Tag Archives: Usability

Everyday design

One of my interests is “everyday design”, usability and functionality of ordinary things. The book by Donald A. Norman (co founder of the Nielsen Norman group), The Design of Everyday Thingsprinted 1988,  is dealing with design challenges. It’s fun and interesting to read and to learn how and why everyday, simple things was designed and why some products works and others don’t and is just frustrating to use.


The tumble dryer challenge
We have a Siemens tumble dryer that is approx. 6 years old. Around a year ago it stopped working properly. After a few minutes of tumbling it just stopped and a lamp on front started to blink. (1)

It means that you should empty the water container (2). But it WAS empty! Tried again…and again…and again….same result  🙁

Look in the manual: “When the indication lamp blink, empty the water container.”  

Called a service agent – “Empty the water container. Clean condenser/lint filter. Unplug and re plug the machine (?) and try again”. Done that, didn’t help. “We can come and have a look but it cost about SEK 700-1000 to analyse the problem”. I’ll be back…

I asked Google. Didn’t find a solution but information that others have had the same problem. Good to know.

Since we are about to sell the house, I thought it would be a good idea to make a final try to fix it. Some weeks ago, just before calling a service agent, I asked Google again. Success!!! There were still several others that experienced the same problem but this time I also found a suggestion on a solution to the problem (maybe I used the wrong search string the first time).

I think this case is in the department of frustrating department of usability and design of everyday things and this is not from 1988 but a machine from 2006. Don’t know how the person who put this on the net found out how to solve it but here it is:
Remove the condenser/lint filter (3).

In the very far end of the “tunnel” on there is a lid (4).

The lid is “a bit” difficult to open. Under the lid you find a lot of water and lint, quite “gooey”.
I thought it was difficult to reach the “secret department” this way and tried to open the side of the machine. I removed the top of the dryer, no problem. Removed all the screws that hold the side, no problem. But couldn’t remove the side since it was mounted with plastic splints and not screws to the front cover. Put everything back again :-(.
With help of a mirror, torchlight, cloth and paper it managed to remove the “goo” . It helped, the dryer works again 🙂
There is also a “float” in this “secret compartment” where lint also could get stuck and make the “float” to stop in top position and then the machine thinks the water tank is full and stop the dryer due to security reasons.
I admit, I am not a professional tumble dryer repair man but this is construction is designed so you HAVE to call the service agent to clean up the lint and empty water to make it work! And it’s not mentioned in the user manual.