From time to time we get a question from someone who just bought an appliance, and wants to modify it to be more something. An example from earlier today:

How to make Ariston Hotpoint FMG 863 SK washing machine to use more water

To me, these questions read like:

I just spent lots of money on a thing. How can I void its warranty?

I don't believe they fit under the "installation or troubleshooting" rule that we have for appliances because "installation" isn't even close to what they OPs are trying to accomplish, and "troubleshooting" has the implied intent of returning a malfunctioning device to its normal operation, pretty much exactly the opposite of what they're trying to do.

Are these types of questions on-topic?

  • I don't understand how questions like the one you linked to get so many up votes. I also agree that it should be off topic.
    – Tester101
    Apr 9, 2015 at 15:22
  • On a side note, I think any question or answer that uses the word "hack", should be deleted from the system.
    – Tester101
    Apr 9, 2015 at 15:27
  • I read it as: New one doesn't work like the old one, how can I improve it?
    – Mazura
    Apr 11, 2015 at 19:27
  • 1
    How is this NOT troubleshooting? Trouble = machine works terribly due to eco-friendly junk/ (PS: Pretty much all new machines tend to have this issue.) Question: how to remove eco-friendly junk. That's how I read it.
    – maplemale
    Apr 14, 2015 at 17:19

4 Answers 4


I agree, these sort of questions should be off-topic.

As you point out they're not installation questions nor are they trouble shooting questions.

As to how it got so many upvotes - they were given on the site it was migrated from.


If this site is about home improvement or DIY, I would say improving one's appliances may be on topic.


How to hack my garage power feed by bridging CBs? should definitely be off-topic.

How do I increase the fill level on my washing machine? is (should be) on topic.

IMO disallowing "Operation of major appliances or questions regarding small appliances." is wrong. It directly conflicts with: ('operation' is, which button do I press?)

Which tools, materials, and best practices for home improvement task. Identifying the source or cause of a problem within your home. Installation, maintenance, and repair of major appliances.

That no one repairs toasters anymore doesn't make it off-topic; it's just impossible these days. People still fix microwaves, though.

I don't see any difference between modifying your furnace and a washing machine. How can I put a speed control on my furnace blower? would have to be off-topic, too.

New close reason:

Not user serviceable. The repair of these type of devices are beyond the scope of DIY Stack Exchange. Any modifications made to them without explicit instructions from the manufacturer may void warranties, violate building regulations and/or create hazardous situations.

It's not off-topic, it's: no, you can't.

Tell me how to fix my toaster: no.

Help me adjust my [thing]: yes.

  • 2
    The difference between a washing machine and a furnace, is that one is a permanent fixture and one is not. Questions about furnaces are on topic, because a furnace is a part of the home. If you allow "How do I modify my washer?" questions, you also have to allow "How do I modify my CD player?", or "How do I modify my <random object found in a home>?" questions. There has to be a line somewhere.
    – Tester101
    Apr 16, 2015 at 14:20

Something to keep in mind about the ability to ask complete questions:

Most new appliances, everything from hot water makers, to dishwashers and clothes dryers have some draw backs due to EPA required/incentive-based changes. I could see this site being more and more useless if these types of questions aren't allowed.

Example: Someone looking for assistance installing a new Baxi boiler (most of the new ones limit hot water volume due to their new eco-friendliness), may be looking for general guidelines for instance: how to install their system in such a way to allow multiple people to take showers at once. This may involve working around various EPA features and if I can't ask a COMPLETE question about my install, I'm not going to bother with this site at all. This is something you're going to see more and more questions about. By not allowing these questions, you're going to lose a lot of valuable content across the board.

Hope this helps.

  • Another new close reason: Unethical Practices. You raise a good point about the abuse of 'off topic'. The question should be raised that it might be unethical to circumvent EPA regulations required by manufacturers, not that it can't be done or that this isn't the place to ask...
    – Mazura
    Apr 15, 2015 at 0:08
  • 1
    WWMHD (What Would Mike Holmes Do)? Surely he wouldn't tell folks how to bypass EPA requirements.
    – Tester101
    Apr 16, 2015 at 17:14
  • 1
    I'm not interested in an environmental ethics debate and if I was, there are many other forums I could do that on. Maybe questions about how to alter your appliance so it works better are off topic. But, one thing is certain: The environmental ethics implications of doing so are 100% off topic. If Stack Exchange becomes the place were we argue about the ethics of a question or Stack Exchange attempts to regulate the ethics of questions, the site becomes useless. That is my point.
    – maplemale
    Apr 16, 2015 at 18:05

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