/ Home & Energy

Getting household appliances fixed can be easier than you think

washing-machines-on-beach

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?

Comments

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.

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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) 🙂

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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 🙂

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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.

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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

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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.

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!!

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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.

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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.

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The comments on manufacturers’ ‘tamper proof’ screws bring to mind the difference I find between different items as regards repairability. For example, a Braun electric toothbrush – glued together – when the battery goes, only option is to throw it away; and a Philips beard trimmer I had – screwed together – easy to remove battery and replace with one from Maplin for another 5 years’ life. I know, Braun will say it needs to be waterproof, but they must seal the shaft with an o-ring…
How about Which including a ‘repairability’ score when reviewing such items?

Dilemma. I had to have my TV aerial replaced recently and found to my horror that water had been dripping down the cable into the DVD recorder. I let it dry out and it will power up but won’t retune. It is likely something needs replacing but in order to find out whether that is economic I would need to pay someone with tech knowledge to take it apart.

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The problem arose when low-loss coaxial cable was introduced. This has air-spaced rather than solid plastic surrounding the centre conductor. It effectively has small tubes through which water can pass and get into TVs and recorders. Hopefully this sort of cable is no longer being used, but I know people who have had water come down their aerial cable.

The problem should not occur if the TV etc is connected via a wall socket.

It might be worth making a few enquiries of places that do repair or recondition DVD recorders but if it’s more than two or three years old, as Duncan says, it might not be worth it. Second-hand DVD’s do turn up in the better charity shops [like British Heart Foundation] where they will have been electrically tested and proved to work satisfactorily. You can put your name down for the next one that comes in.

But whatever you decide to do you should get the aerial entry port dealt with to prevent water going in. Obviously it depends where it enters your home but if it comes through a wall there are three things that should stop water ingress. First, the TV aerial cable should drop a short distance below the level of the entry port and then curve upwards into it – any drips will then drop off the bottom of the curve and not go into the wall. Second, sealant should used to close any gap between the wall structure and the cable. Third, the entry port should be covered by a plate that has a little hump at the base line to allow the cable to enter and pass into the wall; the hump will deflect any water away from the aperture. Cables should not enter buildings vertically through the roof.

John – What you suggest is good practice to prevent water entering where the cable passes through the wall, but the problem that Suze has is caused by the aerial cable acting like a pipe. If the cable is not sealed on the roof, water will enter run down it if it is the air-spaced variety.

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I would agree with that. Choose a reputable aerial installer, though. Once up a ladder anyone can say: “Yes, the cable’s useless – you’ll have to replace it”. If you do have to have it replaced don’t get ripped off on price, get a quote showing labour and materials separately – good quality coaxial aerial cable is not dear, less than £1 a metre at trade prices. There will probably be some other fittings required.

Having looked into the problem, water ingress can also be caused if the cable is damaged at some point between the aerial or satellite dish and where it terminates inside the house. If the cabling is external rather than taken into the roof space it can be particularly vulnerable where it passes over the edge of roof tiles unless measures are taken to avoid abrasion.

It appears that modern low-loss cables are designed to avoid the problem of acting as miniature pipes in the event of water ingress. One solution is to use foam-filled cables.

Prompted by this Conversation I ventured into the loft of my house to find out if I might be at risk of water running down TV cables. I found that the cable had been replaced, presumably because of the move from analogue to digital TV, and the engineer had left a pile of old cables and his cable fishing tool in the loft. The old cable had large air spaces and when I tested a several metre length, water passed though easily. I also examined a short off-cut of the new cable and found this was foam-filled, without air spaces.

One of the benefits of the digital switchover has been the installation of new aerials and low-loss cable, but I wonder how much old air-spaced cable is still in use and could damage TVs etc.

Apologies-I’ve had a few issues signing back in. Thanks for the advice. The cable was over twenty years old, so I did get it replaced at the same time. I suspect other people may have this happening without realising it. I presume from other comments that newer homes have cable sockets, so nothing would go directly into a tv/recorder.

Your comment prompted me to investigate the TV cables in the house I moved into earlier this year, so was useful. Some of the cable to the aerial sockets is the old air-spaced variety, but that runs in the roof and cavity wall. I am reassured that the important cable between the roof aerial and the amplifier in the loft is new foam-filled cable.

It’s probably standard to have aerial sockets in new houses but for extra TV points it seems common to run cables down the wall and through the cavity wall, leaving a flying lead with a TV plug on the end. Hopefully no-one is still using air-spaced cable.

