The first time I used the Internet to learn how to do a household repair was for a broken 37" LCD TV. It would have cost over $400 to repair in a shop, more than half of the purchase of a new TV, which was usually at the top of my pain threshold. Since it was either repair it myself or throw it away, I really had nothing to lose. The problem had been that the TV would turn on and run for about a minute, then power off, no matter the video or power source. I went to YouTube and searched for the issue along with the TV's make and model and viola! There it was!
I watched the fifteen-minute video three times and became confident that they had accurately described the issue and the resolution. I opened up the back of the TV, which was difficult with 14 screws in odd places, and documented where the screws had come from. I located the board that was supposedly the problem and disconnected it. I then called a few TV repair shops that advertised that they sold parts and got quotes for the board as well as some confirmation that this was the issue. The new board only cost $59 and I picked it up from the shop when they called to say it was in, just about two weeks later. I installed the new circuit board and reassembled the TV (all but one screw, which I couldn't find the spot for), plugged it in and stood back. I pressed the power button on the remote and the TV's picture slowly appeared. About ten anxious minutes later it was still on and running properly and I felt pretty good about myself. That TV went on for another two years before we gave it away when downsizing to move into our fifth wheel.
Many of us take the Internet for granted. I come from the BI era (Before Internet), I once owned a computer sales and repair shop and had five four-drawer file cabinets just to collect and store manuals and tech data for everything we sold or worked on. With each model update, we had to a) know about it, b) request info for it, and c) file the paper manuals and tech data we received, assuming we did. If we had an odd repair on something for which we didn't store specs or schematics, we would have to call the manufacturer, which could mean hours on hold before talking to someone who may or may not speak English well, and wait for the manual and repair instructions to come in the mail, or later, via email. If you were the unfortunate customer waiting for your essential equipment, it might be quite a wait.
I remember when Seagate, one of the largest hard drive manufacturers in the country, placed all of their tech manuals online, right on their site. Many a tech had tears in their eyes. Western Digital soon followed, then Hewlett Packard, IBM and everyone else. Eventually consumer manufacturers caught up and put their manuals online, realizing that their own support volume would be reduced, which happened.
That is the technical specifications side of repairs, but you were still dependent upon technicians to diagnose and repair your equipment, and that wasn't always cost or time effective. Enter YouTube and the mighty geeks who decided to show off their skills. Repair videos became so popular that more and more types of content were created, including how-to, when to and why to videos for the RV and travel industry and for the millions of homeowners wanting to DIY.
When I wanted to install my fifth wheel flooring, I watched videos on the various choices, selected one, and then several more videos on how to purchase and install it. It was a two-day job, but it turned out well and was a fraction of the cost of having a pro install it. When my awning switch went out, or my refrigerator stopped cooling, or my generator refused to start, the Internet came to my rescue, though I did decide to let a tech do some of those repairs. It was an informed choice.
Other uses of this valuable resource include automotive and engine repair, hobbies (i.e. RC planes and drones), plumbing, gardening, birding, and on and on and on. I recommend doing electrical repairs yourself, obviously an electrician should be hired whenever possible, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't become an informed consumer beforehand.
I didn't receive many comments about this topic. Again, I'm blaming people's apathy regarding anything related to the Internet these days. Here are just a few comments, with some minor editing:
Humdrum Hermits- We have definitely made use of online repair instruction! It has been an invaluable resource for naturally socially distant (introverted) people like us. The RV Cool video on replacing a cooling unit was our step by step instruction for fixing our 15 year old RV fridge, and we feel especially good about it because we took the time to really do it right. We're not sure that a repairman would've taken the time to do the extra taping and other things we did to enhance the insulation. By learning to do it ourselves thru online instruction, we feel confident in the repair and built up our confidence for the next repair.
Nadyne H.- I love this availability online! Several times we've been able to fix something ourselves by watching a video! If nothing else, we can find out what needs to be done and a repairman may have a harder time taking advantage of us.
Mary Lou C.- David Loves researching information online, especially YouTube. Everything in his technical decisions come from hours of online research. I just have to hang on for the ride.
I take this quote by Apple CEO Tim Cook to heart. When speaking about online information, he said, "We shouldn't all be fixated just on what's not available. We should take a step back and look at the total that's available, because there's a mountain of information about us."
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.