I used to live in an area (Name withheld to protect the guilty!) that had a lot of
junkyards Auto Recycling Centers. They had plenty of parts, but it seemed you could never get a part for less than $100. “I need a parking light bulb for an ’89 Chevy.” “That’ll be a Hundred Bucks!” “That’s an outrage!” It’s even worse when you wind up paying someone a lot of money to do something you could have done yourself with minimal effort.
Once, when I was a lot younger and dumber, my phone quit working, so I did what any red-blooded American would do and called the telephone repairman. He snooped around for about 3 minutes, then unplugged one of my phones and said, “Okay, it’s fixed! That’ll be a hundred bucks!”
A number of years ago, I had a panicked call from a customer saying the sound on his computer had suddenly quit working. Upon arriving, I examined the situation, and pressed the “Mute” button on his keyboard. “That’ll be a hundred bucks!”
The moral of the story? It doesn’t take an “expert” to do some basic troubleshooting. Sometimes, a quick visual examination will make the problem glaringly obvious.
One of the best keys to do-it-yourself troubleshooting is cutting the problem in half – in other words, finding out what it isn’t. By the time Thomas Edison had a working light bulb, he knew of over a thousand things that didn’t work! It doesn’t take looking at a thousand things to do basic DIY troubleshooting; Just 2 or 3 can narrow down the problem tremendously. Is it getting power? are all the wires plugged in? Did you check the oh en oh ef ef switch (On/Off)?
An example: My phones quit working because I had too many phones plugged into the same line. I should have unplugged all the phones, then plugged them back in one at a time until the problem came back. Sound quits on your computer? Take a second to observe and see if it’s just muted. Internet connection down? Is it just one device, or every connected device in your house? Don’t neglect the obvious. That power outlet might be dead because a circuit breaker just blew. Those “new” batteries might be dead, or they may be in backwards.
At the very least, if you take a couple of minutes to analyze your problem, and you still have to call an expert, you might save some money by telling the expert where you’ve looked so far.