The stove fix

A few months ago, the elements on our stove started intermittently failing. My husband, being knowledgeable in electronics and generally very good at fixing things, decided to open it up and see if he could figure out what was going wrong.

He discovered the problem relatively quickly, but ultimately spent over 5 hours disassembling and reassembling the stove and oven in order to get at the faulty part. Once he’d finally gained access to the part, he replaced it with a new one that he was able to get for $1.75 at a local electronics store. The stove and oven have been working perfectly ever since.

This incident has stuck in my mind, though, because although I’m happy we could fix our stove I know that this would not have been how the story ended for most other people. Usually, I would guess that a broken stove results in either a) immediately throwing it out and getting a new one, or b) hiring a technician to come and do the work that my husband did, and pay an hourly rate that would likely add up to the cost of just getting a new stove anyway.

There are a few things that bother me about this:

  • I would guess that people who can least afford to buy a new stove are also the least likely to have knowledge about electronic repairs
  • There must be a staggering number of large appliances in landfills that could have been fixed with a $1.75 part

I wish that either or both of the following could be more true:

  • People should be given more opportunity to learn skills related to diagnosing and repairing things that they buy
  • Household items should be designed for easy repairs (i.e., it should not require 5 hours to complete a simple part swap)

I’m thinking about how I might help with these things, but have not come up with any specific actions yet.

Written on March 13, 2022