by Texas Homesteader ~
Do you ever wonder if it’s worth the effort to repair something instead of just chunking it away and buying a new one?
Recently I was quickly running an iron over the fabric to press the wrinkles out of a blouse and I noticed that the iron wasn’t getting as hot as it should. I further noticed the cord was a little worn.
Now I realize an iron isn’t very expensive. But I hate the thought of throwing away one thing so I can buy the very same thing to replace it.
So I asked RancherMan to repair my iron for me. Oh yeah, RancherMan is the king of repairs around our Homestead!
So he researched the problem online and then bought a couple of plugs. These plugs cost only a couple of dollars so they were certainly inexpensive.
And using one of those plugs RancherMan had the iron repaired and working like new in less than 5 minutes.
I now have a reliable iron again and nothing went into the landfill! AND since the plugs came in a 2-pack, we have a spare for the next thing that needs a plug replaced.
How’s that for cheap??!!
Easier (But More Expensive) To Just Replace
Of course the easiest thing to do is just throw something away if it gets a little worn or doesn’t seem to be working just right.
Chunk it in the trash and go buy a brand new one to take its place, ya know? But I’ve found that easier is often not the best route, y’all.
In this case it would not be good for the budget since a new iron would certainly cost more than these two inexpensive plugs to repair it.
And chunking a non-functional iron in the landfill would certainly NOT be good for the environment either! Especially since oftentimes it’s such a simple fix that takes mere minutes of your time to get that iron fully functional once again.
Of course if a repair is over your level of expertise it’s always best to consult a professional repairman. That’s oftentimes money well spent on complicated repairs.
But oftentimes typical household-item repair needs are quick, simple & very inexpensive.
Heck RancherMan often just looks up a YouTube video if he has any questions on a particular repair. He’s almost always found a video to help him actually see the repair in action. If it’s simple enough to not require professional assistance he proceeds on with the easy repair.
Doing The Math
Sometimes even the manufacturers can lead you astray when questioning whether a repair can be made. Even a simple one!
Check this out – a few days ago the small nylon retainer nut on my Braun coffee grinder started cracking. I knew that meant a replacement part would be needed soon.
I use that particular coffee grinder to Grind Dehydrated Onions into onion powder. And I use it a lot for that!
So since my coffee grinder was a name brand I first contacted the manufacturer for advice. Maybe they’d send the tiny replacement part for free. It never hurts to ask, ya know??
It took several days for them to respond. And when they finally got back with me the representative recommended throwing away my grinder and buying a new one.
In her words:
“we don’t have that part to send you & taking it to a small-appliance repair shop to have that part replaced will cost you about $40, you might as well spend $70 and buy a new one”.
YOWZA! Does anyone else see the math flaw in her advice??!
Repair it for $40 or replace it for $70?
$30 MORE to chunk my coffee grinder in the trash and buy a new one instead of just repairing the one I have.
Quick Search Online
But we didn’t even need a professional repair in this case. As a matter of fact since you can easily search for almost anything online, RancherMan quickly researched, found the part we needed and arranged to have it shipped to our home for less than $6!
Yep, you read that right.
When this small part was received he simply unscrewed the broken retainer nut and replaced it with the new one. In just a few minutes I was back in business with a now fully-functional coffee grinder once again.
This simple and inexpensive repair means nothing hits the landfill and I’ve apparently saved the $70 it would have cost to buy a new one!
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle
That coffee grinder is still in my kitchen today, and still doing heavy duty whenever I need it.
I’m trying to live by the Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle mindset in my everyday life. And these quick inexpensive repairs certainly fit into that lifestyle!
I’m living my values by thinking ‘repair‘ before ‘replace‘.
I’ve found it true that it’s often helpful (and significantly less expensive) to think outside the box when you find yourself with an item that isn’t working quite like it should.
Remember, repairs aren’t necessarily complicated nor expensive. A quick search online can answer that question in no time. And more times than not a simple, inexpensive repair is all that’s needed.
Save some money, save the environment.
Other Low-Waste Stories
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- Our Low-Waste Coffee
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- Ditch The Plastic – Using Glass In The Refrigerator
- 5 Zero-Waste Products We Love
- Food Waste in America: What Do Those Dates Mean?
