/ Home & Energy

Your cooker complaints – give your oven a scolding

Pie in oven

Which cooker niggles get you all hot and bothered? Here’s your chance to take the oven gloves off and share your cooker complaints with the Which? Convo community.

If you’re like me, you’ll use your cooker or oven everyday. Because of this, if there’s something annoying about the cooker you cook on, it’s going to get you boiling over with rage pretty quickly.

I love my oven even if it is a bit temperamental, and I’m loathe to spend money on a new one if I don’t have to. It’s about ten years old but it heats up quickly, it’s easy to use and I love the fact that it’s multi-function. In fact, I’ve got more cooking options available than I know what to do with.

But the grill isn’t great. It doesn’t seem powerful enough for the heat to spread all the way across the grill pan. I’ve learned to live with this by moving my food around to make sure it’s all cooked, making sure that the full-grill option is selected and, if necessary, using a higher shelf in the grill. I really don’t want to shell out £500 for a new oven until I absolutely have to.

Boiling over with cooker and oven problems

But some niggles might be a bit harder to live with than my iffy grill. If the markings around the temperature dials have worn off, you’ll be setting the oven from memory, and this is going to be hit and miss at best.

If it’s hard to slide the oven shelves in due to the way the door is designed, this is going to be a pain every time you cook. And if your oven doesn’t heat-up properly or overheats, cooking instructions and recipes won’t be worth the paper they’re written on.

If you have a problem with getting an accurate temperature, oven thermometers are available for about a fiver online and will help you live with temperature problems. They stand, or hang, inside the oven and will tell you how hot your oven is. You’ll never know exactly how accurate the thermometers are, but they will give you an indication about how hot or cold your oven is and you’ll be able to adjust your settings.

What’s less than perfect on your cooker and how have you learned to live with it? And tell us about the practical steps you’ve taken to keep your cooker cooking for longer.


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Duncan, I take a little exception to this response. First, you have not helped Sid (yet) and there is a lack of information and second, I offered this as an alternative approach. AEG may well ask appropriate questions of a product they know well and be able to help Sid pinpoint the fault. Finally, Sid probably needs his cooker, may not be competent at dealing with electrics ( he reports the rings are connected in series which seems doubtful), and may choose to have a professional repair done. If Sid comes back with more explicit findings and is comfortable taking parts of his cooker to bits then fine.

If Sid gave the model number of his cooker it might be possible to find the wiring diagram online and help locate the likely problem. No one seems to have asked him for that yet.

We all do our bit to help people.

I support Duncan wanting to offer practical help and in this case the original poster has taken his cooker apart and started investigation to repair the fan oven. It’s very satisfying to help someone sort out problems for themselves and learn how to do potentially dangerous things in a safe way. A basic cooker without electronic controls is probably one of the easiest domestic products to fix. This might be useful: http://www.ukwhitegoods.co.uk/help/fix-it-yourself/ovens-hobs-a-cookers/2717-why-fan-oven-elements-fail-a-replacement-notes

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I was not criticising your efforts to help, duncan. Please read my original comment carefully. I was suggesting options. Nothing in Sid’s post tells me he has taken his oven apart; he may well have done and may well have full competence to deal with the problem, given some assistance.

Prolonging the life of products by repairing them is something we should promote. I, and others, have been asking Which? to include whether a product is sensibly and economically repairable when a common fault arises in their reviews.

Manufacturers should be required to give us the information necessary to do jobs ourselves and make spare parts available at fair prices.

The internet is a great source of information on repairing products. I don’t know whether we could replicate it here. Perhaps Kenneth Watt would have a view on whether a Which? Convo could be a useful resource. He already publishes useful information.

Which? offer a number of services including a Computing and a Gardening Helpdesk. Perhaps they could run a Product Repair one also?

Gas and electrical appliance repairs are most probably best left to the experts Malcolm.

Many people do have sufficient knowledge and common sense to make repairs, and know their own limitations, with electrical devices. There are some basic principles to observe such as ensuring earth continuity is properly maintained.

The cost of professional help is high and may lead to a perfectly serviceable product needing minor attention being discarded when we feel it may not be “worth it”. Knowing your limitations and when you need professional is important though. We should be able to have information that would help diagnose problems and the necessary information to help fix them. It is economically necessary to preserve resources by avoiding unnecessary waste.

I and keen but I don’t think this will happen without legislation is introduced to require companies to either hold spares or to arrange for a separate company to do this. With popular cars it is fairly easy to get commonly used parts because the number of cars is so high and different models often use the same parts. Our greatest chance would have been European legislation but I don’t think we will have much say here in the future.

