Author Topic: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet  (Read 4470 times)

Offline Thermofix

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Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« on: June 10, 2015, 01:17:02 am »
We got our TM31 two and half years ago, and have had ongoing problems with it for the past year.
 These problems will ring familiar to many TM31 owners: Firstly, when I came to the machine first thing in a morning, none of the buttons would work ... but then later in the day as the air warmed and became less humid, some of the buttons came to life.

I figured the problem must have been moisture inside the machine, leading to partial short-circuiting of the electronics. To test this theory, when the TM31 next played up, I placed the unit on top of my coffee machine's warmer plate for half an hour - and sure enough all buttons except the 80 deg C and Tare buttons came to life.
 I found that the only way to restore full functionality was to leave the 'mix on the coffee machine to dry out for several hours ... but on very damp days, even this didn't work.

We went the usual route of reporting to consultant > describing the problems in detail > sending machine for repairs > talking to service staff to double-confirm the nature of the faults .... and of course the machine came back unimproved. Nothing had been done to address the problem.

Upon speaking to Thermomix in Brisbane, they reported they'd replaced the front fascia (not asked for or required - I mean how is that going to address dampness inside the machine?) and Thermomix in Perth said the fascia had been replaced AND the unit had been completely disassembled - and that there was nothing wrong with it, and that the only problems were the ones I was causing.

Unfortunately for Thermomix, my hubby is indefatigable when it comes to fixing things. So, with no prospect of a solution from Thermomix, I eventually relented (oh, how he persisted) and allowed him to dismantle the TM31 (he could barely wait) and diagnose the problem. The machine is out of warranty anyhow, so there's nothing to lose.

 The first thing he was heard to say was, "Urmph, just got to go into the workshop to make a special tool to remove the six main Torx screws at the base of the unit." Ten minutes later he emerged with a long probe-like tool, and set about dismantling the unit. He went on to say, "I see ... this is a company that so wants to conceal and obfuscate what's inside, they have gone to great lengths to make it effectively unserviceable to the user. I am most suspicious of any such motives."

Upon lifting off the white top cover; the second thing he said was "Urgh, what a disgusting mess! This machine has never been apart!"





























The pictures I have embedded in this text depict two and a half years' worth of grime, oil, mould-on-top-of-mould growths, piles of rotting food, heaped deposits of some sort of powdery residue …. And upon initial opening, there was clear evidence of moisture coating the innards throughout.
I think we've all been led to believe that the Thermomix is an inviolable unit with squeaky-clean innards .... but this is opposite to the truth.

Hubby then produced the culprit …. A somewhat soggy front fascia circuit board which showed clear signs of corrosion damage, as shown below. Despite the inevitably familiar assurances from Thermomix, the truth is there's nothing special under the cover of the TM31. It's just another appliance, comprising printed circuit boards, a motor, some buttons to operate it ... this is all ordinary stuff.

Hubby opined, “What is very surprising though is that this machine, working as it does with hot and saline liquids, has precious little protection from ingress of these fluids. It's extraordinary there is no seal between the motor shaft and the white cover above ... which of course means that sudden spillage from the jug can flood the motor's electrics as well as the sensitive printed circuit boards. To me this is as mindless as it is careless. And then, as if to guarantee a machine failure, none of the circuit boards are sealed to proof them against moisture. This, on a $2000 machine, is an insult.”
Yes darling, I do agree.

 I might just let him go on to describe the damage: “Where there's muck and moisture, there's strife ... and the Thermomix is no different. The pic below shows a corroded area on the front fascia panel's printed circuit board. You can see the gnarly 'humps' of corrosion that have been caused by the base of the board sitting in a wet patch of presumably saline liquid … the fluid has ‘wicked’ up inside the wafer of the board and attacked the printed circuit. The dirt and dust on the board, allied with the decomposition of the printed circuit caused by moisture ingress and subsequent corrosion, has allowed electricity to partially ‘jump’ the gap between circuit lines, causing the failure modes we have been experiencing.”



With nothing to lose, hubby set about trying to repair the offending circuit board; first drying it out with treatments of alcohol (dewatering agent) and then liberal cleaning with electrical circuit board cleaner … and after some fine toothbrush cleaning followed by a few sessions of drying out, the circuit board was found to be recoverable. 



Next, hubby applied circuit board sealant (which is what Thermomix should have done in the first place I mean after all it would only cost them a few cents per machine) to hopefully ward off further damage. The machine works perfectly now – which of course vindicates my initial suspicions regarding the cause of the problem.
Before re-assembling the TM31, all parts were rigorously cleaned, and those that needed lubricating with food-grade grease were duly lubed.

 Two main lessons have been learned:

 (1): All Thermomixes are evidently susceptible to such moisture/debris caused problems, and as such they would all benefit from having their circuit boards sealed against moisture/debris ingress.

