Home Appliance Repairers are responsible for installing and repairing home appliances. The type of appliances they work on range from small appliances like vacuum cleaners and microwave ovens to larger appliances such as washers, dryers, window air conditioning units, refrigerators, and dishwashers. Oftentimes, the job involves dealing with more than the appliance itself. For example, repairers may need to install pipes in a customer's home in order to connect an appliance to a gas or water line. In these cases, the repairer is usually responsible for making sure the entire system is in working order. Repairers are also responsible for answer customer questions about the care and use of appliances.
There are two primary types of home appliance repairer:
- Major Appliance Repairers service large household appliances, many of which run on electricity or gas. Examples include ovens, stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers. Appliances of this type are usually repaired in the customer's home.
- Small Appliance Repairers traditionally specialize in the repair of smaller devices such as vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers, toasters, waffle irons, coffee makers, power tools, and microwave ovens. Work done on this type of appliance typically takes place in repair shops.
The repairer generally begins the repair process by first visually inspecting the appliance and then operating it to detect unusual noises, overheating, loose parts, or excess vibration. He/she initially looks for common sources of appliance failure such as faulty electrical connections or damaged circuit boards. If necessary, the repairer will disassemble the appliance to examine its internal parts for signs of corrosion or wear. During this process, the repairer will consult service manuals as needed and will use testing devices such as ammeters, voltmeters, wattmeters, digital logic testers, pressure gauges, and pipe-threading tools.
Once the problems are identified, the repairer will give an estimate to the customer of time and cost required to repair the appliance. Then, with the customer's approval, the repairer will begin to do the required repair work. This may involve any or all of the following:
- repair defective belts, motors, switches, gears, heating elements, or other parts
- replace defective parts with new ones
- replace circuit boards or other electronic components
- tighten, align, clean, and lubricate parts
- cut, thread, and connect pipe to a feeder line
- test for gas or microwave leaks
In performing the actual repair, repairers use common hand tools such as screwdrivers, files, wrenches, and pliers; as well as soldering guns and special tools designed for specific appliances. When repairing refrigerators and window air-conditioners, repairers must take special care to conserve, recover, and recycle refrigerants used in the cooling systems, as is required by law. Federal regulations also require that repairers document the disposal of refrigerants.
As the final part of the process, repairers keep records of parts used and time spent on the call in order to compute the total charge, write up the bill, and collect payment. They must also be prepared to answer customer questions and demonstrate the proper use and care of the appliance. If an appliance is still under warranty, the repairer sometimes needs to interface directly with the original appliance manufacturer in order to recoup monetary claims for work performed.
A large number of home appliance repairers work a standard 40-hour week, although some work early morning, evening, or weekend shifts and repairers are often on-call in case of emergency. In summer months, there tends to be a considerable amount of overtime work for repair of refrigerators and window mounted air-conditioners. There can be a lot of driving required, particularly for repairers of major appliances who may spend several hours a day driving to and from appointments in customer's homes.
The work environment for home appliance repairers varies depending on their employers and the type of appliances they work on. Repairers who handle small appliances usually work in quiet and relatively comfortable repair shops. Major appliance repairers, however, may spend several hours a day driving and are sometimes required to work in narrow spaces and in cramped or uncomfortable positions. Although the work is generally safe, repairers are susceptible to injury when handling electrical parts or lifting and moving large appliances. Work is normally done with little or no direct supervision.
Those who are successful in the profession are usually mechanically-inclined and/or have an aptitude for electronics. It is important to be a good problem solver and it is essential to be courteous and tactful when working with customers. Reading and speaking skills are also important due to the frequent need to read technical manuals and explain to customers how to use and care for appliances. Repairers who are self-employed also need good business and financial skills.
Government economists project the number of jobs for home appliance repairers to remain pretty much constant through 2016. Two key offsetting factors are primarily in play. On the one hand, as the number of total households grows, so does the number of home appliances in use. On the other hand, as appliances become cheaper, people will more often opt to buy a new appliance instead of having a broken one repaired. These two trends will factor each other out, resulting in little or no overall job growth. The fact that larger appliances tend to cost more and are more likely to be repaired than replaced means that demand for major appliance repairers should be stronger than demand for small appliance repairers.
Generally speaking, individuals with formal training in appliance repair and electronics can expect the best employment opportunities. Also, as time goes on jobs will become increasingly concentrated in larger companies due to an expected decline in the number of smaller shops and family-owned businesses.
Home Appliance Repair Training, Certification, and Licensing
Although most repairers acquire the bulk of their expertise through experience and on-the-job training, employers often require a prospective repairer to have a high school diploma, a basic working knowledge of electronics, and some type of formal training in appliance repair. There are many appliance repair or electronics programs offered in high school vocational programs, postsecondary technical schools, and community colleges. These programs can last anywhere between one and two years and include courses in basic electricity and electronics. Once employed, some repairers receive additional training from their employer and/or from appliance manufacturers. Training of this type usually involves a combination of home study and shop classes, in which students work with demonstration appliances and other training equipment. Many repairers receive additional instruction through 2- or 3-week seminars conducted by appliance manufacturers. Those repairers who are employed by franchised appliance dealers or are authorized for warranty work by manufacturers are typically required to attend periodic training sessions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all repairers who buy or work with refrigerants to become certified in their proper handling. In order to do so, repairers must pass a written examination administered by an EPA-approved organization such as a trade school, union, or employer association. There also are EPA-approved take-home certification exams. In addition, there are several optional certifications which can significantly enhance the credentials of a home appliance repairer. The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET) administers the National Appliance Service Technician Certification (NASTeC), which requires repairers to pass a comprehensive exam that tests competence in the diagnosis, repair, and maintenance of major home appliances. A similar certification program administered by the Professional Service Association (PSA) earns its recipients the Certified Appliance Professional (CAP) designation.
- National Appliance Service Association
- United Servicers Association, Inc.
- International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians
- Professional Service Association
- Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers
- Appliance Service News
- National Electronics Service Dealers Association
Approximately one of every four home appliance repairers is self-employed. Of those who are salaried, more than one-third work in retail establishments such as department stores, electronics retailers, household appliance stores, and fuel dealers. Other major employers include repair shops, gas and electric utility companies, and wholesalers. Home appliance repairers can be found anywhere but not surprisingly, the highest concentration of jobs is in densely populated areas.
Schools for Home Appliance Repairers are listed in the column to the left.