The builders of our house put TV aerial outlets in seven rooms and cabled them up into the loft but only connected one of them to a terminal block near where the aerial would go. When we had the aerial installed we had to hunt the live outlet and the installer had to crawl around digging down through 30mm of insulation to find the missing cables and join them in. Luckily in each case there was enough cable to make the connection without having to use a connector.

John – I expect that you have an amplifier/booster to ensure that each TV has a decent signal, and the cables to each room will be connected to it. The amplifier will be mounted close to the aerial, either on the pole (masthead amplifier) or in the loft close to the aerial, which is what I have. The only TV point I use is connected to my TV via a power supply for the amplifier in the loft, which seems to be a common arrangement.

I don’t think we have an amplifier but we only watch one TV set at a time and we only have two. The aerial is a high-gain type and might have a built-in amplifier plugged into the loft socket – I can’t remember. There are two lofts and the one containing the aerial is quite small and not a place I would enjoy visiting again! The picture is very good except on SD via Freeview if it is raining heavily near the transmitter.

If the signal is strong enough (which will depend on height, location and aerial), there is no need for an amplifier and a simple splitter will do the job, but with the more outlets on a splitter, the more the signal will be attenuated (weakened). I could be wrong but I don’t believe it matters whether a TV is in use or not.

Having an amplifier or splitter should make it unlikely that water can get into a TV. I wonder if contents insurance excludes damage from water that runs down an aerial cable. It’s something I have not checked.

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We have a Matsui 12″ deskfan (name once adopted by Currys to sound Japanese) very similar to this:

The blades have broken. Probably my fault as I very recently took it apart for cleaning.

The fan was fairly cheap but worked well, was fairly quiet and it seems a great shame to have to chuck it.

I have looked everywhere for spare blades, but cannot find any in the UK that might fit. Shipping from the US would make replacements a silly price so not an option.

It would seem to me that there ought to be standards for these blades so they can be replaced instead of throwing away and wasting otherwise perfectly good items.

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My guess is that the blades are made of plastic that has deteriorated with age, making it prone to breaking and not Alfa’s fault. It’s extremely frustrating to have something with a broken part that could easily be replaced if it was available. 🙁

I assume that Matsui was intended to sound similar to Matsushita – what we now know as Panasonic.

It might be possible to find another Matsui fan in a junk shop or some such and do a bit of cannibalisation. It’s often the guard or the oscillator that gives way or gets damaged leading to disposal of the equipment.

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The blades are plastic.

We have some stuff to take to the tip, so it might be worth a look there.

There is a shortage of fans around at the moment. Screwfix have a notice on their website to say they have sold out completely.

Hi alfa,

I thought the blades were most likely to be plastic – I’ve seen other fans fail this way too. It’s a long time since I’ve seen metal blades in inexpensive domestic fans.

Short of cannibalization of other fans, you might just be able to fabricate a new “propeller” for this fan.

3D printing would obviously be the leading edge method of this decade, but you’d need access to a suitable printer and to the 3D modelling software used to drive it (and/or to someone to help you use such kit). I did wonder if a car scrap yard might provide any radiatior fans that might be re-purposed.

A more traditional fabrication technique would probably involve the use of light but strong wood – e.g. balsa wood blade, as used by some for model aircraft projects.

I also wouldn’t rule out the use of plastic sheets, as might be recycled from single use food packaging.

I had wondered about 3D printing too, but I presume that it’s necessary to have an intact fan to copy as well as the software and printer – though it would be fun to try. A car fan would be to large and heavily built for the purpose. I like the idea of balsa wood, maybe varnished to add strength.

I seem to remember a piece in New Scientist that suggested using fans in hot weather actually made you hotter. Trouble is, I can’t find it and only glanced at the article when it was first published.

We have a Matsui fan the same as yours, Alfa, for use in the bedroom during the extra hot periods of high humidity. The humidity’s not been that bad for the past few weeks, so we haven’t yet had to resort to it. But being in an inverted house, anyway. the bedrooms tend to remain cooler.

Haven’t located it, yet, but this piece about the 2003 heatwave makes for depressing reading:

“The searing (2003) August heat claimed about 7000 lives in Germany, nearly 4200 lives in both Spain and Italy. Over 2000 people died in the UK, with the country recording is first ever temperature over 100° Fahrenheit on 10th August.”

