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How To Fix Damn Near Everything
How To Fix Damn Near Everything - coverIf you're fed up with the high price of home repairs...shoddy workmanship...the scarcity of qualified repair people...then How To Fix Damn Near Everything is the book for you.

Franklynn Peterson takes the mystery out of fixing kitchen appliances, motorized gadgets, power tools, camera equipment, radios, plumbing, furniture, and much more, showing how the key to doing-it-yourself is a positive state of mind.

More than just a fix-it "cookbook," this guide explains the logic of troubleshooting and repair, so that you can apply the techniques described to fix all types of itemsnot just the few listed in similar books.

With over 300 detailed illustrations, How To Fix Damn Near Everything show you how to diagnose the complexity of repair jobs, enabling you to decide whether or not to tackle them yourself, and equipping you with enough basic information to communicate confidently with repairpeople and at the hardware store.

Whether it's a dripping faucet or a recalcitrant TV, a sluggish lawn mower or a bike lacking a wheel, you'll find How To Fix Damn Near Everything a practical, easy-to-use "bible" of home repair techniques.

Click here to buy this book from Amazon.com

Click here to order an autographed copy.

an excerpt from How To Fix Damn Near Everything:


Fortunately, there is very little inside a well-made iron that goes wrong. Most repairs are for faulty cords, damaged handles, and mineral deposits that hamper steam irons.

Handles are replaced by removing a couple of bolts, an operation that by now should seem fairly simple to you. We discussed faulty cords and related connections in Chapter 9. Just make certain that the cord you buy for a replacement is rated to handle the power and heat load an iron will give it.

Mineral deposits in a steam iron begin to make their presence known when steam stops escaping from some of the steam vents, when the spray nozzle stops spraying or sprays erratically, or often when steam comes and goes without warning. Deposits from hard water can be dissolved out in some cases with a vinegar solution, just as in the coffee pot.

Mix half a cup of vinegar with half a cup of water and pour some of the mixture into the steam iron water chamber. Run the entire one cup of acid solution through the steam and spray mechanism, but do not use it for ironing clothes at the time. The vinegar and mineral deposits would not do dresses or shirts any good.

Following the vinegar bath, rinse the iron chamber several times and run through one filling with clean water before ironing clothes again. Tough deposits near steam vents can be forced out with a fine wire handled discretely enough to avoid breaking it off inside any of the several steam openings.

Manufacturers' claims to the contrary, steam irons do best with distilled or mineral-free water in parts of the country with particularly hard water. Advertising offers steam irons that can be used on any kind of mineral-clogged water, but the one-year warranty usually expires before the deposits of calcium and other minerals begin to show up at repair stations.

The sole plate or face plate of an iron, the flat surface that actually flattens the wrinkles, can often become encrusted with tiny particles of dirt, burned-on starch, and such items. Roughness from the accumulations will make the iron harder to move. Fine steel wool should clean a rough sole plate. If you try household cleansers with the steel wool, be sure to keep them from getting into any steam openings.

Thermostats inside irons are generally very rugged, surprisingly so. But they do age and require some care. The adjusting screw on most thermostats is relatively easy to adjust. Finding it may require some persistence or imagination. It may be under the nameplate on the main body of the iron, which simply snaps out of place when pried loose with a screwdriver. It may be concealed beneath some decorative or temperature plate near the temperature control itself, such as on some Westinghouse irons. The thermostat adjustment on many Hoover irons is located on the thermostat itself and can be reached only by removing the hood, that streamlined cover over the main upper body of an iron. Removing the hood, however, usually requires loosening only one bolt.

To determine if a thermostat really does need adjusting, plug in your iron and set it at the lowest wash and wear temperature. Allow it to sit for at least five minutes before testing whether the actual temperature corresponds to what that setting should produce. Iron thermostats will very often overshoot their mark by a long margin during their first one or two on and off cycles of the day. This is one good reason why any iron should be allowed to warm up for 15 or 10 minutes before you start to iron.

After your iron has warmed up, lay it on a heat resistant surface such as Formica countertop. Put a cooking thermometer under it. A meat thermometer generally registers only to 200F. and a candy thermometer to just above 220, both of which are adequate for testing an iron set for wash and wear or synthetics. That setting should produce a temperature about 180 to 220F.

Thermometers intended to measure the temperature inside an oven extend to 500F or beyond. They can be used to check the upper temperature ranges of an iron. An iron set at "wool" should produce a face plate temperature about 360 to 400F. "Steam" settings, depending upon the particular iron manufacturer, may be from 250 to almost 400F.

A particular temperature will not remain stable. It will move upward and downward. When the thermostat turns on the heating element, the temperature will soar by 10 or 20 degrees. And as the iron cools off gradually when the heating element is off, the temperature can progressively drop by the same margin. If the temperature range extends much beyond a span of 20 degrees, however, or if it moves erratically upward and downward, the thermostat may be defective.

Many thermostats can be replaced by simply unscrewing them and unscrewing the two
wires connected to the thermostat terminals. Others, however, have to be cut loose and the wires on a new one silver soldered into the circuit.

When replacing or repairing any internal electrical connections in an iron, be very certain that the bare wires do not make contact with uninsulated metal parts, in which case the metal body of your iron may become "hot" and give you a shock. If the heating element is going, any shock would be very gentle, although annoying. And any kind of shock, unless it is caused by static electricity, is definitely a sign that you should disconnect the iron and look for some bare wire that is shorting out to the metal body.

If the thermostat in your iron is performing well at keeping the temperature spread close to 20 degrees, but if the overall temperature is hotter or cooler than that recommended for "wash and wear," "steam," and "wool" settings, it can be adjusted. If the adjusting screw is on the thermostat itself (such as with Hoover), it probably will be turned counterclockwise to raise the temperature. But on mechanical mechanisms that regulate a thermostat indirectly (such as Westinghouse), the reverse situation may hold true. In any event, you should find out conclusively which direction adds and which direction subtracts from the temperature after your first adjustment and subsequent test. One quarter turn is usually all the adjustment you should make at one time.

Surprisingly enough, the heating elements inside most irons are nearly identical. They are so identical, in fact, that if you cannot line up a factory replacement item when you need it, try shopping for a universal replacement at a good hardware or electrical supply store. One manufacturer of universal replacement iron elements says that its product "will fit over 90 percent of irons on the market."

Using the typical iron assembly in Figure 131, plus your ingenuity, tear apart the decorative and useful parts on your own brand of iron until you reach the defective element. If you have to silver solder it, do that before you lay the new element into place. Caution: the extra heat from your torch might be more than the fancy but cheap chrome case can withstand on some irons.

This excerpt is copyrighted. Readers may print one copy for their own use. If you want to print more than one copy of any excerpt, or would like an article on another topic written for publication, email the authors by clicking here.


Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Judi K-Turkel, Franklynn Peterson, P/K Associates, Inc. 
3006 Gregory Street, Madison WI 53711-1847.  608-231-1003. 
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