 (2): Contrary to the boilerplate assurances from Thermomix agents, all Thermomixes evidently need to be periodically dismantled for cleaning and maintenance, and to check them for signs of corrosion.

 As I said, there’s absolutely nothing ‘special’ about these machines – except the initial high purchase price. For that sort of money we ought to be assured that the machines are fit for duty, which is to say handling of liquids
and dust/debris/powder ingress without any risk of internal strife.

 But that’s not the world we’re living in. The real shame, then, is that despite these clearly preventable service issues, Thermomix are not being honest or forthcoming. People can’t be forever pacified by clipped messages
such as “Your Thermomix agent will contact you” … because clearly the whole Thermomix ‘repair’ regimen is a failed exercise.

In order to restore some measure of client confidence, Thermomix need to start listening carefully to their customers’ observations and complaints, and they need to genuinely address them.
They need to come clean about the common causes of problems, and remedies to these problems, because this is what Thermomix users need to keep their machine running. It’s of no use to just let the machines corrode to death, and then forever keep sending them back for repair. This just means unnecessary downtime and expense.

So Thermomix, just be the decent supplier and forget about trying to assure us all that your machines are perfect in conception and function. They are not. They clearly suffer many known maladies, and people need to know what these are, and the circumstances that cause the issues, so owners can be informed and active in preventing problems happening. This is not black magic – it’s just a kitchen appliance, and one that has been found wanting in several areas.

Claims by Thermomix that “The circuit boards cannot be cleaned, they can only be wiped down” are utter nonsense, and fly in the face of logic, reason and proven fact.

These machines can be fixed. Maybe the Thermomix repair centres are only ‘allowed’ to do certain pre-approved procedures, or maybe they don’t know what the hell they are looking at. For sure, it is evident that diagnosis is not their strong point.

Thermomix, your customers will not be fooled by obfuscation, omission, lies, half-truths or fingers-in-ears denial of machine shortcomings. Sooner or later, like us, we are going to ‘pop open the hood’ and see that these machines are anything but special. We see the grime and moisture and rotting food and rusting motors, and we clean up the mess and we seal the vulnerable components against future damage. We shouldn’t have to do this.

It’s Thermomix’s job. Nevertheless, the need for corrective action is there.

Anyone who wants some pointers on servicing their Thermomix, feel free to message me and I’ll be happy to put you onto hubby. He’s fired up about getting these machines sorted, and keen to share what he has learned.

After all, these are marvellous machines, when they're working well!

Offline judydawn

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2015, 01:42:39 am »
Perhaps you should send this information to Head Office Thermofix.  I would say that most owners have been happy with the service from H.O. but obviously you were completely let down when yours went in for repairs.
Judy from North Haven, South Australia

Learn from the mistakes of others. You haven’t time to make them all yourself.

Offline ElsieD

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2015, 02:02:47 am »
Wow, Thermofix, thank you for your write-up.  It is one of the most thorough ones I have ever seen.  It will be interesting to see of other people have had similar problems and what the reaction from Thermomix was.  It is a very expensive machine and it sounds as though Thermomix was very dismissive of your complaint.  Maybe your write up on this excellent and far reaching forum will cause them to sit up and take notice.  I am in Canada and have not yet had any problems with mine.  For the sounds of your experience, I would not like to have any problems, either, especially since DH has two left, but well meaning thumbs when it comes to repairs of any kind.  I will be following this thread with interest.  Thanks again to you and your husband too.

Offline Thermofix

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2015, 02:28:04 am »
Perhaps you should send this information to Head Office Thermofix.  I would say that most owners have been happy with the service from H.O. but obviously you were completely let down when yours went in for repairs.
Thanks for the tip, and indeed we will send this to head office. Although I'm sure they will become aware of this post soon anyway.
Okay your points are well taken though. In all honesty, we wish the TM31 had just been repaired when we sent it back (gosh we missed it!) and it is most unfortunate that the key issues hadn't been addressed. If it was the case that ours was an isolated incident, we would have persisted with trying to get a result from Thermomix.  But, from reading complaints from other owners on several forums, websites and Facebook groups, we saw a pattern of failures people are trying to deal with that seem consistent with what we have experienced.   Further; the frustration from these owners was veritably bleeding off the page ... because their problems are ongoing.
The way it should work is; send unit in for repair. It is repaired, then sent back - fixed. If this were the case, we'd have no complaint. No reason to complain. But .... my post above seeks to do two things:

(1): To send a message to Thermomix owners that they aren't going mad, and that their problems are real, and that they have real causes. All people want to do is to understand their machines a bit better, and thus to be able to keep them running efficiently. Time and time again we see questions from owners about what might be going wrong/what might they be able to do to help .... and this is typically responded to with a "Your consultant will be in touch" message. This is not molecular biology - it's just simple snippets of knowledge that can prevent problems before they occur, and to fix them when they do occur.

