/ Home & Energy

Getting household appliances fixed can be easier than you think


Do you attempt to fix your busted appliances, or do you simply replace them?

You’re running out of clean clothes and your laundry basket is overflowing. You put a wash on to clear the backlog – and the machine gets stuck full of water and won’t drain. The last thing you need right now is a mission to buy a new machine – but chances are you can get it repaired for a fraction of the cost, or even fix it yourself.

When your household appliance breaks, the likelihood is that you won’t need to shell out the full cost of a replacement, according to our latest research. Many common faults on key household appliances can be fixed by professional repairers for an affordable price.

Take a broken drive belt on a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Our research suggests that this would cost around £40 for a professional repairer to fix – not bad when you’re looking at more than £250 for a new Dyson.

Repair is often worth a try

We investigated 14 of the most common faults affecting dishwashers, fridge-freezers, ovens, vacuum cleaners and washing machines, asking a panel of professional engineers if repair was advisable and, if so, how much they would charge.

The good news is that a repair was their recommended course of action in most cases. The prices the repairers quoted were generally reasonable, but there was a lot of variation. So the traditional advice to get multiple quotes is well worth following.

When to give up on an appliance

Most Which? members – a sensible bunch – know the benefits of fixing appliances when you can. We surveyed 1,157 members in June to find out what you did if your home appliances broke down. 61% of you got them repaired or made the fix yourselves, compared to 38% of you who replaced them.

The most common reason for replacing was that the appliance was too old to make it worthwhile. A good starting point for answering the question ‘Is it worth repairing?’ is to divide its original cost by how long you expect it to last. So a £100 appliance that you expect to last for five years would lose £20 of value per year. If a repair costs more than your appliance is currently worth, then it’s going to be harder to justify paying for.

Give DIY a try

If I told you that my own DIY skills are ‘limited’, that would be a kind way to put it. So it’s been encouraging to learn while researching this article just how many faults I could fix myself.

As well as the guidance in instruction manuals on how to carry out common repairs, there’s also a wealth of information on YouTube and elsewhere online. You could say it’s now easier than ever to save money by fixing problems yourself.

Tell us about your experience of repairing household appliances and how it went – did you find it easy to do?


Perhaps I’m a scrooge but keeping something working is a challenge to be met. My 15 year old Miele vacuum cleaner catch broke; an email to them produced a new one for less then £5. Back in full working order. Same with a 12 year old dishwasher – everything in good condition except a leaking pump. Miele repair kit £75 seemed worth trying but in the event only lasted a year before another problem terminated the machine; but satisfaction in trying. It isn’t always successful; a repair to our last Bosch washing machine (10 years old) by a service engineer didn’t cure the problem so he refunded the call out and labour charge. But we’d tried.
The question is – is it worth doing? I think the argument of looking at the secondhand value of the old machine and not considering a repair if it exceeds that is a little flawed. The judgement should be will the machine be likely to last a significant time once repaired. Even, can you afford a replacement?
A car is a case in point. My 22 year old Espace chugs along and is probably worth, if sold, a couple of hundred pounds. Should I spend £300 on a repair if that is likely to keep it going for a few more years? Of course, is my view, as I know its overall condition and history. The value of the car to me is well above its resale price; the resale price only becomes relevant if you could find a reliable replacement for less than the repair cost.


To me this is an national embarrassment and shame , that what I class as “no brainer ” engineering repairs people have to pay £ 40 to change a Dyson belt –OMG !! . This just backs up my long protest on Which that instead of teaching boys how to cook and be PC its time they were taught engineering –of any sort. Long ago -pre-Maggie- quote – I dont understand engineering- every man and his son could at least do simple repairs about the house from engineering to electrical and electronic . Now with a few decades of primary and secondary school “programming ” the male in the house has to lift a phone to call an electrician to change a fuse , diabolical ! – IMHO . No wonder China has taken over engineering , no fools them , I might castigate the quality of their goods but at least they are producing equipment in factories for the world. Now guess what the latest thoughts of US industrialists are in relation to the presidential debate ? . They have come out siding with “the Donald ” who would force those companies who were advised by big banks etc to set up,overseas where the pay is $1/hour and dont bother about those losing jobs/ houses in the US . I can quote many US specialists in their comments on the US failing infrastructure if needed , and guess what the same is happening here , all for bigger profits for shareholders . Dont tell me these shareholders are “loyal ” to Britain they are only loyal to the $$$/£££ . Time for a change TM.


