How I Avoided Forking Over $288 in Furnace Repair Costs

March 14, 2013

It was four in the morning when I snapped awake. Something wasn’t quite right. After a few minutes of lying there in the dark, I noticed something terrifying. The furnace was cycling on and off without ever blowing hot air -- it was broken, and just in time for the first cold day of winter.

I lay there in the dark theorizing on how long it would take for my family to freeze to death when another chilling thought crept into my head, “How much is a visit from the furnace repairman going to cost us?” Surely an emergency repair call on the first cold day of the year would cost more than $500. I’d be damned if I was paying that much money to have someone essentially build me a fire.

I lay there thinking about furnaces for a couple of hours (yawn) until the alarm went off. I grabbed a screwdriver, my headlamp, a pad of paper and a pen, and headed straight for the furnace.

By 11:00 a.m., with a little help from doityourself.com, Google and Youtube, I had identified the problem, obtained a replacement part and successfully heated the house. I stomped arounde practically beating my chest like a caveman. In all, I spent maybe two total hours fixing the furnace.

“Great,” you’re thinking, “You fixed your furnace. How does this apply to me”?

My point here is that when you attempt to fix things yourself you can save yourself a ton of money. The part I needed cost just $35. Homeadvisor.com reports that the average furnace repair bill is $323 for any type of repair or service. Based on that basic information alone, I saved $288 that day.

Another way of looking at doing it yourself is to think of it as a second job. I didn't save $288, I made $288. If I hadn't done the work myself, someone else would have and it would have cost me much more than even a $323 service call.

Assuming a 25% income tax rate, I would have had to earn $403.44 just to net $323 in take home pay. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of working hours for me, certainly more than the two hours I put into learning about and fixing the furnace myself.

Anyone can save a few bucks by trying their hand at some DIY projects around the house. Start off easy: Try to fix that hole in the drywall. Change your car’s oil. There are tons of ways to make money around your house if you’re willing to overcome some initial frustration and failure.

Save yourself time spent lying in the dark.

This post was written by Shane Linart, a Field Education Representative at Colorado PERA. 

(Would you like to write a guest post for The Dime? Email us at dimecontact@copera.org.)