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Thursday, October 14, 2010

911 for small, lifeless hair care appliances


My motto—Don’t throw anything out until you try to fix it. I have revived dead hair dryers and fans for years. No, I am not an electrician. But, I don’t give up items I have paid dearly for the privilege of using for less time than I like.

When I was drying my hair with my handheld hairdryer, it just quit. Just like that, with no warning--it quit. Since I had only had it for six years, I was highly annoyed. Besides, I needed to dry my hair right then. Buying a new one was not an option.

Calm down

I always read the directions when I get items, even familiar ones. I remembered that the hairdryer could overheat, turn itself off, and come back on when cool. Impatiently, I kept switching it on and then off when it would not run. You have done that, too? Miraculously, the hairdryer came back on for another thirty seconds. Again, I waited until it cooled off. Of course, it went right back off after blowing for another thirty seconds!


Finally, I decided that since it had not burned up, maybe I could fix the problem. It really did smell scary and burning. As I looked at the back of the dryer where air is sucked into it, I saw the problem. The whole back screen was covered in lint. Over the years I have used various items to remove the lint—toothpick used carefully, same with an old toothbrush, a Q-tip, tweezers, and my fingernails. Sometimes, you might need to use all, depending on the screen. Always use the vacuum to rid the screen and maybe the internal workings of the small particles that can remain on the screen or fall through it.

Preventive Maintenance

Now, instead of letting this happen again, I perform preventive maintenance. Periodically, and in a lazy (leisurely) moment (not when I am frantic to dry my hair and hurry to leave the house), I check the back of the hairdryer. Sure enough, there is always some lint. By cleaning the lint from the screen before the dryer overheats, I think I am prolonging the life of my little appliance. So, go check your hairdryer. See if it needs cleaning. My cheap, little handheld dryer has lasted 10+ years, so far.

Box fans

At other times, my box fan has quit. And, it did not start again at all, ever. I would give it one last chance before placing it out for the garbage. You can revive a fan. Take the back off the fan. Put the screws where you won’t kick them around, the cat won’t play with them, or the kids track them out on their shoes. Look at the back of the fan blade near the center. There will be lots of goop there. Some of it will be in cracks.

Just clean it all out. Get a toothpick, Q-tip, toothbrush, and tweezers. Pick around with the toothpick to loosen the gunk in a ring around the center of the fan. Then, the tweezers can remove the hair and fine threads wrapped around. This part takes awhile, so be patient. Work slowly. Use the toothbrush to help pull things from between the parts of the fan. The Q-tip can get gunk out. Just use whichever it seems necessary to use for how all the gunk is coming out. I finish cleaning this part with a Q-tip dipped in alcohol and squeezed dry.

When you get through with this and see the fan will work, unplug the fan. Now, thoroughly clean the fan blades on both sides. Clean the inside casing of the fan. A damp, soapy, cloth wrung out well is perfect. Straight Dawn works on a greasy, gunky surface. If you can get the front grill off, put the front and rear grill into a bathtub of soapy water. You clean away much of the same kind of dirt that stopped it up in the first place.

I have never oiled a fan because I believe it is sealed up somehow. I rescued a fan from the side of the road, cleaned it like I described, and gave it away. My friend was very poor at the time and was desperate for a fan in our Southern summer. Several weeks later, she was sad because it quit. I told her how to clean it. She did. The fan lasted through the summer for her. After that, she reported to me each fan she got working again.

Trashed fans

I never leave a box fan on the side of the road. It comes home for a cleaning and is given away to someone who needs it. Even the nastiest of fans smell and look new after cleaning.

Curling irons

My curling iron quit heating. So, pretty cocky with all my successes, I tried to repair it. I got my little screwdriver. I unscrewed the screw. Then, the most amazing thing happened. All the wires inside the curling iron sort of exploded in my hand. I took the top (half of the barrel handle) off and looked inside, sort of like I do when the car gives me trouble. I pull over, raise the hood and look under it like I might know what is happening. HA! Never! This curling iron repair was a failure. I could not even get the thing screwed back together! If your curling iron breaks, save yourself the time trying to repair it!

Have you ever even cleaned the screen at the back of your hairdryer--the intake? Did you ever have a handheld hairdryer come to life after you cleaned it? Do you have a story of something you revived? Maybe you know how to repair a curling iron?

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