June
9 - 2010

Quick-fix hair-dryer repair

fixing a broken hair dryer fanThis morning, when I started blow-drying my hair, the dryer began with its usual dull roar, then quickly ramped up to a rattling and whirring, then to a screeching sound, followed by an ominous crack before it stopped humming — and smoke drifted out of the dryer opening.

Yikes.

Needless to say, I turned off the dryer and unplugged it. (Well, I hope that is needless to say.)

When I peered into the back end of the dryer, I could see that one of the plastic fan blades had snapped off (the rattling) and caught in the other blades (the screeching/halt/smoke). My first thought was, “I’ll have to throw it out. Guess I’m buying a new hair dryer today.”

Later, I realized the *dryer* works fine, and if I could repair the hair dryer, I might be home free. I have short-ish hair, so I don’t do tons of blow-drying, and although the broken fan might produce less air, that would be OK. Plus, we’re getting hit with tons of bills right now, so if I can save $30, that’s $30 in the bank. And who needs to throw away an (im)perfectly functional 2 pounds of plastic and metal?

So this afternoon, I removed two screws in the handle of the appliance (with it UNPLUGGED!). I knew vaguely how a hair dryer works, but hadn’t looked inside one before. It was easy enough to gently pry apart the casing, find the fan blade, and remove the loose “fins” from the fan.

Unfortunately, I noticed that a couple of other fins are also loose. So I put the blow dryer back together and went online to see if I could find a replacement fan.

In short, no luck. I searched under various search terms, and looked through the Conair website (manufacturer of the blow dryer). I called Conair customer service, and a very helpful person there looked up the model, told me no replacement parts are available, and offered to replace the hair dryer if it was still under warranty … which it is not. I also tried calling Conair media relations to see if they know of a way to replace the fan, and to ask if they have any plans to (or currently do) make dryers with more durable, metal fan blades. (I left a message — will update this post if I get a response.)

Of course, I’m not surprised that they don’t offer replacement parts — I’ve had the dryer for a few years, and if I buy a new one, the company makes money. If I keep the old one, they make nothing. But I’m disappointed nonetheless, especially that they use flimsy, plastic fan blades, which are likely to deteriorate under heat (a given in a hair dryer).

I’m a little nervous to use the damaged dryer considering this Conair recall this year for a similar fan problem, but I’ll wait to see what I hear and remain vigilant.

Have you ever repaired a blow dryer? Any idea where I might find a replacement fan? (I’m wondering about hardware stores or auto stores — but I’m a little nervous about replacing with a non-suited part.) Or if not, know of somebody or some organization that might be able to use a non-functioning hair dryer?

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