/ Sustainability

New right to repair rules: what do you think?

New rules to make household appliances more sustainable have been announced by the EU, but will they end up benefitting consumers?

11/06/2021: Rules to be implemented this month

In March, the EU introduced measures to promote the repairability of products. This month, the UK government is planning to match those standards.

Here’s what you can expect from the new laws, which the government says will reduce the 1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste generated each year.

04/10/2019: New rules announced

Originally written by Melissa Massey

As part of a continued effort to reduce Europe’s carbon footprint and to make energy bills cheaper for European consumers, new ‘right to repair’ rules have been announced.

From 2021, EU firms – and any UK firms wishing to sell to the EU market – will have to make products such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and televisions longer-lasting.

Under the new standards, manufacturers will have to supply spare parts for these household appliances for up to 10 years.

The manufacturers must ensure spare parts can be replaced with the use of commonly available tools, without permanent damage to the appliance.

But under the new rules, only professional repairers – not consumers – will be supported by manufacturers to carry out the repairs.

Should we all have the right to repair?

Are the repair rules good or bad?

There’s been a long-standing view that new products just don’t last as long as they used to, with built-in obsolescence a growing concern for many.

As a result, the call for white goods to last longer than a couple of years is one which will surely be welcome news to most consumers.

But what about those of us who want to save time and money by purchasing our own spare parts and mending our own goods?

The pace of change in the industry, which now includes many products which have intricately mixed and increasingly complex digital and physical components, means many owners are usually either unable to source the right parts or repair the machines themselves.

Replace vs repair

Finding a professional repairer to carry out the fix at a decent price is often difficult. This means many turn to a replacement rather than a repair.

And we all know getting a replacement after a short while is just as wasteful from an environmental standpoint as it is a waste of money.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that warranties and guarantees can sometimes be more generous than your statutory rights, and give you an extra option to resolve problems with a product.

Ultimately the move to improve the longevity of white goods could be positive, but the monopoly on who repairs is a concern – especially if it’s going to become impossible for consumers to perform what would have been simple fixes themselves.

With all that in mind, what do you make of the new rules? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Comments

Here is an example showing what is involved in replacing the drain pump in a dishwasher. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AODYYv5B8mY I have not attempted this job but the video would encourage me to give it a go rather than pay for a repair or to replace the machine. Note that the video gives useful safety advice about unplugging the machine before dismantling it.

The Which? article I mentioned above states: “For example, a tricky repair such as replacing a dishwasher’s drain pump will be available to the pros, while an easier and safer fix, such as fitting new drain filters, will be available to everyone.”

Is it really a tricky repair? The video does not mention that the machine is likely to contain water and dealing with that could be the most time consuming part of the repair.

Sounds like a potential antidote to the throwaway culture we have evolved into over the past 30-odd years or so.

Obviously my only real concern is the possibility of amateur repairers ‘bodging’ things, especially electrical and mechanical devices, but on the flipside, if it might mean a revival in the good old repair shops of the past, then great.

I’m also up for manufacturers producing goods that are designed and built to last, and whose parts can be easily replaced should they fail/wear out, instead of having to buy a complete new item. And even better if they’re going to be made in the UK, or even mainland Europe.

For far too long now we’ve been fobbed off with shoddy plasticrap products (usually of Far Eastern origin), some of which barely last even a year and that even a five-year-old probably could design much better!

I share your concern, RJF. How can products be made repairable without putting the amateur repairer at unnecessary risk to themselves and others?

Education and proper instructions from manufacturers could help us all do potentially risky work in a safe way. I would like to see a revival of repair sh

I share your concern, RJF. How can products be made repairable without putting the amateur repairer at unnecessary risk to themselves and others?

Education and proper instructions from manufacturers could help us all do potentially risky work in a safe way. I would like to see a revival of repair shops that sell parts to consumers and will take over if there is a problem. I had a problem with my car recently and decided that I did not have the knowledge or equipment to diagnose, so I took it to my trusted garage. (Unfortunately he was defeated too.)

A significant number of people do manage to fix their own stuff and I have heard of few accidents.

In my view, right to repair isn’t worth much if one has to use ‘professionals’. I would never throw away an item without having a go at a repair and more often than not I am successful. It would be a real shame if manufacturers started restricting access to spares on the basis of this new legislation.

Many of us do jobs as amateurs that we have learned to do safely. We have looked up instructions where we can. So those can take on repair jobs that they know they are capable of tackling. Nevertheless, they do so at their own risk. They should know when professional help is needed. But we cannot, and should not, take away their initiative. We have to learn to stand on our own feet and take responsibility for what we do, or decide not to do.

Jeremy – I agree with you about having a go at repairs. If a product is going to be scrapped there is nothing to lose and as you have said, the effort is often rewarded.

I had not even considered that the new legislation could mean less access to spares but that deserves some thought.