Equally, I’m keen that companies are required to make part available at reasonable prices and information available to all. Apple does not, Miele does not. Those companies that do are probably the exception.

Not many people even attempt to do repairs these days. I have been using my 1980 Electrolux 303 vacuum cleaner in the workshop this morning and I might use it to clean the car this afternoon. It’s rated at 650W and would comply with the EU power regulations, unlike the newer cleaner I have in the house.

I might use it to clean the car this afternoon.“. In view of the water shortage and impending hosepipe bans that is a very interesting proposal but I am not sure how effective it will be. Please report back.

Cleaning, as in vacuuming the car, which I have now done.

Of course, silly me 🙂

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Adding 2d to the melting pot… if Sid has determined these two elements are in series, I’d lay odds that they are actually in parallel and the centre connection to switched (live or neutral) has been interrupted somehow.

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Absolutely. Help people have the confidence to tackle potentially dangerous tasks in a safe way.

People need to be instructed on how to do these tasks properly. That includes giving them essential safety information before they attempt any repairs. It is not only their safety that is at risk, but that of anyone else who uses the equipment.

I support this suggestion but have one concern. At present, when a question is posed about a maintenance or a breakdown problem in an appliance or vehicle or other apparatus, various contributors chip in and give helpful tips and advice. Sometimes these comments are all saying more or less the same thing but sometimes there is a divergence of views, or the first comment does not offer a comprehensive answer and somebody else joins in, or there is very occasionally a disagreement. If we are going to have an Appliance Advice Conversation then it is imperative that there is some discipline in the responses to make sure the enquirer is genuinely helped and not led up the garden path and back again with all sorts of conflicting opinions and extraneous comments about this, that and the other. If people need help they need a definitive and authoritative response, and it needs to be searchable so it can be found easily again, and it needs to be reviewed from time to time to ensure it remains reliable and up-to-date. Do we agree on that?

I don’t know exactly what Duncan has in mind but I think it will be necessary to work out a protocol and possibly nominate specific individuals to handle specific categories of enquiry. This is entirely outside my range of expertise [except for basic DIY] so I am looking at it from the point of view of the newcomer just landing on the website with a technical query. They need to know they will get a practical answer within a certain period of time or a statement that no one can help. It ought to be possible for other contributors to post additional information but I would hope there would not be distracting comments, anecdotes or banter, or anything else that might compromise the usefulness of the response.

Getting this right could be enormously helpful to consumers, but getting it wrong could be quite damaging. There are ways around these possible difficulties but rather than going on about them here I should be interested to learn what others might think about this, or am I worrying over nothing? This could snowball so we need to create a substantial platform that commands respect and projects the right image for Which? and does nothing to harm its reputation.

I think you are quite right John to ensure that consistent, safe and reliable advice is given. Maybe Which? would have the resources to find a moderator or more to vet proposals before they are made public? I’m not sure Which? would be happy to host a site where safety was involved unless they had control of the content.

Has any potentially dangerous advice been given in this Convo so far? We have had advice on diagnosis of problems, where to get spares and information and so on. Sid, who started this discussion, had already dismantled his cooker before he posted and I don’t think anyone has given any questionable advice, though if he is reading all the posts he might be losing the will to live. 🙁

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Thanks Duncan. I’ve corrected it.

I suppose that to the burgeoning list of safety advice we add that all posts should be carefully proof read.

Do we know he dismantled his cooker? I must have missed that.
There is a big difference between discussing problems and setting up a Convo in Which?’s name specifically as the place to get expert advice on electrical matters. It simply needs dealing with in a professional way. Just my cautious view; I’d be interested to know whether I’m being over cautious and if and how Which? would support a specialist service of this nature.

As a reply to John’s post above, I think there are already other websites that provide this service. For example, a quick search found ifixit.com.

Given that Which? seems to think that, after shopping at Amazon, the average person should not even attempt to fit proper UK 3-pin plugs to appliances, I’m not that they’d be entirely happy about publishing advice and instructions for more complicated tasks.

Just to be clear, if defective, anything mains powered represents a potential electrocution and/or fire hazard. Good safety advice would be that only suitably qualified and experienced personnel should attempt repairs on such equipment.

As regards potential liability issues, I think anyone who does DIY repairs must accept ownership of any and all consequential risks and any websites used to disseminate advice would need to carry appropriate legal disclaimers.

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Derek – One of the reasons I don’t fix anything for anyone other than close friends and family is that I don’t have insurance. When doing work for a charity I’m covered by trustee liability insurance unless I act maliciously. I agree that it’s not a good idea to expect members of the public to fit a mains plug because in the days when this was common, many did an inadequate job. I’ve made this point in several Convos.

If anyone makes use of advice posted online, I believe that it’s their responsibility. Which? already has disclaimers.

I intend to carry on offering general advice and comments but not give any detailed instructions.

Duncan – Engineers are the sort of folk who could design and/or manufacture something like a 3-pin plug.

Safely fitting one is a job for a qualified tradesman – an Electrician.

I’d also trust some (but not all) Engineers (and many other folk) to perform that task.

As suggested by wavechange, I think potential liability issues (rather than technical ones) are the main reason why Which? doesn’t recommend that folk just simply replace Euro plugs with UK ones. Also, if it did that, it wouldn’t be able to make such a bid deal out of the issue of their illegality.

As a personal view, I’m getting fairly bored and annoyed by your habitual rants about our education system and about how the USA is better than here. My schools taught me science and maths, but it was my family and friends that taught me the basis of my craft engineering skills. Later on, I also had the good fortune to spend a few weeks training at Rolls-Royce’s apprentice school at Mickleover, near Derby.

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Wavechange – I haven’t read most of the posts in this Conversation as I am not very interested in oven problems and don’t have anything to contribute so I don’t know whether any poor advice has been given. It related to all enquiries on DIY repairs and maintenance of domestic equipment and cars etc. My comment was in relation to a comment by Duncan two days ago indicating that he was “trying to set up an exclusive – electrical/electronic help convo not populated with ANY other subject/comment etc so that a member of the public can come to Which convo for help instead of paying out for electricians etc ” – see:

I assumed this would have to be done under Which? Conversation editorial control and that he was possibly already working with Which? on the practical methodology.

OK Duncan – you have made your views known, many times, on the state of technical competence in the UK today and you have suggested a way of helping people who ask for guidance on how to deal with problems with their domestic equipment. I have put forward some points [as have others] that need to be taken on board in setting up an advisory Conversation. So I don’t understand why you are saying we are being negative and now seem to be giving up on the idea.

It is obvious that you despair that many younger people do not have a technical bent and can’t do simple repairs and maintenance but there are various perfectly sound reasons for that and it is not necessary to condemn the education system, or make derogatory remarks relative to your opinion of the American situation. I don’t know who you think are calling us the “snowflake country” or why you think that the only “real men” are American. This sort of attitude expressed in Which? Conversation is not exactly going to inspire people to take on technical challenges under sound advice; it could actually cause the opposite effect and lead to an increase in risks through unsafe working practices as a result of being over-confident. In any venture like this there have to be some boundaries and it is appropriate that we, and Which?, approach it cautiously.

Given the litigious climate around these days Which? would have to be very careful over what it was letting itself in for if it offered a special channel for the electrical/electronic fix-it service you are trying to set up.

Good morning John. This has been an odd discussion and perhaps we could explore the possibilities of what help could realistically be provided without creating problems for Which? regarding potentially dangerous advice being given. In fact I think we could promote safe working by informing enquirers of information that they might not be aware of. For example, many might not appreciate the difference between doing a job for yourself and being paid for it.

Let’s assume that we start with an ordinary Conversation with a title that is likely to attract visitors who have practical problems such as a problem with a cooker and would like to tackle the job for themselves. How could we help?

– If someone is enquiring about availability of a particular part we could suggest possibilities.

– We could offer help with diagnosis of problems and where to get more information. For example, if an oven is not heating there are a few possibilities. The enquirer could be pointed in the direction of information that is available online, such as a circuit diagram or YouTube video showing replacement of a part. Sid, whose post started this discussion, made the observation that his oven heaters seemed to be wired in series and while that is not impossible it might be worth exploring if this observation is correct. Roger has picked up on this point.

– If an enquirer reports a problem, possible reasons could be explored. For example we have had numerous reports of broken cooker knobs and while poor quality materials are a likely cause there are other possibilities.

– Sensible safety precautions could be given as appropriate. Since a cooker cannot be unplugged it has to be safely disconnected and as you and others pointed out there are simple ways of reducing the risk that someone could turn the power on again.

I think we could help people sort out problems for themselves and do this in a safe way.

