GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - One side effect of the Internet age may be the proclivity of some to try repairing their home dishwashers, dryers and microwaves with online video instructions.
The result can be a pile of parts - and a subsequent call to a qualified home appliance repairman.
"I find more people try to attempt it themselves now than back then. I think it's because of YouTube," said Ron Spinelli, 45, owner of C and R Appliance of Galloway Inc. "You can watch it all you want on YouTube, but some things you're not going to get."
The business of repairing home appliances has seen a dramatic shift over the years as they have evolved into a modern blend of computers and electronics.
More repairs these days involve those functions rather than the mechanical side - sometimes called the grease part of the industry.
"I see more electrical problems than mechanical now. Washers, most of them don't have belts anymore. They're more energy efficient, use less water," said Spinelli, of Smithville, who runs the business with his partner, Melissa Bates. The couple has two children.
Spinelli, a 1986 graduate of Ocean City High School who has been repairing appliances since the 1980s, said the change in appliances has also caused him to evolve - to keep up with an ever-changing technology in appliances from refrigerators to washing machines.
To diversify his business, Spinelli has a mix of clients.
These include individuals who call him for repairs, real estate agencies or rental properties who need a tenant's machine fixed, factory service for Frigidaire and extended warranty work for some companies.
As any homeowner may know, one of the challenges of having a broken appliance is deciding whether it is more cost-effective to have it repaired or to buy a new machine.
In that role, Spinelli said, he plays the role of adviser.
"If things aren't worth it, I'll be the first person to say, don't waste you money or your time - get a new machine," he said.
The appliance repair industry employs nearly 73,000 people in the U.S., with the majority being owner-operated businesses, according to research firm IBISWorld.
In a down economy, Spinelli said, warranty work helps to serve as a buffer. Also, people may be more inclined to have something repaired than to have it replaced.
Other challenges include the increasing prices of parts he buys to repair the machines.
"Right now you have to do more jobs to make a profit than when I started, that's for sure," he said. "With the price of the parts, they used to be so much cheaper. It's very competitive out there."
Contact Brian Ianieri:
C and R Appliance of Galloway Inc.
Location: Trotters Lane, Smithville
Owners: Ron Spinelli and Melissa Bates, of Galloway Township