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Nottingham Fixers' Guide to Saving Your Household Wares

14 February 19 words: Nottingham Fixers

According to a study by the North London Waste Authority, fewer than one in ten people attempt to repair their broken items, despite 42% saying they’d prefer to mend the thing than throw it away. That’s where Nottingham Fixers come in; their volunteers share skills, helping to build the confidence of anyone who wants to start repairing for themselves. In a year, they’ve held multiple Repair Cafes that have helped over 200 people save 865kg of carbon from our atmosphere, and 73kg of waste from the bin. And that’s just for electrical items alone. Here, the team have given us a few tips on fixing household bits that you might ordinarily ditch.

Mains Electrical A&E

You’ve plugged something in and nothing happens. Now what? Try plugging something else into the same socket; if that works, the socket is not the problem. With the faulty item unplugged, look at the cable, plug and case. Do they look damaged? If so, stop there as it could be dangerous. If all looks okay, check the fuse inside. Often you can prise it out carefully from the base of the plug, or you may need to undo the screw underneath to get the top off.

There will be a number on the fuse, usually 3A, 5A or 13A. You can buy a replacement of the same value, or find one of the same value from another device in your house to test out. Make sure the top is screwed back on properly before plugging back in. If that doesn’t work, take a look at the wires inside and check that each one is secure in its terminal, as they can sometimes work themselves loose. If there’s still no joy, bring it along to the next Nottingham Fixers Repair Café so we can work with you safely to carry out the repair.

Darning a Knitted Item

If you’ve got a hole in your socks or jumper, don’t despair. Try this simple darn which can be used on any knitted or woven fabric.

You will need:

  • A darning needle (a stubby, blunt needle)
  • Yarn (similar or contrasting)
  • A darning mushroom (or alternative solid, smooth, rounded object).

Put the darning mushroom inside the garment so the hole sits in the middle. Using the needle threaded with yarn, sew a running stitch a couple of millimetre wider, around the hole. This helps the fabric sit flat after it’s mended. Keep the fabric stretched out but don’t pull it too tight with your stitches. Start by filling in the hole with “warp” – parallel, vertical, evenly spaced threads, that are anchored to your original running stitches. When the warp is complete, weave over and under the threads with your yarn in parallel horizontal threads, making the “weft”.         

Anchor each weft thread at the edge, where the running stitch is, and then weave back to the other side alternating the over and under. Do this as tightly as is needed to infill the hole. Secure the yarn and trim the ends.

Jump Rings in Jewellery

The little rings that join bits of jewellery together are called jump rings. If one has come open, you’ll need to close it. Ideally, you’ll need two pairs of pliers; one pair with pointy ends (chain-nose) and the other with flat ends (flat-end).

To start, make sure you put the bits you want to rejoin back inside the open ring. Hold the chain-nose pliers in your dominant hand and hold the flat-nose pliers in your other hand. Use the flat-nose pliers to steady one side of the jump ring and close the other end with the chain-nose pliers. This shouldn’t dent or damage the wire. The hardest bit is to bring the ends of the ring together without overlapping them. A good way to do this is to actually open the ring wider, not by pulling it on the same plane as the other ring, but actually moving it to the side at a perpendicular angle. Then when you close the ring, you can pull it slightly forward and sideways. Be careful not to overwork the ring or it might snap. If you’re not successful then bring your jewellery to one of the Nottingham Fixers events for help.

Broken Zip

If it’s a stuck zip, rub a bar of soap or a pencil lead onto it to see if that will get it moving. If the teeth have come apart, get a pair of pliers and gently push them together at the point where they come apart.

Missing teeth? If there’s still enough room to open the zip then thread and sew large stitches across the zip just up from where the teeth are missing. The zip will then hit the stitches, not the gap.

Tips for Bike Safety and Maintenance

  • Check tyres regularly, and replace if they’re showing signs of wear or damage.

  • Pump up tyres until they are too hard to squeeze. This reduces the risk of punctures and makes cycling easier.
     
  • Check your brakes. They should stop the wheel fully when the lever is only part pulled.
     
  • Don't allow brakes, when released, to rub the wheels. This will slow you down.
     
  • Oil the chain for smoother gear transaction. If it squeaks or looks brown, it needs some oil.
     
  • Listen for noises. Squeaks, rattles and scraping suggests something needs attention.
     
  • Keep your bike under cover. It will prolong its life and reduce maintenance.
     
  • Get the seat height right. Having it too low will make cycling hard work.
     
  • Make sure your gears change smoothly.
     
  • Check that wheels spin smoothly by turning the bike upside down and spinning the wheels.

  • Any wobbles or a less-than-perfect spinning circle suggests expert advice is required
  •  
  • Bring your bike to Nottingham Fixers for help with any of these issues.

Nottingham Fixers Repair Cafes 2019 Dates

  • Saturday 2 February
  • Saturday 6 April
  • Saturday 1 June
  • Saturday 7 September
  • Saturday 2 November

Sherwood Methodist Church, Devon Drive, NG1 2EN

Nottingham Fixers on Facebook

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