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Appliantology Newsletter: Special Weapons and Tactics in Appliance Repair

appliantology, newsletter
Appliantology Newsletter
Special Weapons and Tactics in Appliance Repair
October 19, 2012
Presents
Special Weapons and Tactics in Appliance Repair
All Master Appliantologists acquire advanced repair katas during their years of hand-to-machine combat with malfunctioning appliances. Examples of how some of these Special Weapons and Tactics are used in appliance repair include:


- diagnosing elusive or subtle problems


- gaining insight into the condition of a component and assessing its likelihood of future or imminent failure


- testing specialized components to see whether they're good or bad


- facilitating or implementing a particular repair


In this special issue of Appliantology, I'll reveal some of my personal, favorite SWATs that I use on some service calls which can also be useful for amateur appliantologists working on their own appliances.


The Hand-Held Steamer
Good for all kinds of household tasks such as cleaning and disinfecting, the mighty hand-held steamer is indispensable for some appliance repairs. For example, defrosting a frosted-up evaporator coil or clearing a clogged condensate drain in a refrigerator. In fact, since I've been using my steamer, I can't imagine doing these types of repairs without it! It's makes quick work of these messy jobs.


Take a look at the icy mess in the freezer in this video; this repair would have taken over two hours without a steamer but, with the steamer, I did this entire repair in less than an hour!



You can buy the very same steamer I used in the video at Amazon for $15 less than what I paid for it! http://amzn.to/OPggAo


Refrigerator Temperature Data Logger
Sometimes I run into situations where I need a way to log temperature data inside a refrigerator for at least 24 hours to get a clear picture of what's going on inside that box. A couple of examples are:


1. Customer complains of warm temperatures in the beer compartment of her Maytag side-by-side refrigerator but says that the freezer compartment is fine (and we know how accurate customer temperature measurements are... NOT!). You arrive and measure the freezer temperature using your infrared temperature gun and get readings that vary from +5F to +12F. Marginal temperatures for a freezer but was that because it was just coming out of a defrost or off-cycle? Was the door recently opened just before you got there? You don't know, and all you have is the one data point: the measurement you just made. Wouldn't it help your diagnosis if you could put a data logger inside the freezer for a day or so and then look at a graph of the actual temperature measurements inside that freezer over time?


2. Customer complains that the freezer temperature in her GE built-in refrigerator fluctuates over time from 5F to 10F to 20F and then back to hard freeze. You maybe even verified this yourself (if you spent enough time there to do this). But how much time in a typical service call day do you have to babysit freezer temperatures? And you still wouldn't be able to gather enough temperature-time data points to discern whether or not there's a pattern to the fluctuations which could then be correlated to some other process in the refrigerator (defrost cycles, compressor cycles, etc.). Even seeing that there is no pattern, that the fluctuations are random, is also helpful because it could indicate something as simple as the door not being closed all the way (hinge adjustment issue?).


In cases like these, you just gotta be able to look at the temperature inside the compartment over an extended period of time. Enter the Supco LT2 LOGiT Dual Channel Temperature Data Logger. Here's a video of me showing you how to set up and use the data logger:



Here's the link where you can buy the Supco LT2 data logger at Amazon: http://amzn.to/WLMe2t


and you'll need this software kit to get the data to your Windows PC, also available at Amazon: http://amzn.to/S3bmhb


Special Meter Technique for Testing a Microwave Oven High Voltage Rectifier
You probably know how to use a multimeter to make simple electrical measurements, like voltage and resistance. (If not, then see this page at my blog for a simple tutorial on using a multimeter: http://fixitnow.com/wp/2004/12/18/appliance-repair-revelation-making-basic-electrical-measurements/ ) But sometimes, you have to do a voltage test in an unusual way to check whether a component is good or bad. A common example of this is testing the high voltage rectifier (also called a diode) in a microwave oven. This is an inexpensive, common-fail part that will stop the microwave from heating if it breaks.


For most rectifiers, you test 'em by simply measuring the resistance and then switching the leads and checking it again-- should read open (high resistance) in one direction and closed (low resistance) in the other. But microwave high voltage rectifiers are a special case because their internal resistance is so high that you'll just read open in both directions and you can't tell whether it's good or bad that way. So, to test them, you have to actually do a voltage test using a 9 volt battery. This esoteric kata is fully revealed in this video:



The Mega-Ohm Meter (or "Megger")
One of the common failures with a refrigerator compressor is that the varnish insulation on the motor windings starts to break down and then begins leaking current to ground. If the current leakage is large enough, you can deduce that this is happening by measuring compressor current draw-- an abnormally high reading combined with the compressor running hotter than normal are sure signs that the insulation on the compressor motor windings is breaking down and the compressor is not long for this world.


Or you could directly test the compressor motor windings using an instrument called a mega-ohm meter, or "megger," to directly test the integrity of the winding insulation. I use an inexpensive megger that cost less than $100 (back when I bought it a million years ago-- it's not much more than that now). This video shows using a megger to check the compressor motor:



You can buy the updated version of the Supco megger that I used in the video at Amazon: http://amzn.to/R8LDGd


The Clamp-On Amp Meter
Measuring current flow through a circuit or component is a powerful troubleshooting tool to have in your appliance repair SWAT bag.


