Archive | April 2013

Small appliance repair – Try not to assume the worst!

Because this is the first post to my blog about repairing small household appliances, I think it makes sense to talk about the types of small machines I’ll be posting about here, and what to watch for when you’re getting started on a project.  I have been performing repairs at Nelson Appliance Repair in Colorado Springs for more than 20 years, and in that time I have fixed many thousands of small appliances.  I have collected a lot of specific information about small appliances and vacuum cleaners that might be helpful to machine owners who want to fix their own appliances.  I will do my best to pass on what will hopefully be useful information and advice to those of you who (like me) prefer to fix things yourself.

From bread makers to espresso machines, electric can openers to pressure cookers, shavers to vacuum cleaners, mixers to lamps, and too many others to mention individually, I have learned that each machine is a collection of mechanical and electrical systems designed to work in balance with each other to complete a task or a series of tasks.  Some of you are probably thinking “that’s obvious”.  You’re right – that is obvious, but keeping that basic idea in mind is also the basis of any successfull approach to analyzing a machine that’s not working up to par or not working at all.

Repairing any small appliance is all about problem-solving.  Understanding how an appliance works, and paying close attention to any symptoms it displays when it isn’t working as it’s supposed to is important to starting the diagnosis of the problem (or problems) .

Always start with the simplest possibilities – don’t over-complicate things before you get started.  Many times I’ve worked with an appliance that the owner had attempted to repair at home, and not meeting with success, or simply getting frustrated, had given up and brought it to my shop for help.  Often I’ve found that simple possibilities had been overlooked, and worst-case assumptions had been made.  Recently, an espresso machine was brought to the shop with the complaint that no water would flow through the brew head.  The customer had already purchased and installed a new pump at home, but there was still no flow through the brew head (nor was there any output at the steam wand when we tested it).  What we found was an obstruction below the removeable water reservoir that was preventing it from seating fully into the machine.  Essentially, the machine had no water supply. A stuck coffee bean was simply keeping the reservoir from descending fully into its mount and delivering water to the machine.  This was not the first time I have seen this specific issue, and probably won’t be the last.  The point, of course, is don’t make assumptions – check the simple things first!  Look for the simplest explanations before you start preparing for major surgery and you may just save yourself a lot of time and expense.