As Malcolm has said we have to take responsibility for our actions. When I was younger I was happy to fix electronic products for friends as a hobby but to protect myself I now I offer practical help only to family and close friends. However, it’s amazing how many problems can be fixed over the phone.

This sounds good in principal until you look at what you can expect from the new laws.

The cost of a replacement part has to be a reasonable proportion of the appliance. When I had a Bosch washing machine repaired some years ago, the part was about two thirds of the cost of the machine plus the engineer visit making it a very expensive repair.

Very few parts are available to the public and quite possibly less than are available now. External power supplies and remote controls are usually universal these days so TVs are unlikely to be scrapped if they fail for those reasons.

If not handled correctly, these rules could backfire with even more appliances coming to a premature end.

For this to work, components need to be modular so they are easy to replace without the need for an engineer.

Appliances with 10-year warranties have been discussed many times before on the convos. If this was standard, manufacturers would then make appliances built to last.

Making appliances last 10 years has a lot to be said for it.

I’ve just overhauled and (slightly) upgraded a 10 year old Dell Inspiron 1545 laptop that I was given.

But I’m also now ready to scrap a few other old laptops, all of which are broken beyond economic repair.

If you have a 10 year old appliance, then it can be hard to justify spending a lot to repair it.

But if spares are needed after only 2 or 3 years, then the case for a repair may be more compelling.

But if the required parts cost ever exceeds about 50% of the cost of a replacement, then I’d be tempted to scrap and replace.

I would like Which? to properly examine products – no doubt they would need to use experienced people – for quality of design, build and components so an assessment can be made as to whether they are likely to last, We need to be weaned off just buying the cheapest, even if it might be rated a best buy, without having some idea of its longevity.

Some people will buy cheap products because they will get very little use – appliances for a holiday home perhaps – and manufacturers will always fill this market. I think manufacturers should be required to offer a range of their own warranties, perhaps 5 and 10 years, on a repair or replace basis, that you can choose when you purchase. Then you can assess value for money (cost per year, for example) on a better basis. I’d expect those who make the more durable appliances will offer better terms than those who do not.

We are just about to pay out £350 to a Bosch engineer to replace a complete drum assembly in our 7 year old Which-recommended washing machine (a Bosch Exxcel 8 Vario Perfect, E Nr WAQ28461GB/12), just because the plastic bearing seal is now leaking and thus drum bearings have got very noisy. For some Bosch machines you can buy a £60 set of replacement seal & bearings, but not for ours as the drum casing is sealed plastic. So, not just a waste of money but also lots of waste plastic and the stainless steel drum (but I can up-cycle that into a brazier to use on cold winter evenings). Which – can you check in future that common replacements (such as washing machine drum bearings) are actually possible, instead of being forced to replace a much larger component ?

I wonder why refrigerator doors will not be available as spare parts. I have noticed how they often seem to be dented or marked.

According to the recent Which? article, many manufacturers’ spares will not be available to the public:

“To professional repairers, for a minimum period of seven years:

> circulation and drain pump
> electronic displays
> heaters and heating elements, including heat pumps (separately or bundled)
> motor
> piping and related equipment including all hoses, valves, filters and aquastops
> pressure switches
> printed circuit boards (PCBs)
> software and firmware including reset software
> structural and interior parts related to door assemblies (separately or bundled)
> thermostats and sensors.

At present many of these parts are readily available to anyone, though it can depend on make and model. The new legislation could help independent repairers but I am concerned that it will mean that owners will be able to carry out few repairs unless they can buy parts from third party suppliers. At present many manufacturers’ parts are available from these suppliers but this may not continue.

Yes we must fight for a minimum ten year guarantee for all white goods.

Yes . . . but ten years starting from when manufacture of the product [or its substantially identical equivalent] is discontinued.

I’m thinking about a manufacturer’s guarantee, John, so it would run from the time of sale.

If the manufacturer is responsible for other repairs during the guarantee period they cannot afford to have too many claims which will help ensure that products can be repaired economically and spares remain available.

Guarantees typically exclude consumables, so that a ten year guarantee would be likely to exclude parts such as door seals, filters, motor brushes and other parts that might need replacement as a result of wear & tear.

Sorry – I was still thinking about the guaranteed availability of spare parts.

On manufacturers’ warranties, I am wondering whether ten years is a step too far: we would be going from no obligation to provide a warranty to a ten year compulsory minimum. That would be ideal and deserving of support but it could make white goods too expensive for some people or in certain circumstances. I would prefer a range of options with prices to suit. My mother in law bought a new washing machine and died a year later; she bought a cheap Bush machine from Argos but it was suitable for her needs and life expectancy. We were using it about once a fortnight for at least a year after that as we prepared her house for sale and then sold it to a dealer with various other chattels.

