The problem in the appliance repair trade today is that we have too many parts changers and not enough technicians. Even many experienced techs don't know the fundamentals and technology we're working with on modern appliances today. I'm talking about things like basic electricity, circuits, reading schematics, knowing how to troubleshoot, motors, microcomputer control systems.
What this means is this: you're probably not going to find techs to hire with the skills you need to grow your business.
Solution: hire based on character and then add the technical skills cost-effectively with Master Samurai Tech online training.
Many multi-tech businesses are successfully using our innovative training to grow their businesses. Here's just one example from Todd Daganaar, President of Nebraska Home Appliance, a successful appliance repair company with 9 technicians and growing!
Training at the Master Samurai Tech Academy is already a killer deal: comprehensive, state-of-the-art training that’s online and on-demand at tuition low enough that anyone can afford it.
Well now we’re kicking it up to 11 with the Master Samurai Tech Alumni program.
If you have been certified* in the Fundamentals course at the Master Samurai Tech Academy or at the Mr. Appliance Academy (Bundle 1 only), you can get full tech access to our tech support site, Appliantology.org, with no annual fee. Yes, as in FREE.
You heard that right.
You would be a Master Samurai Tech Alumnus at Appliantology with the same level of access and all the benefits of a Professional Appliantologist member (read all the benefits of PA membership here). That’s a $197/year value-- FREE!
What’s the catch? No catch but there is a small difference between PA and MST Alumnus membership.
PA members can continue to renew their membership at the annual rate and can download and request all the manuals they need regardless of how much or how little they participate in the forums.
The MST Alumnus membership is also annual but instead of paying with money, you “pay” with participation in the forums. Each year when your membership comes up for renewal, you need about a 2:1 post to download ratio to renew [UPDATED]. That means that as a general guideline, you need to have made two posts for every download.
This is super easy to do and active Appliantology members are already far exceeding this ratio without even trying. The idea here is not to place a burden (because it’s not)-- it’s to discourage people from getting the MST Alumnus membership and simply downloading manuals without interacting with the other members.
This really is a killer deal and a special perk for certified Fundamentals graduates! Why are we offering such a great deal? Simple:
We want to encourage more techs to successfully complete the Fundamentals course and get certified. This helps them be better techs and helps the trade in general.
Certified Fundamentals grads tend to be top tier techs who bring interesting questions and good problem solving insight to the forums. They are skilled techs and potentially valuable content contributors.
This deal is retroactive meaning that if you’re already a certified graduate of the Fundamentals course, you are eligible for this deal. If you’re already a PA member and a certified Fundamentals grad, we can move you to the MST Alumnus deal.
So how do you get started on this gravy train? Easy: just fill out this short form, we’ll review it and set up your MST Alumnus account here at Appliantology mo’scratchie (that’s Samurai-speak for “quickly”).
* Certified means that you meet all currently required quiz and exam score requirements for the course; see this page for details.
The Old Skool method of doing service calls was to go out on the call and pray to the pot bellied Buddha that the tech sheet was still hidden somewhere on the appliance. The plan being that, if the tech sheet was still there, you could stare at the lines and squiggles long enough to convince the customer you had reached a definitive and scientific conclusion about the problem.
My friends, I'm here to tell you that the Internet has made this Monkey Boy way of doing bidness obso-frikkin-lete! With powerful information tools, like Appliantology, at your fingertips, there's no need to rely on the pot bellied Buddha leaving the tech sheet for you. This webinar will teach you a whole new way of doing bidness using Appliantology as your trusty information tool, every bit as valuable as your Bosch driver or Princeton Tec headlamp, to increase your First Call Completes and profitability.
To learn more about all the splendiferous benefits of being a Professional Appliantologist member here at Appliantology, CLICK HERE!
Learn more about Appliantology and it's powerful benefits to you as a professional appliance tech in our free and fun short course, Appliantology 101: Your Guide to the Ultimate Appliance Repair Information Tool.
In this video for Professional Appliantologist members and Master Samurai Tech Academy students, I show you how to troubleshoot a Bosch dishwasher no-heat problem. No heat problems can manifest in a variety of ways: really long cycle times, a "1" shown on the display at the end of the cycle, or as an error code. Some models will show an error code readout, others may just show the error code as a flashing light. Whichever way, you need to troubleshoot the heating circuit.
As with all electrical problems, you need to use the schematic to pinpoint the open (bad) component. The problem could be the circuit board heating relay, the heater thermostat, the heating element itself, or the pressure switch. I show you how to use the schematic and live voltage tests to pinpoint the exact problem.
Professional Appliantologist members can watch the video at the link below:
Master Samurai Tech Academy students can watch the video here: http://mastersamuraitech.com/webinar-recording-troubleshooting-bosch-dishwasher-no-heat-problem-using-schematic-live-tests/
Here's the schematic used in the video:
Learn how to troubleshoot like a pro online at the Master Samurai Tech Academy: http://mastersamuraitech.com
Join the Samurai on this Samsung electric dryer service call and learn how to troubleshoot a no-heat complaint from the control board, without having to tear apart the whole dryer, by using the schematic and strategic electrical tests. Work smarter, not harder!
Learn how to troubleshoot appliances like a real technician at http://mastersamuraitech.com
Professional Appliantologist members here at Appliantology should watch my webinar recording on troubleshooting this same problem using live voltage tests for deeper understanding of troubleshooting techniques
Most appliances today use computers to control the various appliance functions. Computers talk in logical 1's and 0's which are actually pulses or square waves of voltage that you can see on an oscilloscope or measure with a meter. These pulses are arranged in a specific sequence to transmit and receive information inside the appliance. In this video, the Samurai uses a Samsung dryer to show you what these pulses look like and how to use this information for troubleshooting.
Come with me now on Journey of Total Appliance Enlightenment.
Learn how to troubleshoot appliances like a real technician at http://mastersamuraitech.com
This LG refrigerator was DOA- warm inside, no compressor operation, no lights, no nuttin'. Found a blown fuse on the main control board. What took out the fuse: bad board or just a spike on the power line? I show how to check for that.
The fuses on these LG boards are soldered in and not easily replaceable. But a new fuse can be installed and I show how to do that without even having to remove the board, while it's still installed in the refrigerator.
