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trouble shooting - first try with electronics

Discussion in 'Troubleshooting and Repair' started by tony09uk, Aug 2, 2013.

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  1. tony09uk


    Aug 2, 2013
    Hi, I have recently acquired an interest in electronics, so far it is nothing more than an idea that I fancy having a tinker with a few of the broken electronics in the house, I have no idea what im doing.

    The item I am trying to fix is a steam mop, I was told when turning it on at the plug a spark came from within the mop and it wouldn't turn on.

    I've managed to open it up, at the top there is the water reservoir, connected to that is a water tube which leads to a something which sounds like it has a little ball bearing in, then theres another tube that leads to where the mop is switched on/off, a final tube leads down to a metal unit, im guessing this is where the water is heated, a tube leads from this unit to the bottom of the mop where the steam exits

    Coming from the plugs lead are three different colored wires that lead into the metal unit as well as a lead from the on off switch.

    My questions are:

    1. what are the steps to trouble shooting electronics problems?
    2. are there any safety issues that I need to be aware of? (apart from unhook it from the mains)
    3. what should I start looking at to learn the basics of electronics - maybe a good website? (nothing to in depth, this is meant to be fun projects for me, I spend all day programming and that fry's my brain enough).
  2. dh390


    Jul 30, 2013
    Hi Tony,
    Do you have a Multimeter? (this is a minimum requirement). For starting out you don't need anything fancy. A diode test position & a Continuity position on the multimeter would be a plus. The meter needs to be able to measure DC & AC volts (the standard upper limit is 1000V DC & 750V AC), resistance in Ohms, as well as DC & AC Amps (up to 10 Amps would be good).

    As for safety. You need to be careful of electricity as it can kill and/or start fires. That said don't be afraid of it (as that is more dangerous) just respect it.

    Can you post pics of the parts you are talking about.

    I would not be supprised if maybe the heating element failed/shorted either blowing a thermal fuse or blowing the switch. It is also possible that the thermal fuse or switch just failed from use.

    With a multimeter & the unit unpluged from power you could measure the continuity of the wires & the switch. Then making sure you are not contacting any bare wires you can plug it in & measure the voltage going to the switch & after the switch. You being in the UK look for 220V to 240V

    As for those colored wires going into the metal box. That box is probably what you said, a heater to make the steam. There may also be some other device like a fan or pump to help get the steam out of the mop.

    The colored wires may be the leads from the power cord that plugs into the wall outlet. Here in the USA one lead would be Hot (black), one Neutral (white) & the third Ground (green). I don't know what the color codes are or how they are wired for the UK.

    Let us know & if you can post pics it would help.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2013

    CDRIVE Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3

    May 8, 2012
    This topic should have been posted in the "Electronics Repair" section. That said I don't think messing with mains powered devices is a good choice for neophites. Get your feet wet with battery or low voltage devices first.

  4. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    Sep 5, 2009
    Hi Tony

    Welcome to Electronics Point :)

    I have to agree with Chris .... you are walking a very dangerous path.
    Do you really want to kill one of your family members of you wire something incorrectly ?

    You should be gaining experience on low voltage things that may bite but wont kill you or others if you make a mistake. :)

  5. tony09uk


    Aug 2, 2013
    Hi guys, thanks for your advice. I assumed that as it wasnt plugged in it would be okay, but your words do make sense, and I shall follow you advice

    thanks for your help
  6. elebish


    Aug 16, 2013
    Most of these devices that have heating elements, usually have thermal switches that turn off when too hot. That happens when unit is on with no water in reservoir. Most also have a small temperature "fuse" with the temp marked on it. If that is opened, replace it with same type. Check the element with an ohm meter. Should be under 100 ohms. Probably around 25 ohms. Ed.
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