Yes, John, I agree that there is little chance of requiring all manufacturers to offer a ten year guarantee soon but I do believe that it should be an aim. We need manufacturers to maintain stocks of spares so that repairable machines are not scrapped for the want of spare parts. In earlier discussions I have suggested that a five year guarantee could be a starting point.

This Which? article shows that the estimated average lifetime of popular brands of washing machines is really quite good with even Hotpoint/Indesit models managing 13 years: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/washing-machines/article/which-washing-machine-brand/best-washing-machine-brands-a2Z6T7H782pB I’m not optimistic about brands such as Bush, Logik and unheard-of names that are really built down to a price.

Secondhand products rarely get a mention and perhaps they offer the solution for those who could not afford a new appliance with a decent guarantee.

Even cars have, normally, nothing like 10 year guarantees – although you can often extend the manufacturer’s guarantee annually, for a fee. So a 10 year guarantee on an appliance will simply cost extra (or be built into the price).

Cars are a great deal more complex than white goods, which is probably why most manufacturers do not offer more than three years’ cover as standard.

It would be interesting to see pricing for white goods with a five or ten year guarantee. It might not make much impact on the price of fridges and freezers, which tend to be reliable.

At present there is pressure to take out the type of cover offered by Domestic & General, which covers accidental damage as well as breakdowns. That means that careful owners are subsidising those who are not.

One of the reasons I am keen on decent guarantees is that most people are familiar with making a claim during the guarantee period. You and I exercise our rights under the CRA, Malcolm, but not everyone has the confidence to take on retailers.

I agree with Malcolm’s comment upthread about us ‘learning to stand on our own two feet’ and to take more responsibilities, though of course, all mega-complicated repair jobs are always best left to fully qualified experts, if possible.

Whilst I am trying not to politicise this particular phenomena too much, It does very much appear that we as a society have increasingly succumbed to the ‘nanny state’ over the past 30 years or so, what with ‘H&S- gone-mad’ and all that jazz!

Especially as a certain proportion of the population today are incapable of changing lightbulbs even in their own homes, though I seriously don’t intend to offend anyone nor come across as patronising in any way, by expressing said view.

In my parents’ generation it was more common for people to tackle repairs, sometimes out of financial necessity. Products have become more complex and servicing information harder or impossible for us to obtain. Many can afford to simply replace products and in the case of electrical goods, many are effectively much cheaper than in the past.

I agree with your point about the capabilities of the public, though there still many enthusiasts who are happy to have a go at repairing and upgrading computers, for example. This morning my neighbour was bemoaning the fact that her edging shears were not working properly and she asked if I knew where they could be sharpened. They were not blunt and the problem was that a nut needed to be tightened.

Judging by the popularity of YouTube d-i-y videos and the number of comments they attract I would say there are still a lot of people prepared to have a go at a wide range of jobs.

I think the focus on health and safety over the last fifty years has paid for itself many times over in the saving of lives and reductions in injuries, fires and harmful accidents. There were lots of safety regulations in place before 1974 for different types of workplaces but implementation was poor and enforcement weak unless there was an incident. With employers having been made to ensure safe places of work, to actively manage health and safety at work, and to report injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences, all strongly supported by the trade unions, the the culture changed and all adults were touched by it to some degree. People gradually began to bring that culture back home and adopt a ‘safety first’ approach in their domestic maintenance activities and they took considerable pride in keeping things in good condition, making sure they were safe and mending them correctly if they started to go wrong. From initially being a joke, health and safety became a mark of good housekeeping and practical common sense. It is remarkable that lots of people I know mention that they assess risks before they undertake jobs and make sure they take safety precautions. The private sales of protective equipment bear ample testimony to that. That sort of language was unheard of years ago and shows how influential good legislation can be. People moaned about the cost of implementation but soon saw that it saved both money and time and improved productivity. It infiltrated into the schools and produced a new generation who were safety-conscious from an early age and taught their parents what not to do.

I very much agree about safety in the workplace. At work or at home we need to learn to perform potentially dangerous tasks in a safe way. There are some well meaning people who believe that home repairs and maintenance should be left to the professionals but they are usually people who lack any practical experience.

Some YouTube videos do provide warnings of risks and as they become more popular I hope more of the presenters will do this.

I have not paid much attention to the cost of spares for white goods because it is many years since I have needed anything that cost more than a few pounds. Late yesterday evening my Bosch dishwasher announced its demise with a loud bang. I have since confirmed that the heater had failed.

I am not proposing to repair the dishwasher which is at least 16 years old, but I did look at the cost of heaters and many cost £100 or more. That is just the cost of the part. It’s hardly surprising that many people choose to replace rather than repair their appliances.

Wouldn’t you have thought that, after all these years of product development, kitchen appliances would go bang quietly? I can understand your annoyance.

At least it waited until one minute before the end of the cycle, so I was not left with dirty dishes. Excuse me while I hand-wash the dishes.

