For those wondering what an ‘inverter’ is, let me give a quick explanation: It allows one to use a mains operated device on the move, using a power supply from a motor-home, car or boat, as an example. An inverter ‘inverts’ a smaller voltage to a larger one, usually for most applications. Most inverters sold turn either 12 or 24VDC to 240VAC or 110VAC.
The owner of this one had accidentally connected the input wires the wrong way around, effectively reversing the polarity. Not good. Upon hearing a little ‘pop’ the owner quickly disconnected the power!
Having never worked on an inverter before, I turned to the manufacturer for advice. Sterling Power (UK) were not able to supply any product information on the phone nor via email and were generally not very helpful at all. They did offer a very reasonable 25% discount on a replacement, but were not able to offer much else to save the one I had in the workshop. Never mind.
Back to the problem. Checking the basics, the ‘accident’ had appeared to knocked-out three 25A soldered PCB fuses. Temporarily by-passing the fuses revealed a working unit, so replacing the defective fuses was a good idea at a very reasonable £1.50.
The fuses are mini-blade 25A automotive fuses. Once removed and the new ones soldered in place, the unit worked once more.
Cost of parts, £1.50, cost of replacement unit, circa £160.00.
The owner of this drill complained that it work perfectly one minute and then stopped the next. It was making DIY a very slow process.
As this was a cut-out problem rather than a slowing down issue, power problems were a likely suspect.
On test, the cable flex near the base of the handle seemed to be the issue as giving it a good wiggle seemed to reproduce the fault.
Opening up the drill (several self-tapping screws) revealed a fairly straightforward layout with cord, mechanical connector, smoothing circuit (mains splash) and switch. Having suspected the culprit to be cable flex near the handle, I cut the cable down and re-made the connection, removing the suspect part of the cable.
Despite cutting the cable flex down by about 8″, the owner was pleased with this fix since no spare parts were required and no real issues will be noticed since it will be mainly used with an extension lead.
GHD hair straighteners are a premium product which retail for a minimum of £100 in the UK. However, over time they suffer from common annoying faults which cause owners to condemn the set they have.
This set of straighteners presented ‘as working’ when first switched on. After warming up, hair straightening temperature was reached within the normal time. However, after 5 minutes of use, the temperature reduced and failed to re-heat in a reasonable time. Leaving the straighteners to cool completely would effectively reset the problem, only for the cycle to repeat again.
GHD faults are well documented on YouTube and the fault turned out to be a faulty thermocouple or thermofuse, which should regulate the temperature and cut power in the event of a fault. They do however wear out and this set of straighteners was no exception.
After dismantling, the thermal fuse was replaced for £2.70. The whole job took half an hour and saved the owner nearly £100 on a replacement.
This Dyson presented with a pretty terminal case of ‘no go’. The owner had run this relatively new machine in to the ground with little maintenance so it was little wonder what happened next.
Whilst in use, the machine spectacularly went bang and tripped the main fuse board of the house. The noise and following smell was quite something I was told.
The owner had nearly rushed out and bought a new machine and was budgeting between £300 and £400 for a replacement.
I was glad I could help since I was fairly certain I knew what the problem was without seeing it. After giving the cable, switches and casing a visual inspection, it was time to delve deeper. The filters were in poor condition and the general smell of it indicated that overheating had been an issue, probably leading to premature wear on the motor.
With the motor out, the true extent of the damage became apparent. Both motor bushes had worn away to nothing and part of the brush holder had broken up inside the motor, probably while it was running, causing the noise.
I suspect that the owner had ignored the warning signs of burning smells and occasional cutting out (as the thermal overload circuitry performed its fail-safe role).
Being only a few years old, the owner had a couple of options; either replacing the faulty part with a genuine Dyson replacement (a very reasonable £40) or pattern motor kit with filter pack for under £25. The owner chose the latter on the basis of the machine’s age and the fact that both filters in the machine were also ruined.
The job took an hour, including testing before the machine was back performing its cleaning duties once more.
A note to all vacuum cleaner owners (that don’t take bags): Keep your filters cleaned every couple of months or so. Your machine will last much longer if you do.
