A Little Investigation And Elbow Grease Saved Us Over $150

My wife was vacuuming the house. She notices that the vacuum isn’t picking up as well as it should (this has happened before and we had discovered that the hose was backed up).  No big deal.  Then we smell a real nasty smell of rubber burning.  And the vacuum stopped picking up dirt.  Oh no.  “Great, we have to buy a new vacuum,” I say to my wife.  “What did this one cost us?  Around $150-$200?  Maybe we can get a good deal with it being the holidays and stores are trying to get rid of their inventory,” I say, trying to find the silver lining.  Just what we need though, another expense.

What to do now?  Head out to the store?  Check prices online?  Heck no!  Grab the toolbox and take the sucker apart!

I unscrewed the plate at the bottom of the vacuum. I quickly scan and I noticed that the rubber belt that turns the brush wheel was broken.  Ah-ha!  We found our culprit.  “Maybe I can fix this,” I think to myself.  I grab the broken belt and the vacuum cleaner model number and head to the computer.  I look up the Hoover site to see how much a new belt will cost.  Maybe I’m too cynical but I’m expecting this to be a part that’s expensive.  You know, one of those parts where it pays to just buy a new appliance rather than the part.  To my surprise, a new belt from the manufacturer costs a whopping $2.79!  With shipping and tax it would cost about $6.  Ok, I know it’s not expensive but can I get it cheaper?  I flip over to Amazon and look it up.  I find one seller selling it for $3.85.  For two.  With free shipping.  Guess what I ordered?  I’m thinking now I might actually get this vacuum cleaner fixed!  And if I can’t what have I lost?  Less than four dollars?  Well worth the shot.

The belts came within a few days. With belt in hand I jumped back on the computer.  I knew where the belt needed to go but I wanted to check with the manufacturer to see if there was something I might be missing.  I tried looking up my vacuum cleaner model on the manufacturer’s site and couldn’t find it.  Seems they don’t make the model anymore but they had the next model up which was basically the same.  I downloaded the manual and looked up the belt.  Lo and behold it had step by step instructions.  I grabbed my screwdrivers, the vacuum, a new belt and found an empty spot to go to work.  Can I tell you, it took me all of five minutes to put the new belt in!  I went and plugged the vacuum in and tried it out.  It picked up some loose sparkles on my daughter’s rug perfectly.

Spending money to buy something new isn’t always the answer.  We could have easily gone out and bought a new vacuum cleaner.  What a waste that would have been.  For less than four dollars in parts we saved over $150!!

So I don’t make any other mistakes buying something when I can do a simple repair: What appliances have you fixed for a relatively low cost?

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Published or updated May 9, 2013.


  1. I have put bulbs in my car when taillight or headlamp goes out. You just have to give it a try. I have a friend who is great with cars and he talks me through some of my repairs. It’s worth trying for yourself. You shared a great example.
    .-= Ken´s last blog ..What Retirement “Type” Do You Prefer? =-.

    • It always helps a bit when you have someone knowledgeable nearby to help. But like you say, you have to give it a try. Sometimes when something doesn’t work you don’t have much to lose trying anyway.

  2. Gotta love those cheap repairs. A lot of people may have just sprung for a new machine – even when there is a simple fix!
    .-= Peter´s last blog ..10 Year End Tax Deductions And Credits That You Can Claim In 2009 =-.

    • So true! Always makes me wonder when I see an appliance on the curb for the trash. What condition is it really in? We had a neighbor who picked up a gas BBQ that was out for trash that was missing one small part. They got BBQ for less than $10!

  3. I’ve done this vacuum fix before — it’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it. I’ve changed the oil, air filters and headlights in my cars, repaired broken sinks, drains, doorknobs and other minutiae around the house. So much better to do it yourself, when you can.
    .-= RainyDaySaver´s last blog ..It’s a Crazy Christmas Week =-.

    • My wife got me a Home Depot repair book a little while back. Sometimes you just need a quick diagram to see what’s going on. And the more you try the better you get at it.

  4. Emily@remodelingthislife says:

    Nice job fixing it! We always go for the repair over replacing. It does help to be relatively handy.

    • Emily,

      For something like this, I don’t think it has to do with being relatively handy. I think it has to do with the desire to save money with the belief that you can do it.

      I grew up in a house that literally did no manual labor, deferring to “experts.” I found out quickly, when I bought my house that these experts cost a good amount of cash! That’s when I did what FFB did and found out that googling anything with the word, fix – comes in handy (pun intended LOL).

      Thus far I have:
      – Changed a pipe under my sink
      – Replaced 2 door handel/locks
      – Installed a light fixture
      – Changed a headlight and tailight

      Go Evan!
      .-= Evan´s last blog ..What to do with Unwanted or Semi Used Gift Cards =-.

      • I think some people are naturally handy but for most it’s a acquired skill. It’s just experience for the most part. Of course, money does have a good deal to do with it too. We didn’t want to buy a new vacuum so we were willing to try anything to prevent that. I think most folks are more handy than they think.

        • I have fixed a few curb alert vacuums myself. I found most were just clogged, belt broken or filter needed changing. I have a dirtdevil rear wheel problem. The parts are no longer available. Looking for suggestions as how to fix or rig it up to work using another type of wheel or same one. Got any thoughts on this?

  5. John DeFlumeri Jr says:

    Stove top burners on electric range.

    John DeFlumeri Jr
    .-= John DeFlumeri Jr´s last blog ..Podcast* "Airport Daze and Delays!" =-.

  6. Unfortunately for us the last burning smell we had coming from our vacuum was actually the motor. I probably could have swapped it out with a new one for less than the cost of a new vacuum cleaner, but the vacuum was about 7 years old at that point. So it was probably best to buy new, which we did.
    .-= Patrick´s last blog ..What Should You Do With Unwanted Christmas Gifts =-.

  7. I know I’ve saved appliances but for the life of me, I’m coming up blank. That said, my mom was always a big fan of “Let’s see if we can fix it.” She kept our VCR going for years by taking it apart and cleaning it when it got too problematic. When the toaster died, she replaced the plug. She and I replaced the o-ring on a toilet. And when the pipes froze, rather than call a plumber to warm them up (not a cheap option) she’d sit in front of the sink with a hair dryer.
    .-= Abigail´s last blog ..What is a "true" frugal blogger? =-.

    • In general. people have lost the art of DIY around the house. Part of this is due to cheaper appliances, some due to lack of time, but I think it’s something worth getting better at.

  8. My husband did the same thing recently. When our vacuum broke, we assumed that we had to buy a new one and that the part would be expensive, not to mention difficult to replace on our own. It turned out to be a cheap part and not that difficult to fix, at least according to my very handy husband. I’m very happy that we avoided spending $150-200 on another vacuum.
    .-= oilandgarlic´s last blog ..Festival of Frugality Is Up =-.

    • It’s great that not everything is computer operated yet, isn’t it? We can still fix things without a higher degree.

  9. So far the only thing I have not tackled is 220V power. That’s killer stuff. My motto for anything else is that if the pro’s can do it, I can learn how.

    Keep up the great work!
    .-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..In Debt – Find Help Free =-.

  10. Great story, you must have been very happy to see it working again without spending too much. Sometimes you can find very good deals on parts online. Recently I misplaced the power supply cable for my laptop and was not able to use it once the battery ran out. I looked at the manufacturer site and it was over $20 plus shipping. I searched around online found one at amazon for around $5 and although they charge another $5 for shipping which is pretty high, I still saved over 50%. Just got it today, about 3 days after I ordered it, and it’s working great.
    .-= Prim @ 123bargains´s last blog ..Xbox 360 Console with 256MB Memory, HDMI – $ 174.00 at (Amazon.com) =-.

  11. Learn How says:

    that’s great most people now would’ve just buy a new one. I love it when I fix my broken stuff
    .-= Learn How´s last blog ..Tips Before Buying a Laptop =-.

  12. My laptop lid snapped at one of the hinges one day several years ago. I took it to the neighbourhood small business computer repair shop. The guy took a quick look and said that the part is attached to the screen and I’d have to order that and with how old the laptop was, the repair wasn’t worth it. Unsatisfied, I checked ebay and grabbed the OEM hinges for the bargain price of $9.99 plus $5 s&h! The repair consisted of 6 phillips screws and took me all of 10 minutes.

    Sometimes the experts are too full of themselves.

    • Glen Craig says:

      Between eBay, Amazon, and YouTube you can figure out how to fix lots of things by yourself! Great to hear you were able to fix your laptop and not have to spend a lot either.

  13. I have fixed a few curb alert vacuums myself. Most have clogs, broken belt, or filters need replacing. I have a upright canister dirt devil with rear wheels needing repair or replacing. The actually wheels are no longer available. I am looking for any suggestions as what can be done.

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