Learn appliance repair at http://mastersamuraitech.com
This short little screencast by @Son of Samurai shows you how to renew your Professional Appliantologist membership at Appliantology.org so you can continue to enjoy the many benefits the site provides to professional appliance repair technicians.
Introducing the mysterious Son of Samurai (yes, the actual spawn of Samurai), the man behind the scenes running Appliantology.org and MasterSamuraiTech.com. He's also a certified Master Samurai Tech and the Samurai's service call partner. In this episode we talked about:
- Son of Samurai, who he is and what he does to keep our websites running
- Behind the scenes at Appliantology
- Common user questions at Appliantology
- What it takes to be a professional appliance repair technician today
- Getting the most out of your Professional Appliantologist membership at Appliantology.org
Subscribe to this podcast at http://mstradio.com
Subscribe to our newsletter at http://mst.buzz
Special 4th of July episode:
- Industry News: Haeir buys GE Appliances; new Wolf induction cooktop; Italian appliance manufacturer, SMEG, gaining market share
- Firing your customer; identifying and harpooning "land sharks." Link to article discussed in the vodcast: https://www.groovehq.com/support/how-to-fire-a-bad-customer
- Current thinking on responding to negative reviews
- Dealing with unreasonable customers
- Master Samurai Tech news
Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Android and listen to past episodes at http://mstradio.com
Subscribe to our newsletter at http://mst.buzz
Hello, my infidel friends. Today, I would like to share with you a sad tale which illustrates the cultural distinction between the low-brow Arab people and the much more refined Pashtun and Tajik tribes of Afghanistan:
The full story is published here.
You see, here in Afghanistan we do not have such problems as discussed in the above article, for we consume the "bacon" of male yak. Since it is made not from pigs, our "bacon" is halal, that is, it is permitted under the Sharia laws of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate, who irritates the bowels of the wicked.
This article is but one of many examples of Arab dull-wittedness. Had Abd al Rahman Shamoun known about the enlightened Afghani yak "bacon" delicacy, he would not have needed to smuggle the unclean pig flesh in his even more unclean rectum.
It is true that my sand-slinging Arabian brethren have a rather difficult time telling the two flesh meats apart since they have no yaks in Arab countries. But penis of yak is an ancient delicacy among the the Pashtun and Tajik peoples of Afghanistan.
Although harvesting the "bacon" of male yaks leaves them neutered and impotent, the smoky, salty delicacy is a cherished part of our tribal bonding rituals.
I would like to point out the squirreling away of items in one’s rectum is an age-old technique of my people to hide our possessions, few they may be, from the many infidel invaders who have troubled our country in the past. It is part of the standard education of all boys here in genteel Afghanistan. Yes, I remember being a young boy and the extreme discomfort whenever I sat down.
This man in the news article was–how do you say in Ameedica–an amateur. While I was in the elite Appliance Repair Corps of the feared Mujahideen warriors, I once carried my entire tool bag in my rectum for 50 miles past military checkpoints just to repair one, smelly washing machine. I have never been structurally the same since that day though. We shall see what happens to the man in this article, for my keffiyeh-wearing cousins are known to overreact.
If you're contemplating doing work for someone who lives out of town (eg., rental property in your area) and whom you've never met, it's worth spending a few minutes looking them up online. Google is your friend! Choosing the wrong customer can cost you a bad online review, even though you've already refunded 100% of their money after you've provided services. There are people out there (mostly real estate types) who take a sadistic pleasure in screwing over service companies. Here's an example of such a guy: http://toddhwaller.com
This is an excerpt of the full split-phase household power supply webinar held on June 6, 2016. In this excerpt, I explain why antiphase sine waves (meaning 180 degrees out of phase with each other) cancel each other out in a sound mixer but not in a center tapped transformer. Just because an AC voltage can be represented or modeled as a sine wave does not mean all sine waves behave the same way everywhere regardless of the device-- you have to know what you're measuring!
Summing Amplifier Basics
How Sine Waves are Used to Model things in the Real World
Using an Oscilloscope to Understand 120 VAC Household Power Supplies
Can you believe there are techs out there who use an o-scope to look at the output from a sound mixer and conclude this is how Line voltage works? The output of a sound mixer is the output of a summing amplifier (Google it). It is an electronically modified signal. To look at this output and assume that Line voltage behaves this way is the height of stupidity. I call it "Idiot with an O-scope syndrome."
Household power supplies in North America use what's called a split-phase system. The transformer on the pole outside the house takes grid power and steps it down to 240 VAC from end to end on the secondary winding. The secondary winding has a center-tap in it which splits this 240 VAC into two 120 VAC voltages from either end to the center tap. This center tap is defined as Neutral and it is tied to Ground in the circuit breaker box inside the home. The two 120 VAC voltages are 180 degrees out of phase with each other and it is this very antiphase relationship that creates the voltage difference of 240 vac between L1 and L2.
There's a lot of disinformation and tech myths out there about 120/240 split-phase household power supplies. You may have even seen videos online claiming that the split phases are in-phase with each other. This is complete hogwash and I prove it to you in this video.
I show the proper phase relationship (180 degrees) between Line 1 to Neutral and Line 2 to Neutral right at the circuit breaker box using an oscilloscope.
I challenge anyone to show differently and to clearly show how you're measuring.
Hello, my Ameedican infidel friends. I would like to share with you today a snippet of my life here in the beautiful Afghani mountains.
After arising at 4am, my four wives and 17 children begin our usual morning prayers to Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful, with three hours of Afghani devotional throat-singing. Then we must tend to the yaks and camels, for throat singing terrifies them so they require much comforting. This is most efficaciously done by blowing copious amounts of the smoke of poppy into their faces until they enter hallucinatory dream states.
As anyone who has visited the scenic Afghani mountains know, the mountains are infested with the deadly cross-eyed pygmy chickens. Though they be only six inches tall, these minions of the Great Satan are very aggressive and terrorize my youngest spawn. Why, just this morning, a flock of the rabid, cross-eyed pygmy chickens attacked my yaks and camels and my youngest son, Abdul-Hakim.
We wage jihad on these unholy creatures using surplus mortars left behind by the Soviet infidels. Once we have finished shelling the feral chickens, my children go out and scoop up all the incinerated remains, and then my wives turn the remains into chicken loaves which we will have for the evening meal.
