Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saving The Life of A Machine

The two of us who are members of the Surau near our home was almost done with the vacuuming of the carpet in the small surau after the Friday Subuh prayers when the vacuum machine suddenly went quiet. We tried to restart the machine but it was to no avail. When I touched the body of the machine, it felt pretty hot. After letting it cool down we tried again after checking all the cables to see all the power supply was intact.We even changed the point from where the machine was plugged into. Since after such attempts were made the machine refused to come to life.
I took the machine home and told my wife that the machine ain't working anymore. It could be a burnt coil. Since we had been using the machine for several years already we thought the machine has had its day and called it quit. We decide to buy a new one the next day as we were going to Kota Bharu on Saturday. We will buy a similar model, a Panasonic by National. Since we are buying a new one, I decided to have a go with the machine and open it up to see what is wrong with it. Knowing that the worst that can happen is replacing the machine, I didn't have to worry if it will be good again or not.
There were not many visible screws to unscrew and the few that I saw were already out and yet the machine refused to be disemboweled. After further scrutiny I found a few more screws under a removable body part. Yet the machine can't be opened up. Using flat screw drivers I forced open a section of the body and suddenly I heard a small crack, indicating that a small part had given way to the force and broke up. Removing the piece I saw another single screw that needed to be opened before the whole machine can be opened. What a way to learn things by experimenting and relying on hunches.

The motor was removed and cleaned of dust.

At last I could open up the machine and was able to check the motor inside. Upon closer scrutiny, there was no visibility burning signs on the coil. That is a good sign, meaning a simple machine like a vacuum machine is not overly damaged if the coil is still intact. To confirm the coil is OK I called on my neighbour Chong who is an electrician and he confirmed my hunch that the motor is OK.
He suggested that I just clean up the dusts in the machine and fit them together again to try and start it up. Rebuilding became a bit of a problem as I had not really observed the steps I took when opening up. Since there were not many parts inside, I finally did manage to fit in all the screws and kept the wires inside intact.
It was music to my ears when upon switching it on, the motor whined. My wife grinned from ear to ear as we are saved several hundred ringgit if we were to buy a new machine. At least that expense will be delayed until much later when the machine will give up its last breath.
In our home I have managed to salvage many other electrical appliances like the electric irons, fans and vacuum cleaners because I dare to try and repair them first before throwing them away for good. Sometimes they were just mere dusts, broken wires or dry bearings that prevented them from function. Reconnecting broke wires, reapplying grease on bearings and removing dusts often bring them back to life. Not all were so easy though but some did. Those that did were really satisfying.
My sister in law's vacuum cleaner was not sucking much dust. She was contemplating buying a new one. When she told me of her problem, I opened up the dust compartment and sure enough the dust bag was choked up with years of all the things it was made to suck in. Her Electrolux vacuum cleaner is still serving her fine despite the many decades of being in service.
The moral of the story, don't rush into buying a new machine unless it is beyond repair. Such machines do need regular servicing to keep them in working condition. If it needs be, it must be brought to the service centers to have them professionally cleaned up. You will defintely be the winner


  1. Salam Pak Zawi,you remind me of McGyver.... seorang yang serba boleh. If you have to get a new vacuum cleaner I would suggest you invest in a vacuum with water filtration system, where water is used to trap dust and dirt. Good for those people who have sinus. There are quite a number in the market like the Karcher water-filter vacuum, the rainbow, the filter-queen.

  2. It is satisfying to repair a seemingly dead electrical appliance. But there may be a serious risk that's not worth the satisfaction or the cost savings. The device may work fine but there is an unseen danger: electric shock from some overlooked detail involving proper grounding of the device. I would suggest you do yourself a favor and enjoy that merited satisfaction but throw away that vacuum cleaner and keep you and those who use it safe.

  3. LadyZ,
    Replied to your comment in the other LAISI.

  4. Louis,
    I have managed to locate the problem of the machine. It is the plastic mechanical part used to toggle the switch. since it is not electrical I guess the machine is still safe to use. A vacuum cleaner is in fact a simple machine unlike a radio or TV so I am confident that it is OK. Thanks for the reminder anyway.

  5. Hi Zawi, how you doin'? Can see you a handyman, good for you.
    And its true, machines like humans do get sick, needs some servicing or a heart bypass and good as new.

    My wife has a 75 year old Singer sewing machine, the hand tolak one. Makes sounds macham KTM arriving station, and she'll never part nor want a new my part time job is on and off keep it alive.
    One thing I know, old machines easier to fix than these new computerised machines.

    Have fun, Zawi....stay young, Lee.