Derek wrote: “Given that Which? seems to think that, after shopping at Amazon, the average person should not even attempt to fit proper UK 3-pin plugs to appliances, I’m not that they’d be entirely happy about publishing advice and instructions for more complicated tasks.”

I had not appreciated that Which? has given this advice but the introduction of one of the Convos on two-pin plugs used to have a Which? video showing an electrician fitting a plug. I was concerned about two points, the main one being that it did not show or emphasise the need for the Earth conductor to long enough not to break free first if the cable was pulled through the flex grip. I had to report this twice before it was removed.

I agree with you, Wavechange. That, in my view, is roughly the limit of what we could and should be offering without further concern, but there seems to be a tendency, even a desire, to want to tell people how to do the job and that is where problems could lie because we don’t know their competence and equally they don’t know ours. I could say my advice is good because I have rewired houses – but that was nearly fifty years ago and everything has changed since then. I haven’t got a clue on how to do anything with a computer, whether hardware or software, so it would be pointless anybody telling me what to do and how to do it.

Apart from appliances that stand on the floor almost everything else in the kitchen can be replaced quite cheaply and there are virtually no electrical shops left where you can buy parts or have repairs done economically. Which leaves us with the bigger white goods for which there is a maintenance infrastructure with plenty of self-employed technicians or small companies offering a repair service at a reasonable price. Personally I don’t think diagnosis can be fully reliable unless the person can see and try to operate the machine and look inside it, but that’s just my cautious view. An extensive dialogue could ensue if someone had to be ‘talked’ through a diagnosis step by step and I question whether it would be a good use of anyone’s time.

People who have trade skills based on many years of practical experience during their career [including regular training and qualifications] can make a valuable contribution to helping people with getting their equipment to work properly again, especially if they have been able to keep up-to-date since leaving work as many do through their hobbies. I hope it might be possible to find the right balance between knowledge and advice on the one hand and practical application of technical ability on the other; knowing the enquirer’s competence will be the key while also bearing in mind that on a public website other people might think they can do it and have a go without the required safety awareness or competence.

At the risk of being regarded as negative I would say that, in the end, pointing people in the direction of an on-line advisory source could be the best thing to do, as Derek and yourself have suggested, and resisting the temptation to tell people how to fix something themselves. As you say, we could help people sort out problems for themselves and do this in a safe way. Even something so elementary as wiring a three-pin plug I would find difficult to put in words and writing is supposed to be one of my competencies.

I agree. Giving general advice and pointing people at where to get appropriate advice is a reasonable and helpful approach. Giving them detailed instructions on how to repair a potentially dangerous device, not knowing their competence, is I believe inappropriate. If someone is that competent they will probably have enough knowledge to source the information they might need from existing specialist places.

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Food is regulated as are many other products. Free “advice” on a vast range of subjects is readily available on the internet. You do need some knowledge and common sense to sift the wheat from the chaff. If, however, you want a definitive, not an amateur, answer to many issues then you need to ask someone expert in the field. They need to make a living and so you need to pay them.

Two quick points, Duncan:

1. It is illegal to sell unsafe food so no liability would attach to anyone recommending such a product either independently or via Which? [unless they were in some way associated with the manufacturer]. Which? checks everything it recommends.

2. You have answered your own question when you say “1000,s websites help those not rich enough to hire “Professionals ” who just want practical help“. So why would we need another one?

There is plenty of free advice available and there are also low-cost sources of replacement products. Help is available for those dependent entirely on benefits and many charities and voluntary organisations help those, especially the elderly, who need simple repairs and servicing done to their white goods. It is possible that people in the poorest categories do not have internet access anyway so would be unable to go to a Which? site.

Initially I thought your idea was a good one to turn what is currently an informal and, to some extent haphazard, service into something more structured and reliable, but on further consideration and in the light of the discussion with other contributors I realise it is impractical for various reasons and that useful alternatives are available.

Malcolm wrote: “If someone is that competent they will probably have enough knowledge to source the information they might need from existing specialist places.” I don’t agree. I can think of examples of people that are highly competent but need help with finding information needed to repair or maintain equipment. I often look up and pass on information and let people decide what to do with it and so do others I know.

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Well, you said there were thousands of advice websites helping people not rich enough to hire a professional, so it’s an obvious question to ask. I am not trying to stifle enterprise, Duncan, but I have a utilitarian streak and think the time and talent required could be better deployed elsewhere or in other ways.