Duncan: fixing things around the house is not the preserve of the males in our society, nor should it be, and it doesn’t involve Engineering. It involves fixing. Engineering is often a four to five year course at a University just for starters, and a lot more to come before they become Chartered so calling a Dyson repair tech an Engineer is akin to calling the caretaker at the hospital a Doctor.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with education, either; it’s to do with the way the family and society have developed and the regulated culture that sees us increasingly moving towards a nanny state. But girls make some of the finest Engineers I’ve met. Their natural attention to detail, scrupulous preparation and careful presentation often exceeds that of boys’, and those I’ve known through our youngest have nailed and held senior positions in Jaguar, Grid, Airbus and a multitude of major Engineering companies who seek only the best. On the other hand, most can usually fix broken hinges and stick fanbelts onto Dysons, too. With a bit of help. Bet Lauren can reset her own circuit breakers…


Indeed I can reset circuit breakers @carneades – in fact I’ve recently been learning how to reposition lights in my new house, install spotlights and a PIR unit too (but I am the daughter of an electrician so I may have a slight advantage on these things) 🙂


Good for you Lauren ! and I bet you can do more than most young men in this day and age , dont stop learning , its all down to a practical and logical brain.


I strongly believe everyone should have a basic but usable knowledge of electrics and electricity. Our society would ground to halt in its absence, so understanding it is essential. And if you want to practice, Lauren, I can give you my address…


And it saves a bit of money on the traders costs too!


I’d agree Ian, It’s quite useful to understand how these things work – I think I’m more of a ‘fixer’ than a ‘replacer’. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I know I’ve managed to fix something – although there have been some things that I’ve had to call my dad in for, so I can’t take all the credit. But practice makes perfect, so I’d be more than happy to lend a hand 🙂


Excellent 🙂 Let us know next time you’re hiking around Snowdonia.


My father always did his own repairs and I have repaired my own household appliances. I agree with Duncan that boys should learn how to fix things – but why not girls too?

I replaced the motor and drain pump of my 1982 Philips washing machine after about ten years and it continued to work perfectly until I moved home earlier this year. I will offer it to a local museum. My Belling cooker lasted the same length of time and needed only replacement oven door springs every few years. I am still using my late 80s or early 90s Philips microwave oven, which has had one repair and a replacement lamp.

My oldest household appliance is a 1982 Electrolux vacuum cleaner, but that is used only for cleaning the garage/workshop and car. I replaced the centrifugal fan when it was about fifteen years old.


Sorry Wavechange; Duncan’s post caused me to run out a response without reading your comment, which I ought to have anticipated.


I’ll repair stuff if I can do that easily and if the cost of the repair will be significantly less than the cost of buying a replacement item.

In doing so, I am using craft skills learnt from my parents and their parents. I am also a qualified engineer, but I don’t think my design or complex analytical skills really have that much to do with my ability to carry out simple repairs.


I was under the impression it was mostly about simply changing a module nowadays!

Wavechange I am not sure but my Electrolux Lite – Mod Z1820
V.240 – 50Hz – Ser.No 018-01300- Production No. 9002103 – 1000w
‘Made in Britain’ may be as old, if not older than yours. I still use it for vacuuming downstairs as I have mostly laminate floors with rugs and I use the newer Miele ‘silent’ upstairs for the fitted carpets and also stair vacuuming.

I wouldn’t however attempt to to mess with electrics as they are strictly for the qualified.