- Zero-Waste Hygiene – Using A Safety Razor
- Eliminate Plastic Produce Bags
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Thanks for sharing this at Good Morning Mondays. Thank you for showing us how we can make do and mend without it costing us a fortune or adding to the junk heap. Blessings
Great advice! We always try to repair items. If something does need replacing we look for used in good condition. Saves so much money and waste. Thanks for sharing at the Homestead Blog Hop. Hope to see you again this week. 🙂
I totally fix anything and everything I can. I have learned new skills by doing this. And I walk away proud when I pull it off. Thanks so much for sharing on the (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop.
I love repair stories (I know I am weird). Thanks for sharing yours ! Here are a few of ours… During a storm, I didn’t unplug fast enough and the lightening zapped my phone charger, hubby cut the cord on our old phone charger from our damaged phone and spliced the wires together to create a new, usable charger 🙂 Another time I was wearing my headphones while pruning roses (never do that) and I snipped my gifted Bose head set. There were so many tiny wires that a regular splicing wouldn’t work. Hubby had to buy a tiny welding kit for a few dollars and piece by piece brought it back to life again (and those headsets go for $150)… Okay, I could go on but the point is, GREAT POST! Thank you for sharing it on the Art of Home-Making Mondays 🙂
My sewing machine of 20 o so years recently stopped stitching and I have been pondering what to do about it. I am temped to buy a new one but I also feel committed to the idea of fixing and using what you have. It’s a pickle for me right now.
Good for you…. great jobs… and also great to see the spirit of contentment…. I see so many people throw things out and get new ones just because they are tired of the old ones and feel they “deserve” something new. That is a dangerous road to go down. We do many repairs…and we throw out when necessary…and I am so thankful to have my guys who can repair things here. Thank you for posting. 🙂
I would be so much more intimidated to dive into repairs like the ones that RancherMan tackles, but his mindset is since the item’s broken already he can’t make it worse even if he can’t fix it (but somehow he always does!) Love that man-o-mine! ~TxH~
Forgive me if it’s already been asked! Where did Rancher Man find the quick wire plug? I looked at out big box hardware store & online at Amazon. Neither of these places has it! Thanks!
Laura, we just picked the plugs up at our local Walmart. It came with two plugs and it was very inexpensive. ~TxH~
My DH is really good at fixing and fabricating things. It is so nice and has saved us lots of money through the years. Whenever I have a piece of clothing or an old towel or whatever that has outlived it’s usefulness, I try to make it into something else. i.e. – a flannel nightgown that is badly worn around the neck can easily be turned into a nice, soft half slip for the wintertime layers. Old stained and worn dish towels are cut into squares and become “un-paper towels.” Badly worn bath towels make good insulating layers for home made hot pads and trivets. Clothing can be cut down for a child to wear.
I wouldn’t even know where to begin to repair an iron, or a coffee grinder! I guess I will have to figure that out soon, since we are going off in the boonies lol. Great mindset and awesome advice. Pinning 🙂
Me too Ashley. RancherMan tells me you can find almost anything online, including instructional videos on what might be the problem and how to fix it. Now THAT’S my kinda info! Ha! ~TxH~
This immediately took me back to my late husband. He was a “fixit” kind of guy too. But when he replace an electrical plut on a lamp for the vacuum cleaner, I had to be the one to plug it in to see if it worked. I agree, so many things can be repaired. Small appliance repair shops depend on single ladies like me trying to get things fixed for a income too. I like working with them.
Thanks for sharing at What’d You Do This Weekend. Have a good week.
I agree Linda – small businesses rely on us to support them – they’ll all be gone if we don’t! ~TxH~
Good for you! We do live in such a throw away world and it makes me angry! A little effort and so many things can and should be fixed! Thanks for sharing at TTF!
And with the internet at our disposal it’s so easy to research the problem and solutions. RancherMan always says he doesn’t mind trying to fix something, if he succeeds then that item is useful again. If he does not succeed he’s in no worse shape than he was before and he can simply replace the item then. That RancherMan is one smart cookie! ~TxH~
VIsiting from the Serving Joyfully link up. I read a book a few years ago.. Amish Values or something and it was all about “Use it Up, Wear it Out, …. or Do without” I can’t remember the middle one, but same idea — you can save so much by just repairing things!
I’ve heard that saying too! “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”. Love it Lindsey! ~TxH~
I love this! It seems like every spring I see several walk behind lawn mowers on the side of the road on trash day. I inevitably pick them up, clean out the carburetor and have a perfectly functional lawn mower. But most people would rather just buy a new one than spend some money, or elbow grease repairing it. One of the blogs I follow is by a gentleman who works at a dump. The things he comes home with make me want to work at one as well.