As it happens, last week I went to one of those “Old Boys Clubs” in London for a bi-annual get-together with some old boys from my school years. I have to defer to your superior knowledge and experience but I did not recognise any of the behaviours you describe. To start with there were a number of ladies present and the gentlemen were certainly not tut-tutting about the state of the world today, the failures of the education system, the promotion of cooking over engineering, and the lack of “real men”, nor throwing up any other negative thoughts.

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Define what you mean by “social cohesiveness”, Duncan.

Are you suggesting I should not attend a social function with old boys from my school days, Duncan? I don’t know what you mean by “aligned”. As for camouflage and “social cohesiveness” I don’t know what you are talking about, but please don’t bother to explain.

I am comfortable in any social gathering, Duncan, and try not to be judgmental about the people present. I don’t have any prejudice either against radical people who feel it’s not their scene.

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Is this a subject for The Lobby? I would rather that we use this Convo to help anyone who has a problem with their cooker or oven.

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Just carry on offering advice, Duncan. In the real world, those that think that everything should be left to the professionals often carry on using faulty products rather than sorting out the problem. Well that’s my experience.

If potentially dangerous advice is given then I suggest we click the Report button so that Which? can decide whether there is a problem. In any case I hope that any reader would make a judgement about whether to use advice posted on a website.

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To continually suggest that the people of the UK do not have the capacity for rational, independent thinking and acting accordingly seems not only no way to advance an argument but also totally b*****y s**ly.

Did we ever hear more from Sid?

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More likely it was his post resulting in an extended discussion in which his problem was ignored. It has happened so many times. Sid would be well aware that he could pay for his cooker to be fixed but was wanting to sort it out for himself.

But yes – he probably went to another website for help.

Might then be too late! The report button has a two and a half day break at weekends. No one has suggested that no advice should be given, just the extent of that advice from people with no known qualifications or credentials to similarly unknown recipients.

Already simple examples have been debated about safety – not trusting a switch, switching off the supply and labelling it as not to be used, inability to wire a plug correctly, ensuring earth continuity is restored including the components and order of assembly on an earth termination.

By all means let’s carry on with general helpful advice and pointers but I do not see setting up a formal full repair advice service under the Which? Convo banner as appropriate, unless Which? organise it with the cooperation of chosen contributors and properly organise the contents for future retrieval.

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By “professional” I mean those appropriately qualified and experienced in a particular field. I make no distinction between the various routes by which one can achieve that. However, I’d suggest, when offering a dedicated service those involved need to be assessed for competence. As I also said, that does not mean stopping anyone giving general advice and help;many of us try to do that.

Duncan: there is a stark difference in many ways between an Engineer and a mechanic or maintenance ‘engineer’. I don’t doubt you did the apprenticeships but Engineers do not fix washing machines, wire houses, mend TVs or service cars, other than as hobbies.

They do, however (as do our youngest and his other half) design and manage major projects, research technical issues and compile projections. Their studies include mathematics modelling fluid mechanics, turbine pressures and calculations involving hyperbolic functions, trigonometric functions, differentiation of functions of two variables, vector algebra, vector geometry and matrix algebra.

Once qualified it’s only the start. Their first professional step is Chartership, and can be followed be fellowship.

But there’s no reason you should feel slighted. The closure of many apprenticeships was short-sighted and badly managed. I’ve discussed this before, so I won’t repeat it. But the simple fact is that for society to continue to function we need maintenance engineers, electricians, joiners, builders, bricklayers and these aren’t skills that can be delivered effectively in Oxbridge.

Sadly the title Engineer is not protected, unlike Doctor, Solicitor or Barrister (although since they’ve allowed Dentists to call themselves Doctors, I’m not so sure, Bad enough when they allowed the gas passers and leechers to be called Doctors…) and I suspect that alone has served to devalue engineering in the eyes of many.

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I’m not aware of anyone criticising you, or anyone else, for providing help and assistance. Many of us do that. I think what much of the subsequent discussion was directed at was your proposal ” I am trying to set up an exclusive – electrical/electronic help convo” and the way it could operate safely.

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I, for one, don’t doubt your declared abilities duncan, no more than that of some other contributors. I think setting up a comprehensive formal advisory service covering, presumably, a wide range of specific electrical and electronic products requires more than just this.

I think, perhaps, some confusion might have arisen over the difference between “a professional” and “a professional approach”.

This may be relevant: hse.gov.uk – Safety in electrical testing – Service and repair of domestic appliances

I don’t think the average DIY enthusiast would gain much from reading that document, Beryl, but that’s not who it is aimed at.