You might find one at UK Whitegoods for around £33. You might then keep it going for another 16 years https://shop.ukwhitegoods.co.uk/3382700-compatible-dishwasher-heating-element.
John, the bang was probably the original Bosch audible error message prior to electronics taking over and displaying ”bang” on the display.

Sadly it looks like one of the more expensive types. The previous occupants of my home told me that the machine did not work properly and that they would get rid of it before completion. All that was wrong was limescale in the spray arms, so I have extended the time of the dishwasher by more than five years, at no cost.

Thanks Malcolm. Bisch, Bosch, BANG!!

The tone and volume of the error signal might be adjustable in the settings on more recent models.

Does anyone know if there’s a full list of the products affected by this change. All the guidance I’ve found, including on the .gov website, say “items like washing machines and fridges as well as TVs” but this isn’t very specific. What about smaller consumer goods like hairdryers or mobile phones? At the moment it’s very vague what is actually covered.

”Manufacturers will now have to make spare parts available for washing machines, washer-dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and TVs for the first time. Repairs also need to be possible using everyday tools.

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/06/new-right-to-repair-laws-introduced-what-do-they-actually-mean-for-you/ – Which?

Tony Barratt says:
1 July 2021

Well wouldnt it have been better to ban manufacturers from building this “deliberate breakdown” feature into their goods? After all, that alone seems to be nothing more than a huge con. And as for the public obtaining parts, I wouldnt worry about that one too much either – we will rapidly see the market in used parts grow at a rapid pace.

The information available at present is confusing.

Which? article: “The spare parts are divided into those that are for trickier repairs, so only available to professionals, and those for easier fixes, so are available to everyone.”

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/06/new-right-to-repair-laws-introduced-what-do-they-actually-mean-for-you/ – Which?

BBC article: “Manufacturers will now be legally obliged to make spare parts available to consumers so appliances can be fixed.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-57665593

I would like to see clear information about whether or not manufacturers will be required to supply consumers with parts for more challenging repairs and whether they will have to provide technical information that is generally available only to service engineers. I hope that Which? will clarify this information.

I have repaired loads of things over the years but even when parts are available they are always rediculously expensive, paying half the price of a new machine to replace a part when you’re not always sure it will complete the fix or you end up with some other part failing makes most repairs uneconomical and that’s even if you cut out the cost of an engineer and do it yourself.

I can see the manufacturers complying with this law but I doubt it will make the parts any cheaper, so they will have ‘complied’ but only as a box ticking exercise. Parts need to be available at a small cost+.

I do wonder how they will deal with product upgrades, it’s very well says parts will be available for 10 years but I assume that’s after the last sale of a product but earlier versioned parts may only be available 10 years offer that version was sold. In essence it puts a 10 year limit on viabilty of a earlier version product even if a similar new version is still available.

I’d be interested to have a report on just what spare parts are generally available. From a limited look online at various times I’ve found plenty of sources for pumps, motors, belts, glass, heaters and the like for domestic appliances. I’ve repaired a 25 year old lawn tractor with solenoid, switches, belts. Brushes for a hedgetrimmer. My gas boiler had new sensors and circuit board. Some OEM parts, some third party. I suspect where a market exists someone will supply it.

Phil Dixon is spot on, though. OEM spares need to be at sensible prices, not inflated the way many are. That affects both professional repairers I expect as well as the “amateur”. We also need available fault diagnosis and repair instructions if we genuinely want to encourage extending the life of appliances; many will be put off by the labour cost – simply not worthwhile on cheaper products but, if you can identify the problem and carry out the repair yourself, worth doing.

I think the success of this legislation in achieving its goal will largely depend upon us being able to be helped to diagnose faults, source properly-priced spare parts and be guided how to fit them without the need, in many cases, to involve a professional repairer. I wonder who will provide appropriate information? Maybe we need to foster the “repair club” movement?

https://press.which.co.uk/whichstatements/which-comments-as-right-to-repair-rules-come-into-force/

Hi Phil – Thanks for joining us. I agree that parts need to be affordable and if they are not then products will continue to be scrapped. Thankfully many repairs can be done without needing spares.

You mention upgrades and the problem of smart TVs losing functionality comes to mind. Fortunately there are inexpensive ways of overcoming loss of apps but I wonder how many owners just scrap TVs because they no longer work properly. We need to find solutions.

Malcolm – Some of the parts you have mentioned are not specific to a particular product, which can help DIY repairers. I kept a washing machine going for over 20 years using a drain pump for a different make and model. The real problems arise when the only option is to use manufacturer’s parts.

Parts do not have to be specific of course and if a repair movement gains momentum it will make it worthwhile for more of such parts to be produced, like pattern parts for cars. Some parts will be generic but with unique fixings to suit a particular product; adaptors can often get around that.
However my point was to examine just how extensive the existing parts system already is that is available to the public. I think the legislation might create the impression that nothing exists currently, clearly not the case.

