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New ‘right to repair’ laws introduced: what do they actually mean for you?

Easier repairs and increased product lifespans, helping you and the planet. But we want the government to go further

New ‘right to repair’ laws introduced: what do they actually mean for you?

Manufacturers will now have to make spare parts available for washing machines, washer-dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and TVs for the first time. Repairs also need to be possible using everyday tools. 

According to the UK government, this will reduce the 1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste generated each year.

Spare parts will have to be available within two years of an appliance going on sale, and up until either seven or 10 years after the product has been discontinued, depending on the part.

Some parts will only be available to professional repairers, while others will be available to everyone, so you can fix it yourself.

Read on for more on what these new rights mean for you and what Which? wants the government to do.


Repair advice: what to do when common appliance faults happen


What are the ‘right to repair’ laws?

In March, the EU introduced measures to promote the repairability of products, and this month the UK government is planning on introducing matching standards in Great Britain, as was agreed before leaving the EU.

Due to the Northern Ireland protocol, EU Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Regulations will continue to apply there.

For now, the right to repair laws only cover:

  • Dishwashers;
  • Washing machines and washer-dryers;
  • Refrigeration appliances;
  • Televisions and other electronic displays.

They also cover non-consumer electronics, such as light sources, electric motors, refrigerators with a direct sales function (eg fridges in supermarkets, vending machines for cold drinks), power transformers and welding equipment.

Cookers, hobs, tumble dryers, microwaves or tech such as laptops or smartphones aren’t covered.


In the market for a new laptop? Check out our guide on how to buy a second-hand or refurbished laptop.


The spare parts are divided into those that are for trickier repairs, so only available to professionals, and those for easier fixes, so are available to everyone.

For example, a tricky repair such as replacing a dishwasher’s drain pump will be available to the pros, while an easier and safer fix, such as fitting new drain filters,will be available to everyone.

This follows a change in the official energy label, removing the A+++ ratings and resetting the scale to run from A to G. For more on this change, find out what the new energy label means for you and your home.

More action is needed

Woman is calling a plumber to repair the leak

These measures will not only contribute to reducing waste and carbon emissions but also give you more freedom when faults inevitably happen, saving money and hassle. As such, we welcome them.

But Which? is also challenging the government to expand these rules to cover more appliances and to make sure manufacturers supply spare parts immediately, rather than having the option of waiting up to two years.

We’d also like the government to ensure parts are affordable and available for longer, closer to the lifespan of each product.

For example, we’ve found that the average lifetime of refrigeration appliances is between 20 and 25 years, well beyond the 10 years that parts will be available for.


Join the Which? Conversation on the Right to Repair rules and let us know your thoughts


Spare parts now available

Dishwashers

To everyone for a minimum period of 10 years, after the the model has been discontinued:

  • door hinges and door seals
  • drain filters
  • interior racks and plastic peripherals such as baskets and lids
  • other seals
  • spray arms

To professional repairers, for a minimum period of seven years:

  • circulation and drain pump
  • electronic displays
  • heaters and heating elements, including heat pumps (separately or bundled)
  • motor
  • piping and related equipment including all hoses, valves, filters and aquastops
  • pressure switches
  • printed circuit boards (PCBs)
  • software and firmware including reset software
  • structural and interior parts related to door assemblies (separately or bundled)
  • thermostats and sensors.

Read our dishwasher buying guide before shopping to make sure you get the perfect one for you.


Washing machines and washer-dryers

To everyone for a minimum period of 10 years:

  • door, door hinge and door seals
  • other seals
  • door locking assembly and plastic peripherals such as detergent dispensers

To professional repairers for a minimum period of 10 years:

  • motor and motor brushes
  • transmission between motor and drum
  • pumps
  • shock absorbers and springs
  • washing drum, drum spider and related ball bearings (separately or bundled)
  • heaters and heating elements, including heat pumps (separately or bundled)
  • piping and related equipment including all hoses, valves, filters and aquastops (separately or bundled)
  • printed circuit boards (PCBs)
  • electronic displays
  • pressure switches
  • thermostats and sensors
  • software and firmware including reset software.

Pick a Best Buy washing machine


Refrigeration appliances

To everyone for a minimum period of 10 years:

  • door handles
  • door hinges
  • trays and baskets

To professional repairers for a minimum period of seven years:

  • light sources
  • printed circuit boards (PCBs)
  • temperature sensors
  • thermostats

Televisions

To everyone for seven years:

  • external power supply
  • remote control

To professional repairers for a minimum of seven years:

  • internal power supply
  • connectors to connect external equipment (including cable, antenna, USB, DVD and Blu-ray)
  • capacitors above 400 microfarads, batteries and accumulators
  • DVD/Blu-ray module if applicable
  • hard drive or solid state drive (HD/SSD) module if applicable

Which TV brand should you buy in 2021?


 

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