Apart from at work, where I had an office with three huge south-facing windows, I have never used a fan. I have Roman blinds on the south-facing bedroom window and they do a very good job of preventing the room from getting too hot.

Thinking about our topic, has anyone repaired a fan or paid for it to be repaired?

Alfa, I think making new blades in the correct profile would be quite difficult. If you really wanted to persevere I’d think of making a plaster mould, using one of the blades sandwiched in the mix, and then using both halves mould softened plastic sheet between them – maybe in the oven. You can get acrylic and styrene sheets at many DiY stores.

Another option would be to get some thin aluminium sheet from the same source, cut out three blades, and gently hammer them into a similar shape to your plastic one, all together to keep them balanced.

However, I suspect that by the time you’ve done this the heat wave will be over and it will be a fan heater you’ll be needing.

I’d open all your windows. In hot countries they provide natural “air conditioning” by a vent at the apex of the roof. Maybe opening the hatch to your loft could help 🙂

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Ah! Thank you, Duncan 🙂 It wasn’t NS but Wired. No wonder I couldn’t find it (doh). Thanks again.

I started a reply after wavechange earlier this morning but got a BSOD. 😫 Still looking into why, but pointing to graphics card.

I even had a look at 3D printing and found software to create the file format at a cost of over £700 and a print bureau with a minimum cost of £40. There maybe cheaper options but………

I really cannot be bothered to try making new blades, and not sure I have the capability and tools for something that needs to be so precise, and as malcolm pointed out the hot weather would be over by the time they were finished.

A look around the local recycling centre could be worth a look.

A noisy little 6″ is pointed at me and my pc case at the moment. The windows are open but the tops of the trees are still, so no breeze.

Stores will be rushing to get more stock, the weather will change, and there should be plenty of special offers around, stilled miffed if I have to discard the broken one though. 🙁

How long did your fan last, alfa? Did you get reasonable life given its price? They are fairly simple devices and I presume the plastic blades became brittle, particularly if exposed to sunlight (UV). I have a big metal fan I don’t use, if only you were closer.

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ah……..the Blue Screen of Death? Be good if people expanded the abbreviations they use. there was confusion a few days ago over the FSA – Food Standards Agency or Financial Services Authority?

The Financial Services Authority no longer exists so there should be fewer references to it in future. It’s usually best to give the full name before using an uncommon abbreviation, though many such as BBC are so well known that this is pointless.

On plastics – UV can damage plastics but deterioration can often occur in complete darkness. There are various reasons, depending on plastic, but loss of plasticiser is a common one.

To experience BSOD on a Mac you would have to run Windoze. The nearest equivalent in OSX is a ‘kernel panic’.

The most usual reason for plastic degrading is UV energy degrading the bonds. This usually shows up as brittleness and cracking. UV absorbers are often added but this can only delay the problem as they become depleted by UV. For the avoidance of doubt, out of this long list https://www.abbreviations.com/UV I refer to ultraviolet radiation 🙂

It’s a little more complex, and as I said, deterioration of plastics can occur without UV/light.

I do not disagree, but having worked with plastic for many years I am simply pointing to the common cause of degradation. I doubt any of this helps alfa in her quest for a cooling flow of air.

The temperatures here are forecast to drop to 22C during next week so the fan may not be needed and energy can be saved.

Rain and much cooler air has already reached Gloucester.

That said, many younger colleagues keep telling me Gloucester will never be as cool as Cheltenham.

Thanks for the offer malcolm, but we still have a 16″ fan on a tall stand.

Not sure how old the Matsui fan is…10 to 15 years maybe.

Duncan, I have found and downloaded the latest drivers from AMD. Men can be a right PITA (malcolm, ask mrs r to explain it to you 🙂 ) when they are home all day and I need a few hours peace to do some more checking and install them. No more BSODs though.

When I check the event viewer, my PC has many niggles that seem to be increasing. On their own most of them are harmless but collectively, dunno.

With Windows XP, I could sort out anything as there was an immense pool of reliable knowledge on the internet, but with Win 7, everybody asks the same questions, very few answer, and hardly any corroboration exists.

When I posted the above comment, I got an error message:

JSON.parse: unexpected character at line 1 column 1 of the JSON data

I am reporting this comment for further investigation.

It’s encouraging that so many people will have a go at sorting out computer software problems. I once had a problem with Adobe InDesign not starting up on my office Mac and after going though reinstallation of the software several times I found that there was a recognised fault that happened after 100 files had been created or maybe opened. In a minute I found information that could have saved me a few hours.

