Could you try mending a broken appliance yourself?
By Lisa Salmon
When a household appliance breaks down, chances are many of us would just bin it and buy a new one, rather than get it mended.
Three-quarters of householders don’t even attempt to fix potentially repairable appliances, choosing instead to give up on them and buy expensive new replacement machines or gadgets – creating two million tonnes of household and business e-waste every year in the process – according to research by UK spare parts retailer, eSpares.
The alternative, of course, is to either call out a specialist to mend your broken appliance, which can sometimes be pricey, and is possibly out of the question during the current pandemic lockdown, or try to fix it yourself.
If even the mention of any type of DIY fills you with horror, you’ll probably write off this option immediately. But by not even considering the possibility of trying to fix a broken appliance, you could be missing out on saving a bundle of cash.
And in many cases the repair job is much easier than you’d think and doesn’t require expert knowledge – just the right tools and information, according to eSpares, who recently launched the #FixFirst campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of DIY appliance repairs.
“We want to empower people,” says Ad Casey, eSpares head of brand. “They just haven’t been given the skills they need to carry out DIY repairs. That’s why we try to put as much information out there as we can.
“People often tell us that fixing their appliances was easier than they expected,” Casey adds. “With the current social distancing, buying a machine in a shop or booking an engineer for a home visit is hard. People may feel like they don’t have options right now, but by choosing a DIY fix they can take back control.
“So, anyone considering kicking an under-performing appliance to the kerb should remember that by choosing to repair it instead, they can learn a new skill, save some cash, and protect our planet.”
To help, they’re offering a range of free video tutorials and appliance manuals. And if you’re still not convinced, you could always learn through Restart (therestartproject.org), a social enterprise which runs Restart Parties in 12 countries, where people teach each other how to repair their broken and slow devices – from tablets and toasters, to iPhones and headphones. If there are no parties organised in your country or area already, the Restart team urge you to think about starting one.
Restart’s co-founder Janet Gunter, says most spare parts are still available despite the lockdown, and for more complex repairs there’s a wealth of how-to information available online, including the Restarters Wiki, iFixit.com and YouTube.
“It’s cheaper and now faster to repair electronics, as opposed to ordering and waiting for new products from overstretched retailers,” she stresses. “Many of the repairs we do normally at our free repair events are quite straightforward, such as replacing a broken part, or cleaning and basic maintenance.
“People can definitely do these at home, and we’re available to help over our social media channels. And some appliance repair people and IT repair businesses offer remote support or mail-in options – think about supporting them too.”
Next year, new EU Right to Repair legislation means firms will have to make appliances longer-lasting and supply spare parts for machines for up to 10 years, so they’re much easier to repair.
Although Britain has technically left the EU, British firms who want to sell their products into Europe will have to follow the regulation.
Curious? Here are five DIY repair jobs that might come in handy…
1. Warm fridge
The rubber seal around the door is the first place to check if a fridge won’t stay cold. Closing a £5 note in the door is a handy trick. If it falls out, that means the seal is no longer airtight and it’s letting cold air escape. The seal will need replacing – an easy job – to keep the fridge cooling efficiently.
2. Wobbly washing machine
Noisy washing machines that rock excessively can often be fixed very easily, promises eSpares. Adjusting the feet at the bottom of the machine, or avoiding uneven laundry loads by washing more than one heavy item at a time can be all it takes to solve the problem.
3. Headphones not working
Restart suggests you check the audio port for any dust blocking it and gently remove it with a toothpick.
4. Unreliable lawnmower
If a lawnmower is leaving the grass looking uneven or patchy after being mown, chances are it’s got blunt blades. By switching off the mower and turning it on its side, the blades can be checked and replaced safely.
5. Cold oven
A fan oven that’s not heating up may seem destined for the scrap heap. But if the light and fan are still working, then chances are it can be brought back to working order with a new element, which can be installed in just a few simple steps outlined on the eSpares website.