I am a bit surprised tvs are included. I thought they were amongst the most reliable products . I wonder what spares are generally needed to repair those when something goes wrong.

However, we need manufacturers to show long term support for their products by providing sensibly priced extended warranties, up to 10 years I’d suggest. That will, hopefully, ensure they both look to the quality of design, build and components to avoid excessive repair costs and ensure a suitable supply of spare parts is provided. It may lead to the use of more generic parts to reduce stocking costs.

I would like to see manufacturers offering decent guarantees, Malcolm. Extended warranties can soon become very expensive, partly because they often cover accidental damage. I don’t want to subsidise those who are careless.

I am not suggesting including accidental damage, simply that manufacturers should offer repair or replace warranties for their own products. The reliable manufacturers’ products will presumably have more competitive prices for their warranties than the poorer quality ones, particularly for 10 year ones.

I want to see manufacturers’ guarantees and not warranties, which generally involve dealing with a separate company. Providing decent guarantees as standard should help improve the reliability and repairability of products because it would be uneconomic for companies to pay for many repairs.

Maybe we might need to start with five year manufacturers’ guarantees and then aim for ten.

I won’t quibble over what we call it. I have said in the past that these warranties/guarantees should be offered by the manufacturer to purchase from them when you buy their product. 5 years would be an option but to address sustainability we need 10 years to make a real impact. I had a 10 year repair or replace warranty purchased with my dishwasher (which is still going strong – a year left).

I see the difference as of vital importance. If the manufacturer has to bear the costs of repairs this will be a direct incentive to make products that are more reliable and repairable. With an extended warranty there is no such link and the cost of a warranty tends to depend on the type of product and the purchase price.

As I said, I am promoting a manufacturer’s offering for that very reason. However I would expect, even if it were offered by an insurer, the most reliable products should have lower prices than the less reliable ones on the basis they will have to pay out for fewer repairs.

Let’s just pursue longer life products and the way consumers can benefit.

Let’s agree to differ, Malcolm.

I rather thought we were in agreement on the principle. 🙂 .

The UK manufactured Ebac AWM86D2H washing machine comes with a “free” 10 year parts and labour warranty. A pity that, according to Which?, it is rubbish at washing and rinsing clothes.
https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/washing-machines/ebac-awm86d2h

Rather sad, especially considering that the other Ebac model tested by Which? has the same problems. Poor rinsing is not uncommon and I often have to put my Miele on for a second short cycle to achieve adequate rinsing. I never had to do that with its ancient predecessor.

Ebac has manufactured respectable dehumidifiers for years, so maybe their washing machines will improve.

Others Ebac models are better, provided that the room is heated. Other manufacturers now offer desiccant humidifiers, which work better than compressor models in unheated rooms, which is where condensation is most likely to occur. I’ve never had the need for a dehumidifier but the different types are explained on the Which? website and elsewhere.

Steve Tansley says:
1 July 2021

As a retired motor engineer I have always strived to do my own repairs on household white goods, I also repair my own electronic devices including computers and mobile phone, I therefore feel that unless the manufacturers are going to supply replacement parts to a user rather than just authorised repairers and at a reasonable cost the ruling will be a waste of time.

I don’t know how we will drive this forward in the UK, Steve. Unless spares are available at a sensible price there is not going to be a demand from consumers. I keep cars for about ten years and have never encountered a problem with getting spares, but with some household goods, no spares are available even at the time of purchase.

Max says:
3 July 2021

“Tth body tor from the head” the saying goes. If we face the problem let us start from beginning. Things these days aren’t build to last for purpose of us spending money and manufacturers earning money. Every company makes few nwe modesl of everything every year so in their interest is for us not to fix old but to buy new.
My own example:
My mom has 20year old Clatronic (German equivalent of Bush grade products) microwave and toaster and they work perfectly fine. My 1,5 russel hobbs toaster is already dying, and same company microwave I replaced not somlong ago as it died after 2years.

Business is business and it doesn’t care about being eco, about customer, etc but only profit matters. Everything else is just for show.

This law has to many flows and manufacturers with their building size of solicitors will fide a way to use this flaws to their adventage.

Mindset and handling the old machinery should be targeted firs. Recycling schemes forced on manufacturers alone maybe would trigger them to think twice before making a new pilenof scrap?

Other side of coin is us, customers. We grown lazy espiecially younger generations. People doesn’t want to bother them selves with fixing something if they can buy new one especially if costa of repair are almost as big as new thing. Also majority of ppl is ignorant and like tobstay that way, they have no will and ambition to learn new things, to pursue knowledge and gain additional skills just for oneself.

I belive this new law will change nothing as long as ppl on both sides(sellers-buyers) will not makena step forward to change their mindsets.

This IS a step in the right direction. However, it’s not much of a step.

My biggest concern is that it only covers white goods. Why is there no apparent desire in the UK to push right to repair into a much wider range of products, specifically electronic goods, e. g. phones, laptops and other computers, TV’s and other so called e-waste products?

Secondly, and I can see this mentioned in many other posts here, who gets to decide what is to be offered to the householder or and withheld from public sale, unless they are deemed a ‘professional’?

I’m a competent mechanic and a qualified electronics technician. I wouldn’t play with the refrigeration systems in a fridge or freezer, because I don’t have the tools to fix any issues in this area, but I would have no problem replacing a water pump, for example.

I’m quite capable of deciding for myself if I’m up to making repairs by myself and have no issue in understanding that if I break whatever I’m working on then it’s nobody else’s fault but my own. I don’t need a nameless beaurocrat deciding what I can, or cannot do for myself.

In summary then, the legislation is good, but government needs to get far more aggressive in its thinking and its implementation of legislation. Forcing manufacturers to start producing goods that can be repaired instead of allowing the design for redundancy ethos that so many manufacturers are employing today won’t be accomplished by nibbling at the extremities of the problem, which is all this new legislation does.

It does include TVs. What is a common failure and is economically repairable in a tv?

Whether a TV is economically repairable depends on the availability and affordability spares and service information, and also having some expertise. TV faults often lie in the power supply and that can be confirmed by simple voltage measurements.

I agree with Tangram’s comments.

I suspect the fact will remain, notwithstanding the right-to-repair regime, that owners will choose to scrap an appliance or small electrical goods when they pack up as they might have had a full life and a new model might be more appealing from points of view other than basic functionality or technical performance.

What this legislation might achieve is the rebirth of local service engineers or community repair workshops and the growth of a sensible after-market in used appliances where working spare parts are recovered from broken products and reinstalled in other similar models as replacements for failed units so long as they are compatible. More work needs to done on that front to make sure that many critical components are interchangeable and can be substituted with technical knowledge and the right tools. Having said that, I think we have to accept that, in many cases, the integration of sealed units might have a valid performance function that overall makes, say, a washing machine more reliable and therefore last longer. This could be particularly significant if the form of construction reduces the potential for excessive vibration thus reducing wear and tear and noise levels.

I suspect that, with things like kettles, toasters and irons, a basic new replacement would be more cost-effective than a repair since so much of the product’s value nowadays is bound up with the design, colour and general aesthetics such is the influence of consumerism over sustainability.

I was pleased that I was able to source a new remote control unit for our old personal video recorder which saved having to discard and replace the whole device losing its stored contents in the process; with all the emphasis now on streaming and downloading on demand it’s good to know that not everything has disappeared into the ether or is only accessible from cyberspace for a further payment.

Wavechange – I doubt whether many householders, or children in their bedrooms, will be carrying out any simple voltage measurements when their TV goes on the blink. The pressure will be on to get a new one in NOW!

Mind you, I applaud those who do have an aptitude for fixing things and have the necessary apparatus to detect the source of faults and get them going again.

The reason that few attempt repairs to their TVs is, I believe, the lack of service information and readily available spares, John. Without service information, fault diagnosis would be as difficult as doing a crossword without numbers shown on the grid! There are plenty of people who are prepared to assemble and upgrade computers because they have sufficient information available and there is plenty of online support available. Complex faults do exist but the majority are often simple.

Even with service information I wouldn’t dream of taking the back off a television set and I reckon I am far from alone in that. In general I would say that TV’s are some of the most reliable of domestic products. Most replacements have probably been brought about by format and technological changes rather than component failure.

My approach is that if a product is going to be scrapped it can be worth trying to fix it. The fact that most people would not attempt a repair is not a good reason to deny others the opportunity.

About ten years ago I took my TV to a repairer, who failed to fix the problem and tried to charge me for a circuit board. I knew that the part had not been replaced because I could see several solder joints that had been re-made. Trading Standards declined to take action unless other problems were reported, but I managed to secure a refund.

A little technical understanding can help avoid large repair bills, for example where a field service engineer replaces serviceable parts until the faulty one is discovered.

I wouldn’t suggest that we deny people the opportunity to repair appliances if they wish to do so but I think we should recognise that few will want to, or have the ability to do so. It is therefore likely that uptake of the facility will not be very high and it could be expensive and require time and persistence to get the parts required.

I hope manufacturers do not take a new responsibility to enable repairs as an opportunity to reduce the reliability and quality of products rather than making them to yet higher specifications and performance standards.

I notice that one of the European Football Championship 2020 sponsors, the Qingdao No. 2 Radio Factory [now known as Hisense], is one of the world’s most advanced TV and other domestic appliance manufacturers both in volume and technology and has a comprehensive spares operation. I trust it will provide total satisfaction as increasing numbers of consumers are attracted to the company.