(2): To send a message to Thermomix that their machines are not anymore shrouded in mystery; and that if they want a ring-fenced company-only service regimen, then they had better try a bit harder to actually diagnose and repair faults that do occur. Otherwise, the Internet will make plain the steps owners can take to prevent reliability problems, and to fix them when they arise.
In other words, there will be no need for an alternative solution, if the company just does right by its customers to begin with.

In essence, it serves no-one to have a Thermomix out of action. In this condition the machine is for its owner just a paperweight. If it's not repaired adequately when sent back to the manufacturer; once again this serves no-one.  Think of the poor owner, who apparently has no clear path to take to restore functionality of their machine. Do they send it back again, once again with a detailed description of the failures being experienced? Well no, not if the company says there's nothing wrong with the machine.
Do they go to consumer affairs or some other arbitration service? It would seem some of them do.
One thing seems clear, and that is that even the customers who have 'paperweight' Thermomixes (whether in or out of warranty) that have been unsuccessfully 'repaired' by Thermomix, do indeed have a third option - and that option is to fix the machine themselves, and in such a way that enhances the machine's reliability/longevity.

Offline cookie1

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2015, 07:50:02 am »
Thanks Thermofix. I found reading your article really interesting, and the photos were a plus. It scares me to think what may be on the inside of my TM31.  I try to be careful but there are times when the unexpected happens.
May all dairy items in your fridge be of questionable vintage.

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Offline kyton

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2015, 07:47:02 am »
Whilst it's unfortunate you have had this experience, this forum is not owned or managed by any Vorwerk company. My TM31 has been working perfectly fine for 3yrs so far, even after I managed to burn the bum by accidentally turning on the stove under it.

Possibly you live in a humid area that has lead to the faults?
Kylie

Offline Thermofix

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2015, 01:38:41 pm »
Hi Kyton,
Oh yes, we've nearly turned the stove on underneath the 'mix! Scary stuff.

Yes we do live in a humid area ... (Tropical North Queensland, at the same latitude as Tahiti) although the faults came to light one year after moving to a less humid area; 2400ft. higher than our previous locale.) It's also cooler here; and that should in theory slow down any chemical reactions/corrosion.

The thing is though, any appliance that  works with and around liquids needs to be designed to be robust in such a damp environment t - and a bit of humid air is nothing compared to ingress of liquid. The take-home point of course is that the circuit boards should be sealed against moisture, nay they need to  be sealed against moisture.

We work with electronic control units, as shown in the pic below; inside which are circuit boards and silicon chips which are fully encased in waterproof resin. This is the standard of electronic integrity that is required for any unit that is to be used around fluids, debris, insect infestation, etc.



It's the same story with home air-conditioning units - i.e. most of their circuit boards are not sealed at all against ingress of insects, lizards, moisture etc. and consequently the circuit boards fry when exposed to these risk factors. Only some higher-end companies' units, such as Daikin, do the right thing and seal their boards with the correct sealant. Of course, there's nothing stopping the buyer of any aircon unit circuit board (or other circuit board) popping out the boards upon initial installation, and sealing them themselves. It's much better insurance against future problems than any warranty, because the chances are that the aircon unit is going to fail on the eve of a midsummer family feast, in the holidays, when no-one is working at the aircon company ....

The bottom line is that for a company charging so much for their kitchen appliances, then there ought to be clear evidence of superior materials and workmanship throughout the product. Vorwek could, by resin-encasing all electronics, thoroughly future-proof these appliances and by so doing, ensure that the life of all Thermomixes is extended far beyond that of any of the 'cheaper' alternative units. The fact they don't do this speaks to a lack of concern about product service life. The cynic might say this is a self-serving move, given that the practice of 'built-in breakdown timeline' manufacturing is apparent everywhere one looks these days.

Obviously, I can't claim to know what Vorwerk's corporate strategy is with regard to this, but I can shine a light on the nature of the components used inside Thermomixes - and I can make the obvious observation that the circuit boards should be sealed. If the $200 ECUs we work with every day are 100% resin encased, and indeed if I can seal Thermomix boards myself using products such as this -
http://www.crc.co.nz/Automotive-Corrosion-Protection--Coatings-Protective-Coatings/p1/Plasticote-70-i51f9e8f7-1b30-4283-b80e-ffb41dd6447a-6552.htm - then really, it's not too much to ask for from a gilded firm like Vorwerk.  ;) ;D

We are people who don't mind at all paying high prices to get the very best products. Naturally, we do expect to see a visible improvement over the cheaper alternatives, and if we don't see this, it's also natural that we would want to find out why. The other thing is, if there are ways we can identify of improving the service life and/or functionality of these units, then by crikey that's what we will do. Besides, it's fun!