After tending to the mundanities of the day, I take one-second power naps constantly throughout the day assisted by the bountiful poppy harvest. I learned the secret of one-second power naps during my service in the elite Appliance Repair Corps when we had those all-night repair marathons against the infidel machines.
Such is the life of a humble yak and camel farmer. I would enjoy learning more about your infidel life in the Great Satan Ameedica. Please feel free to post your vignettes here. You may also send your notes of adulation and praise to me at email@example.com
Greetings and As-salāmu ʿalaykum to all my Ameedican infidel friends!
You have seen me posting in these venerable forums from time to time in the past but please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Moostafa Hakahallah and I am writing to you from my tent in the mountains of my native Afghanistan.
I have known the Samurai for several decades, dating back to his work with the CIA while I was in the elite and fearsome Appliance Repair Corps of the Mujahideen during our resistance to the Soviet infidel invaders. We proved to be superior warriors to the Soviet infidel dogs and eventually drove them from my beloved homeland. I do not believe I am overstating things when I say that the elite Appliance Repair Corps, of which I was honored to be a proud member, served no small role in securing our victory.
We have since resumed our ancient, time-honored way of life raising and comforting camels and yaks and smoking copious quantities of opium and hashish. And, of course, worshipping Allah, the merciful and compassionate, and studying the words of the Prophet in the Holy Koran, peace be upon him.
I have been participating in these forums as conditions permit for the past decade or more. The conditions I refer to are the electricity needed to to run my 1988 US Army surplus Macintosh computer that the Samurai left behind while on assignment with the CIA here in Afghanistan during the Soviet infidel invasion.
Here in Afghanistan, we do not have electrical power plants like you do in Ameedica. Instead, each clan tent generates their own electricity from biomass. In my case, I use a camel dung and lime juice chemical battery that I designed and built myself. Such is the superior technical capability of the fearsome and elite Appliance Repair Corps of the Mujahideen. But I digress…
With the Ameedican Army and Marines here in Afghanistan helping to harvest the poppy crop, we have an abundance never before seen. As a result, we have more poppy than we know what to do with. So we ended up feeding much of it to our camels and yaks.
The problem no one anticipated was that this affected the quality and quantity of their dung such that it does not react as vigorously with the lime juice to produce the electricity we need for things like computers and marital aids. But we hope to have this problem corrected as we increase our poppy shipments to the Samurai and his CIA cohort (If anyone from the Ameedican DEA is reading this, please disregard this last statement. All in good fun, eh-heh, eh-heh. Thank you.)
Meanwhile, I hope to be with you more regularly on these forums and assisting you in your appliance repair endeavors. If you have any appliance questions you would like to consult with me personally on, you may email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But for now I must depart to call the yaks and camels to evening prayer. It has been an honor talking to my fellow appliance repair brethren in heathen Ameedica, and, when I die fighting the infidel appliance, I hope to see you all in paradise where we shall all receive 70 hairy, bearded virgins.
Thank you and may the peace of Allah, the merciful and compassionate, be upon you.
Had some great conversations in the Appliantology Chatroom today!
First, had a very interesting conversation with Brother smee about carbon monoxide, measurements, standards, production and health effects. We pulled up this excellent training presentation from GE, that demystified a lot of the confusion about CO, and looked at it together:
Might make a good topic for a future Office Hours.
Next, had a good conversation with Mr.Pro-- to be continued-- as we tracked down a DE1 error code on a Samsung washer he was working on. We thought we were looking at the same Fast Track but turns out not to be the case. The correct Fast Track for his model is this one:
Probably shoulda taken that one to a Join.me webinar to make sure we were on the same page. Anyway, we at least established that much! We'll nail the rest of it down in a later chat.
Okay, until next time-- drink beer, sleep well, get shit fixed (in that order).
Some people say that a technician is only as good as his test instruments. I strongly disagree! In fact, just the opposite is true: a test instrument is only as good as the technician using it.
You can have the best, most expensive, fanciest test instruments in the world, but if you don’t know how to interpret what that instrument is telling you, what good does it do you?
Some techs are using an oscilloscope in appliance repair. Now, I’m all into cool toys but I don’t think we’re at the point in appliance repair where an o-scope is needed just yet. But they are definitely fun to play with!
Properly understood, an oscilloscope can give a skilled tech great insight into what’s going on with a circuit or whatever else you’re measuring, such as sound waves. O-scopes are great for showing different types and shapes of waveforms, including sine waves, chasing signals through a circuit, comparing the timing of two different data trains in digital circuits and lots of other applications. Their real strength is in repairing electronic circuit boards and are often used with a signal generator where a generated signal is injected into a circuit and then inspected at various points in the circuit with an o-scope to troubleshoot a particular problem.
O-scopes can show other things besides voltages such as electronic representations of sound waves. But unless you understand some basics about both sine waves and the physics of what you're looking at with the o-scope, you could draw some blatantly incorrect conclusions. Let's start with sine waves, what they are and what they are not.
Sine Waves: Mathematical Models of the Real World
A sine wave is a mathematical curve that describes a smooth repetitive oscillation. It is named after the trigonometric sine function. You've probably seen a sine wave many times, it looks like this:
All sine waves have common properties such as amplitude, period, and frequency. These are used to quantify (put numbers on) the physical process being analyzed or studied.
The period is the amount of time it takes for the sine wave to complete one full cycle, its units are time, could be seconds (or some fraction thereof), days, hours, years... depends on what you're modeling. The frequency is the number of of complete cycles completed per unit time, such as 60 cycles per second, also called Hertz (Hz). The amplitude also depends on what you're measuring and the instrument you're using to measure it (more on this later)-- could be volts, decibels, pressure, force, etc.
Sine waves are useful because lots of different physical oscillation processes can be represented by them. Examples are an oscillating spring, AC voltages, ocean waves, planetary rotation, sound waves, light waves, and many others. But the important thing to keep in mind is that in every case, a sine wave is only a mathematical model of some physical reality but is NOT the physical thing itself!
The other thing to keep in mind is that a sine wave is not to be confused with wave physics.
Wave physics is a branch of classical mechanics physics that describes processes that exist as waves in the physical world. A wave is an oscillation (that means is moves back and forth, up and down, you get the idea) of a mass that transfers energy as it moves through some medium, such as air, water, or some other mass. Examples are sound, light, ripples on water, etc.
