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 items—not 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.
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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
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 200°F. 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
Thermometers intended to measure the temperature inside an oven extend to
500°F 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 400°F. "Steam" settings, depending upon the particular iron
manufacturer, may be from 250° to almost 400°F.
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
Many thermostats can be replaced by simply unscrewing them and unscrewing
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
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.
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