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The most crucial step toward solving any problem is starting with the right diagnosis. This is true whether talking about your health, vehicle problems or appliance repair. Therefore, when you call a repair company, the first thing you typically ask is if they can diagnose my appliance issue over the phone. Sadly, they will probably tell you no.


When a major appliance breaks down, time is of the essence. You might be stuck with spoiled food, piles of stinky laundry or the inability to prepare a meal. If a company can diagnose my appliance issue over the phone, it will save a lot of time and get the process going quicker. However, beware of any company that tells you they can do this. This post will explain why.


The dangers when you try to diagnose my appliance issue over the phone


One problem can easily look (or sound) like another – major appliances are getting more and more complex. There are numerous parts, each with an ability to malfunction. For example, if your refrigerator is not cooling or freezing well, it could be the condenser coils, the gaskets, a bad thermometer, or a host of other problems. Trying to describe that strange noise you hear can be difficult. Over the phone, the most they can do is give you troubleshooting advice. Unfortunately, in trying to fix the issue yourself, without the right skills, you might make things worse. Your technician will only know the true culprit after a visual inspection.


You will likely end up spending more money – multiple visits from service professionals will cost more. For instance, if your stove is not working, an over-the-phone diagnosis might point to a problem with a faulty bake element. When the repairman arrives, he may discover the real issue is an electrical one. In this instance, most cases, you will not be charged for the initial diagnostic visit.


Without in-person, professional advice, it’s all just guess work – diagnosing appliance issues can be complicated. And your appliances are too important to trust them to speculation and presumptions. For example, you might believe that your old dryer is beyond repair but a trained professional could be able to squeeze a few more years of life out of it. It’s best to wait and find out the true issue so you can make the right decision for you, your household and your budget.


Reasons why you can’t diagnose my appliance issue over the phone


  1. A problem may seem simple but is often more complex.

There is an old joke about a repairman who comes to fix an appliance. He hits it with a hammer and then charges $250. When the customer protests, the repairman explains that it’s $50 for hitting it but $200 for knowing where to hit it. In other words, to a nonprofessional, it might seem like the repairman took only a few moments or did little to fix the issue but their knowledge is very valuable.


  1. There are just too many parts.

Today’s appliances are much more sophisticated than those from previous generations. In addition, there are numerous makes, models and brands to contend with. There is no way any technician would have every necessary part on hand at any given time. They also cannot be expected to quickly order new parts based on the customer’s description of a problem over the phone. If they have to order a new part and it turns out to be the wrong one, they either have to eat the cost or they must pay a restocking fee. This is the kind of cost that may get added to your bill.


  1. The true cost of repairs cannot be determined until all questions are answered.

A good rule of thumb is that if the repair will cost more than half the price of the appliance, you should replace it. You can’t make this decision until you know the actual cost for fixing your appliance problem. Only by evaluating the issue in person can a technician give you a fair and honest price. Additionally, they will need to determine other issues, such as whether the appliance is still under warranty and how much an individual part will cost.


  1. Other problems may come to light.

If your machine or appliance has been making strange sounds or malfunctioning for a while, it’s likely that one problem has now morphed into another. For instance, one bad part may cause something else to wear out from being overworked. A visual inspection is the best way to ensure that all issues get resolved the first time.


Is it ever possible to diagnose my appliance issues over the phone?


Appliances make our lives easier. Each new make, model and feature allows them to do a little more. We now have refrigerators that help us order groceries, ovens that cook at two different temperatures at the same time and apps that allow you to be remotely connected to your appliances 24 hours a day.


One of these new features includes diagnostic tools that let you use your phone to assess the problem. Brands like LG and Kenmore offer products like washers and dryers that work with your phone. You can call their service center, push some buttons on the appliance, and let the representative listen to the corresponding diagnostic beeps and sounds. The technician will then diagnose the problem and order parts.


Other companies sell appliances that, for a fee, they will monitor for you wirelessly. Then, if the appliance’s performance changes or malfunctions, the company will call you to set up an appointment for repair.


Then there are websites and services that promise to diagnose your problem over the phone for free. However, these people may not be qualified professionals and could end up giving you bad advice. They may even make the problem worse by causing you to delay needed, expert service.


Of course, all these options still require the expertise of a qualified technician. To find the right one, look for those in your area with a solid reputation, years of experience and the ability to work on all brands and models.

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