“When working on microwave ovens, ensure that the high-voltage internal source is not energised while the oven cover is removed.”

A more helpful statement would be: “Microwave ovens contain a large capacitor operating at several kilovolts. It can remain charged long after the oven is switched off and must be discharged after opening the case and prior to servicing.”

In fact it is a hazard that would not exist if a bleed resistor is fitted by the manufacturer to ensure that the capacitor is discharged within minutes of switching off.

On the contrary Wavechange Health and Safety is of paramount importance when tinkering with any electrical or gas appliance and if you are not familiar with either, common sense tells me its best to leave repairs to the professionals.

I agree that health & safety is vital but the document you cited would not be of much help to someone tackling DIY and is not intended for that audience.

If you know your limitations, understand what you are doing, don’t do anything that is illegal and have suitable tools for the job you can work safely and help others do the same.

I agree with Wavechange here. – bleed resistors should be compulsory (and I thought they were). I remember an old tape recorder where the main reservoir capacitor (probably only 32uF at ~250V) had a fractured bleed resistor across it which I was – wrongly and sillily – too lazy to replace. I discharged that accidentally through myself several times when undertaking routine repairs (usually swapping belts or replacing the EM84 magic eye)

🙂  Ouch. I’ll need a new EM84 or EM87 if I get round to trying to refurbish my old tape recorder.

My microwave oven does have a bleed resistor but if I was the designer I would duplicate it and have a warning on the insulating cover.

Meanwhile back at the cooker problem, when working on a cooker I would turn off the cooker point and the supply at the distribution board and check for mains voltage.

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Thanks Duncan. I’ll bookmark that. I have plenty of other projects that take priority at the moment.

I would turn off the cooker point and the supply at the distribution board and check for mains voltage”. Do not work on any electrical equipment unless it has been isolated from the supply. Certainly do not rely on just switching off – the switch may have been incorrectly wired.

Cooker points have double-pole switches so would isolate the cooker. I’ve given a couple of other precautions to take.

They should, but I would never trust a switch when working on electrical equipment. It is best to follow a routine procedure to avoid harm. One of the principles of safe working is to follow procedure and not make assumptions. It might be something an experienced individual would choose to do, but not recommend it to another person.

I’ve suggested:
– turning off the cooker point
– turning off the main switch at the distribution board – it’s a good idea to work in daylight 🙂
– checking for mains voltage

Have I missed anything?

I have trained people to do potentially dangerous jobs in a safe way and that includes building mains-powered electrical equipment for use in my research labs. Training includes confirmation that instructions have been understood.

In a industrial context, we’d lock off the supplies until the work had been completed.

That is done as a safeguard to stop others from mistakenly re-energizing systems while they are being worked on.

In a domestic situation, the kit involved is unlikely to give you the option of locking off supplies, but an important alternative would be to make sure that all family members know about the work and know not to switch the main back on until the work has been completed.

I use an informative Post-it Note on the consumer unit cover if I need to isolate a circuit. I also put a short piece of red insulating tape across the wall switch to prevent accidental switching on.

All good advice that people need to heed before they start any electrical work.

I look after engine-driven equipment for a charity and always tell other volunteers to put the keys in their pocket so that no-one accidentally starts the engine. There are plenty of precautions that can be taken and taught, depending on the circumstances, and we can all learn and improve.

I made a little clamp adaptor that fits across the double pole, double throw incoming mains switch and locks it so it can’t be accidentally switched. Ensures the cat can’t accidentally turn it on, anyway.

That could be made standard. My distribution board can be locked shut to prevent access to the circuit breakers but the main (double-pole) switch is still accessible.

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Just before I go out, I randomly looked on the net and this popped up: https://www.manualslib.com/manual/968698/Aeg-B3007h-B.html?page=32
I have not looked in detail but manualslib seems to be a useful resource.

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Most of the manuals and circuit diagrams I have downloaded are for old engines and vintage electronics. Whether they were uploaded legally or not is sometimes questionable.

When Japanese companies started to sell electronics in the UK they often came with circuit diagrams. I have no idea if white goods manufacturers make any circuit diagrams available to the public.

It doesn’t really matter whether they are officially posted or not as long as they are authentic. Just a couple of seconds stab at this, and I have not examined them.
However, I hope Which? will pursue the availability of spares and repair manuals with its colleagues in Europe in the name of sustainability.
I can’t ask George as I’ve overloaded him already. 🙁
Perhaps we should start a campaign for “Repairable appliances and availability of spares and repair manuals”.

