Electronics You Didn't Know You Could Fix Yourself

Lead Image for Electronics You Didn't Know You Could Fix Yourself
  • 1-10 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-300

As technology continues to advance at breakneck speeds, our houses are increasingly filled with electronics. So when they break, it’s nice to know you can implement your DIY know-how instead of replacing an expensive device or taking it to a repair shop.

Brush Up Your Electricity Knowledge

Before beginning work on any electronics in your home, you need a basic understanding of how electricity works. Not only does this help you make the repairs, it lowers the chance of causing additional damage to the device.

Head to the internet, local library, or bookstore and read up on electrical components and the flow of current. Make sure you understand the concepts of voltage, current, resistance, AC current vs. DC current, open and closed circuits, capacitors, transformers, diodes, transistors, and coils.

Safety First

Regardless of what you’re working on, always put safety first. Wear the proper safety gear, and always unplug a device and remove the power source before you tinker with other parts of a device. To do this, the first step is to remove batteries or unplug the device.


Put together a basic electronics toolbox if you plan to continue with DIY repairs. You’ll want tools like current testers and plastic-handled pliers, but you’ll also want very small tools, such as miniature screwdrivers and sockets. It's also a good idea to wear some thin rubber gloves, especially when handling sensitive internal components.

Label as You Go

Before beginning any DIY electronics fix, take a picture of the item so you know where parts go. Continue to take pictures with each layer you uncover. It also helps to wrap tape around wires to label them so you know where they go during reassembly.

Soldering Required

Not every electronic device requires soldering skills, but many do so now is your chance to pick up the trade.

1. Laptops

When repairing a computer, the first step is to identify whether the problem is software or hardware related. Once you identify it’s a hardware issue, be meticulous about labeling as you remove the outer shell and work your way to the wire or circuit causing the problem.

hands repairing laptop electronics

2. Toasters

If your bread doesn’t rise all the way to the top or go all the way to the bottom of your toaster, there’s likely an easy solution you didn’t know about, and it doesn’t require soldering or fancy tools. In fact, many toasters have an easy-to-access adjustment screw located inside the crumb tray. Turn it one way to tighten and the other to loosen. Also be sure to empty and clean the crumb tray, which may be restricting the bread-holding rack.

3. Hair Dryer

Inside the casing, the unit is made up of a heating element and a fan. If your blow dryer fails to heat, it could be a wiring issue so check all connections. Beyond that, the thermal protector or thermostat might need to be replaced. On the other hand, if it heats but the fan isn’t working you’ll again need to check wiring and evaluate the fan motor and bearings.

4. Electric Shavers

If the unit won’t turn on, check continuity of the plug, cord, switch, and coil. If it turns on, but seems like it’s lagging, disassemble and thoroughly clean inside. Lubricate the parts too.

5. e-Reader

Most e-readers are basic in design and allow you to take them apart. The challenge might be acquiring the replacement parts you need once you identify the issue.

6. Cell Phone

gloved hand working on smartphone electronics

The newer the phone, the more difficult they seem to be to work on. However, when it comes to cell phones, there are two major repair issues--battery and broken screen. Firstly, make sure your phone is no longer covered by a warranty. If it’s not, see if you have access to open the case.

Older phones had batteries that easily popped out for replacement, located in a compartment away from sensitive circuit boards. Changing the battery is easy, but disassembling the phone is challenging and is best done with specialized tools. If you have nothing to lose, heat the back of the phone with a hair dryer and then use a suction cup to slowly separate it from the front.

Screen replacement is also possible, although it’s challenging to match the dust-free environment of a clean room at the manufacturer so it’s almost a guarantee you’ll have residual dust on the inside of the screen when you get it put back together. However, it might still be your best option for a new screen at a low cost.