Although physical waves, such as sound waves, are always three dimensional, they can be mathematically represented as a two-dimensional x-y sine wave plot either on paper, a computer (like a spread sheet), or on an o-scope.
But keep in mind that, in every case, this sine wave representation is just that: a mathematical abstraction of a three-dimensional physical wave phenomena.
But there are lots of other phenomenon in the physical world that do NOT exist as waves-- so wave physics DOES NOT apply-- yet they can still be mathematically represented by sine waves! The most familiar example is AC voltage and current. Since these are not waves, wave physics does not apply. AC voltage and current are explained by the physics of electricity, not wave physics or any other branch of classical mechanics.
Let's look at some examples of the sine wave representations of sound (wave physics) and AC voltage (electrical physics) and compare them.
The Physics of Sound
Sound waves are mechanical vibrations of pressure. They exist in the real world as variations in pressure in a medium such as air. Waves of Increasing pressure are called compression waves; waves of decreasing pressure are called rarefaction waves. These pressure variations produced by the sound source cause movement of the human eardrum and this movement is interpreted by our brains as a sound.
Although sound waves are three dimensional-- they travel outward from the source in all directions-- they can also be represented as a sine wave and plotted on a standard x vs y graph or on a spectrum analyzer or even an o-scope because they have properties of frequency and amplitude. Modeling sound waves as sine waves lets us visualize, quantify, and analyze them.
Although we're using a sine wave to model a vibrating guitar string in the image above, the sound produced by that vibrating guitar string doesn't actually look that way-- the sine wave is only a mathematical model of the pressure variations produced by the sound of the vibrating guitar string.
The wavelength (an actual, physical distance measured in meters) determines the frequency-- the longer the wavelength, the lower the frequency because it takes longer for the sine wave to make a complete cycle. Frequency and wavelength are related by the speed of sound: wavelength = speed of sound / frequency.
The units of the amplitude of the sine wave representing a sound wave would be some units of pressure, such as decibels. The larger the amplitude, the louder the sound being represented by the sine wave.
But some instruments, such as o-scopes, only have the ability to show volts/division on the vertical (amplitude) axis so that's what will be shown on the screen. But knowing that you're actually looking at a sine wave representation of sound, you would interpret this as a relative index of loudness. This is analogous to the temperature controls on some refrigerators where they only give you a number, such as 1 through 9. The number on the dial, such as "7" doesn't correspond to any actual temperature (as many customers think), it's just an index so you can distinguish one setting from another. Although the sine wave produced by a sound mixer or signal generator actually does have a voltage amplitude, this is to be understood as a substitute for actual sound "loudness," which is measured in units of pressure (most commonly, decibels). For this very reason, some instruments used in sound analysis, such as spectrum analyzers, only show a relative index for amplitude:
The important take-away point here is that the image being shown on the sine wave graph, such as on an o-scope or spectrum analyzer, is just a model-- an abstraction-- of the actual physical phenomena being shown. So those sine wave models of a sound wave must be interpreted and understood in the context of the actual physics of the phenomena producing the image on the screen.
Note that the waveform graph is two-dimensional but in the real world sound waves are three-dimensional. This graph is exactly how a pure-frequency sound wave would be generated by a sound mixer board and depicted on an o-scope or spectrum analyzer.
The graph indicates a wave traveling along a path from left to right, but real sound waves travel in an expanding sphere from the source. However the 2-dimensional model works fairly well when thinking about how sound travels from one place to another. But, again, the o-scope is just showing you a model, or abstract representation, of the actual, physical sound propagation.
Alright, so we have an idea of some of the physics involved in sound propagation. Let’s explore the question of how sound waves can cancel each other out in the air.
Recall that sound is composed of mechanical compression waves moving through some medium, such as air. That means the wave first compresses to an amount greater than normal air pressure. A sine wave model of this sound would show this as the positive part of the sine wave curve. Then the air expands to a pressure less than normal air pressure. This is the negative part of the sine wave—the part below the zero centerline.
If you have two sounds waves of the exact same frequency and amplitude (volume) but 180 degrees out of phase (one of them is inverted) then one of the sound waves is compressing (higher pressure) at the exact same time the other sound wave is decompressing (lower pressure). Adding the positive pressure from one sound wave and negative pressure from the other sound wave will give you the normal air pressure. The two pressures are cancelling each other out because the air is being decompressed at the exact same time it is being compressed. Since there is no variation in air pressure, there is no sound. This process is called destructive interference and is a basic principle of wave physics.
On a sine wave model of the two sound waves, you would see them as two sine waves 180 degrees out if phase with each other, like this:
So how can sound waves be displayed on an o-scope? A common method is to use a sound mixer board. A sound mixer is a device that mixes sounds from different sources. Some mixers can also be used to generate sounds of various frequencies. Sound mixers electronically (digitally) reproduce the wave physics of sound. They do this using SUMMING amplifiers that ADD the voltages of the sound frequencies together. It is the electronically manipulated output of a specific type of circuit designed to mimic the physics of sound. This is why they are called sound mixers, not voltage mixers.
So when you use a sound mixer to produce two antiphase sine waves representing sound frequencies, as shown in the photo above, the resulting waveform is seen as a flat line on an o-scope or spectrum analyzer. The sound mixer is doing exactly what it was designed to do: mathematically and electronically produce what you would actually hear in the air (nothing) using good ol' wave physics calculations. Ain't science and technology cool?
From Sound to Voltage
But voltage is not sound! The electronically-manipulated signals from the output of a SUMMING amplifier in a sound mixer has nothing to do with the output of a center-tapped transformer. None of the mechanical wave physics in the foregoing discussion applies to voltage. So things like interference waves, destructive interference, compression, and rarefaction do not apply when you're talking about electricity.
Although sound waves that are 180 degrees out of phase cancel each other in a process called destructive interference, AC voltage is NOT a mechanical wave phenomenon and is not explained by the mechanical wave physics. Yet AC voltage can, and often is, modeled or represented by a sine wave.
To say that because inverted sound waves cancel other out through destructive interference so therefore AC voltage must also behave the same way simply because both can be represented as sine waves is absurd. This would be like saying that because ocean waves can be represented by sine waves, that voltage behaves the same as ocean waves. It's utter balderdash! While this makes for great comedy, it's completely wrong physics. Same sine wave model, different physics. Get it?