I am with you on this one. And this reminds me I need to ask someone about my food processor (maybe RancherMan knows. The cord accidentally ended up on a hot spot on my toaster oven and the insulation burned all the way to the copper wire. Can I just wrap it in electrical tape and continue to use it? Being careful to keep the cord away from the toaster oven again, of course. I don’t exactly want to shell out $200+ for a new one.
(found you through the Fabulously Frugal link up)
Audry, I asked RancherMan & he said electrical tape is a very temporary fix but it never stays put. His suggestion is if the burn is in a place where you can cut and still have enough cord left is to simply cut it at the burn, strip it back & get a plug replacement kit for a couple of dollars. You may have a shorter cord but it will be fixed right. ~TxH~
IMO, the central issue here is the cost of labor and other financial considerations. The question becomes: are you skillful enough so that *your* labor will resolve the problem effectively and efficiently to your own satisfaction. OR, is someone else skillful enough to resolve the problem at a price to you which is acceptable (hubby?). And the answer in our society has usually been NO. So, why? Two reasons… We as a society have lost a lot of our skill base. And, repairmen expect to be paid more than we are willing to pay while manufacturing is sooooo cheap. [Usually because manufacturing is done off shore/out of country where people do not think their time is as valuable, their work ethic pushes them to perform the labor, and they have fewer choices.] That explains most of what you’re discussing. And arguably a $70 new item is cheaper than a $40 repair since the new item usually comes with some valuable guarantees.
Next comes the question of acceptability of this outcome. We do not properly account for the unacknowledged costs of the ‘retirement’ of the resources consumed during the manufacture of the item (depletion), the potentially hazardous pollution which may be produced by the manufacturing, and the environmental cost of the disposal of the item. If we as a society conclude that our ‘disposal’ society is unacceptable, then IMO, what will fix that is to attach the foregoing costs to the purchase of every item. I think people are generally unaware that the cost of resources is usually a reflection of the cost to ‘mine’ or otherwise harvest them, with little regard to depletion issues. I’ll grant that there may be exceptions and maybe that is changing? The pollution issues are a pretty hot topic. If we regulate and charge back the cleanup to the manufacturers, then prices will go up or the manufacturers will go out of business. Lastly, I do not think much thought is given to acres of landfills… or really to proper recycling of hazardous waste when in the quantities used in personal items. I expect there are literally *tons* of hazardous wastes in our landfills in small quantities such as AA batteries.
Each consumer must cast their vote with their purchase choices. My vote almost always goes toward buying quality over flimsy, and buying used whenever possible to prevent a new ‘whatzit’ from being manufactured for my use. Whenever that item ceases to work satisfactorily an attempt at repair usually keeps it in working order for a quite a bit longer. That coffee grinder is still being used in my kitchen all these years after that simple repair. With the internet at our fingertips it’s beyond easy to research & even watch videos of the repair. These things work for me. ~TxH~
My Mr fix it repaired my sewing machine of 35 years. He fixes everything around here, I’m so blessed to have my Mr fix it man of
You are really ahead of the game if you can and like to fix things. What often is difficult is diagnosing what is going wrong (especially inside of something complicated) so that you know what part to try to get.
Those little “fix it” shops are almost a thing of the past so doing it yourself seems the only recourse. We used to have one here but it disappeared 10 or 12 years ago.
The thing that drives me crazy is on cars where one little part is broken and the whole caboodle has to be replaced. We cracked a tail light on our van several years ago—-the light inside was fine worked perfectly so we went to the dealership and asked to have the plastic cover on the light replaced. Easy peasy, right? No, no! That will be $120.00 to do that. What!!!? You can’t just replace the little plastic cover—-the whole taillight component has to be replaced. Nuts! Fortunately my son was interested in the broken cover and we had picked up most of the larger pieces for him to investigate. So we just glued the big pieces back into the existing pieces with just a couple of tiny openings left and used that till we sold the van.
It’s just nutty the way things are today. “Oh, just get a new one, it will cost you more to have it fixed than to get a new one”, you hear it all the time. Unfortunately, if something is said often enough a lot of people come to accept it as the truth.
