Spring 2013 is finally here! When I think about spring, I think, "Oh, goodie: Refrigerator Season!" Why do I get excited and squeal like a little piglet in a donut shop about Refrigerator Season? Because I know my phone is about to explode with a whole lotta high-dolla warm refrigerator repair calls. Here are five simple things you can do to your refrigerator right now to keep your beer tooth-crackin' cold right on through the up-coming summer heat wave.
2. Clean, gap-check, and replace-as-needed your refrigerator door gaskets
Use some Simple Green to wipe down the door gaskets and their mating surface on the refrigerator cabinet. Check for gaps, tears, or sags all the way around the perimeter of the door where the gasket meets the cabinet. If you see any gaps or damage to the gaskets, it's time to replace 'em. RepairClinic carries a complete line of replacement gaskets for all brands and models of refrigerators, all with a one year guarantee.
3. If your refrigerator has a digital display, make sure it's plugged into a surge suppressor
A digital display on a refrigerator (or any appliance) is a sure sign that it has at least one electronic control board in it. These electronic boards are just like the electronic boards used in your computer and they are subject to the same vulnerabilities as your computer. And, just like you would always use a surge suppressor to protect your computer from voltage spikes and other junk coming in on the power lines, you need to do the same thing with your home appliances that use electronic boards, which include almost all appliances manufactured within the last few years.
4. Replace your refrigerator water filter
This will both protect you from gookus in the water as well as prevent flow and pressure problems with your dispenser or ice maker. We carry a complete line of refrigerator water filters for all brands and models all at great prices and conveniently delivered to right to your home.
5. Beat the stink!
With warmer temperatures come more odors. Use this inexpensive refrigerator deodorizer to gobble up odors in your refrigerator and keep it smelling clean and fresh.
To learn more about your refrigerator or to order parts, click here.
I just wanted to share a part number I recently received from Whirlpool after much arguing and tons of recalls for this issue. I work in Northern VA area, and we have ran a lot of builder calls around here with the top shelf freezing on the SXS for the last 2 years. Whirlpool made us change sensors, pcb, dampers, blame the customer for blocking the back shelves, applying permgum inside damper area, etc. There haven't been many techs on our team that have run into this as much as the few of us stuck running new home calls. I found out they made a new damper design to fix this issue, but did not have a part# for a long time. I was to the point of telling the customer not to call us back for this issue and contact their builder and Whirlpool, so they could get this new damper. Well the part# for this new damper is W10572852. I hope this helps anyone that may run into this issue. I do not have specific model numbers, but it has mainly been the SXS manufactured in the last couple years with the ice makers located on the freezer door.
We all love those jobs where, given the brand, model, and problem description, you walk into the house already knowing what the problem is. After you've worked as an appliance tech for a while, you start noting that every machine has weak points and particular failure patterns. Some failures become so well-known that the manufacturer will issue a service bulletin on it. But what about those jobs where it's not a clear case of plug n' chug, in other words, where you DON'T know exactly what part to replace to fix the problem? Well, that may be when you have to use the tech sheet schematic, your trusty meter, and that gray swirling muck betwixt your ears to track down a pesky electrical problem.
If you don't have much experience using schematics to solve problems, this article will give you some good, practical foundational information that'll help bring you up to speed. This won't be a theoretical primer on basic electricity and making electrical measurements-- I expect most of you reading this already have that-- nawsir, we's just gonna jump right into real-world appliance problems and get stuff fixed using schematic diagrams.
In this excursion into Appliantological Excellence, we're going to review three recent service calls I did on two refrigerators and a front load washer where I used the tech sheet schematic to ruthlessly hunt down the troublesome gremlins and terminate them with extreme prejudice. In all three cases, you'll see the actual schematics used and how they were crucial to planning and executing my victorious assault.
Fixing A No-Drum Movement Problem In A Frigidaire Front-Load Washing Machine
We've all been on the no-spin complaints in these Frigidaire front load washers. As long as the drum moves during tumble, you know with 98.76% certainty that the problem is a bad door lock assembly, like in this case. Easy repair, badda-bing, badda-boom, skip n' pluck to the next job and life is good.
But what about the case where the drum isn't moving at all, no tumble, no spin, no nuttin'? Could be a bad motor control board. Could be a bad motor. Could be a bad wire connection. Could be lotsa things. But when we're on a service call, "could be's" don't do us any good; we need to slam-dunk, dead-nutz KNOW what the problem is. After all, ain't that why we professional Appliantologists makes the big money?
