Saturday, October 2, 2010

I fixed it! For now...

Warning!  No cute kid pictures in this post.  Skip reading if you don't want to know how to fix a breast pump.

When small appliances (blenders, hair dryers, etc.) around the house break, I like to open them up and see if it's something I can fix.  Most of the time, I end up throwing all the parts away and buying a replacement.  I love to see how stuff works. 

Since I started back to work in July, my breast pump has sounded like it was on its last leg.  Apparently the average pump lasts around 1 year regardless of whether you pay $100 or $200 for it. The exception is a hospital grade pump (they cost $1,000-2,000). Those pumps can last for decades.  On Friday the pump was working so poorly that I was fearful I would need to go out and buy a new one before the weekend was over.  It had served me well for a year when Camille was a baby and has now worked hard for a few months with Meghan.  Of course, I had to at least try to fix the pump before I bought a new one.  I am posting this for anyone with a similar pump (Ameda Purely Yours) that is interested in fixing it.

Step 1. Remove the cover.

Here's a picture of what the actual pump looks like.
The piston on the right of this picture (blue & black) is covered with a clear case that is not supposed to move away from the cream colored motor on the left.  Unfortunately, it is held by some very cheaply made clear clips.  You can see one such clip in this photo immediately behind the black and red wires.  There should be clips all around the clear case, but most of the clips on my pump have broken off and were rattling around inside the pump's outer cream shell.  The result of this was that I would frequently have to manually hold the clear case against cream pump shell where the tubing connects.  I would also need to turn the pump up to maximum suction to get it to work, and then dial the suction down periodically so I didn't tear any skin.  (I know, it's a terrible thought.)

Note:  the white residue in the clear piston case is actually grease, not milk.  The Ameda Purely Yours has a special hygienic system to prevent milk from traveling through the tubing into the motor.  This is actually the main reason why I chose to buy this pump.
Step 2. Push the clear piston case flush against the cream motor casing. 

Here is a visual of my quick fix.  I used duct tape to secure the clear piston case to the motor case.  Then, I stabilized the clear piston case by looping a rubber band around the peg holding the electrical board and the other end around the piston case.  You can see the broken clear clips laying on the counter next to the pump.

Here's a close-up of the duct tape and rubber band.  My only concern is that the rubber band puts too much pressure on the peg holding the electrical board and may cause it to snap.  We'll see how long this lasts.
Step 3. Put the cover back on the pump.
Here's the pump re-assemble.  It looks good as new and works wonderfully!

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