Starting an Appliance Repair Business

Repairman working on refrigerator
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The mechanically inclined will find plenty of opportunity for income with a home-based appliance repair business. You'll be resuscitating stoves, dryers, microwaves, fridges, washing machines and just about anything else that keeps a household humming.

The training, licensing, and certification required to do this type of work depends on where you live. Check with your state and municipality to find out about the requirements in your area. It's also important to note that working with appliances that contain refrigerants (air conditioning equipment, refrigerators, freezers, etc.) requires that you obtain certification through the Environmental Protection Agency.

Nothing beats the good old-fashioned hands-on experience you’ll gain from an apprenticeship or vocational training, but additional certification is also available through organizations such as the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET) and the Professional Service Association (PSA). Both give well-regarded tests in diagnostics for electronics.

What You'll Need to Get Started

  • Transportation: You'll likely need a van or truck to transport tools and equipment, but the trunk of your car and an ample backseat can get you started.
  • Startup tools: You'll need to buy tools and dollies if you don’t already have them. You can often purchase the basics, like fuses, belts, and thermostats for a few hundred dollars. 
  • Marketing and advertising: It's a good idea to have a website, magnetic door signs for your vehicle, business cards, and print and online advertising to promote your business. It also helps to develop strong networking skills to develop relationships with clients, appliance vendors and warranty companies. 
  • Office space: An at-home office can be a dedicated space where you can take customer calls and meetings in private and do paperwork. You may also need to set up a work area in your home for major repairs, but you can usually perform minor appliance repairs on site.
  • Insurance: You'll need insurance for your vehicle and a liability policy that covers you on service calls. You might also consider setting your business up as a corporation or limited liability company to protect your personal assets
  • Business license: Check with your local chamber of commerce or state office to find out about business licenses where you live.

Advantages of an Appliance Repair Business

This is a welcoming field for determined independents. Household gadgetry and automation are always expanding, ensuring a future revenue stream for folks who are able to repair them. If you’re a tinkerer by avocation, fine-tuning your skills can result in a respectable income, particularly if you’re willing to do a little research. Read manuals for tips of the trade and to bring yourself up to speed on all the newest models.

Disadvantages of an Appliance Repair Business

Appliance repair can involve some heavy labor and lifting, so injuries are possible, particularly when transporting heavy appliances. You may also be exposed to electric shocks and gas leaks.

Although appliances aren’t going anywhere and they’ll keep malfunctioning and breaking down, it’s often more cost-effective for consumers to replace appliances rather than have them repaired.

An opportunity exists for earning more money if you’re willing to go out on off-hours calls or take on a job immediately in an emergency. Graduating to commercial kitchen appliances and other public systems will require some formal training, but the profit and steadier work could be worth it.