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5 ways to fix a broken appliance

Try these steps when your kitchen appliances are giving you trouble.

Chris Monroe/CNET

A broken washing machine or refrigerator can be scary and frustrating. You don't want a big repair bill or to go without a crucial appliance for too long.

Luckily, some appliance problems can be solved easily at home without calling a repairman. Even if you don't know a thing about repair, many fixes are super simple. 

When your dryer, washer, oven, dishwasher or fridge is giving your grief, remember these simple tips to get it running again.

Flip the switch

If your large appliance suddenly stops working, it may have flipped the breaker. Sometimes when too much electricity surges through an outlet, your home's breaker box will automatically cut off the power to the outlet. 

First, unplug everything in your kitchen except major appliances, like the fridge, dishwasher, stove and microwave. Make sure each of the major appliances is plugged into their own outlet. No sharing!

Finally, go to your breaker box and flip any switch that is pointed in the opposite direction of the other switches. If all of them look like they are going in the same direction, flip the master switch (the big one), leave it for a few seconds, then flip it back on. 

Go back into the kitchen and see if the appliance is on.

Check the cord

If checking the breaker box doesn't work, flip the master switch back off and check the cord to see if it's cracked or damaged. If so, that may be the culprit. 

You best bet is to try repair or replace the cord. Most home improvement stores have cord replacement kits that are easy to install.

Clean the filter

No matter if it's a washer, dryer, fridge ice maker or dishwasher, a dirty filter can quickly halt its efficiency, make it leak or even catch fire. 

Read the appliance's owner's manual for instruction on cleaning the filter or take a look at these articles:

Give it a shake

You've probably seen angry cartoon dads hit or shake an appliance when it doesn't work. Sometimes, that's good advice.

A blinking screen, incessant beeping and buttons that don't work can all be a sign of a sensor malfunction. Things like dust, bugs and lint can get stuck on the computer sensors inside the unit, making it act weird. A good, yet gentle shake will dislodge it.

For example, my stove started beeping like crazy and no one knew why. I called in a professional and it turned out there was a piece of lint blocking one of the sensors. Now when my oven goes crazy, I know that a little wiggle is all it needs. Works every time.

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Check the seal

If your fridge isn't staying cold enough or your oven isn't staying hot enough, it probably has a damaged door seal. Check for cracks and tears in the rubber around the inside of the door. 

If it looks like the seal is past its prime, check the owner's manual on how to replace it. Here's how to replace the seal on most fridges.

This is what to do when your washing machine or dishwasher overflows.

How often should you clean your fridge? Here's the answer.