Q: How can I avoid an expensive service call for a simple repair?
I recommend calling around to talk to a specialist. Often as not, a professional (or even their knowledgeable staff who answer the phones) will be more than willing to suggest some simple things over the phone for the consumer to try before scheduling a service call. This is because they know how frustrating it is to pay $75+ to have them come for just a few minutes. It also creates goodwill because you will probably call them back if you can’t fix it yourself, and will be inclined to call them for all your future needs, as well as recommend them to others.
However, it is important to remember that professionals have invested in a lot of special training, tools (and usually carry plenty of special parts on their trucks) and have acquired the experience that allows them to recognize symptoms and fix things quickly.
So it is usually more efficient and often even cheaper to pay a specialist his minimum fee for a few minutes’ worth of work to get the job done right rather than to pay a handyman for several hours (or waste a whole Saturday yourself) to go through a process of elimination, run to the hardware store a couple times, etc. So I suggest calling a company or two, describing the problem and if they can’t tell you how to fix it yourself, hire one.
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