I take a different approach, John. I believe that more people would have a go at repairing their TVs if they had access to service information. This information has not been readily available since the 1970s.

At one time major libraries had a series of books entitled ‘Radio and Television Servicing’ in their reference collection and when photocopiers arrived it was easy to make a copy of the relevant pages. This information helped me fix TVs belonging to family and friends. For me, being able to repair products is more rewarding than watching the Final Cup (or whatever it’s called) on the TV.

I am with John on this. I doubt many will repair electronic products,particularly tvs. And they do appear to be extremely reliable; I, and no one in my family, has ever had one fail other than after a long life (although I, personally, have never bought a cheapo brand). But certainly products with motors, pumps, belts switches, brushes, mechanical bits……….., I would certainly expect a large number of people to tackle.

My neighbour’s hedgetrimmer stopped working because the brushes had worn down. They were an integral part of the housing, he tells me, and that spare was not available. So he bought generic brushes, soldered them in place and now he is up and running again.

I would like to see an expansion of the repair clubs, where volunteers who are familiar with different types of product get together to help people fix their problems.

Many repairs don’t require spares. When the drain pump on my old dishwasher ran continuously a couple of years ago I found two helpful YouTube videos. Neither was for the same model but they helped me identify the cause and fix it. Until then I had not inspected the innards of a dishwasher.

“I am with John on this. I doubt many will repair electronic products,particularly tvs. And they do appear to be extremely reliable; I, and no one in my family, has ever had one fail other than after a long life (although I, personally, have never bought a cheapo brand). But certainly products with motors, pumps, belts switches, brushes, mechanical bits……….., I would certainly expect a large number of people to tackle.”

I guess there’s the exception to every rule {grin}. About 20 years ago a decent sized (43?47?) Panasonic TV – been in service about 5 years – and started to struggle to turn on and occasionally turned off by itself. This to me smacked of power supply electrolytics. Whipped the back off to see the power board with several bulging caps. Looked at the printed board number – googled it – ordered one from EBay – swap was simples.

I also have an old RAID array which serves a good purpose – a replacement would be a grand or more. Last year that started locking up on a progressively shorter time between power cycles and I suspected the same thing – and sure enough the mother board was sprinkled with electrolytics, many of which were bulging. However, I had no such luck on googling for this board or a donor box. I only gave myself a 20% chance of being abler to desolder and resolder approx 20 electrolytics without damaging the (plated hole) PCB – but I went for it anyway (parts were cheap) – and all is well with that too now.

With such empirical and (for me from the electronics industry) easy diagnosis I guess a service manual is only needed if dismantling has some gotchas up its sleeve.

“I would like to see an expansion of the repair clubs, where volunteers who are familiar with different types of product get together to help people fix their problems.”

Hear hear. However, this is not without risk – and potentially a minefield if and when things don’t work out as planned and more damage is done.

That’s an encouraging tale, Roger. Looking for bulging capacitors and heat-damaged components can sometimes provide the clues needed for an inexpensive repair.

I agree that there is a risk of doing more damage when trying to make a repair but if the product would otherwise be scrapped it could be a risk worth taking. Organised repair clubs could help people carry out potentially dangerous work in a safe way.

Tangram wrote: “I’m a competent mechanic and a qualified electronics technician.” In that position I would be extremely annoyed about being expected to pay others to carry out repairs.

” Organised repair clubs could help people carry out potentially dangerous work in a safe way.”

And do mutual back-scratching at shared risk…

I take broken electrical goods to the waste recycling facility where they either sell them or get them repaired by enthusiasts. Although i turn my hand to nearly all the home handyman tasks, I don’t get any satisfaction from fixing electro or mechanical things. I just try and make sure I get reliable goods in the first place and, touch wood, I have generally succeeded.

That’s like me and ladders. Although I have never had an accident I’m not comfortable climbing anything taller than a stepladder and will happily pay others to do jobs.

Even if goods are reliable, there are wear & tear parts such as motor brushes and lamps that periodically need to be replaced.

Em says:
6 July 2021

As a supplement to guarantee / warranty schemes, that tend to be written in such a way that they favour the manufacturer or insurer, and now access to parts, I would like to see a minimum statutory lifetime for high value goods.

If I buy a new car or white-goods appliance, I would expect it to last for a minimum of 10 years. In the first few years of ownership, I would still expect to have any repairs done free of cost by the dealer/manufacturer. The problem comes in year 4 (say) when my protection suddenly falls off a cliff edge, because the 3 year manufacturer’s warranty has expired.

It’s now the devil’s choice when faced with a high repair bill – whether or not I am able to get the parts and do it myself. Plus, I might get the benefit of some manufacturer’s good will if it is repaired professionally, or I might not.