The Physics of Voltage
Let’s start by thinking about what voltage is. Voltage is the difference in electric potential energy, in joules, per unit charge, in coulombs, between two points. So a volt is joule/coulomb. There is no type of compression or rarefaction (decompression) happening in electricity.
We never talk about voltage at a single point, it is always relative to some other point, a "reference point", be it ground, Neutral, L2, whatever. For example, there is no absolute 100 volts “out there” somewhere. It is 100 volts relative to some reference point. By convention, we arbitrarily assign a voltage of 0 volts to the earth and all other voltage measurements on planet Earth are relative to this reference.
Electrons, the negatively charged subatomic particles that comprise current flow, are driven by the difference in voltage between two points. It doesn’t matter if one voltage is negative and one positive, both positive, or both negative as long as there is a voltage difference.
As an example, let’s suppose that point A had a steady voltage of +1,000,000 volts and point B also had a steady voltage of +1,000,000 volts. Since both voltages are the same scalar quantity (1,000,000) and polarity (both positive), there is no voltage difference between the two points so no electrons would flow between A and B (or vice versa). The simplified math looks like this:
+1,000,000 volts - (+1,000,000 volts) = 0 volts
Now let’s suppose the voltage at point B is reduced to +500,000 volts. The voltage difference between A and B becomes:
+1,000,000 volts - (+500,000 volts) = 500,000 volts
Since point A is more positive than point B (conversely, you could also say that point B is more negative than point A) the electron flow is from point B to point A.
Now let’s say that point A stays at +1,000,000 volts but point B goes to -1,000,000 volts, the exact same amount of voltage but opposite polarity. Since we’re talking about DC voltage here (i.e., the polarities are fixed over time) we can’t properly talk about phase yet but this would be a DC equivalent, if you will, of two AC voltages being 180 degrees out of phase. Let’s look at the voltage difference between A and B now:
+1,000,000 volts - (-1,000,000 volts) = 2,000,000 volts
The potential difference (or voltage difference, same thing) between A and B quadruples because you’re subtracting a negative voltage. Four times as many electrons are doing all they can to get from point B to point A in this case compared to the case where the voltage difference was only 500,000 volts.
When we deal with AC voltages, the polarities are constantly reversing 120 times a second, twice in each 1/60th of a second cycle. So the same principles we just looked at with the DC examples above would also apply to AC. But with AC, since the voltage polarities are reversing 120 times a second, we have to consider time in our calculations. This is done by referencing the phase of the voltages between two points which is done using either polar or rectangular notation.
Most people, including many techs, assume that single phase means that both 120vac legs in residential application are of the same phase. This is a complete misconception. If the two 120vac legs were in phase, the voltage difference between the two would never change, giving no voltage difference between each hot leg:
Note that as the vertical line between the sine waves moves from left to right (the horizontal axis represents the passage of time) on the graph, it's "length," representing the voltage difference, never varies so we have no potential difference between the two points (0vac). If this were the incoming power supply to a home, you could never have a 240vac outlet across L1 and L2.
Run the numbers yourself:
Start with the blue segment where each sine wave is at a maximum +120 vac. What's the voltage difference between these two points? +120 vac - (+120 vac) = 0 vac. The voltage difference (or potential difference, same thing) between the two waveforms is zero.
Now go to the red segment where each sine wave is at a maximum - 120 vac. What's the difference now? -120 vac - (120 vac) = 0 vac.
And so on for every point along the two curves, you get the idea. Here again, just a little bit of mathematical literacy let's you see how obvious this is.
Voltage difference is exactly like the name says: the mathematical difference in electrical potential between two points. That means subtracting. When you subtract a positive number from a positive number, the answer (called the difference) gets smaller. When you subtract a negative number from a positive number, the answer gets bigger. I hesitated to even explain this elementary school math but, sadly, it seems to elude many people, even techs, who should know better.
In the step-down transformers used to supply residential single-phase power in North America, the secondary winding of that transformer is center-tapped. The end-to-end voltage on the secondary is 240 VAC. The center-tap on the secondary is the definition of the Neutral wire in household AC power supply systems and it causes two voltages to develop from either end to the center tap, as shown in this diagram:
Since the secondary winding is center-tapped, two voltages are developed across each split from either L1 or L2 to Neutral (the center-tap) as shown above. Since the center-tapped Neutral is tied to Ground, the electrical polarity at Neutral never changes-- it is always at Ground potential. However, the electrical polarity at each end of the transformer is changing 120 times a second with reference to Neutral.
Now, let's take a closer look at those voltages being developed across the secondary of the transformer:
These two voltages are 180º out of phase as shown in this diagram:
This phase relationship between these two voltages can be expressed using phase notation as shown below:
An o-scope, properly configured, would show the two center-tapped voltages as sine waves 180 degrees out of phase with each other. The resultant wave from combining the two waveforms would have an amplitude that is double of either the voltage at A or B.
Watch me demonstrate this in action:
These two voltages can be mathematically combined using either polar or rectangular math. You can do this long-hand as shown below:
In the special case when voltage sine waves of the same frequency are antiphase (another way of saying "180 degrees out of phase with each other"), you can tell the voltage difference between them at any point by using simple arithmetic. But what about when two voltages are only 120 degrees out of phase with each other, such as in three-phase voltage? Again, you have to use polar or rectangular math to calculate the voltage difference between the two lines at any given point in time. Most engineering calculators will have polar and rectangular functions built into them to facilitate these calculations.
Why should math matter? Why isn't this all just a matter of opinion, preference, or "alternative views?" Because if electricity could not be 100% described by mathematics, none of these systems could be designed in the first place.
How do you think engineers design these systems? Do they guess and hope to get lucky? Do they go with how they're feeling that day? Is it all a matter of how they "believe" these systems work or their "opinion" about how they might work? I guarantee you that they have all this stuff completely nailed down with calculations and they know exactly how the system will behave before the first dollar is committed to building it. That's the essence of what engineers do.
Here again, the abstraction being shown on the o-scope has to be interpreted with an understanding of the physics of the phenomena being viewed, whether sound or voltage.
- Sine waves are a useful mathematical model used to abstractly represent a wide range of very different physical phenomenon. But the sine wave is not the thing itself-- it is just a mathematical model of the thing.
