AudiologyFAQ: Maintaining and repairing hearing aids

My hearing aid is not working. What should I do?

Depending on how familiar you are with your hearing aid, you may be able to do some basic trouble-shooting to get your hearing aid working again.

  • Step 1 The first step is to ensure that you have the correct battery size and that you have correctly inserted it into the hearing aid. Then, try a new battery in the hearing aid. Even if you have recently replaced the hearing aid battery, some batteries are defective and do not last very long. It is not necessary to try more than one fresh battery. If the hearing aid is still not working, go to Step 2.
  • Step 2 Visually inspect the hearing aid. If you see wax on the hearing aid, clean it. You should have received a small brush and a wire loop with your hearing aid. Focus on the area at the tip of the hearing aid where the sound comes out. Brush the microphone gently to remove any debris or dust. If you have a wax prevention system on your hearing aid and you have been shown how to replace it, try to put a fresh wax guard in the hearing aid. If you have a behind-the-ear style hearing aid, inspect the earmold and tubing for cracks or wax. You may want to pull the earmold off the hearing aid and clean it in a mild soap and water solution. Make sure it is completely dry (including the tubing) before reattaching it to the hearing aid.
  • Step 3 If the hearing aid is still not working, contact your hearing aid clinic. In many cases, a hearing aid can be repaired in the hearing aid clinic. Some clinics do not charge for in-house repairs, as they are considered to be a part of the original cost of the hearing aid. Others may charge a service fee for in-house repairs. If a hearing aid cannot be repaired in the clinic, it may need to be sent out for repair. Most hearing aid manufacturers in Canada are located in Ontario, and therefore it may take 2 to 3 weeks to get the hearing aid back from repair. Repair costs vary depending on two factors:
    • The age of the hearing aid. If a hearing aid is less than five years old, it is normally repairable (and worth repairing). If a hearing aid is more than five years old, it is normally recommended that a repair estimate be obtained. In some cases, the hearing aid is considered ‘obsolete’ and the parts are no longer available. In other cases, the cost to repair the hearing aid may approach the cost to obtain a new hearing aid, and therefore may not be worth repairing.
    • The extent of damage to the hearing aid. In many cases, a hearing aid malfunctions simply because it is plugged with wax or there is a loose connection in the internal components. If the problem is relatively simple, the repair cost will be lower. If, however, the hearing aid has been damaged significantly (either physically or with excess moisture/corrosion), the repair may be more costly.

If you are experiencing fit or feedback problems with your custom hearing aid, a ‘recase’ may be necessary. Most custom aids come with a recase warranty of one to two years; therefore, if you are anticipating feedback or fit problems, it is a good idea to have the hearing aid recased within this warranty period.

What if I am not satisfied with my hearing aids after I have purchased them? What is the refund policy on hearing aids?

When you are fitted with hearing aids, you should be informed about the refund policy or exchange privilege. This is commonly referred to as a ‘trial period’ or a period of at least 30 days that is provided by the manufacturer, allowing you to obtain a refund or exchange if you are not satisfied with the hearing aid(s). Following this period, you may not be able to obtain a refund. If the aid(s) are lost or damaged during the trial period, your return privilege may also be canceled. If you return the hearing aid(s) for a refund, some clinics may charge a fee for the clinician’s time spent testing and evaluating the hearing aids. There is no reason for hearing aids to be in the drawer and not in your ear. If you are not happy with your hearing aids, return to your clinic and discuss your options with your audiologist or dispenser. Never keep a hearing aid with which you are not fully satisfied. If you are unhappy with the service you are receiving and you wish to make a complaint, you should contact the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professions of BC at 604.568.1568. Be aware that fitting hearing aids may take several weeks and may require several visits to the clinic before you are satisfied. Do not ‘give up’ on hearing aids if you are not satisfied with them immediately. Make sure you understand the details of the return or exchange policy and discuss any fees that you may be responsible for if you do decide to return the hearing aid(s).

What kind of warranty comes with my hearing aid(s)?

All hearing aids should come with a repair and service warranty. Hearing aids should have a minimum of a one year repair warranty on them. Many hearing aids have two year repair warranties. You may also have the option to purchase an extended warranty. After the repair warranty has expired, you may be responsible for the cost of hearing aid repairs. Some hearing aids come with a loss or damage warranty. There is usually a one-time replacement limit and a deductible applies.

How do I know what to expect from my new hearing aids?

The amount of benefit a hearing aid will provide can vary significantly from person to person and for different listening situations.
You can reasonably expect the following:

  • In both quiet and noisy situations, you should hear better with hearing aids than without hearing aids.
  • Your hearing aids should be comfortable in your ears.
  • You should be able to hear speech comfortably. Loud sounds should sound loud, but not uncomfortable.
  • The sound of your voice may at first be unusual; however, you should be able to tolerate the sound of your own voice.
  • You should not have feedback (whistling) at the volume you need to use the hearing aid.

Things you can not reasonably expect:

  • You will not hear as well in noise as you will in quiet. You may still have significant difficulty hearing in noisy situations. The degree of difficulty can depend on your degree of loss and word recognition abilities.
  • Hearing aids will not make your hearing as good as you remember it to be. They are not a cure for hearing loss; they are a treatment.

Be patient. It likely took many years for your hearing loss to happen. Your brain has adapted to not hearing well. It may take some time for you to adapt to hearing many sounds that you haven’t heard for a long time. The more you wear your hearing aids, the better your brain will become at hearing the new sounds.