Be aware that DIY tampering with any electrical or gas appliance may also invalidate any guarantees or insurance claims without appropriate certification, a specific requirement when moving house.

If a product is covered by a guarantee or insurance-backed warranty then dismantling it will indeed invalidate the cover. It would not be fair for a retailer to provide support if an unauthorised person had interfered with it. Certification is certainly needed for rental property but when buying a property the onus is I believe for the buyer to have appliances tested. Estate agents normally have a disclaimer saying that appliances have not been examined.

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I think that shortage of money was a major factor in our parents’ generation too. Even though I can afford to buy new products I hate contributing to waste and keep things going as long as they are doing the job.

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I don’t know, Duncan. How many times? Because I couldn’t find any evidence of them ever having been sued because someone made a mess of following their instructions.

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I have a Haynes manual for my car. I used it for the first time recently to see what is involved in changing a timing belt, though I had already booked the car in for the job to be done. What used to be a straightforward job has been made complicated by the design of modern cars.

There is more advice on safety than in the earlier Haynes books and tasks are graded according to the difficulty for DIY users. I just wish they would print photos in colour rather than grey and white on cheap paper – which seems to be a Haynes tradition.

My tip to avoid crawling under the car when changing the oil is to pump it out of the dipstick hole. An inexpensive oil pump (mine cost £12.99 from Lidl) will pay for itself the first time it is used.

I see that Haynes have a dishwasher manual and hopefully that will cover electrical safety.

Electrics are the only things I deal with. Gas is something I won’t go near (we had propane stoves on a boat…) and plumbing simply leaves me wet.

I’m not quite sure what warning would be needed when offering safety advice about plumbing. Double-check valves for outside taps and don’t forget to turn off all taps before turning the water on. Essential equipment to include Best Buy waders and a brolly.

With gas, a visual inspection can be very useful. Years ago I warned a friend that a gas fire was unsafe because it was burning with a yellow flame and would be producing carbon monoxide. It was in rental accommodation and had been checked earlier in the year but faults can happen at any time.

I called in a gas engineer to fit a new LPG hob in premises owned by a charity. I had detected a slight gas leak by smell and found that gas was leaking from below one of the control knobs. He also fitted an LPG bubble tester, so that even an unskilled person can test for leaks.

Plumbing is unlikely to kill you if you get it wrong, but of course gas (I’d never touch it either) and electricity can. I have sufficient competence to totally wire our house and garage but had it professionally checked.

Haynes manuals are carefully written by experts. Providing appropriate information is given there should be no problem. It is simply ensuring the advice is appropriate that concerns me if it comes from a variety of people of unknown credentials. Having it first checked by an accredited expert seems just common sense.

Nowadays you would not be allowed to completely wire a house because (if I recall correctly) you are not allowed to do certain work in bathrooms and kitchens or install a new ring main. I don’t think I attempted this sort of work even when it was legal to do so. Yes it’s good advice to have work checked even is this is not a legal requirement.

I wonder if anyone has given any potentially dangerous advice in the Convo.

Part P of the Building Regulations requires a certificate by a Part P- qualified electrician to be issued and submitted to the building control authority for all significant alterations to mains circuits and installations and such certificates have to be produced on transfer of the property.

At the risk of taking this off topic, an answer to the last point: Strictly it matters not WHO wires a property but who CERTIFIES the wiring. That has to be done by one trained to the latest regulations. In practice, people will only certify their own work or the work of someone who they know to be competent (and they will of course do appropriate spot checks).

How can folk tell if work is sufficiently recent to need certification? At the time this regulation came in, they changed the colours of fixed cable insulation (traditionally since the fifties Red, Black and bare (with ends covered with sleeve) for Live Neutral and Earth to Brown Blue and bare/sleeved ends respectively, unifying finally the fixed wires with that of flexes.

Guess who bought up several reals of red and black of the common sizes just before they went out of circulation?

I still have on one of the shelves in our study a very large and beautifully illustrated Reader’s Digest DIY manual. It’s dated 1988, but it covers just about any household DIY task imaginable. It’s often served to show me exactly where I went wrong, such as the memorable time I plumbed the dishwasher into the mains gas pipe with a self-penetrating tap-valve thingy, or the time I decided to remove all the old and unused lead piping in an old house from above the kitchen, only to discover that the pipes in question were linked to an old and no longer operating but completely filled fireplace back boiler. Those were the days…

Part P regulations, as mentioned by John: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/441872/BR_PDF_AD_P_2013.pdf

This is not the first time Ian has mentioned DIY disasters and everyone who tackles jobs will make the occasional mistake. I wonder how many professionals make mistakes. I’ve seen a few examples.