PS If women are now employed as qualified engineers, who may I ask, is knitting the sweaters 🙂


Why is everybody dodging round the truth ? In survey after survey females say they dont want to be engineers , this is the vast majority . Okay so 10 % are engineers , I have seen the figures and no matter how feminists try to hide it by double talk and try by force /persuasion to get females to take up engineering , they refuse . Cant you see what I am getting at ? why because of this should males be disadvantaged at school by not being taught it because it is not PC . There is talk now of the government realising this especially in the armed forces who are crying out for engineers or even to train engineers because males have now been “programmed” to cook when all you need is a microwave nowadays . I have been a pioneer for womens rights long before it was popular -house in both names -everything split equally -defended women etc and have been cursed at by feminists for holding open a door or for getting up in a bus to give “lady ” a seat and more even trying to help a woman park i got dogs abuse . I believe in total equality-IE-real equality , not this- disadvantage men type of feminism in courts etc . -Saying = equal rights for equal responsibilities –Equal opportunities for equal abilities- any body want to argue that ?


A lot of boys and young men have also been put off engineering [not because they have been told to put on an apron and go cook]. One of our biggest employment problems at the moment is the shortage of engineers coming through into the profession which is handicapping the UK’s growth potential at a crucial time. More effort needs to be put into ensuring that young people of both sexes are attracted to engineering. Only around 20% of A Level physics students are girls and this has not changed in 25 years. The Rio Olympics have shown what we can achieve when motivation and resources are directed at an objective. India shows the way where already over 30% of engineering students are women. What we need is a big uplift in total numbers of new engineers and cutting out the cookery courses for boys is not necessarily the way to get there.


John – if they are not taught at school how do they learn ? A child is heavily influenced by adults when young and what it learns it carries on into adulthood . this the whole basis of PC in schools as advanced by feminists ,they dont deny it , they publicize it vehemently. Most teachers are female . The excuse well its better for a males health if they learn to cook is ********, have you looked at what many women eat in cafes/restaurants/bakeries etc ,dont tell me its good for their health , if you check the figures males are now living longer and females shorter , why because they act like men drinking so much alcohol that in the US a bad result from a liver test is taken as normal and large numbers of females are dying of liver failure all because they are told to act “manlike “


Forgive me, Duncan, but I am not going to pursue you into that corner of the discussion.


But I will…. 🙂

Duncan: you have it all the wrong way round, I’m afraid. Teaching has gradually become a more female-dominated profession, but it always was, of course. Most Primary school teachers have traditionally been women, and most joined the NUT, making that the largest teaching union. But it’s a far more complex issue than you think

For the past twenty years males have been performing in schools less well than females. There are no easy answers as to why this has been happening, although some suggest the increasingly large part part played by continuous assessment in GCSE and even A Level examinations has favoured females, who excel at careful, detailed and precise, neat work whereas boys tend to excel at the single big effort or the examination model. Boys are also temperamentally and genetically less well-suited to sitting still and absorbing information; they prefer to move around and make discoveries. Boys also have shorter attention spans – again, a genetic characteristic and they also Psychologically seek instant gratification, whereas girls are adept at delaying gratification. I’ll say no more on that one.

Those same female traits are what make girls traditionally good teachers. But let’s examine the Engineering issue. True Engineering at the University level is far more than being able to make Meccano crane. It involves a sound grasp of advanced mathematics, modelling skills, computer skills, managerial methodology, deductive reasoning and far more. At its heart it’s a highly complex science involving branches of Chemistry and Biology and utterly dependent on a high level of Mathematical ability and a thorough grasp of Physics. In short, it ain’t easy.

Over the years, the pressure has been on youngsters to gain a university degree, without too much concern as to the nature of that degree. The better Universities haven’t made concessions to students and haven’t needed to, but the less successful have steadily lowered the academic quality of their offerings, so the much ridiculed’ Micky Mouse’ degree has supplanted those requiring sharp intellects and determination.

The Schools are, in the main, bound by the National Curriculum which determines that all children must be exposed to Mathematics, English and the Sciences. However, given the choices between academically demanding courses at A Level such as Physics, Engineering and Mathematics, and the less demanding such as Biology, Media studies and Psychology, which way is the average student going to jump? Children at the Secondary school age are also influenced mostly by their peers and not their parents.