For example, on a Bosch dishwasher that's not heating, a quick current measurement a few minutes into the cycle will tell you whether or not current is flowing through the heater. If not, yet the control board is supplying 120 volts to the heater circuit, then you know the problem lies in the heating circuit itself because something in that circuit (heater, NTC, etc.) is open, stopping current flow.


Other times, the only way you can tell whether or not a part is bad is by measuring the current flow throughout that part. For example, the ignitor in a gas oven glows but the bake burner never fires up: is it a bad gas valve? Bad ignitor? Flip a coin and guess? No need to guess if you can make a simple current measurement. (Note that an ignitor can glow and still be bad-- in fact, this is the most common case.) This video shows you how:



I prefer Fluke meters and I own two Fluke amp meters. Here's the Amazon link to the one shown in the video, the Fluke T5, which is well under $100: http://amzn.to/Rd5pPh


And I also own the Fluke 322 which is a little more expensive (still under $100) but also more versatile: http://amzn.to/RIsQPf


And Hey!...
You can find whatever appliance part you need through the parts search box at Appliantology.org:



No harm in buying and trying with our 365-day, no-hassle return policy, even on electrical parts that were installed! And now shipping to Canada, too!


I frequently make videos when I'm on service calls and upload them to YouTube. Keep up with my latest uploads by subscribing to my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/samurairepairman


Reading this online and want your own, personal copy of Appliantology delivered to your inbox in a discreet brown wrapper? Subscribe here: http://newsletter.appliantology.org/
Samurai Appliance Repair Man, www.Appliantology.org



Understanding the Neutral Drain Function in a Whirlpool Direct-Drive Washer Transmission

Posted by Samurai Appliance Repair Man, in Washing Machine Repair 19 October 2012 · 1,693 views
whirlpool, washer, direct-drive and 1 more...
The neutral drain in the Whirlpool direct-drive washer puts the transmission into neutral while the tub is draining. The purpose is to save wear and tear on the clutch, drive coupler, and motor. While it's function and operation are simple and easy to understand, it can still be confusing for folks.

Chief Master Appliantologist DADoESTX offers one of the simplest and clearest explanations of the neutral drain function that I've ever read:

pzion,

Neutral drain is exactly that ... no agitation and no spin ... just the motor running to pump out the water.

The motor is reversible. Runs one direction for agitation, reverses for drain and spin.

The pump runs at all times, in whichever direction the motor is running. Agitate direction, it forces the water back into the tub outlet. Reverse (drain & spin) direction, the water pumps out of the tub and through the drain hose.

During agitation, the neutral drain mechanism (cams and pawls and latches and such) in the transmission presets so that when the motor next pauses briefly and restarts in the reverse direction, the tranny goes into neutral drain mode.

When drain is finished (one increment on the timer, 2 minutes), the motor pauses, the neutral drain latch mechanically releases, and the motor restarts in the same (reverse) direction to engage spin. Of course, draining also occurs to pump away the water extracted from the clothes.

The pause between agitate and drain is required both for the motor to coast to a stop before reversing, and for the neutral drain latch to engage.

The pause between drain and spin is required for the neutral drain latch to release.

The neutral drain parts in the transmission wear over time such that it may not preset during agitation, causing spin to begin immediately when the motor reverses.


Very early direct-drive machines (the first couple/three years) did not have the neutral drain feature. There was a pause between agitate and drain for the motor to coast to a stop, but spin (intentionally) started immediately upon the motor's reverse.



Source: Whirlpool WTW5505SQ1


Using Temperature Data Loggers to Solve Mysterious Refrigerator Temperature Problems

Posted by Samurai Appliance Repair Man, in Repair Videos, Refrigerator Repair 17 October 2012 · 1,149 views
refrigerator, temperature and 3 more...

 

 

As professional Appliantologists, we've all run into situations where we realized that we needed a way to log temperature data inside a refrigerator for at least 24 hours to get a clear picture of what's going on inside that box.  A couple of examples are:

 
Customer complains of warm temperatures in the beer compartment of her Maytag side-by-side refrigerator but says that the freezer compartment is fine (and we know how accurate customer temperature measurements are... NOT!).  You arrive and measure the freezer temperature using your infrared temperature gun and get readings that vary from +5F to +12F.  Marginal temperatures for a freezer but was that because it was just coming out of a defrost or off-cycle?  Was the door recently opened just before you got there?  You don't know and all you have is the one data point: the measurement you just made.  Wouldn't it help your diagnosis if you could put a data logger inside the freezer for a day or so and then look at a graph of the actual temperature measurements inside that freezer over time?  
 
