Zen of fixing a Washing machine’s Detergent Dispenser

Machines are wonderful pieces of human endeavour, until they snap, break or malfunction. Then it’s time to make a decision: fix or replace?

Many times we’re very tempted to simply call a maintenance technician. However, it may also so be that curiosity starts to tickle us. This blog post is about the curiosity.

Few words of caution

When doing machine repairs, it pays to use your wits. It also is very critical to understand precautions. The foremost important safety precautions have to do with electricity, avoiding burns, and not letting a tipping machine do physical damage to you, people around you, or the environment.

I will be covering the process of how I approached fixing a broken front plate of washing detergent tray of a AEG Lavamat 6000 series washing machine.

I’ll do a longitudinal story which should capture one history of events for this type of machine, and the particular way of amending the broken plastic piece. It is useful to have real-world experience about how long-standing a fix is.

Methods and costs will be covered in this Post as well.

What are we fixing?

Photograph shows what is broken. It’s a detergent (washing agent) tray, also called the soap tray.

AEG Lavamat 6000 detergent tray with a plastic splinter

The broken washing detergent tray consists of 2 parts:

  • dispenser compound, upper part in picture
  • front plate (acts as a handle), down in picture

Problem description: a loose handle

The front plate is attached to the dispenser tray. A small plastic locking clip broke in between the plate and the dispenser. Thus now the handle is loose. If you try and pull the dispenser open, you’ll end up with a lid in your hand.

What’s particular for fixing is that you have options. Some of the options are wasteful, but you don’t know before hand, as an amateur, what is the “right” way to fix things. Naturally with experience you’ll accumulate the prowess of understanding more intuitively the correct path to take. But for now, I just have to use my brain and think through, pretty much, beforehand: what would happen, if I did X now?

Zen repairman’s diary, 27.5.2022

I thought of a few things regarding the repair job.

  1. the handle shall be firm and feel good (not clapping)
  2. people use quite much force when grapping the handle – we just don’t acknowledge it, but it’s often with a slight sense of fury that we’re doing laundry! 😉
  3. whatever method is used for attaching, it should withstand heat and moisture, on almost a daily basis; the washing programmes run about 30-60 celsius degrees. Especially glues are susceptible to possibly fail in the moist environment.
  4. vibrations are also a common thing, so this makes using metal against plastic probably a bad choice, since the vibrating metal parts would easily “eat into” the plastic with time, and make the attachment loose and clapping
Two alignment holes pre-drilled: using a nail hook to attach 2 parts

Trial 1: nailing with a nail hook

Using a hammer and a nail hook, I carefully first drilled a little bit of guidance for the nails, so as to they would not crack the plastic when intruding it. However, abandoned this; too flimsy, and I think it would not have lasted. Moving on to trial #2…

Trial 2: glueing with Bison glue and two plastic parts

The glue sounds pretty good. 24 hours for drying. I’ll be patient. Machine-sanded the plastic from all adhesion sides, so as to the glue being as efficient as possible. It’s always important to remove grease and dirt, such as dust, fingerprints and so on from the surfaces which are going the be glued together. Using the nail hook and a random plastic bit for the 2 points of glueing together the handle and compartment. Also using pretty sturdy rubber bands for scaffolding the entire assembly: keeping parts from moving laterally. Now everything is tsill for the next 24 hours. Tomorrow’s going to be the acid test.

Glue as a solution for fixing (making adhesion between two parts) need two properties for durability: they need to be a little bit elastic, so that they won’t tear apart from stress. The other thing is that the materials and the glue type needs to be compatible. More on this if I get to learn the inner workings..

For now, waiting 24 hours and keeping my fingers crossed!

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