Over the last few decades we have become accustomed to something of a throwaway culture. Judging by abandoned items on the pavements and driveways in our cities, we have developed a similar attitude to many expensive household items, with white goods being seen as something we dump rather than repair.
Dazzled by the array of now non-functioning lights and drawn in by the promise of faster, better, shinier alternatives we visit the retail park or online store and buy a new fridge-freezer, washing machine or dishwasher. But this often leaves us with an unnecessary hole in our bank accounts and an unneeded impact on the environment.
This growing trend has not go un-noticed by the Government’s chief scientific advisor for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, David Mackay, who recently said that we should be mending microwaves or fridges rather than replacing them. Not all politicians agreed with Mackay, but his statement did open the debate about whether it is right that we simply throw away so much of our electrical equipment.
The local repair shops may have gone from many of our local high streets, but that does not mean that it should be difficult to have electrical appliances fixed. Many electricians and plumbers will be more than happy to assess what is up with your fridge-freezer or washing machine, with a quick chat on the phone usually enabling them to make a rough diagnosis. There is often a simple explanation for the problem you are having and the failure of a single component does not mean that the whole appliance is ready for the scrapheap. If you’re unsure who to call in or if you appliance can be fixed ask one of our experts for some advice (post your question in the General DIY category).
Naturally, there will be a question of cost-effectiveness when it comes to making repairs. But if your much-loved, stylish £800 fridge-freezer can be repaired by replacing a cheap resistor then you would be foolish to drive off to John Lewis or Currys in search of a new one. It is far better to ask and find out rather than simply assuming the item cannot be fixed. Similarly, the problem with your washing machine may be down to a blocked pipe, a damaged hose or simply a fuse. Heating elements and even electronic parts can be replaced by skilled tradesmen at a fraction of a cost of even a cheap new appliance.
These machines may seemingly operate by a technological magic that you can’t understand, but they are just a series of linked components for a qualified electrician or plumber. In most cases your repair will come in at under £100, including parts. In some cases it will be as little as £25.
Getting your appliance fixed may not be in the best interests of your local rag and bone man or scrap dealer, but it will certainly help your wallet and possibly the planet as well.