DIY repair: fix almost anything using YouTube instructions

Joan Fieldstone

May 5, 2015

By: Joan Fieldstone, Home Improv Advocate

In: General RemodelingAppliancesInterior Home Improvement

If you follow this blog, you know I like to think of myself as frugal or at least wise about how I spend money on feathering my nest. But when it comes to repairs, I either call someone to fix it or, if I can't afford to, I just tolerate the small stuff for as long as possible.

An acquaintance of mine posted on Facebook last week that she had successfully repaired her own window blinds armed with an inexpensive part ordered online and some instant YouTube expertise. I was so curious about how she was able to do it. It turns out that she does her own repairs frequently.

YouTube for DIYers

Perhaps the secret to my friend's success is that her father was an electronics engineer who fixed all sorts of complicated things from the time he was a child. She must have been paying some close attention when her father tinkered in the garage as she was growing up. As an adult child of an EE, she would call him up and get detailed instructions about how to repair things. She once fixed her heater and thermostat as he explained over the phone what to do. She needs some direction, but still…

In the past few years she's turned to free YouTube videos for instruction in the art of fixing all sorts of things. I think she could hear my jaw drop when she told me she once fixed a washer by herself. She took it apart, figured out what was wrong, what part was needed, and voila -- all from watching YouTube videos. She couldn't remember what part was broken -- "maybe it was the pump" -- or even how she dismantled it, only that the machine did not come apart in the typical way, and it required lots of trial and error, but the videos helped point her in the right direction.

And how did she know what was wrong with it? The YouTube tutorial she watched ran through a list of if-this-then-that examples so she was able to diagnose the problem and decide what part she needed.

Blind with envy

She's renting her place, so when the pull cord on the Hunter Douglas cellular shade broke, she didn't want her landlord to think she was careless. She called a few repair shops, but most said they only repaired what they sold. Finally she found one that would fix it, but they wanted $51, so she went to the Internet to see if she could find the part and learn how to fix it herself.

She did a Google search for "repair pleated blind cord pull" and got plenty of results with companies that sold parts for all different brands. She picked www.fixmyblinds.com because they had instructional videos. With the videos she could see that the blinds looked exactly like hers and knew the instructions were the right ones.

Patience is key

She ordered the part - only $5.95. Shipping and handling cost almost as much, but she still saved $40. The cord arrived, and she watched the video showing how to extract the broken one. "It took patience," she said, "but with a little bit of maneuvering" she was able to take apart and replace the pull cord loop.

"Sometimes," she says, "you have to walk away from it." You have to stay calm to "think it through and figure some things out." She has even been able to install landscape sprinklers, a much more complicated project, from watching YouTube instructional videos. She loves the "positive promise of a global system of sharing information" that makes it possible for people like us to benefit from all this free information. She was thrilled that the site offered so much instruction for such a small, inexpensive part. Her post on Facebook prompted another friend to say they have a few blinds that need repairing, and they plan to use that site, too.

As for me, I will have to develop patience first.

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