If you are a hearing aid user, you know how important your hearing aids are. Without them you may have difficulty hearing when having phone conversations. You may also struggle to keep up with conversations at parties or family gatherings. Even watching a program on television is impossible when you cannot hear some or all the dialogue. That is why a hearing aid malfunction may present an urgent problem for you.
When your hearing aids stop working or do not work properly, repairs are in order. The type of repair needed, cost of the repair, and time the repair takes may vary. The specific model of hearing aid you use, and the nature of the problem have the most impact on the cost. Although, the place where you have the repair performed also matters.
Hearing Aid Types and Model
Some hearing aids fit inside the ear canal. Known as canal hearing aids or in-canal hearing aids, they are the smallest hearing aids. In-the-ear aids take up part or all the space in the outer ear, making them easily visible to the naked eye. Behind-the-ear aids consist of electronics positioned behind the ear and a wire or tube leading to another piece inside the ear.
Hearing aid models also come in analog and digital forms. Analog hearing aids offer basic functionality and use electrical signals to convert sounds. Digital hearing aids typically cost more than analog hearing aids because they contain different types of parts and offer more precise adjustment options due to the use of digital circuits and numerical codes. Much like their initial costs, the costs to repair digital hearing aids are often higher than repair costs for analog hearing aids.
Common Types of Hearing Aid Malfunctions
If you are wearing your hearing aids and not hearing any sounds at all, the hearing aids are clearly malfunctioning. That issue is commonly known as “dead” hearing aids. You can sometimes correct it with new batteries. If battery replacement does not work, repair is the next option. Other potentially less obvious signs you may need hearing aid repair include:
Feedback (May Sound Like a Whistle)
Distorted or “Strange” Sounds
Sounds Too Quiet to Hear Properly
Obvious physical damage is another common type of hearing aid malfunction. For instance, a tube may separate from a receiver on a behind-the-ear hearing aid. If part of the hearing aid is disconnected or visibly broken, it may need immediate repair. It is also possible the damage is too extensive, in which case total replacement is a better option.
Common Reasons For Hearing Aid Malfunctions
There are many reasons your hearing aids can potentially malfunction. For example, many hearing aids are small and easy to drop. If you set them on a table or counter and accidentally put something on top of them, it can also cause physical damage. Other damage can occur from issues like wax building up on the hearing aids. Additionally, some hearing aids are waterproof, but most are not. Accidentally wearing non-waterproof hearing aids in the shower or when swimming is a leading cause of hearing aid damage.
Another common reason for hearing aid malfunctions is routine wear. For instance, behind-the-ear hearing aids that use tubing to connect to the receivers need regular tubing replacement. When you purchase your hearing aids initially, make sure you ask about routine maintenance needs for the type and model you select. Some models are relatively low maintenance, but all need repairs or replacement eventually.
Ways to Limit Hearing Aid Malfunctions
It is virtually impossible to totally avoid ever dealing with any hearing aid malfunctions, but there are ways to limit the need for repairs. Performing routine maintenance on your hearing aids each day is important. Clean wax off them and check for minor damage daily. Small problems are easier to repair before they worsen. How you store your hearing aids is also important. Here are some useful storage tips:
Keep your hearing aids in a designated place when not in use so you are less likely to crush, step on, or drop them.
Store your hearing aids in a safe, sealed container.
Unless they are waterproof, do not wear or store your hearing aids in moist areas, such as your bathroom.
Keep your hearing aids away from extreme heat sources.
Store your hearing aids in a place children and pets cannot reach.
Average Hearing Aid Repair Costs
The average cost to repair hearing aids varies by location. According to 2020 data, approximately 76% of hearing aid repairs performed by manufacturers cost in excess of $250. Private companies often charge approximately $300 to $600 to repair a single hearing aid. However, the exact cost of a hearing aid repair varies by:
Type of Hearing Aid
Time Required to Perform the Repair (Labor Cost)
Type and Extent of Damage
Cost for Required Parts
Since the average initial cost to purchase hearing aids is $1,000 to $5,000, you must factor that into your repair decision. Depending on the repair cost you are quoted and the amount you initially paid, repair might not make sense. Total replacement of your hearing aids is sometimes a better option. That is particularly true if you have had the same hearing aids for several years, since you might prefer updated aids with more modern technology.
Reducing the Cost of Hearing Aid Repair
If you want to pursue hearing aid repair, there are ways to pay less money for the service. First, check to see if your hearing aids are still under warranty. If so, the warranty may partially or fully cover the cost. Next, see if your health insurance offers hearing aid coverage. You can also check with local civic organizations, such as your local Lions Club. Additionally, local, state, and national organizations for the deaf and hard of hearing may provide you with financial assistance if you meet their qualification requirements. If you are a veteran or immediate family member of a veteran, your local veterans organizations may also provide hearing aid repair cost assistance.