- By modeling various physical phenomenon as sine waves, scientists, engineers, and technicians can analyze how that physical process changes over time.
- Sound waves, spring compression, AC voltage and current are just a few examples of the widely different physical processes that can all be mathematically and conveniently modeled as a sine wave.
- An oscilloscope is an instrument used to measure the time-varying behavior of various oscillating physical functions and represents them as different types of waveforms, including sine waves.
- Sound waves and AC voltage can both be represented as sine waves with all the various properties of sine waves, such as frequency and amplitude, but this is where the similarity ends.
- Widespread mathematical illiteracy among the population today has resulted in a proliferation of gross misconceptions and "tech myths" about how electricity works.
- O-scopes are fun and, in the right hands, can be a powerful analytical tool. But if you don’t understand the underlying physics of what the sine waves (or other types of wave forms) on the scope are representing or even what a sine wave actually is, you won't know how to interpret what you’re seeing or you will just confuse yourself. Worst of all, you could delude yourself into believing something that just isn't true because you don't know what you don't know.
Professionals working in a skilled trade like appliance repair must have the math and science skills to understand the physical phenomena (electricity, mechanics) that they are measuring with their test instruments or even observing with their senses, or else they can easily get fooled by those observations or measurements and waste time and money in their repair work.
The abysmal public school system in Ameedica today may have let you down by not giving you this foundation, but the Samurai's got your back! Between the Master Samurai Tech Academy and pearls of wisdom such as this post here at Appliantology, I'll help get you up to speed. If I could learn this stuff as a punk-ass, snot-nosed 17-year old kid in the Navy, then anyone can with a little effort and someone to guide them along the way.
Learning never stops, even for the Samurai! Keep your mind open and keep studying so you can know what you don't know.
Do whatever you want with this one, but think about this: I can go buy a new washer with a 1 year warranty for $400. Why would I pay $200 for a 20 year old washer with a 30 day warranty? My recommendation is a minimum of 90 days, with a maximum of 1 year. I currently sell all of my pre-owned appliances with a 6 month warranty. I also have a "refurbished appliance" section which is the same exact merchandise, tested in the same manner as my pre owned stuff, just they are always 100% complete, and typically less than 10 years old. I give a 1 year warranty with those products.
"1 year warranty!? are you crazy?! You are going to put yourself outta business!!"
Ive heard that shit so many times, I literally laugh all the way to the bank. Adding more warranty is the only way you can add VALUE to your merchandise without adding dollars. A dryer with a 30 day warranty is $100, 6 month warranty is about 175, "refurbished, with 1 year, now you can compare to new, and ask $250+. So what if you got to go out there once and put a $6 thermal fuse in. That extra $150 you made off of the same unit just paid you for your service call. All those extra $150's will cover that occasional $200 control board you get stung with.
The bottom line is this: You should be fixing, and expecting these units to last your customers a minimum of 3- 5 years, so whats the problem?
Your warranty should be basically unconditional. You can put a clause for flooding, roach infestation, commercial use, but you can't tell your customer that their warranty is void because you suspect a power surge, or because you think they are over loading/ over using it. That sounds shady, and there is no real way you can prove it. After you pull the sock out of the pump, tell the customer " this time ill cover it under the warranty, but if it happens again Ill have to charge you". The customer will understand, and be grateful. Same thing goes with a thermal fuse. Tell the customer the vent is clogged. Fix the unit, leave the vent disconnected and tell them not to use it until they get the vent cleaned. You never want to give the customer the impression that you are trying to weasel your way out of your warranty. As far as I'm concerned, the hard/ expensive part is driving to the customers house and diagnosing the problem. You would really lose your customer over a 5 dollar thermal fuse? A 3 dollar coupling? Fix the shit and move on with your life.
I require the customer to keep a copy of their receipt. I TELL THEM WHEN THEY BUY THE APPLIANCE that they need to keep the receipt for the warranty. This does give you an out, if they lost their receipt. Occasionally you will get a real ass-twat, and you can say " Ma'am, you need to find a copy of your receipt, and as soon as you find it, give me a call and ill come right out.". This is not really something you should be doing, as you will lose this person as a customer, and they will talk bad about you and your company as long as they can remember. I can honestly say I pull this card maybe once every other year.
You don't need to verify the warranty before you go out. Simply ask them: What does the date say on your receipt? If they say they bought it X months ago, they are likely telling you the truth. In my experience , about 95% of the people who call for warranty work are completely honest about it. Reciept or no receipt, fix the unit, make the customer happy.
Remember that date you wrote on the back of the appliance? This is how I know how honest people are. Now you know roughly when they bought it, if its reasonably within your warranty, receipt or no receipt, fix the unit and move on. You will earn that customers business for life, and that is worth a hell of a lot more than that $3 coupler. Even if its a few months out of the warranty. If the part is in your car, fix the customer's machine. Its not fair that you sold someone a machine for a few hundred dollars and it only lasted 8 months. I understand that legally you don't have to do shit, but morally speaking, you should do it. That customer will be your customer forever, and their kids too. They will also tell all their friends/ neighbors about you. They will become your best spokesperson for your store.
You will find that most of your warranty work is going to be a result of misuse, neglect, improper installation, or other issues with the house that would prevent the appliance from working properly. About 70% of my service calls are tripped breakers, reverse polarity, rotted floors under the front load washer, you get the picture. You have to SHOW the customer the problem, and offer to come back after the problem is solved. They will never call you back. About 20% is stuff that I missed at my shop, and the other 10% is legitimate failures. My usual Defect rate on all of my appliances is about 10%. Thats 10 in every 100 appliances that I sell. Lately I have been really slacking, so my defect rate jumped to 20%. That works out to about 5 calls per week. It doesn't seem like much, but they never come in that consistent. Its more like 1 month with no warranty calls, and then the weather gets warm and you have 30 in 1 week.
Inevitable part of business. Sometimes that Atlantis trans will agispin, the fridge compressor poops out. Alway replace the unit with a BETTER unit than what you sold them, Even if only by a little. The customer will be pleasantly surprised, cementing your relationship with them. Further, replacements become priority. Making the customer wait 1 week for their replacement washer will only succeed in pissing them off, and this has no benefit to you. Replace it quickly, apologize, and forget about it.