It’s good to hear that you have fixed it, Alfa.

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Thanks @alfa – I’ve flagged it for further attention.

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I have a bathroom extractor fan that works fine most of the time but annoys me in very cold weather, when it makes a noisy shrieking sound. All that is needed is a drop of oil on the motor bearing at the end of the motor nearest the fan. I know that since it was easy to oil the one at the other end. I cannot get at the bearing because the fan is in the way and I cannot get the fan off and if I put in more effort I’m likely to break the motor or the fan. I’m sure I will fix it or break it next January when it gets very cold. I suppose I could drill a hole through the base of the fan and use a syringe and needle to introduce a little oil near the bearing.

In my early 20s I used to repair TVs and other electronic items for friends in my spare time. Many faults were very straightforward but sometimes I had to call in at the central library and obtain a copy of the circuit diagram etc. Nowadays, not many TVs seem to be repaired because servicing often requires replacement of circuit boards that are virtually impossible to repair.

My own efforts to repair a TV some years back were unsuccessful and with some difficulty I found somewhere that would look at it. The repairer had the TV for nearly nine months, claimed to have replaced a part that had not been replaced and eventually refunded my money after reporting them to Trading Standards.

A friend found a one-man business that fixed three TVs at a very affordable price so when another friend’s Pioneer TV died I offered to contact the repairer and explain the nature of the fault. He was about my age and we had a long chat about the change in TVs over the years and how it had become very much more difficult to diagnose faults and effect repairs and that there were now few independent repairers in the area. I passed his contact details to the owner of the Pioneer TV, who called out the repairer, but it would have meant a very expensive repair.

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Anyone who doesn’t mind going onto YouTube might enjoy Louis Rossman’s videos there.

Amongst other things, Louis repairs Apple products, often taking on work that Apple won’t attempt themselves.

It is good to learn that there is still a small business community whose members can earn a living by tackling such challenging repairs.

I won’t say I enjoy LR’s videos (too American for my liking) but they are useful and informative. If circuit diagrams for products were freely available, those of us who are prepared to have a go would stand more chance of doing repairs.

What I think is totally inexcusable is designing cases so that they clip together but cannot be opened without destroying the case. It might not be cost effective for companies to carry out repairs but why deny the hobbyist the opportunity?

He’s the Kenneth of Apple products, is Rossman. I always attempt fixes on Apple products although – fortunately – they don’t go wrong all that often. But replacing SSDs is relatively simple, as is changing the battery. You just have to take extreme care because there are so many very, very tiny bits that can break and which even Apple engineers break, albeit inadvertently. It’s also important to do your homework before you try anything on an Apple, but fortunately there’s a wealth of info out there on fixing all things Apple. Most important tool besides the myriad extremely tiny screwdrivers is the spudger. I buy those in packs of ten.

Yesterday, our kitchen electric kettle stopped working. After installing our backup model it was pretty obvious that it as either the base or the element that had failed.

Taking the base apart required tri-point screwdrivers and then cautious prising, as it’s also held together by the ubiquitous snap fit system.

Testing the base power socket I was getting no reading on the live contact and to get at that involved taking apart the socket – again secured by snap fit connectors. Very annoying and rather fiddly, only to find a fractured contact strip was the problem. As the kettle only cost around £10 some years ago I attributed it to age and junked the base.

But snap fits make it very tricky to disassemble.

But snap fits make it very tricky to disassemble.. But much quicker to assemble. Probably why it only cost you £10. Think about taking off profits, packaging, transport, VAT……how much was left to make it.

It’s not difficult to design products that can be assembled quickly but could be dismantled without the risk of destroying the case. I have no problem with the use of security screws.

I doubt making provision to repair a £10 kettle after many years would be high on a designer’s list of priorities.

The trick with many joining systems is to know where they can be unlocked – the hole in the case that gives access to push the snap hook say. But even screws – which I prefer – can be hard to find. Often concealed behind labels and inserts. It can also be difficult to decide what fastenings simply hold an enclosure together, and which fix components that you might not want to disturb.

However, if you want to keep costs down on cheapo products you need to use every device possible. Can’t have it both ways.

Perhaps Which? should examine the products it promotes as “best buys” for repairability. Perhaps they should also start encouraging manufacturers to provide service sheets or manuals to show how to deal with servicing and repair/replacements. Miele linked me to online exploded diagrams of my dishwasher when I needed to fit their pump repair kit, and to access the drainage pipe in the door.

