Ask the Audiologist

Hearing Aid Repairs

Unlike eyeglasses which simply park on your nose, hearing aids are a complex blend of electronic and mechanical components which get vigorous use. Moving parts wear out and/or simply fail. They are subjected to moisture, extremes in temperature and the damaging effects of earwax. We demand that they make sounds loud enough but not too loud and that they be sharp and clear without being too sharp.

When hearing aids malfunction or are damaged, timely repairs are essential to maintain good communication for family, social, business and educational situations. To assist you in understanding some of the choices you have in hearing aid repairs, we have prepared this article. If you have specific questions regarding policies of your manufacturer, please discuss them with the audiological staff.

Warranty Repairs - New hearing aids are typically covered by a one-year comprehensive Loss-Damage-Repair policy provided by the original manufacturer. This covers all necessary service to the hearing aid with the exception of "consumable" parts such as batteries, tone hooks and earmolds. In some instances the manufacturers require that the aid always be returned to them for warranty work. Other manufacturers will send replacement parts such as battery doors to your audiologist so that warranty work can be completed at her office.

Circuit Changes - Changes in hearing, difficulty in specific listening situations, and the desire for the addition of some of the more sophisticated circuits sometimes require the complete redesign of the hearing aid. Many times the manufacturers will accommodate such requests at no fee but in other instances additional costs may be imposed. Your audiologist will be happy to contact the manufacturer for a cost estimate to assist you in deciding on a plan of action.

Some digital signal processing aids can be reprogrammed in the audiologist's office to act like completely different hearing aids.

Extended Warranties - The initial comprehensive policy provided with new hearing aids may often be extended from one to four additional years. Again, manufacturers' policies vary; some require decisions on extended warranties by the end of the initial trial period while other manufacturers permit year-by-year extensions. Each year of extended warranty typically costs from $100 to $200 per hearing aid per year. Such a policy allows the user to budget maintenance costs.

Please note: not all manufacturers include coverage for loss in their extended warranty or even in their initial warranty. Please be sure you know the policies regarding your own hearing aid! Separate policies offering limited loss and damage coverage are available. While they are relatively inexpensive, their coverage is limited and may not cover all costs involved in replacement. Sometimes your homeowner's insurance policy will cover loss of hearing aids.

Out-of-Warranty Repairs - Hearing aids submitted for repair which are not under warranty are issued a limited warranty as an integral part of the repair charges. Costs vary depending upon whether the repair work is contracted back to the original manufacturer or whether a general repair facility is used. Some considerations include the fact that many original manufacturers refuse to service hearing aids which are over 5 years old. General repair facilities try to use components of the original manufacturers but do not promise to do so. They do, however, promise to bring the hearing aid back in compliance with its original specifications.

In many cases, your audiologist will be able to repair your hearing aid in her lab. Audiologists are usually equipped with materials and equipment to make many mechanical repairs while you wait. If your audiolotist is able to repair your hearing aid in-house, the charges will be modest, and in many cases will be free or cost just a few dollars.

Loaner Hearing Aids - It is extremely inconvenient for you to be without your hearing aid while it is out for repair. Whenever possible, audiologists try to have loaner hearing aids available.

People requiring service on custom made (in the ear) styles of hearing aids have a special problem because loaner aids will not fit their ears. In such instances, you may wish to consider having an earmold made and held in reserve so you will be equipped to borrow a behind-the-ear hearing aid if needed. Some hearing aid users find a feeling of security in owning a back-up hearing aid of their own.

Routine repairs are typically provided in 10-15 working days.