This video shows that sometimes finding the problem is just as much about finding voltage where it shouldn't be as much as it is about finding voltage where it should be. Using the schematic and ladder diagram on the tech sheet, I was able to prove that the problem was the motor control board because it was backfeeding 120vac to the pressure switch. Something had shorted on that board and it was toast. This justified the huge PITA of pulling this stack unit out of the closet in which it was installed (in a kitchen with new hardwood floors, no less!) to install the new board. And problem solved.
Fixing A Whirlpool Refrigerator That Intermittently Warms Up
This unit is the one with the small ADC board and mechanical cold control in the fresh food compartment control panel. It was intermittently warming up for randomly-varying lengths of time. A really tricky problem, this is one you need to catch in the act to effectively troubleshoot. In fact, I had already been out on this one two days prior to this call for the same complaint and could not find the problem since both compartments were cooling just fine when I arrived. The second time she called back, I got right out and caught this tricky bugger in the act.
Having two things bad at the same time on any one appliance is rare but it does happen and you have to be thorough and persistent to root out all the evil-doers. In this case, both the ADC board and the compressor start relay were bad.
Fixing a No-Cool Problem in a GE Side-by-Side Refrigerator
In this problem, the complaint was that the fresh food compartment was warm. A quick check in the freezer revealed that the evaporator fan motor wasn't running. Rather than tear apart the freezer right away, it's much easier on these refrigerators with a muthaboard in back to just go around behind the unit and do some quick checks right at the muthaboard to see if its sending voltage to the fan.
This is a case, also, where the original minimanual supplied with the unit was AWOL (as in gone) and I was using the copy that I had pre-loaded onto my Kindle Fire just in case. Having been burned like this before, I now always try to load the tech sheet, Fast Track manual, or minimanual onto my Kindle Fire before I run a service call on a unit. So in this video, you'll see me using the schematic on my Kindle Fire.
The lesson on this one is to expect the unexpected and don't get so caught up in the schematic that you overlook the simple things, like loose or unplugged wire harness connectors!
What's It All Mean, Seymour?
Using the schematic diagrams to troubleshoot electrical problems in appliances is not optional unless it's a very simple circuit or there's something visually burnt or disconnected. Knowing how to use the schematic can take away the guess work when trying to figure out which part to replace. The most authoritative schematic to use is the one that's on the tech sheet that came with the appliance. It supersedes the schematics in the service manual because there may have been late production revisions on that model that aren't reflected in the service manual schematics.
But don't count on the tech sheet to still be there with the appliance when you need it! About a third of the time I go out on service calls, the tech sheet is missing; either it was stolen by the sleaze bag who worked on the unit before me or the customer removed it for "safe keeping"... and then lost it. So always try to have the tech sheet for the model you're working on pre-loaded on your Kindle Fire, iPad or whatever tablet you use for storing and carrying technical documents on service calls before you run the call.
If you're not using some type of tablet computer as an information tool, you're really shooting yourself in the foot. You can buy a Kindle Fire for a little as $160! If you can't afford that for a bidness information tool, then there's something wrong with how you're pricing your service and you need to start using the Appliance Blue Book.
And if you'd like to see more videos like the ones in this article, subscribe to my YouTube channel! I'm usually filming these while literally single-handedly whuppin' up on some appliance bootay, so what they lack in production value they make up with edge-of-your seat excitement of live appliance repair action!
Just want to share a little tip on the GE 2001 and newer SXS refrigerators. Some of you I'm sure have seen this, but if you haven't, when you see this problem you will remember this post and it can turn a frustrating, time consuming and expensive call into a 5 min call that will make you look pretty smart. I had a callback today for a sxs that another one of our techs was out on yesterday. The complaint was warm fridge and freezer was ok. The other tech had written down that the damper was stuck and he manually freed it up. I called bs when I saw that diagnosis and planned on treating it like I was 1st on the call. When I get there and walk towards the fridge I notice the fridge door is uneven with the freezer, which always bothers me and I usually adjust them for the customer on GE's without bringing it up to them because it is so easy to do. That is all the other tech would have had to do. The refrigerator light wasn't shutting off because the door was dropped down too far to hit and close the switch. When this happens the motherboard recognizes this and shuts the damper down, I assume it thinks the door is open and wants to keep the warm air out of the freezer so the evaporator doesn't frost up. This time the plastic cam broke, the door dropped just enough to keep the switch from being acuated and the damper shut down. I had a good idea what was up when I saw the uneven doors. I opened the fridge door, pushed in the switch and heard the damper start to open. That was the problem. I gave the hinge a few turns and I looked pretty smart to the customer this time, but only because the 1st time I ran into this I spent about 45 min trying to figure out what was going on, including changing out the motherboard in the process, and all it needed was 5 min and a hinge adjustment. I hope this helps someone down the road.