I’ve dismantled a number of Hard Drives and each had screws concealed behind tape. Mind you, it wasn’t to repair them; I’m not even sure HDs can be repaired.

I have no problem with securing screws being behind labels because it allows the company to see if the product has been tampered with. It’s not usually difficult to find screws that hold casings together (sometimes concealed under stick-on feet and in battery compartments). Where some screws hold together the casing and others should not be removed it’s simple to mark the casing screws and sometimes an arrow is used.

It’s not just cheap goods that have cases that clip together.

wavechange – both “tampering with” and “skilfully mending” a product might require the removal of such screws.

That said, the state of the screws afterwards may help one to distinguish the calibre of the person or persons who have attempted repairs.

Some recent YouTube videos relate to Apple making a complete dog’s dinner whilst attempting to repair an iMac Pro that had been fitted with one of their own branded vesa mounts.

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And, of course, some screws are tamper proof. I agree with you about decent tools, duncan. They will last a lifetime (and more) and do a better job. Bite the bullet, pay the price – but pay it only once (and be careful who you lend them to).

Having said that the quality of tools from what were once rather dubious sources has improved greatly in the last few years. Sometimes a lower cost tool is adequate if they are going to get little use. I bought a £25 electric chop saw from B&Q a few years ago when I was building quite a few rabbit enclosures and it did a stirling job. Not sure how it would cope with precision joints though, but it paid for itself in time saved.

Derek wrote: “wavechange – both “tampering with” and “skilfully mending” a product might require the removal of such screws.”

Often it’s easy to dismantle a product and put it back together without any evidence that you have had a look inside. 🙂 Covering one screw with a label or fitting one across the two halves of a case will act as a tell-tale.

If there is no seal I often have a quick look inside before deciding whether to take a product back. I have an AA or RAC electric tyre pump and this stopped working the second time I used it. A peek inside showed that the pump outlet tube had come off because the tube clip had not been tightened. Within minutes I was able to resume checking my tyres.

I would not attempt to repair a product and then take it back to the retailer if I was unsuccessful, but I don’t see a problem in having a look inside.

The oldest tool that I own is a pair of cheap needle-nosed pliers from Woolworths, bought when I was a child. If I used them for one heavy job they would be wrecked but since they are only ever used for light jobs I reckon they will see me out. My collection of pliers and side-cutters range from ones that I picked up from Newcastle quayside market for £1 when visiting a friend to others that cost around £70 + VAT each, with other mid-price ones in between.

It’s worth paying for decent screwdrivers and taking care of them. On the other hand, cheap open-ended spanners from Poundland are fine for lighter work. When I do projects with other people I have the cheap spanners in my toolbox in case they are not returned and keep the expensive ones at home.

For me, once a product packs up I get a replacement [during the house move I discovered three reserve kettles, one toaster and two irons!] but that doesn’t stop me from trying to take apart the old one just for the fun of it. Although snap-fit technology can be a nuisance, I think product designers have been very ingenious in recent years in making good use of the flexible properties of plastics for closures of many different kinds, many of them watertight and airtight so a miracle of precision manufacturing.

The last things I took to pieces were a gas hob and built-in electric oven so I could get them in the car to take them to the recycling centre. Even though I got them down to manageable weights and sizes I just kept going until they were completely disassembled. Some components found a use in the garden!

Before discarding broken products I dismantle them and recover small parts that could be useful.

I had two identical rechargeable Braun shavers bought around 2001. I did have to replace the batteries that were not intended to be replaced but they carried on working until recently when the motor in one failed. I’m keeping the other shaver in case a different part fails and I can swap parts to make a working one. I have a relatively new Braun shaver and it’s rubbish by comparison.

I eventually found packs of O-rings to fix leaking garden hose connectors but before that I used ones that had been recovered from other products. Apart from that, bits & pieces have not found much use in the garden but I will give it some thought.

Yes, I was intrigued by the request for some of the parts for use in the garden but the oven racks were used on a plant stand to raise pots above the platform, the hob grids from around the burners were used to raise large pots above the patio surface, and the baking trays were used in the greenhouse. We couldn’t do much with the rest of the parts unfortunately so they went in the metal-recycling container.

Thinking more, I use oven racks too – nice stainless steel ones that don’t corrode. I’ve also a collection of different sizes of cylindrical aluminium pans with chrome handles that I was given but have proved too useful to dispose of. Old baking trays have plenty of uses.