Electric Iron Maintenance

ELECTRIC IRONS, used with care, require very little maintenance. The cords and connectors, however, are subject to wear and will require some attention from time to time. This is particularly the case with the connection to the iron itself, due partly to the effects of transmitted heat, and partly to continual flexing of the cord at that point during ironing.

Whenever the iron fails to heat with the current switched on, first make sure that current is reaching the socket into which the iron is plugged. A blown fuse may be the cause, and this is easily checked by substituting some other appliance such as a table lamp. The next step is to examine the connector at the rear of the iron. The casing of this connector is made in two halves held together by two or more screws. Remove the screws with a small screwdriver and take the two halves of the casing apart. The internal brass sockets are apt to drop out at this stage, but this should be prevented until their disposition has been exactly noted with a view to their correct reassembly.

It may be found that a wire has become detached from its socket due to a break or to a loose screw. A wire may break away at the screw, in which case it will be visible, or the fracture may occur within the insulation at the point where the cord enters the casing, the symptom here being a limpness in the cord at that point. In either case it is best to make a clean cut and remake the joints to the brass sockets.

The braiding should be cut back with scissors leaving the leads free for a length of about 2 in. Next, taking each lead in turn, strip back :¾ in. of insulation, twist the strands of wire tightly, and form a loop for the screw to pass through. The tags thus formed are then assembled to the sockets with the screws and washers.

Early type irons are provided with twin-core leads, but all portable electrical appliances of recent manufacture should be supplied with three-core leads to conform with the Institute of Electrical Engineers regulations. Two of the cores carry’ current and the third is a protective measure connecting the appliance to earth. The rubber covering of the earth lead is always brown, to distinguish it from the others, and should be connected to the springy metal strip provided on the outside of the connector for the purpose of making contact with the metahvork of the iron.

The plug which connects to the wall socket should also be examined for faulty connections, and, if necessary, dealt with in the same way. Plugs of the three-pin type have a pair of pins (of equal size) which carry current and an odd (larger) pin to which should be connected the brown earth wire.

Heating Element

It is uneconomical to attempt to repair a burnt-out heating element. New elements are obtainable cheaply from any good electrical dealer, and can be fitted at home with very little trouble.

In most types of iron, the handle is anchored to the body by two nickled nuts. These can be removed with a spanner leaving two studs projecting. The handle can now be removed and the casing raised off the studs sufficiently to give access to the interior, where two more nuts will be found clamping down a cast-iron plate to the sole of the iron. These nuts and the plate are next removed, exposing the element. The element is wound on a flat mica former sandwiched between two pieces of similar material, and has two metal tapes which are attached to the pins at the back of the casing. Casing and element come away together and can then be separated by removing the nuts from the pins holding the tapes. The order of re-assembly with the new element is exactly the reverse of dismantling, and the only point needing particular attention is to see that all nuts are screwed up really tight.

Auto-control Irons

The latest type of electric iron, with thermostat heat control, are best dealt with by the maker’s service department except for certain minor repairs which can be effected without special equipment.

If the tell-tale light in the handle is not lighting when the iron is working, it may be removed and checked with a torch battery. First remove the lamp housing, which is held by a single recessed screw at the back of the handle. Inside the housing will be found a flash lamp held by two spring clips. This should be taken out and tested on a 2-volt batten,’, and a new replacement fitted if required.

The removal of the lamp housing gives access to the lead connections, which should be examined and if necessary, tightened. If any lead connection is broken and needs to be remade, or if a new flexible cord is being fitted, carefully note the points to which the different coloured leads are attached, and see that they are re-assembled correctly.

Accidental damage may result in a broken bakelite handle or porcelain body, in which case new spares can be obtained from the makers and fitted at home. To remove the body, disconnect the mains leads from their brackets and remove the centre screw which clamps the brown earth lead. Next remove the thermostat control knob by loosening the grub screw under its tail. This will reveal a brass nut which should be unscrewed with a suitable spanner. The body can now be lifted from the sole plate assembly and the handle removed from the body. Note the position of the asbestos washers between the handle and the body and locate them correctly in reassembling the new parts.

The working temperature of the sole plate, with the thermostat set to ‘art silk’, should be approximately 90 degrees Centigrade; the other settings follow automatically from that. Special apparatus is required for testing and adjusting the heat controlling mechanism and it is therefore necessary to return the iron to the makers or their service agents for fitting a new element, or any repair that calls for replacement or readjustment of the thermostat.


Irons that are not provided with thermostatic control must be maintained at the proper working temperature by switching on and off as required. In this connection, a word of warning will not be out of place. The iron dissipates its heat in the process of ironing, and if it is left standing with the current switched on, the heat will gradually build up and cause damage to the iron and anything combustible that may be in contact with it. Therefore the iron should always be stood on a suitable heat-resisting stand and always switched off when left temporarily unattended.

The lead from power point to iron should be of adequate length and the ironing table ought to be situated in a position convenient to the wall plug so as to permit the unobstructed use of the iron.