Offline achookwoman

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2015, 07:38:03 am »
Thermomix,  sorry to read that you have had problems with your machine. 
I have had 2. 31s and now have a 5. I give them tough love but respect my machines, and they work very hard.    . I had 2 31 because I give bread  making lessons.  These machines are now getting a work out by my DD and DDIL. No problems , and we live in a challenging environment.  The opposite to yours.
What surprises me is that other Forum members who live in tropical areas of Australia have not reported similar problems.
As has already been said, we are a community who share recipes and ideas.  You need to deal directly with HO or the parent company in Germany.

Offline Thermofix

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2015, 01:04:50 am »
Thanks for the input. I believe the reason many people keep silent about problems they have with their Thermomixes is simple - it's not a positive feeling to go onto a web forum and admit your $2000 investment is a paperweight. There's a certain amount of pride bound up in making such an investment .... plus Vorwerk have been very clever with their distribution method, which attempts to make TM evangelists out of all their customers. Thus, TM owners are loathe to burst this positivity 'bubble.' I think they'd also worry about possibly being attacked on a forum? But ultimately, who knows .....

I do want to clarify one point though, and that point is that we didn't come on this forum to find solutions. We already found our own solution. Our motivation is to simply show people that the TM is not impenetrable; and its inner workings are not difficult to understand. Further, the unsealed circuit boards really should be sealed against moisture. It is also our belief that TMs should be dismantled periodically for cleaning .. as it cannot be sanitary to have all that rotting food building up inside; and functionality of the machine is going to be in question when organic matter builds up on the faces of the circuit boards.

We did have a 'phone call from TM, who offered to replace the offending circuit board. We'll see if that comes to pass and if it does, it will be much appreciated. Sometimes, it's the squeaky wheel ..................

If the new circuit board gets fitted, we will dismantle the machine when we get it back, and apply sealant to that front circuit board, to prevent future board corrosion.

Thermomix,  sorry to read that you have had problems with your machine. 
I have had 2. 31s and now have a 5. I give them tough love but respect my machines, and they work very hard.    . I had 2 31 because I give bread  making lessons.  These machines are now getting a work out by my DD and DDIL. No problems , and we live in a challenging environment.  The opposite to yours.
What surprises me is that other Forum members who live in tropical areas of Australia have not reported similar problems.
As has already been said, we are a community who share recipes and ideas.  You need to deal directly with HO or the parent company in Germany.

Offline topendchick

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2018, 03:10:16 am »
Thank you so much for sharing you post. I am about to do the same as your hubby. Waiting for my brother to make the tool to access the screws to remove the cover, otherwise I'd have to send it to WA with a possible charge of $400+ for a main board.

Offline cookie1

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2018, 05:06:07 am »
Topendchick I hope it works for you.
May all dairy items in your fridge be of questionable vintage.

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Offline epicurus

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2018, 02:23:56 am »
I am a retired, qualified electrician living in Perth, Western Australia.

My sister and her youngest daughter both own Thermomix machines.

I was seriously considering buying the latest model until I found this forum.

I cannot see the photos in my Firefox web browser:

Posted by: Thermofix on: June 10, 2015, 01:17:02 am

Are the photos still available?

The Torx tool is available at a good professional toolshop.

There are two versions, one has a hole drilled in the middle. That is a security feature to stop people opening the machine.

The printed circuit board cleaners and tropical varnish are available from Jaycar, Altronics and RS Components.

I may be able to help.

If anyone living in Perth has a defective, irreparable, out of warranty machine I am willing to look at it.

I will dismantle it, photograph the internals and post it on the website.

There are no guarantees I can repair the machine, it depends on the internal damage.

If the machine can be repaired, it may help others and break the stranglehold on the Thermomix service department.

Offline cookie1

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2018, 06:52:34 am »
George that isn't you is it? I remember you offering to help HO fix machines for a while when they were very busy.
May all dairy items in your fridge be of questionable vintage.

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Offline epicurus

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Re: Thermomix, There's Nothing New Under the Bonnet
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2018, 09:34:11 am »
No my name is John. I actually found this forum looking for Thermomix faults.

The Water leaking through the base into the motor is a serious issue and also the water inside the unit. I emailed the Office of Energy in Perth, the electrical licensing authority in Western Australia for an opinion on the issue. I will report back when I have an answer. I also found a Spanish dismantle video on YouTube. I cannot understand Spanish, I can follow the dismantle instructions. There is 230 volt mains inside the unit, it does require a licensed electrician to dismantle and repair.

When you assemble the insert after cleaning, make sure the pot does not leak. Sit it on a plate with a paper towel on top and check for dampness on the towel. A water leak will go directly into the motor. Very Poor design.