I agree that schools must try to encourage the brightest and the best to do those courses at which they might excel and to which they are most suited. And therein lies the nub. Schools are very much the worse places to do this.

The year 12 and 13 students attend subjects by choice, and not by decree. Bright student tend to be both good at everything they do and to be the best to teach, so the average subject tutor will attempt to woo those students onto their courses. And charismatic teachers can do that very successfully, leaving the child in a course that suits the teacher better than it suits the student.

So no; the lack of girls choosing Engineering degrees is not down to a feminist agenda but to many other factors. But in the top Universities the percentages of females taking Engineering has been rising over the past 15 years, and rising steadily.


Morning all, while this is an interesting discussion I don’t think it’s necessarily on topic here. Would it be possible to please move back onto discussing repairing vs replacing appliances – thank you


Ian- you are falling into the feminist/PC trap of -“boys have only one thing on their mind ” – and Female teachers- “we cant do anything with them ” and a whole page of likewise comments that get blasted over the media . In other words –they give up teaching them . I passed my 11+ with top marks went to high school where the teachers wore black uniforms you wouldnt dare cause trouble as a belt was waiting for you anyway . We all “belted down ” to learning and had a wide range of topics to learn from maths/science/music/ French/gymnastics/sports geography / music/art etc . None of it involved “life studies ” why ? because either your parents taught you or you spent a lot of time outside in contact with the general public – that was Real life – not pseudo- social psychology . When industry was “deconstructed ” by Maggie all the lower level male achievers were left without an apprenticeship this gave them some pride and satisfaction in that they were making something concrete instead of being servers now . All down to government policy of the City changing the social thinking philosophy of Britain. Males are now the underdog in society- ridiculed continually on UK media advertising / made fools of /put down etc while the government holds back a massive cover up in the number of young males committing suicide , worse than others . The “Donald ” has seen the light and wants to bring back US industry to the US but he is up against major monitory interests , Hedge companies , and a whole vast array of those with their noses in the trough . No this country has decided to go down a path of social engineering that leaves males in a state of limbo and most of us as figures in a Gallup Poll on how to get more money out of us by advertising.


I’m sorry, Duncan, but your opinion is exactly that: an opinion with no factual basis whatsoever. Lauren has asked us to get back on topic, but what you’re saying deserves a rebuttal.

Apprenticeships didn’t vanish because of a political decision: they vanished for a host of reasons, the most significant being that other countries were able to do the same work far more cheaply. But as you appear to be a Trump acolyte I would only add that the Education system in the UK has many faults, and you’ve managed to miss almost all of them. Perhaps we need a topic on Education.


A number of Convos speak of the things we need to know about to get through life. I believe that “life skills” should be taught at school to all – whether it is cooking, financial awareness, basic practical skills, health and so on.

bishbut says:
22 August 2016

I started to repair appliances etc.. because I couldn’t afford to pay anyone to repair them..I still do .It is easier now because all parts even for very old things can be found on eBay etc… Manufacturers now try to make things very difficult for you to get into with fancy screw heads but I have never been beaten yet..There is always a way to get at things don’t those with non consumer replacement parts have to. Where there’s a will there’s a way An old adage!!


Your right bishbut. About 25 years ago I bought a “security” bit set for my socket screwdriver from Maplin . It just shows you the bull you are told by manufacturers when they came out with this “security ” propaganda , when I checked into it intensively over a period I found out it was a manufacturers ploy to stop you repairing their products using various types of specialised screws . In my day you had the slot type and then came in the Philip’s type that actually gave a better grip as the slot type tended with cheap metal to widen and wear away . But this “new ” business is just a con no matter all the talk of “making it safer”-aka- bigger profits for repairing it. Now they make stuff that is impossible to repair unless you buy a complete assembly be it mechanical or electronic.


bishbut, you make a good point Being handy at home not only requires knowledge and common sense, but the correct tools. I bought a Makita tool box that included a large range of screw driver bits that suit lots of products, from your car to domestic items. It was inexpensive, as many tools are these days, and the quality of low cost tools has improved enormously. The screws that do require ingenuity are those with one way heads.


