and heating / cooling equipment in rental properties are able to tell when it is a holiday and this determines when they break down.    So when Labor Day weekend came around I wasn't surprised that we got a call that the stove in one of our rentals had stopped working.   The baking element in the oven had gone out and they weren't able to do any baking.

I did a little research on baking elements and figured that it wouldn't be very had to fix if I could get the right part.   I asked the renter to find the model number of the stove so I could then try and find the right element.   While I figured I could fix it I wasn't entirely sure.   So I decided to check into alternatives.  

The four possible options that I came up with were:

Fix it myself :   Cost $25 to $50, Time 2-4 hours
Pay Repair Man : Cost $115 to $150, Time 0
Buy used Stove : Cost ~$50 to $100 + $50 delivery, Time 1-2 hrs
Buy New Stove : Cost ~$300

Each option has its merits.   Honestly buying a used stove was not high on our list of preferred options.  We've had bad experience with a used appliance before.   If you buy a used appliance you run the risk that it won't last long.   My wife and I like the reliability of a new appliance.  Hiring a repair man would get the job done easily at a medium cost.  However we'd still end up running the risk that the appliance just break down again.    And if I can fix it myself it would be worth the 2-4 hours of my time to save myself $65 to $125 cost.  If I couldn't repair the stove myself we may very well have decided to just buy a new one.   It would cost more but would give us reliability of a new appliance and would not take much of our time.    We decided that I would try and repair it if I could or just buy a new one if I couldn't

On Friday my wife and I first went to Home Depot and they didn't have any baking elements but the woman who works in the appliance section there told us about a couple local repair shops that do carry parts.   While we were there we checked out their selection of new stoves and found that the cheaper options could be bought for $300 to $350 range with free delivery and haul away.     Our next trip was on Saturday and we stopped at one of the local repair shops.   I told them the model number of the stove that the renter had given me,.  While it didn't come up in his system he was able to figure out that the letter 'P' in the part number I had was actually supposed to be an 'R' and the leg of the R probably just wore off.   He had the right baking element in stock and it was a reasonably priced $30.    My last trip was out to the rental to actually fix the stove.  The repair itself actually only took about 5 minutes.   All I had to do was unplug the stove, remove a couple screws, disconnect a couple wires from the element, remove the old element, connect the wires, return the 2 screws and plug the stove back in.   Thankfully it worked fine.

Worth the Time

Altogether I spent about 3-4 hours and $30.  If I had spent $115 on a repair man that would have been another $85 out of pocket.   My 3-4 hours of work saved me $85 or more so that works out to a savings of $21.25 to $28.33 per hour.  

This DIY effort worked out fairly well.   For $30 and a few hours time I got the stove fixed and saved myself minimum of $85.   I probably would have spent over $300 to buy a new stove if my repair didn't work.

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