Further inspection using Sight, Sound, Smell & Touch (SSST)
In our general article on troubleshooting & fault diagnosis, we briefly introduced the SSST methodology. When power, fuses and error-code solutions can’t help you fix the fault, you need to do further inspection of the device using this same SSST method.
In this case, you'll often need to disassemble the product and look into all the components with more detail. iFixit has a helpful guide to disassembling products. We recommend reading this if it’s your first time disassembling. Again, please always remember to unplug your product before disassembling.
Are there any signs of burned components or circuits? Look for differences in colour and texture. Can you see any cracks or visibly broken components? Can you see any broken connectors, cables or fasteners? Is there any visible leakage?
Are there any unusual noises coming from operating the product? If you move the product can you hear any loose parts?
Are there any unusual smells coming from the product? E.g. Burnt smells, putrid smells, oils or other substances.
Are any surfaces hot or overheating? Are there any moist or wet surfaces? Are there any differences in the structure or texture of a component? Are there any components that are supposed to be moving but currently are not, or the opposite?
Document your observations
When noting down all of your observations make sure to include the components or systems that you suspect to be related to the fault.
Sometimes the fault is very clear but in some cases you will have to make a couple of guesses and test them before proceeding. A few examples to illustrate this:
- an unpleasant smell coming from a washing machine might be related to the fluid system, due to a clogged hose, scale, or soap build up in the soap drawer
- an unusual repetitive sound in a computer may relate to a fan where the bearing of the electromotor could be broken or has to be lubricated
- a clicking sound from a coffee maker could be related to the brewing unit but also to faulty switches
Now that you have identified the symptoms and spotted the potential source you can continue with the repair yourself or provide all of this information to a professional repairer or a volunteer repairer in your local Repair Café.
Source of this information
The information shared in this article is based on research on problem diagnosis executed by TU Delft.