Sadly, I’ve seen loads of these older Dyson machines at the tip in recent years. I suspect, with a bit of fettling and cleaning, they could be brought back to rude health.
This one was one a high-mileage example and needed some tinker-time to get it back to a serviceable condition.
It was working of sorts, but failing to ‘pick-up’ as well as it used to. It turned out that the roller had two problems. The main bearings were worn, making a squealing noise and the brushes had worn low. This part used to be available from Dyson, but due to the age of the machine, they quite reasonably, stopped selling them. However, the net is awash with reasonable pattern parts for Dyson machines and while I tend to stick to original equipment wherever possible, a replacement roller from ebay for under £10 was a reasonable choice for this 15 year old vacuum cleaner. A replacement Dyson vacuum cleaner would be at least £250 for a basic model at time of writing.
Just a note on Dyson machines: Having studied the company at school and following their progress for a number of years, they seem to be a firm believer in providing accessible and affordable parts to keep their products alive. They’re an excellent example of a company that truly believes in product sustainability.
This machine is our very own, which decided to stop drying clothes. Everything seemed to work; the drum was going around, the timer was working and nothing sounded out of sorts, but it started taking longer and longer to dry clothes. In short, it wasn’t well.
This particular model is well documented online as it’s the same one with a world-wide model recall. Fortunately, Hotpoint/ Indesit/ Creda/ Ariston have an excellent recall process and information service. In fact if you’re concerned about yours, please visit http://www.hotpointservice.co.uk/safety-notices/ to see if your machine is listed. This machine had been modified and was cleared safe for use.
Anyway, it was time to dig out the tools. There’s not much to a tumble dryer really, the most expensive and important part being the motor, which in this case was fine. Having tested the heating elements for suitable resistance, it was time to check the wiring, which also tested fine.
Since the machine would heat up and then cool, it suggested a temperature control system fault. This machine has three temperature sensors; one in the exhaust and two on the back of the heater, the latter two to act as heat control and safety cut out.
If you’re still reading, it turned out that the exhaust thermostat sensor was at fault. Once it has allowed a brief heat cycle, it would shut down for ages. It had excess temperature switch ‘hysteresis’. The spare part was about £12, so versus the cost of a replacement machine at about £170, it was well worth spending time on the machine.
This Kenwood Chef developed a nasty little problem. The failure smelled expensive and the Chef even puffed out some smoke when it began to fail, it would operate, but noisily and badly, so it to the workshop it had to go.
It was in decent overall condition and has loads of accessories, so definitely worth saving since a new one is over £300 new.
Since the speed control circuitry is a common failure on models of this age, it seemed sensible to start there. On this unit, access wasn’t a problem and the issue was quickly diagnosed. Both capacitors had failed (spectacularly) and one of the resistors had become weak by about 20 Ohms or so. Repair kits are readily available online for those who are willing to save these excellent machines, so after removing the faulty components, new items were fitted.
Another little annoying problem with the Chef, was the main drive belt. It was intermittently rubbing the main plastic body of the unit, making a horrible sound and melting some of the casing (only cosmetic). The motor mounting spacer had compressed on one side causing the belt to not run correctly. This was fixed with a small washer to correct the belt’s alignment.
With a little bit of grease, WD40, Brasso, contact cleaner, repair kit and washer, the whole job took a couple of hours (including fettling time) and cost me under £8. Definitely worth the effort considering the price of a replacement Chef.
Here’s a picture of the new components fitted in situ…
I occasionally volunteer at Repair Café and similar events in Sussex and surrounding area
I love repairing things and hate throwing things away that can be saved. There’s far too much waste in the world. Many things that can sometimes appear unrepairable, are indeed repairable, with a little tinkering.
I want to encourage people who doubt their own ability to repair their things, to give repair a go. After all, if ‘that thing’ isn’t working, grab a screwdriver, take it apart and investigate. What have you got to lose?
I’ve been tinkering with bikes, cars, coffee machines, toys and vacuum cleaners and pretty much anything that can be dismantled since I could hold a screwdriver. I’ve worked for BT as a senior engineer, and I’ve studied design, business and electronics.
Enjoy the repair diary of a tinkerer. I hope it gives you a nudge to repair your broken thing. If you can’t, I might be able to help.