I agree, and this information should be included in any legal questionnaire transfer documentation by your own conveyancing solicitor when moving house.

A Haynes manual gives basic advice, techniques, safety precautions etc as well as information pertinent to the vehicle or product all in one book. The wise person will be expected to read it all and decide what they can tackle safely. Unless Haynes give instructions or advice that, if followed, would lead to an accident then I see no grounds for them to be sued. It is up to the person concerned to follow the instructions given fully and correctly. The key seems to lie in the ability to give clear and specific instructions and information.

My father in law donated his copy of the Readers Digest DiY manual in a grey pvc binder in the early 1970’s. It was an invaluable source of information on everything I needed to know when I renovated my first run-down cottage, from making a new front door, removing a wall, bricklaying, tiling, electrics, plumbing……….Practical and easy to read. Passed it on to my sons who found it equally valuable. The one “skill” I shied away from was large-scale plastering; I should have had a go.

I was going to clutter up The Lobby with this (it now takes two reloads to access), but thought it might be more appropriate here.

A deficiency in Convos noted by others a number of times is that useful information, advice, links and interesting facts are lost as (very little) time goes by because there is no easy way to find them. So any Convo that, for example, specialises in giving advice on electrical appliance repairs would likely cover the same fate.

In my view there needs to be a way to sift out valuable information that is posted and index it. Over the years many people have helped build up a potentially valuable resource that is lost.

It’s a point which has been made repeatedly by Roger, me, Patrick and others over the years. I posted about a potential solution here, but only in respect of topic headers.

To be able to locate useful individual posts by members a system of tagging would be needed. One snag about this WP system is that it doesn’t support individual header titles for individual posts, which is – I suspect – what we’d need if we were to develop a system capable of retrieving relevant and informative posts.

It would probably come down to a manual process of identifying tagging and titling such posts.

I did propose that any dedicated advisory Conversation must be searchable so that consistency is ensured with identical or related enquiries. Whether that is best achieved by tagging, headlining or indexing I do not know. It would seem to me that some form of classification other than or in addition to chronology might be the way forward if such a facility came into existence so that all oven questions were grouped first by “oven”, then by make, then by problem, and then by date. Already the logistical problems start to appear.

What can be achieved will be dependent on the limitations of the software in use. Sometimes what seems simple is not possible and other times a major change can be introduced easily.

I believe that Patrick S was considering the possibility of changing the software used for Conversation and with Brendan (of Australian consumers’ association Choice) looking at how Which? could improve communication with its supporters.

For the time being it might be best to see what we can do within the present system and also make suggestions for improvements that could be useful.

i have a 2 year old Bosch oven, the bulb as blown , the glass cover moves 1/2″ anti clockwise then solid , tried white vinegar brushed on the joint, warming the oven no joy,Bosch sent me “free of charge” a specially designed plastic socket and a spare glass cover.In case i broke the glass cover? (me thinks this is a design fault for them to be tooled up for this problem) still the same solid. phoned back, they want £99 for a engineer just to come out. This company really stinks. As anyone else come across this problem?

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I had this problem with the lamp cover in the Bosch main oven when I moved home. I suspect that the previous occupants had not been able to remove the cover and replace the lamp. After repeated efforts it moved. I deliberately did not fully tighten the cover and it still moves easily. A fibre washer would have helped avoid problems.

The eSpares link posted by Duncan warns not to overtighten the lamp cover and that is very good advice.

I have an oven with a ‘matt’ finish inside, it’s the first one I’ve had like this and the shelves won’t run smoothly in it. I keep burning myself, is there any way of rectifying this?

Thank you

I suggest having a word with the manufacturer, Lorraine. They have no legal responsibility for faulty goods but they can be helpful. It may be that the side panels of the oven are not properly located or a self-cleaning coating has been applied to the shelf supports. In the latter case, the shelves may stick less with use.

You have reminded me that I could do with new oven gloves.

Jill Reeve says:
2 June 2019

Have a John Lewis double and single oven. Won’t operate separately. If I turn one off, both turn off. Please help. John Lewis not helpful!

Just bought a leasure cooker.Top oven has glass oven door but no light inside oven so ,have to open door to check on food .but top oven controls are also the grill controls, so opening the door switches off the oven every time the door is opened.