To learn more about your refrigerator or to order parts, click here.
If your refrigerator has an ice and water dispenser, one of the things that may happen is that the ice in the bucket stops coming out the chute when you push the ice lever in the dispenser. This problem can be a real head scratcher to track down and Brother DurhamAppliance offers some sagacious tips and tricks for whuppin' up on it:
Finding the reason for clumped ice in an ice maker bucket is not always an easy thing. If you are lucky, the issue may be apparent otherwise you have to look for certain clues and use process of elimination.
This is how I would tackle your problem, it may not be elegant but it works for me.
First I would see if there is any obvious signs of problems like incomplete ice cubes, frost build up around the door or ice maker chute. This would give me a clue that the problem may be related to outside air. If not frost, as in your case, I may only do a cursory glance at the ice chute door, gasket and sealing capability of the freezer door. I do this on all fridge calls anyway. More than likely there is no air leak if I don't see frost. I then quickly see if the freezer door closes okay and engages the light switch.
Since I did not see any frost, my main focus would be on the ice maker and water valve. There is hopefully a perceptible leak so then I would start a harvest cycle with the ice maker. Most of the time If no frost is present, I start a harvest cycle even before I check the door, gaskets etc as mentioned in the previous paragraph since it's just a cursory check and I can complete it before the water valve engages. Btw with regards to your question about starting a harvest cycle ...no... only the whirpool style ice maker requires jumping. Your ice maker is started one of two ways depending on the type. If it has a white paddle, turn the ice maker off for about 10 seconds, turn it back on and press the paddle in three times within 6 seconds. If it has the metal bail arm, lower the arm and grab about two or three of the ejector "fingers" and gently but firmly pull then to you in a clockwise rotation. After a few seconds of doing this, release them and the harvest cycle will start. BTW the "fingers' as you call them on this style, are not in an up or 2:30 position like the whirlpool modular style when at rest. Remember this distinction as pulling the whirlpool style ejector fingers may destroy the ice maker.
After a few minutes, the ice maker will energize the valve. Water will enter the fill tube and run into the ice maker receiving cup. I'll look closely for leaking. If the tube or cup is partially frozen, water may fall in to the bucket. If so, problem found ..clear the ice buildup. If not, I'll look under and around the ice maker to check for any perceptible leaks. If a leak is found, I have to determine if it is coming from a crack or is the ice maker simply over flowing with water. If the latter, it may be possible to adjust the water fill level through an adjustment on the icemaker. This adjustment, however, usually adds or subtracts only about one or two tablespoons of water at the most. If this adjustment doesn't stop the overfill situation then I have to replace the valve.
If I still haven't found the problem then we have the dreaded (*&@#$!) imperceptible leak. That leak only shows up during lunar eclipses, on the 31st day of February or when you are not looking. It could be the ice maker unnecessarily energizing the valve or the valve itself. There's several ways to handle this. Replace them both or one at a time. This depends on how much time/customer's money you want to spend.
If the ice maker is more than five years old or has peeling Teflon coating, I would replace it first as it needs to be replaced anyway and see what happens. If leak continues after a few days, then it's time for a new valve.
If the ice maker is relatively new, I would replace the valve first since it is generally less expensive. If I get them from repair clinic I can always return the part that did not fix the problem.
There is also a neat test that can be done on the valve to see if it is the problem. Remove all ice and water from the ice maker, remount it but do not connect it. no...simply turning it off aint good enough. Keep it disconnected (or disconnect the ice maker side of the valve). If, after a few days, there is water in the ice maker, then undoubtedly we have a leaky water valve.
Other things to consider, ice maker mold heater not turning off, very high/low water pressure at the spigot, water filter issues and an out of sync ice maker, Whew! I need to start charging more for this repair. I'm exhausted just pretending to do it and I am certain I missed a thing or two. Anyhow, by now I should have solved the problem and it's time for a brewski. But no, can't since I'm pretending to be at work! All I can do is quietly celebrate by putting another victory notch on my screw gun.
To learn more about your refrigerator of to order parts, click here.