If a customer buys a machine cash and carry, and returns it for whatever reason the same day, take it back. I have an " all sales are final" policy, but sometimes its better to just avoid the conflict. This applies a bit more for when people put deposits on stuff, or when they buy something and haven't taken possession of it yet. Just give them their money back. After they take possession for more than 24 hrs, the warranty applies.
Asshole customer from hell that keeps breaking every appliance you send them:
You will get one of these people once a year, for sure. After the second replacement, the only way out for you is to pick up ALL of your merchandise, and give the customer a FULL refund, including delivery. Im convinced that some people are cursed, and are destined to never have working appliances. You don't have to be in a relationship with them. Some people are so ignorant with the use of their units you wonder how they survive in life. Give them their money back and never do business with them again. You walk a way the good guy, they can't say anything bad about you because you did the right thing.
In conclusion, Warranty/ replacement/ refunds should not be looked at as terrible. Look at it as an opportunity to prove to your customer how reputable of a business you are running. Some of my best customers are the customers that I sold defective appliances to. When you do the right thing, your customer will see it, and appreciate it. You can go home and sleep well at night knowing that you haven't screwed anyone over. There are a lot of hack, hillbilly appliance dealers. They will always be able to sell an appliance cheaper than you. When the warranty calls come in , thats when they run away and you get your time to shine.
Lorain Furniture and Appliance
So you found the perfect space, now is the time to fill it up? But how? First, and best choice, find the guys who deliver for new appliance stores. You see them on the side of the road, pull over, give them your phone number. These guys are the lifeblood of your business. There is no better resource for appliances than these guys. Often you will get stuff that just works, where the customer was simply upgrading. Needless to say you still need to go over them, but you save huge on the parts department. Sometimes it becomes a nuisance, you are overstocked, cash poor, etc. You still need to take care of your good trucks, as they will never come back if you screw them once.
Sometimes you need a bunch of appliances all at once, especially if your sales floor is woefully low. There are wholesalers out there, but keep in mind that all of that stuff has already been picked over at least 2 times. Once by the delivery truck, and second by the wholesaler. Nobody will sell you a gem for $30 when they can plug it in real quick and flip it for $350!
Other options include craigslist, etc, but requires a lot of leg work as you will need to pick all of the items up.
Fixing, testing, cleaning.
The appliance needs, must, be 100% functional. You should test by hooking the washers up to water, and washing your dirty shop towels. Towels not dirty? Go outside and get them dirty. Typically you don't need to add soap as the machine will be so gunked up that you may have to run it 2x just to get all the residual soap out. You should dry your towels in the dryer. Dryers should also be vacuumed, lubed, and belt inspected. If the belt has any cracking, replace it.
Stoves are pretty simple, 4 burners should work fine, oven should be brought up to 350 to check accuracy. Gas units: Oven should ignite in less than 1 minute, if not, change ignitor.
Refrigerators are the most challenging, there are a lot of things to test/ verify. Freezer must be 0-10, fridge side needs to be about 38*. You need to check the defrost cycle, also clogged drain. Gaskets need to be inspected as well. Ideally, you would be running the unit for a few days. Don't forget the ice and water. After it tests ok, mark your initials and the date you okayed it on the back.
What brings the demise of most appliance shops around my neck of the woods is the quality of product. They put out shit, then complain about too many warranty calls, then stop honoring their warranty, = The End. Your appliances need to be working. Period. Its great when you find the dryer with the bad element, you know why the person got rid of the unit, and therefore, you know that the unit should be 100% after the repair. It gets tricky when you can't find anything wrong. Test it twice. After it checks out, mark your initials and the date you okayed it.
Another thing worth noting.
DONT STORE BROKEN APPLIANCES! I can't tell you who many dealers I visit boast their mountain of scrap (untested) appliances. Its like "wow, you have 100 broken appliances, you really are going places!" FIX the stuff, clean it, THEN its ok to store. Instead of storing scrap metal, you now have valuable inventory.
Its important to sell ALL major appliances. Stoves, fridge, washer, dryer, dishwasher, microwave, built in appliances, etc. Don't limit yourself to any specific brand, style, etc. I know of a outfit that only sells direct drive washers. I can understand, they are easy to fix, parts are cheap. Go to HH gregg and see if they only sell LG's.
Ideally all of your appliances should be 100% complete. This applies mostly to refrigerators, as you can't sell a stove with missing burner caps etc. You can sell a ref if its missing a shelf, or the kick plate. Ask yourself: would you put it in your kitchen ? You can live without the kick plate, but if it only has one shelf its not a very usable unit. I know this sounds silly, but you should go check out your "competition" Its ridiculous.
Clean and Priced:
This is the difference between making it, and just getting by. Refrigerators should be stripped, and cleaned. Warm soapy water for the shelves, and cleaner with bleach for the liner. You don't need to strip the doors out, but it should be squeaky clean. All light bulbs should be working. The fridge should be bright, SMELL CLEAN, and look clean. Washers should be scrubbed, especially at the lid. I use a gong brush. When done, the washer should SMELL CLEAN, be without rust ( spray paint!!!) All of the hoses should be in the tub, ready to ship. Dryers should be vacuumed, lint filters washed, and should be rust free. Also, all legs should be attached and somewhat functional. Stoves need to be grease free, look, I know it sucks cleaning a greasy stove. I go by this principle: If I am not willing to clean it, I shouldn't buy it.
When you go to a used car dealership (a successful one), you don't see dirty cars for sale, do you? Your popular restaurant: is your table dirty? You get the picture. There are people willing to buy dirty appliances at a discount. Ill leave that decision up to you. Sure, I have done it before, but I would rather sell a immaculate clean machine for top dollar than sell junk, at junk prices.
All of your machines should be priced. No exceptions. For years, I would just "quote" the customer a price when they walked in. People always suspect foul play. How could the customer know if you are charging them more than the last customer? You go to the sporting goods store, and see a nice coat on the rack, no price. Is is $50? $200? $500? Chances are, after looking for a price, you don't find it, and you put it back on the rack and don't buy it. People are shy, and don't want to bother you. They will go somewhere else where the items are priced. Price it at the maximum you think you can get. You can always talk down, its hard to talk up. Your price tags should have your name, A box for a brief description of the appliance you are selling, and a box for price. If its missing a kick plate, or door bin, put "missing kick plate". Be upfront about it. Better they know about it now then after its installed in their kitchen.
