Disassembling things is an important part of repair whether you are performing toaster repair, motor repair, riding lawn mower repair, washing machine repair, or many other repairs. You’ll want to be able to reassemble an item properly whether it’s done today, tomorrow, or once you’ve found some parts a month from now. Here are tips for smart disassembly:
- Find a place where you can leave everything out for an hour or a day, if you need to stop and get additional parts.
- Make notes on disassembly and needed parts numbers.
- For tougher repairs or when you know it will be awhile before you can get replacement parts, use a film or digital camera to take photos of the disassembly process.
- If you know you will be reassembling everything within the next couple of hours, lay the parts in a line as they come off, left to right, and reassemble right to left.
- Use old muffin pans, empty frozen dinner dishes, clean coffee cans, or other containers to collect parts as they are removed.
Intimidated by what you see when you open up something to fix it? Don’t be. Most things are made of components, more than one part. And each of these components is replaceable. It’s just a matter if figuring how the thing works, which parts or components don’t work, and replacing the problem part(s). Many Fix-It Guides include photos or drawings that let you see what’s inside the device or object–you’ll know what you’re getting in to.
Most parts either twist on or plug in. For example, disassembling an appliance requires untwisting (unscrewing) fasteners that hold the outside body together. Once inside, you may need to unscrew or unplug other parts. Many components are plugged together, especially electrical parts. For example, a couple of wires enter one side of a plastic plug and other wires run out the other side. To disconnect the part, find a tab on the connector and lift it or apply pressure to it and carefully pull the connector apart. Install the replacement component by plugging the two halves of the connector together. Most connectors go together only one way, so it’s relatively easy.
You’ll find that many consumer items are assembled using screws, clips, or both. In fact, if you don’t find a screw or clip, the manufacturer is probably telling you there’s nothing inside that the consumer can fix. You may be able to replace the entire component, however.
When It’s Hard to Remove
Some parts may be hard to remove because they are friction-fit (fit snugly) to a shaft. Don’t force friction-fit parts; they may break. Instead, use a wide-bladed screwdriver under the coupling to carefully twist and lift the coupling upward. If that doesn’t work, try heating the coupling slightly (try a hair dryer) to expand the part enough to pull it from the shaft. Or slip a pair of thin wood wedges under the coupling. Then push the wedges toward each other and lift. If none of these succeeds in separating the friction-fit part from the shaft, you may have to take the appliance to a professional.
Some manufacturers use a pressure clip to hold a product’s case together. To disassemble, look for a notch along the seam and insert the tip of a straight screwdriver to push and turn the clip, opening the case. Make sure you unclip all of the notches and remove all screws before disassembling the body or you could break one of the small clips.