Customer complains that the freezer temperature in her GE built-in refrigerator fluctuates over time from 5F to 10F to 20F and then back to hard freeze.  You maybe even verified this yourself (if you spent enough time there to do this).  But how much time in a typical service call day do you have to babysit freezer temperatures?  And you still wouldn't be able to gather enough temperature-time data points to discern whether or not there's a pattern to the fluctuations which could then be correlated to some other process in the refrigerator (defrost cycles, compressor cycles, etc.).  Even seeing that there is no pattern, that the fluctuations are random, is also helpful because it could indicate something as simple as the door not being closed all the way (hinge adjustment issue?). 
 
 
See what I be sayin', mah bruvah?  In cases like these (and many others-- I'm sure you can think of several that you've been on), you just gotsta be able to look at the temperature inside the compartment over an extended period of time.  Enter the Supco LT2 LOGiT Dual Channel Temperature Data Logger:
 
 

Which needs the Supco LOGiT software package to enable it to connect to your Windows PC to set it up and download the data:

 
 

...and it all works AWESOMELY! Here's a video I made showing you how to set up and use the LT2 and the type of temperature profile graph it generates:

 
 

Since I am a Mac user who (until recently) didn't own a Windows PC, the above two items necessitated the purchase of my first Windows PC in over seven years!  Turns out this was not as expensive a proposition as it sounds.  

 

I clicked on over to my favorite computer gear store, Tigerdirect.com, and picked up this refurbished Lenovo Windows 7 notebook computer for less than $300, including shipping!




Bluestar Range RCS30 Door Hinge Repair/Fix

Posted by Samurai Appliance Repair Man, in Oven-Range-Stove Repair 08 October 2012 · 1,187 views
Bluestar, range, hinge
Awesome repair tip on hinge problems in Bluestar ranges from Appliantological Brother Rooster...

1.5 year old Bluestar freestanding gas range door would not close completely[attachment=6793:Bluestar01.jpg]. This allowed heat to escape, resulting in uneven cooking temps and extremely hot knobs. (not talking about my wife!)

The Chief of Staff insisted the installer had repaired it with a "long skinny screwdriver" without removing the door.
Well, After many beers :pint1: and on-line researching sessions, I decided a few things!

1. Bluestar definitely has a door "problem"
2. I didn't want to pay for a new door
3. We live in the sticks
4. The damn thing should work!

So, I did the only thing any red-blooded American member of the Samurai Appliantology Academy would do,
decided to disassemble the door and finger it out.

What I discovered, is Bluestar has a design flaw in the interior of it's doors (at least on 2010 models).

The hinge assy spring rods:

Posted Image

(guessing at nomenclature, don't have a manual) float freely within the door. However, as you can see:

Posted Image

when closing, at full extension the ends of the bars contact the sheet metal heat shield. I flexed the heat shield out of the way, which allowed:

Posted Image

the springs to extend fully, which allowed the hinge cam rollers:

Posted Image

to complete their throw, thereby closing the door firmly:

Posted Image
.

I removed the door by releasing the receivers on each hinge:

Posted Image

then pulling the door from the oven. I then removed the Door Cover by removing all retaining screws (10).
After placing the door on a smooth covered surface ("Don't scratch the damn paint", she said with vigor!),
I used a Dremel with hardened cutting wheel to cut an approximate 1/4" incision:

Posted Image

on the heat shield on both sides ( Cut with the blade rotating in a direction which doesn't throw debris into the fireproof mat material underneath the sheet metal heat shield )

Then I reinstalled the door minus cover (note: the door without the weight of the installed cover will snap closed, requires more attention and less beer to perform):

Posted Image


Opening the door slightly allowed me to compress the springs enough to attach a vise grip:

Posted Image

to the tabs created by the cuts and bend them outwards slightly at approx 25deg angle:

Posted Image

This angle allowed enough clearance between the heat shield and the back of the door cover, and also formed a ramp upon which the spring rods ride closed.

I then removed the door, attached the cover and reinstalled the door.

Worked perfectly, door closed completely, wife happy (the most important result :thumbsup: ), no more hot knobs! I also think the first repairman knew the problem and used a long skinny screwdriver to free the guide ends. Of course, the next time we opened the door they flexed out and came to rest on the fire shield. I think maybe he was expecting another service call??? At any rate, after much searching on the web, there are a ton of complaints about Bluestar doors. Hope they find us here! Cheers!



Source: Bluestar Range RCS30 Door Hinge Repair/Fix


Daughter of Samurai's Big Fat Greek Wedding: The Movie

Posted by Samurai Appliance Repair Man, in Samurai Incarnate 06 October 2012 · 1,007 views

My daughter got married September 2 this year in Syracuse, NY. It was a Big Fat Greek wedding just like in the eponymous movie. I'm half Greek and half white :blinky: so my family contributed a little, watered-down Greekness. But my daughter married into a huge and very Greek family.

The reception was a blast: open bar with beer, wine, mixed drinks; live Greek band; lots of Greek dancing, partying and having a good time. There was so much prep leading up to the wedding that I got behind my other work and have been playing catch-up for the last month. I think things are finally getting back to normal.

Anyway, here's a movie my all-white wife put together of some shots from the wedding and reception along with a cool Avett Brothers soundtrack. Some of these pics you may have already seen in the album I posted in the Gallery at this site, but there are a lot more in the movie. Enjoy!








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