Age (of the appliance) is a critical factor. The older an appliance, the less likely I am to do more than have a cursory investigation of the problem and often Google can be your friend with diagnostics as there are an abundance of DiY forums to help.

As a general rule of thumb, anything over 10 years old gets replaced unless it is a really simple and cheap DiY repair. Typically, I repair door seals, leaky hoses, blown elements, etc. But I’d not bother with drum bearings or pcbs because of cost and time: who knows what else may be about to wear out on an older appliance.


This Conversation is also about having things repaired by service technicians and depending on the circumstances I think that is generally worthwhile and cost-effective. I can only recall two occasions when I have called out a repair company, once for a washing machine and the other time for a lawn-mower. In both cases I was satisfied with the service provided, the diagnosis of the faults, the repair carried out and the price charged. The lawn-mower had to be taken away to the workshop but was brought back promptly. The washing machine needed a new part which the technician carried on his van. Both items were within the first five years of their lives and in good condition so it seemed wasteful to replace them at the time although both have subsequently been replaced in order to have newer and better products. Using local independent service technicians whose turnover was below the VAT threshold meant that the repairs were quite economical and no doubt at least as competent as having the work done by the manufacturers’ maintenance services. Over the years I have repaired many small pieces of equipment and appliances, especially fitting new power leads, and I have stripped down and reassembled things like vacuum cleaners to clean them and improve their performance. Composite assemblies make this almost impossible nowadays.


As well as tools, I like books – things you can flick through in bed to see how you might tackle the project next day. Readers Digest did (maybe still do) some excellent ones. When I bought my first house, in a sorry state, my bible was the RD DIY book that covered almost everything – electrics, plumbing, tiling, bricklaying, plastering………. – in a grey plastic loose leaf binder. Loaned out to my sons and daugthers. Then I bought the RD Repair Manual with a big section on electrical appliances.

I borrowed from the library Haynes Electrical Appliance repair manual, and they also did one on washing machines and dishwashers.

These may be partly out of date but soak up the basics and you’re part way to understanding why a problem has occurred and how to resolve it. Easier then to decide whether to tackle it, whether to spend £60 on a repair man visiting or resigning yourself to a replacement.


Quite agree malcolm , I joined the local library around the age of 8 or 9 (children,s section ) and spent the rest of my life soaking up knowledge of all sorts .There is something personal and inviting in reading a book than hours spent on the web (with trackers following you ) and that knowledge is more easily digestible as you can go over it again and again . Now, in many cases, much of it is hidden or verboten , I have a very large collection of technical books and would never throw them out , probably give them to somebody I think would benefit (educational wise ) when I am near departing . Knowledge is power let nobody tell you otherwise ,in the modern idiom – self-empowerment , as a certain group says.

Christopher Pratt says:
22 August 2016

Come on you lot just get on with your lives you obviously have too much time on your hands, unless of course you are retired like me.
I live in the centre of the city of Portsmouth UK, I walk to some degree around the local houses where most have short forecourts into which the occupants regularly dump quantities of items which allegedly are broken. Recent acquisitions are:-
42 inch HD TV, audio not working, board gone. Repair = use the digibox output for sound from basic Amazon speakers £5
Integral digibox and DVD player, works fine couldn’t find any fault.
Panasonic sound bar silver chrome use it with the 42 inch HD TV, vastly superior sound to the normal TV speakers?
Small solid oak low level folding stool, wife only four foot eleven, tons of brownie points and finally back to the comments ref Dyson, full size early model needs emptying currently work in progress.
All these acquired during the last three months, but my most satisfying repair some years ago was to a Hotpoint dish washer that somehow had created a small leak hole in the main stainless steel tub. The warranty people managed not to turn up until three days after the warranty expired due to pressure of work, engineer turned up and immediately condemned the machine. I was advise to buy one their smart new ones.
Repair £0, galvanised self locating screw, one inch square good quality leather. worked for another 8 years until the control board expired. I can attribute that repair to those that always were used when ladies mop&bucket items leaked, bless my grandfather.