Read how Dave’s life changed after a visit to the tip and his tips on hi fi repairs you can do yourself.
Dave Powell was working as a sales assistant in the call centre industy when he decided to take his life in a whole new direction. “I was working for a large American company but I didn’t like it very much. I decided that a fulfilled life was more important than a large salary.”
Initially Dave and wife Debbie looked at creating a business dealing in antiques and collectables. “But we were at the local amenity rubbish tip one day and it was Debbie who said ‘look at all this electrical stuff people are throwing away – surely we could do something with it?’ That’s how it started.”
The result was Green Home Electronics and its specialist offshoot The Used Hi-Fi Shop and Enoch’s On Line Emporium, which “stocks stuff aimed at blokes”. The business, now in its 4th year, recycles, refurbishes and resells used equipment online, rescuing items that would otherwise end up being thrown away. Even items beyond repair may have value as spares.“If we do have to throw something away we do so responsibily and recycle as much as possible, extracting the metal and so on.”
Top DIY hi fi repair tips from Dave
According to Dave, many things that end up at the rubbish tip aren’t broken at all, or may only require some maintenance work. This is particularly true of hi-fi equipment.“Never attempt to mend electronic and electrical equipment without the right experience and always make sure the item is switched off and unplugged from the power. But there are some basic things you can try at home,” says Dave, who’s a fully qualified electronic engineer, as well as an enthusiastic mechnical engineer.
1. Check the battery According to Dave, it’s surpising how many things stop working because of battery problems. As well as replacing the battery, check that all the visible connections are clean. It’s possible to buy connector cleaning spray from stores such as Maplins – but seek expert advice before you buy and always make sure the item is disconnected from its power source before cleaning and connections are completely dry before reconnecting to the power.
2. Dirty CD lenses A common problem for CD players is dirt on the lens which ‘reads’ the CD. “You can buy cleaners. We would recommend the wet-type cleaners rather than the dry ones. Wet-type cleaners look like a CD with a pad on one side which absorbs a few drops of the cleaning fluid that comes in the kit. Dry ones use a brush.”
3. Record player drive belts Record player turntables can slow down – or even speed up – when the drive belt begins to go. It should be possible to buy a new drive belt that will fit your deck make and model. “Rather than throw the deck away it is worth considering repairing it yourself.”
4. Plugs and fuses Always check the plug, to check none of the connections are lose. “You can also try replacing the fuse. As well as the fuse in the plug, many amplifiers have a second fuse in the back. This is a lower value and more likely to blow – so check for that one as well, particularly if it stopped working after a thunderstorm. That’s one reason why they blow.”
What Dave sells
Green Shop Electronics and The Used Hi-Fi Shop sell reconditioned amplifiers, CD players, minidisc players, cassette decks, stereo systems and other hi-fi separates and accessories. Makes include Panasonic, Technics, Sony and Pioneer. They come with a 28-day warranty. The business is based in Bracknell.
If you can’t repair it…
Dave will take some unwanted and broken hi-fi equipment in his local (Bracknell) area and more specicialist equipment from further afield, but, if you don’t live near Dave, there are things you can do before taking something to the tip.
1. Check out your local Freecycle Freecycle groups match people who have things they want to get rid of with people who can use them. >> Search for your local group
2. Try a local car boot sale It’s surprising what other people may buy. Your broken hi-fi could be a local enthusiast’s sought after spares supply. >> Search for a local car boot sale
3. Check out local charitable orgnisations that may be able to refurbish or recycle. For example, Emmaus Communities enable people to move on from homelessness. Companions, as residents are known, work full time collecting, renovating and reselling donated items. >> Search for a local Emmaus Community
4. If you do need to take it to the tip, choose a local tip that, in your opinion, takes its recycling remit very seriously Some tips are better than others. And always ask for advice from a local tip operative before consigning something to general waste (which goes to landfill).