For example, a 5 year old Bosch dishwasher went to to tip, because it wasn’t worth repairing, due to the cost of the replacement parts, excluding the labour I could save by doing it myself. Although perhaps less than the current value of the dishwasher, there was the possibility of a second repair being needed at some point that would have made the cost of the first repair better put towards a new, guaranteed model. In this case, I put the money saved by scrapping the Bosch dishwasher towards a new Miele. What you might call a lose – lose situation.

In a different case, Toyota paid for the replacement of a RAV4 engine, that had done 60,000 miles and was out of warranty, when coolant started leaking into the oil. Given the car was only 5 years old at the time, I would probably have paid the £4,000 billl for a new engine, as that was less than the residual value of the car. But the cost/benefit could go either way depending on the age of the car and the size of the repair bill. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make that call, and Toyota will likely get my business in future. Win-win.

But rather than have these binary choices, why don’t manufactuers provide (or be forced to provide) a minimum lifetime value based on a sliding scale. I haven’t yet thought this through fully, but maybe reducing by 10% per year. So if a car or appliance fails in year 8, you would be entitled to a 20% one-time rebate to put towards a repair or replacement of the same make.

You have seen nothing yet. Wait until you need to have replaced a $5 control chip in your
£30,000 electric car. First off, £40 cost to have the error code sorted out at a place only authorised by the manufacturer. Battery? dream on.

The new right to repair law does not go far enough. I just want to be able to replace a Crosswater shower head, but they don’t sell the one I need without an accompanying shower rail and hose – total £175 !!! The shower head has a standard-looking screw fitting into the hose, so there is no technical issue, or need for expert skills in order to be able to replace it. The solution, of course will be to buy a shower head from someone else. And avoid buying Crosswater products in future. But it would be much better if manufacturers were obliged to supply spares such as this.

Margarette N says:
20 July 2021

I agree with the need to repair electrical items just as long as the repair price is reasonable. I have a Bosch under the counter fridge bought from John Lewis just 3 years ago. The bottom shelf in the door sits on plastic lugs, one side has split and the shelf can no longer hold weight. This shelf is the deepest and holds milk, bottles and jars. On contacting Bosch with my dilemma they advised me to buy a new door for the princely some of £202. The fridge when new cost £390! An exorbitant price for a lug?

If you can find a small independent repairer they might be able to find a suitable part, Margarette. It’s likely that the same part is used for many different models.

In future we may be able to get plastic parts duplicated using a 3D printer, for example by copying an undamaged part. There are YouTube videos showing how this can be done but I do not know anyone with a 3D printer.

Em says:
20 July 2021

I assume from your description, the lug is part of the moulded plastic door liner. I don’t know the Bosch fridge range in detail, so if you could find the rating plate which has an E.Nr on it and post it here, I will look up the smallest orderable part. The rating plate is in the low left corner interior.

It could be that the door liner is an integral part of the door assembly, as they are often filled with expanded PU foam. Even so, £200 sounds exorbitant.

… and provided the milk pocket is not needed to be removed, another way would be cyanoacrylate adhesive the pocket to the door liner – the right one should be chosen of course to tolerate the low temperature, but I have done this successfully on an old upright freezer compartment drawer cover.

You might find a replacement by putting this in your search engine “ bosch fridge door shelf replacement”.

Cyanoacrylate adhesive – superglue – can work well on certain plastics. I managed to crack a transparent plastic drawer belonging to a four year old freezer and decided to try a repair instead of ordering an expensive replacement drawer. The repair is visible but has survived for more than a year so far.

I have had both successes and failures with superglue but there is nothing to lose by trying.

The little lugs that hold moveable compartments in place inside fridges seem particularly prone to breakage. While it will be good if in future they will be repairable, it would be much better if they were made more reliable. Many a good fridge/freezer is let down by its internal plastic fittings.

Em says:
21 July 2021

White plastic mouldings seem to be a fault with Bosch appliances in general. I’m onto my third tumble drier handle at £15 a pop. Dishwasher had to be disposed of because the control panel / handle cracked, risking the exposure of live electrical parts if it broke off completely. At £40 + labour, it wasn’t worth it. Large upright freezer has lost three flaps due to “hinge” or mounting pin breaking. At over £20 each, not worth replacing. Washing machine detergent dispenser drawer leaking – Fernox on the drain plugs. It’s a constant battle.

Norman Naylor says:
21 July 2021

It’s a good move but please keep an eye on prices. A tiny coil return spring (dead easy to replace) for a door handle on a Miele fridge-freezer was priced at over £30. I’m quite sure they could be manufactured for less than 25p.

I can see no justification for charging £30 for a small spring, Norman.

When I was younger I bought a pack containing an assortment of hundreds of different of springs about £1 and that has allowed me to repair several products over the years. I recently repaired my Bosch oven with a self-tapping screw that was in another large pack of screws, bought at the same time as the springs.

If I was looking for small springs now I would try eBay.