Posts tagged "repairing"

How can I find the perfect – green – kettle?

(First, sorry for the lack of posts for the last two days – it was my birthday on Tuesday and so I’ve had two days off. Back to the grindstone now though ;) )

We’ve had an email from Su:

Sorry about this, as it’s not about recycling or repairing, but I thought some like-minded soul may be able to help!

My query relates to electric kettles. In my house they last, on average about 15 months. I have tried expensive, cheap, stainless steel, plastic, cordless… I’m not sure why they don’t last since I only use them for their intended purpose ie: boiling water, but modern kettles don’t seem to be made to be repaired.

I have been using a stove top kettle on my electric cooker for about a year now, BUT in a morning it’s almost half an hour before I get my pot of tea (and I NEED my tea in a morning!). Plus, I believe that although electric kettles use a lot of power, they use less than the cooker. So my point is this, I want to buy a new kettle, but it needs to be a) energy efficient, b) repairable & c) preferably, as ethical as possible. All ideas gratefully received!

We go through cycles of this – our electric kettle develops some annoying fault which John tries but fails to fix and we decide that electric kettles are a wasteful scam. Then we drag our stove top kettle out of storage and clean it off, only to get incredibly frustrated at how long it takes to boil on the stove and eventually snapping and buying another electric kettle. I think our kettles last about 2 years – so slightly longer than Su’s – but still, a brief enough lifespan to be very wasteful.

So any ideas for Su? There are a number of electric kettles that bill themselves as being eco-friendly – has anyone had any experience of those? Are there any other options?

(Photo by chris2k)

How can I repair a rusted up barbeque?

After reading last week’s barbecue themed posts, Ali got in touch to ask about repairing a rusted up bbq:

The grill is rusty pretty much all over and there is a rust hole in the base too. My husband wants to throw it out and get another but I’d like to try fixing it first. Please give me some hope that the effort with a wire scrubber will be worth it!

A lot of barbecues at the cheaper end of the market have chrome-plated steel grills and once the chrome gets scratched or otherwise damaged, the exposed steel rusts really quickly. You might get all the rust off now but I’m not sure you’ll be able to keep it off in the future – anyone know any heat/food friendly way to protect it again? If it’s a cast iron grill – most expensive but not uncommon – then you should be able to de-rust it and protect it again like any cast iron pan/appliance.

As for the base, it depends on the size/location of the hole – a small one low down could be turned into a fat trap. Assuming it’s a kettle/barrel type bbq, you could strip it right back to metal (possibly worth doing all over in one go) and repaint it with a heat-proof metal paint (like stove paint) to reduce further rusting. However as someone who has spent far too long stripping metal recently, let me warn you, it’s not exactly a fun pastime.

If you don’t think it’s worth the effort to save this one, learn from this one’s untimely demise when you buy/care for your next one — look for one with a better grill or if it’s already a good one, protect it better in the first place, and don’t leave bbqs outside and uncovered in wet/moist weather.

Any further advice/suggestions?

Repair This: at what point is it better to buy something new?

Here’s a question that’s been I’ve been wondering about for a while: at what point is it better to buy something new than keep repairing something old?

On this site, we’re all about reducing & repairing – not buying things new for the sake of it or because they’re a bit scuffed & dirty – but with many things, you reach a point of diminishing returns and it feels like you’re throwing good money/time/resources after bad: at some point you have to make a decision to replace it. I suspect the precise point where that occurs depends very much on the item but I wondered what you think about when you’re deciding whether to repair or replace.

Is it a question of your skills? the item’s repairability? availability/affordability of new parts? its not-just-financial value? Other factors?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

How can I repair my bent garden fork?

I bent the prongs on my garden fork the other day. Not just a little bit, so the prong line was a little wobbly, but really quite substantially – one prong was about 60° back, the next one about 30°. Oh the fun of having a stone-filled garden.

We tried to realign it with an artful combination of banging it against a rock and jumping on it, and that straightened it up quite a bit – until I started using it again and the super bent prong instantly bent again — not quite as bad as the first time but still difficult to use as anything other than a pseudo-rotivator. I clearly don’t know my own strength, have a lousy forking technique – or just a lousy fork. I suspect the latter is a big part of the problem – someone bought it for me and while it’s not from Poundland, I doubt it’s the best quality fork available.

Is there any way to fix it so it won’t keep bending? Or now it’s been bent once, has it been weakened so it’ll keep doing it again?

If I have to buy a replacement, I want one that will last – any brand recommendations or things to look for? Or am I to blame – should forks only be used for light work and not digging up giant-squid-esque roots (as I was doing when the prongs went bendy)?

(Photo by MarkusHagenlocher c/o or Wikipedia)

How can I clean a smelly vintage dress?

We’ve had an email from Su:

Although is not strictly a recycle or indeed repair, I nonetheless need help!

I bought a lovely dress in a second hand shop which I just know I would get loads of wear from if only I could remove the smell! It seems to have been washed in a very highly perfumed washing powder or maybe fabric conditioner. Unfortunately, I am very susceptible to smells, so at the moment there is no way I can wear. I have washed it countless times, it’s been hung outside for weeks now and I have soaked it in vinegar, all to no avail, the smell does not even seem to be fading. It’s made of a man made material.

Any suggestions?

We often get clothes with a “charity shop smell” (which isn’t a bad smell, per se, just an overly-perfumed one) but one wash usually sorts them out, so I don’t know what to suggest on this lingering aroma. I suspect the answer may be to use bicarb of soda since that’s great at absorbing smells but I don’t know how that would be applied… Anyone know?

Any other ideas?