You’re right Victoria, if folks hear it enough they start believing it’s just best to throw something away & buy a new one. RancherMan had a similar problem as you several years ago when the driver’s side mirror on our truck developed a dark line through it that covered about 1/2 the mirror. We found the same thing as you – everyone wanted to replace the entire mirror assembly. RancherMan got online & found out the line was just showing in the outside mirror – apparently there are two mirrors together with a fluid of sorts between them to work the auto-dim feature. Apparently the seal had failed & the liquid was very slowly disappearing, leaving 1/2 of the mirror dark. (I hope I’m explaining that correctly…) He simply removed the outside mirror & bada-boom, bada-bing – brand new uncracked mirror was beneath it. The mirror doesn’t auto-dim anymore but we can certainly live with that. RancherMan’s often said you can research almost anything online, including videos to show hands-on repair procedures. ~TxH~
I had my iron cord last year short right where it connected to the iron, course I was fussing because it was not a cheap iron to start with. I quilt a lot, well my son said he could fix it and he did. I try to recycle as much as possible and repair as much as possible. You are right on and so is everyone else about a throw away society. I really liked when you took a picture of your pantry with all the jars you inspired me to work even more on less packaged products.
Teresa, you comment about my pantry is so sweet. I’ve really had my eyes opened to how much packaging comes with what consumers purchase and I’ve been able to reduce that packaging significantly by rethinking my own purchases. Oftentimes you can easily purchase less heavily packaged items, it just takes mindful shopping. Thanks for stopping by! ~TxH~
I brag about driving a 1993 van 289,000 miles, but my husband gets most of the credit since he was willing to maintain it. I might still be driving it if the Government hadn’t considered it a clunker and paid me $3500 to trade it in. I felt bad that they destroyed the engine. It was a very strong engine. I get credit as I was happy to drive a vehicle that was functional if not pretty or modern. I like getting my money’s worth and not using more resources if not necessary. My husband will fix small appliances too.
(Claps hands wildly!) Yes Judy, you’re right – it’s an ability to keep things repaired as well as changing your mindset not to want to replace with newer/flashier so both of you get major kudos! I cried a little last year when our 1998 Bonneville finally bit the dust – I loved that car & we drove it from the time it was brand-spankin’ new until it blew the engine last year. We considered having the engine rebuilt but we had medical issues last year that involved substantial amounts of transportation & we just couldn’t be without a reliable car. Love your comment – thanks for sharing! ~TxH~
I remember as a kid going with my dad to this little hole in the wall hardware store that always had the little thingamajig he needed to fix something around the house. I was just in that same store this morning and I always love how they will have just one of a certain item but know exactly which drawer in their old wooden chest it is in. Nowadays most manufacturers don’t even have these parts.
We try to fix what we can around here. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not. There is a real art to being to fix something when a new design is needed. I wish I would have asked my dad more about how he did it than try to rely on my childhood memory.
Good job RancherMan on fixing those items.
Oh man I love those little hole-in-the-wall hardware shops! RancherMan says, “Remember this: if it’s broken, disassembling it in all probably won’t make it worse because it’s broken anyway. And you just may run into something you can fix easily!” Yes sir! 🙂 ~TxH~
I am so glad someone else feels this way. The same thing happened to us a few years ago with a dehumidifier. We paid over $200.00 for it and a little motor was starting to make a noise inside. My husband got the part out and said call and get the part ordered. They said they don’t keep parts for that model because it was under $300.00 so just throw it away. Say what!! We still have the dehumidifier and hope to someday find a motor somewhere. Imagine throw it away! Grrrrrr…..We pretty much fix everything until we can’t fix it no more.
Carol – RancherMan said to Google search the model number on the motor, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find on ebay & Amazon. We’ve been able to locate MANY obscure parts that way (such as the retainer nut for that grinder mentioned in this post!) ~TxH~
We have become such a ‘disposable’ society that most people never even THINK about fixing something! We recently repaired the wheelbarrow. The back brace on the frame had unwelded which made the wheelbarrow almost impossible to use. Hubby replaced it with a 1 x 4 piece of lumber. It’s not real pretty but we did save $70 to $80! 🙂
That’s awesome Candy – good for you for making your wheelbarrow usable again. I know I get sad when I keep hearing “just buy the cheap one, when it breaks you can just buy another one because they’re so CHEAP”. Yes we’ve become a disposable society and I hate that many things presented for purchase are not even expected to last. ~TxH~