General Appliance Hints and Tips


General Appliance Hints and Tips


The information below is of a general nature,relating to the plug and mains supply lead, and applies to most appliances.

You will generally find that a lot of appliances nowadays have star (TORX) screws, or even security screws (these have small “pips” in the centre, to prevent tampering), in the casework side panels, and many internal covers and parts. The serious DIY “fixer” should invest in a security bit set. The best one I have seen is the new 75mm long Security Bit set (32 bits), for around £15 from SCREWFIX. These will enable you to get into those recessed holes on some cover plates. Their part number is: D95315.

Step One

If a small appliance, such as a kettle or toaster has stopped working, that is, no power light shows when switched on, the first thing to check is the lead or plug. If it is the normal type of plug, take the plug-top off, and check that all three conductors are in the appropriate place (not pulled out of the terminals), and the screws are tight. Standard colours for UK are: BLUE = NEUTRAL, this goes into the LEFT, BROWN = LIVE, this goes on the right, with the insides facing you. The GREEN/YELLOW striped one is the EARTH wire, and this always goes to the top. NOTE: not all appliances have, or require earth wires. If the plug type is MOULDED, you will not be able to check this, just the fuse, see 2 below.

Step Two

Remove and check the condition of the fuse.It is best checked with a basic meter, but you can put your suspect fuse into, say a table lamp that is known to be working, and if it does not come on, then the fuse has gone. To remove the fuse from a MOULDED plug, you will need a small screwdriver, to lever out the small red plastic carrier between the pins,that it sits in. They can be quite tight.

Step Three


Step Four

JUST DO THIS ONE TIME ONLY, IF IT GOES AGAIN, THEN THE FAULT MUST BE RECTIFIED, SEE APPROPRIATE APPLIANCE HINTS. Note that high current devices like kettles and room heaters, can be running close to the 13 AMP rating of the fuse, and over time, weak fuses that are a bit under spec, can blow when there is no over-current. Hence the fact that you sometimes need to replace these when the appliance itself is not faulty.

Step Five

FUSE INFORMATION:The The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, states the following: Typical fuse ratings for 220-240 voltage equipment: up to 750 watts - 3 Amp, up to 1250 Watts -5 Amp, over 1250 Watts -13 Amp. A lot of Portable Appliance Testing sites state the following: For the convenience of users, appliance manufacturers have standardised on two plug fuse ratings- 3A & 13A and adopted appropriate flex sizes. For appliances up to 700W a 3A fuse is used, for those over 700W a 13A fuse is used. Confusingly, you can still obtain 2 AMP, 5 AMP, and 10 AMP fuses from some wholesalers, in addition to the standard common 3, 5 and 13 amp ones mentioned above. Maplin only stock the 3, 5 and 13 though.

Step Six

RULE OF THUMB FOR PLUG REPLACEMENT: a new plug will nearly always come with a 13 amp fuse fitted. If you are replacing a kettle plug, or heater, or ANY APPLIANCE OVER 1200 WATTS, THEN THE 13 AMP FUSE IS THE CORRECT ONE. If the item is an iron, or toaster, or other appliance rated at between 700 and 1200 watts, then fit a 5 amp fuse. If it is a small low wattage appliance, like a table lamp, radio, DVD player, Video recorder etc, then a 3 amp should be fitted, provided it is rated at less than 700 watts. The reasons I have stated 700 rather than 750 watts, is firstly that the PAT testing sites and manufacturers use this simplified “threshold”, and secondly, that if your supply is a bit “peaky” for long periods, i.e. closer to 250 than 240 volts, you would be running your 3 AMP fuse at exactly 3 AMPS. A HiFi receiver for example may show,say 550 watts on the rating plate, but if it also controls a CD player, and tape player through its power control, the switch-on surge might still blow a 3 AMP fuse. In these circumstances, it is perfectly safe to use a 5 AMP fuse if required.

Step Seven

If you have eliminated the plug and fuse being faulty, the problem is either the device itself has an internal fault (see specific links), or the mains lead has a break somewhere. If it is an iron or hair curler, then it is nearly always at the appliance end. The latter will not be worth fixing, but the iron might be, if you can purchase the correct cable, or kept a similar cable assembly (with strain relief) from a similar iron. If it is something like a mains radio, or alarm clock radio, these cables sometimes get tripped over and pulled.The small thin cable used is mechanically weak, and will sometimes break near the plug. If you think it is that, try cutting off the last 4 inches of cable, and rewiring the plug.If you have one of those “live wire and pipe testers” (the sort that is adjustable, and bleeps when passed over metal or wire), you may find where the break is with that. The newer ones bleep differently for “live” wire, compared with just sensing on the metal cable.

Step Eight

If you have a LAMINATE FLOOR in your utility room or kitchen area, where your dryer or washing machine are located, it is a good idea to protect your floor from any dampness or slight water leakage. The ideal simple an cheap way of doing this, is to purchase APPLIANCE TRAYS that are specifically designed to do this. They are less than £10, from (See the “floor protection” link on the site).


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