Friday, September 24, 2021

Two National Features This Week

 Fixit Clinic was featured on two (US) national media outlets this week:

-Voice of America News (2 minute video):

-The Pulse (podcast): The stories of the people and places at the heart of health and science from WHYY (PBS affiliate in Philadelphia PA USA)

18:17 Segment start

30:54 Segment end

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Fixed is Better Than New

At today's Zoom Fixit Clinic we saw Kim from USA-CA-Oakland: "Battery Operated Pencil Sharpener Panasonic KP-2a I had left batteries in it a few years ago, and it no longer works, even with new batteries I have looked for youtube videos. I managed to take it apart AND I think I have it put back together correctly. I tried cleaning the battery contacts but not sure what else to try. It is a fabulous pencil sharpener when it's working. I've returned 2 new ones in the last 2 weeks, junk."

Kim's repair was not complete by the end of the Zoom but later in the day she emailed the photo below: "Well, after 2 hours in the breakout room and another hour after, the battery pencil sharpener is fixed. After we figured out that the motor worked, I finally realized that one of the copper strips in a switch that connected when the pencil was inserted was out of place and needed to go into a little hole, which helped the other strips connect. My thanks to the fixers in the breakout room who were so patient and offered many suggestions even as I wrestled with my funky webcam. Not sure I got everyone, but D [P?] Ramoutar, Olivia in Berkeley, Tony, and Des, you rock! Connecting via phone cam might have made it easier for me to show a closeup. I'd show the strips and how they fit but now that all is together and working, I'll leave it be!"

We believe that older items that are fixed (or well maintained) are more and more often of higher quality and durability than items that you can purchase new that perform the same function: Do you agree?

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Box Fan: Bad Thermal Fuse

Sunday afternoon's project was a Lasko box fan: not working at all. It was easy enough to disassemble. The problem turned out to be a blown thermal fuse which was nestled deep in the motor near the motor windings.

The thermal fuse is rated 115° C, I had that value on hand and replaced it, the fan works again. It's a fairly straightforward repair but care needs to be taken working around the delicate motor winding wires.

We see thermal fuses nestled next to motor windings in all sorts of appliances: coffee grinders, food processors, blenders, etc. It's a common part to fail, it's often a mystery why it goes bad.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Vacuum Clogs: Check Carefully for the Root Cause

Saturday morning's project was a Dyson Ball Multi Floor vacuum with two nasty clogs: one in the hose from the brush head, one in the wand.

The wand had a Canadian Quarter wedged deep inside, I was able to yank it out with a wire coat hanger modified with a hook

The brush head vacuumed up a needle that stuck in the soft flexible plastic hose between the head and the main body of the vacuum, I was able to fish that out with a pliers.

Neither item was immediately evident as a root cause for the clogs and poor suction: there was a lot of fluff that had accumulated around both items. After the fluff was cleared both the brush head and the wand immediately had good suction and one might've been tempted to declare victory at that point. However: without further inspection to find and remove the quarter and the needle the clogs would have re-occurred.

From a maintenance perspective this vacuum was designed for relatively easy access to and inspection of the places where a clog might develop. This video was helpful too:

We see vacuums with poor suction all the time and the root cause is almost always a rigid or semi-rigid item wedged in a hose that accumulates fluff around it until it clogs the hose.


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Joining Zoom Fixit Clinics or the Global Fixers Discord Server

 Fixit Clinic has gone virtual and global with two offerings:

- Zoom Fixit Clinics open to everyone and hosted from around the world

- A Global Fixers Discord Server that's open around-the-clock around-the-world

To join either or both:

Got something broken you want to try to fix? Participant registration:

Want to help fix or just observe? Fixer/observer sign-in: