Many of our readers ask us is it worth repairing a steam iron? Generally speaking we would say don't waste your time, effort or money trying to repair or fix a steam iron. You can buy a new steam iron for as little as £15 such as the Russell Hobbs Supreme traditional iron. Thousands of UK buyers bought this iron and they last for 3-4 years, like most steam irons.
The reality is that you will not find anyone who will be able to fix this for anything less than £50. It just wouldn't be worth their while to open the iron up, run tests, find a faulty part, order it in and replace it. In many ways most small electrical appliances are exactly the same, such as toasters, sandwich makers, phone chargers etc.
What causes a steam iron to stop working?
Steam Iron not turning on
Almost every steam iron on the UK market has an on/off indicator, usually a light. When you switch your iron on, the on light normally comes on and may change to a different colour when the temperature has been reached.
If the light does not come on, then it is certainly worth checking three things.
- Unplug the iron and open the 3 pin plug. Check inside for a loose wire that may simply need to be tightened. Sometimes these can come loose and it is worth a quick check. The brown plug wire goes to live. The blue wire goes to neutral and the green/yellow wire goes to earth.
- At this time you can also check the fuse has not blown. All steam irons use a 13A fuse. That is because they use a lot of current to heat the boiler and the soleplate. The easiest way to check a fuse is to replace it with a new one and check to see if that has worked. If you own a fuse tester or an electrical meter, you can use that to check the fuse.
- The final check you can do is to check the cable for any damage. Electrical leads on irons take a fair amount of abuse. Often the cable can get damaged and these are easy to replace, though you will need some basic DIY competence.
Steam Ironing not Creating Steam
If there are no known electrical faults, and your steam iron is not creating steam, the most likely cause is that the boiler has stopped working. The only way to fix this is to replace the boiler which again most people will not know how to do that. Getting that repaired will also be expensive and simply not worth doing.
Steam Iron causing Water Marks or Brown Stains
Brown stains are caused by a combination of water and rust. Over time limescale builds up inside the boiler and soleplate of the steam iron. That is caused by impurities in the water interacting with the metal parts of the iron. It creates a light coating of lime and then starts to build up.
The limescale then starts to eat into the metal and creates rust spots. It also starts to clog up the small holes in the soleplate. The steam struggles to get through those holes as they are reduced in size by the limescale. That is when you will notice the iron starting to splutter. Initially it will make water spots and eventually when the water mixes with the rust, you will get rust or brown spots.
It is always worthwhile trying to use a descaler solution in the iron, but in reality, that is only a short term measure. To avoid ruining your clothes it will be better and cheaper to replace the old iron.
Why do Steam Irons leak?
One main reason for a steam iron to leak water is that the temperature is set too low. Irons need to be hot enough to turn water into steam. If they are on a low temperature that won't happen and the water may leak out. If you need a low temperature, then empty the water out and us the iron like a dry iron.
Also avoid overfilling the iron and never exceed the MAX setting on the tank.
Some people use vinegar to try and clean out the inside of their iron. Avoid doing this as it actually damages the metallic parts inside the iron. Vinegar is a mild acid and although it cleans it is not recommended for use on metal.
Finally check the soleplate and if it looks grimy try cleaning that. Use a small pin to clear out any gunk inside the holes in the soleplate. If they are clogged water may drip out and cleaning them will help.
Steam Iron Warranties
The different steam iron brands will offer a warranty on their product. Usually this is 1 or 2 years. Almost all of those are filled with limits. Most of them make a guarantee against any manufacturing defect in materials or workmanship during the guarantee period. You will also have to be able to show a a valid proof of purchase.
It will also state that the product should not have been tampered with. In most cases you can bring it back to the shop from where you bought it. You may be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement according to Which Magazine. Once the iron goes outside the warranty, and the product stops working, there is nothing else you can do, other than to get it fixed or buy a new one.
Can an iron be repaired?
Steam irons cost from as little as £15 at the low end to around £50 at the high end. On average they last for around 3-4 years. If your iron goes faulty when under warranty, then you should contact whichever company you bought it from. They will offer a repair, replacement or refund.
Outside warranty, we would recommend doing the basic checks we have shown above. If none of those resolve the problem, then we would advise you to buy a new steam iron, instead of trying to have it repaired.
It is very difficult to find anyone who will repair a steam iron. If you do, the cost of repairing will usually be higher than the cost of buying a new iron. Even something as simple as replacing a damaged electrical cord, could end up being more expensive than spending £15-20 in a new iron.