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Frugal Tricks, Making Broken Things Work

When things break for me, I try to find a solution to make them work a little longer than typical.

I’ve blogged about fixing my lawnmower before, but what about other things in my house?  Yes, I’ve done the same with many other things in my house!

Here are some of the techniques I’ve used to get a bit more life out of things:

Numerous flashlights:  Usually the problems with these are the spring is cheap and needs bent so it makes contact with the battery.  With a few flashlights, I had to take an eraser and rub the contacts for a better connection.

My AMD Desktop:  A few years ago, my primary workstation at home was an AMD desktop.  Unfortunately, the fan on the CPU wore out and the workstation would then go black  after a half an hour.  Luckily, I was able to figure out the problem, once I took it apart and tried to start it a few times.

Since I didn’t have a CPU fan on me, I unplugged the old CPU fan, and found a small house fan.  I opened the case and aimed the house fan at the CPU, and surprise it worked!  A few weeks later, I bought a CPU for a few bucks and it’s been great ever since.  Surprisingly, the CPU wasn’t damaged…

Laptop Fan Problem:  My daughter’s laptop wouldn’t work because of a fan error.  Since she is only 6, I didn’t want to spend the money to get a new one, so instead I figured out a work around.  What I do is blow at the fan when it boots up and everything is fine after that.  It’s not that much of an inconvenience, especially considering it’s an older laptop and now worth the money to get a new fan.

TV:  Our main family room TV has been on the fritz for the last year.  The problem is sometimes it just goes black (after the screen wiggles for a little first).  Other than those rare occasions, the TV works excellently!  At first when it started breaking, I would switch the channel a few times and the screen refresh seemed to make a difference.

Sometimes the kids would leave the TV on and go play.  When they would come back, the TV would be black.  I then would have to turn the TV off for a while and try it again, that typically would it.  Once it was so bad, I had to remove the AV cables from the VCR on the back of the TV and that did the trick (I put them right back on…).

Ottoman:  This recently broke with a lethal drop knee provided by my son.  Instead of just throwing it away, I took off the protective sheet from underneath it and determined that a support wooden block was broken!  So I’m planning on fixing this myself saving a hundred or so dollars.

These are just a few things that I’ve been able to fix for free or with minimal cost to me. With electronics, it’s worth it to me to try and get them last as long as possible, because electronics get cheaper and better all the time.  So the idea is make what I have last then buy something better for less later.

I’ve also had to fix other things like the washer and dryer, but I’ve already blogged about them.

Do you have any pearls of wisdom (or tricks) with respect to extending the life of things you have?

-MR

18 Responses to Frugal Tricks, Making Broken Things Work

  1. We are living parallel lives. I was just calling Best Buy because I think the fan on my laptop is dead, and it isn’t even that old. I am not innovative like you, so I will be visiting the Geek Squad this morning. I am just too darn scared I will ruin the thing!

    However, I will say that I have used a clothes hanger to keep my muffler from dragging on the ground, and I did it all myself. (I was in college then…) I have taken apart car doors to fix the inner workings also. But, I am not so desperate now. I know there are many people out there much better at these things than I!

  2. @Everyday Tips
    The laptop my daughter is using is at least 4 years old, but for a 6 year old girl, she gets a kick out of it :)

    If my laptop was newer, I’d get the fan replaced too.

    I haven’t been brave enough to try and fix my car, but those sounds like good solution, especially during college.

    For the TV, I have the money sitting in a drawer… but I figure I’ll get as much use out of our current one as possible.

    Plus I’m cheap!!! ;)

  3. My husband is a great handy-man, especially when it comes to any kind of fan! For instance, a few months ago our fans on our CPU’s were not spinning 100% of the time. Cat hair and dust were clogging them. He took them outside and used his leaf blower to flush them out! It worked great.

    As for fans in general, my husband usually takes them apart once a year, cleans and oils them and they last years.

  4. kt says:

    i think i am jinxed when it comes to opening anything that uses electricity to run. It is not one time that i have almost burned down living quarters trying to find my inner electrical engineer. I have since learnt the lesson that never ever open anything electrical. It is not worth it. I would rather get fleeced by a technician than burn the house down or get electrocuted

  5. @Little House
    Ah, that was a good idea!

    I usually take mine apart when I notice dust on the external fan. I then get a air pump and blow the dust out. I use to by the can of compressed air, but now I just use the air pump…

  6. @kt
    Yes, some things like TV and other eletronics still will hold a charge. So you have the potential of getting a mean shock if you are not careful. Luckily, most of the electrics that I’ve worked with has been off for a few days. And even the I kept my hand far away from the power supply unit!

  7. We call my husband McGyver because he repairs things with rubber bands, paper clips and duct tape!

  8. @Bucksome Boomer
    Lol, I’m not that good. Although I do have my moments :)

  9. Very innovative, have to give you credit. Aiming a regular fan a the CPU is a cool way to solve that problem.

    Not sure off the top of my head about novel approaches to fixing things, but for cleaning (sort of an extension of fixing…maybe?) I have bypassed commercial products and used vinigar and water, with a touch of citrus. Cheaper and better for the home environment.

  10. @Squirrelers

    Thanks, you should see my lawnmower… all I can say on it is thanks goodness for duct tape (my neighbors hate my stuff, lol).

    I’m a fan of half white vinegar and a half water solution as an ant killer mixture :)

    I’m still exploring white vinegar as a cleaning product. I’ve heard great reviews about it, but haven’t used it in that capacity yet.

  11. Financial bondage says:

    it’s a great money saver to fix things if you can. I do this with clothing when I am able.

  12. @Financial bondage
    That is truly a great skill to have! I don’t have (nor does my wife) skills in that area.

    I do end up making use of my old clothes though, converting them to rags or work clothes. Or if they are still in good shape, sending them to charity.

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  14. I bought my TV used for $75 about ten years ago. It got bad for a while. The picture would turn to nothing but lines but slapping the side of it would correct it. A friend fixed it for us and said it would eventually go and it would be too expensive to repair. That was two years ago. The picture freezes for a few seconds every once in a while now. I may be buying a new one in another year or two.

  15. @iamtheworkingpoor
    Cool, think if everybody did this, the world would consume much less making much less junk!

    Kudos to you for making your stuff last!!!

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