How to Save Money By Repairing Your Old Electronics Instead of Buying New
With the rise of planned obsolescence and ever-shortening product lifecycles, many of us find ourselves constantly upgrading and replacing our electronics. However, repairing and extending the life of electronics we already own is an effective way to save money and reduce waste. In this article, I will provide tips on how to diagnose problems, find replacement parts, and conduct repairs on old electronics yourself.
Learn Basic Diagnostic and Repair Skills
Before attempting to repair any device, it is important to learn some basic diagnostic and repair skills. This will allow you to correctly identify any issues and have the knowledge to fix them. Here are some recommendations:
- Learn how to take electronics apart and reassemble them properly. Be organized and take photos of connections before disassembling.
- Study circuit diagrams and schematics to gain an understanding of how devices function. These are available online for many products.
- Invest in a basic soldering iron, multimeter, wire cutters/strippers and other inexpensive tools. Learn how to use them to test connectivity and diagnose problems.
- Watch online tutorial videos to gain hands-on repair knowledge for specific devices. Sites like iFixit have thousands of visual guides.
Troubleshoot Problems Before Attempting Repairs
Once equipped with the right tools and knowledge, troubleshooting the device is the next step. Here are some troubleshooting tips:
- Thoroughly examine the device for any visible damage or broken parts. Look for burnt components, damaged ports, etc.
- Check all cables and connections to ensure they are securely plugged in. Faulty cables are a common issue.
- For electronics that won’t power on, use a multimeter to check the battery, charging port, and other power components.
- Listen and feel for odd noises, sparks, overheating that may point to specific issues.
- For devices with video/audio problems, try using known good cables or sources to isolate the issue.
- Search online forums dedicated to your specific device for troubleshooting and repair tips.
Find Replacement Parts and Tools
Once the faulty component is identified, finding the right replacement part is crucial. Here are some sources to consider when sourcing repair parts:
- Manufacturer parts store – Companies like Dell, HP, and Apple sell replacement parts directly. But they tend to be more expensive.
- eBay and AliExpress – Large marketplaces that offer inexpensive parts shipped directly from China. Quality varies.
- Third party part harvesters – Sites like iFixit and ReplaceBase remove and sell used OEM parts from defective devices.
- Local repair shops – Visit cell phone and electronics repair shops to purchase parts.
- Get a repair toolkit with common tools for opening devices, prying, cleaning, etc.
Follow Repair Guides Closely
With the right replacement part sourced, it’s time to commence the repair. Closely following step-by-step repair guides is crucial for success:
- Use video guides when available, pausing after each step. Don’t rush.
- Study any interactive diagrams pointing out screw sizes, connector placements, etc.
- Lay out and organize all screws and components in labeled containers.
- Double-check all connections and parts before reassembling.
- Consult repair communities like iFixit forums if you get stuck.
Consider Repair Cost vs Replacement Cost
Before investing time into repairing an older device, compare estimated repair costs to the price of buying a comparable replacement.
- Minor repairs like battery and charger replacements are nearly always worth fixing.
- Heavily damaged screens or motherboards may cost more to repair than the device’s resale value.
- Factor in your time spent diagnosing issues and doing repairs.
- Consider selling the device for parts/repair if the fix is too expensive.
Handle Repairs Safely and Responsibly
Some repair tips for personal safety and responsible disposal:
- Unplug the device and remove batteries before doing any work.
- Wear eye protection in case springs/fasteners pop loose.
- Dispose of old parts properly – batteries, circuit boards, CRT tubes and capacitors may contain hazardous materials.
- Recycle the device if you decide it’s beyond repair and has no resale value. Do not simply throw complex electronics in the trash.
Repairing and prolonging the life of electronics is very rewarding and can save you a lot of money. With the right tools, basic skills, repair manuals, and a methodical approach, many devices can be fixed and enjoyed for years to come. Consider repair as the first option before replacing your electronics.