Delivery is mandatory to success. It sucks, is expensive, and you typically have to subsidize the delivery. I charge $20 for curbside drop off, and $50 for full installation. Full install includes all connections, dryer vents etc. and haul away. One way to cut costs is to deliver only a few days a week. Its cost of doing business, get over it. Your delivery guys should know how to deliver correctly, hook up and install the units professionally, and be courteous to your customer. The delivery guy is the last face the customer sees that represents your company, it needs to be a happy face. They should be wearing dickies, work boots, and uniform tee shirt. Buy shubees, moving pads, dollies. Just like you need the correct tools for your job, delivery guys need their tools. If they wind up missing, make them pay for it.
The customer's unit should be fully installed, in ready to go condition. What good is a washer if the customer still can't wash?
The internet has been a game-changer for the appliance repair industry. But it only works for you if you know how to work it!
Information is key. Professional appliance repair techs work on so many brands and models that access to manuals for disassembly info, schematics, and specifications is a big factor in the success of the repair.
And with the increase in computerization of appliances, war-gaming the service call ahead of time has become critical for increasing first-call completes, decreasing reliance on time-wasting and unpredictable tech lines, and increasing customer satisfaction - and yours! And you can’t war game without the info ahead of time.
Back in the old days, we had shelves overflowing with annoying paper copies of manuals, VHS videos to scrub through, and tech lines operators to wait on hold for. Thankfully, those days are over!
Now we have Appliantology: the web’s premier appliance repair tech support site.
Appliantology is rich and deep with resources for the professional tech: repair forums with world-class peer-to-peer tech support, live chat and tech help, service manual downloads for all makes and models, live training webinars, and exclusive tech training videos.
But like any powerful tool, it’s only as useful as your ability to avail yourself of its many treasures.
Some of our professional tech members sign up and only come around every now and then, and then wonder if the membership fee was worth it. It’s disappointing to invest in something and then not really know how to take advantage of it.
The Samurai sheds a tear for every Professional Appliantologist who barely scratches the surface of the site and never sees the power and beauty within!
Others learn how to use the site fully, unleashing Appliantology’s power to amp up their repair mojo, and then ask us how we can offer such an amazing resource at such a low annual fee.
A Professional Appliantologist membership is $149/year, that's less than $3 per week.
When you are well-prepared for your jobs, you will not only be more profitable, but you will have more fun doing it. Who doesn’t want that?
To take the free Appliantology 101 short course, all you need is a free registration at Master Samurai Tech which you can get here.
If you already have a student account just make sure you are logged in and you’ll see it in your course listings on your login/welcome page.
Take our FREE short course, Appliantology 101, and see how easy it is to get started with the awesome functionality of the site, and then dive deeper into how to really take your work to the next level!
I thought I would expand a bit more on some of the points in my first entry. This part will focus strictly on location, and set up of your space.
First, Ill tell you where my store is located. My place is located on a main corridor; you can drive clear through town on my street. I am about 50 blocks away from downtown, in a poor/working class urban area. 15 years ago when I started, it was a proper ghetto, however, in the last few years my neighborhood has begun to gentrify. Ideally you want to find something in a similar area. Don't forget who will be your main customer, people who can't afford to buy new! Of course, no two cities are alike, and your situation may be completely different. Use your best judgment. Its obvious that you don't want to be in the middle of nowhere, regardless of how cheap the rent is. Cheap rent means nothing if you can't generate sales. You also want to avoid getting on the hook for a lot of money every month, whether it be rent or mortgage.
1. Highly populated area
2. prefer on a main corridor with good traffic, but avoid roads that seem like mini highways. Your customer many never see you!
3. Be close to your target group of customers.
Great! so you found which neighborhood you want to be in, now time to look for the actual space. Having a 1k sqft space is just not going to cut it. You have to understand that operating a store incurs a lot of FIXED expenses. Rent, lights, gas, insurance, licenses, phones, internet, and employees. All of this stuff is called overhead ( ill discuss this in more detail in another post). A smaller store may be a bit cheaper to rent/buy, but most, if not all, of the other expenses will be just about the same. The amount of merchandise you have on the floor will directly affect how many appliances you sell per week.
You can make a living selling out of a 1k sq ft store, but at that point, you will likely make a better living just doing service work. ( less stress too!)
My store is around 5,500 sq ft. 2300 of it is actual showroom, about 800 ft occupies my ebay store, another 600 for my testing area, and about 1500 is storage. I have a small office, and a few utility closets/ bathrooms. My store has physical walls dividing it in to those four quadrants, so I can't really change much about it. In a perfect world I would have 4000 ft of showroom, 500 for testing/ fixing, and 1k for storage.
The store you are looking for should have 1 LARGE showroom. You can't be walking customers upstairs and around the corner. You should be able to have several rows of appliances, every 20 appliances there should be a small isle.
I have about 20-25 refrigerators on the floor and they are all plugged in and running. They seem to instill a lot of confidence in the customer when they see it, feel it cold. That said, you need to have a double outlet every 36" . You should try and run as many separate circuits as you can. You also need to have access to water to test ice/water function.
Needs to be near (arms length ) to fridge section. Dishwashers are also displayed here, along with otr microwaves, table top microwaves.
Washer/ dryer section:
I like to have stack units in one area, and match set washer and dryers in a section by themselves. The odd stuff/ budget models are in another area.
Generally speaking, you are looking for a store that is well lit, large space, and has/ is a legitimate storefront with large display windows in front. Wide doors are a must, a 36" front door is doable, but some of these larger units won't fit unless you strip the handles. Ideally commercial double doors, or a 40" door would be great. A garage door would be a blessing. Your location should have easy access to parking, it doesn't matter whether street or parking lot. If a customer can't easily pull over and browse your store, they won't. Your location should be easy to find, and have the ability to put a fairly decent size sign up.
Once you find your building you should figure out if the building is for sale. More often than not, a property owner in the ghetto will bend over backwards to sell a property. They will often finance you, with little or no interest. The nice thing about buying is that eventually the payment will stop. And then you actually own something equitable. Rent will continue for eternity, and will go up every year based on your level of success. ( you think landlords are stupid?)
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