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Pearls of appliance repair wisdom from the Appliantology Forums
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The Samurai gave a live walkthrough on how to effectively use Appliantology as an appliance tech information tool: getting familiar with the site layout and content, how to search for service manuals, how to start new topics, and much, much more! BONUS: a quick run through of the Master Samurai Tech Academy.
Special guest, Justin Duby, with Just-in Time Appliance Repair in Grantspass, OR ( @applianceman97 here at Appliantology) joins us to talk about his experience selling new appliances and offer tips and advice for anyone thinking of adding this to their appliance service business.
Also, at the end of the show, we give an update on the developing Facebook data-selling debacle that's unfolding. More info on this in my previous blog post.
You can subscribe and listen to the audio-only portion of the podcast here: http://mstradio.com
Unless you’ve been living under a washing machine all this time, you’ve undoubtedly heard the kerfuffle where Facebook was recently caught selling the personal information of over 50 million people to a marketing firm.
I'm not surprised-- saw this coming a long time ago.
So did Facebook Dear Leader and CEO, Mark "The Zuck" Zuckerberg. Here's an exchange between The Zuck and a friend shortly after founding Facebook:
[Source: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-25/dumb-f-ks-julian-assange-reminds-us-what-mark-zuckerberg-thinks-facebook-users ]
Hello? Is this thing on?
And, not to say I told you so but… I TOLD YOU SO! Yep, Master Samurai Tech Radio Episode 23, February 8, 2018, I called out all of this and more. I explained that Facebook is scraping all your personal content and interactions with the site in order to build a marketing profile on you and sell this to big marketing companies and government intelligence agencies. THAT’s why it is “free.” In reality, it’s not free. That’s because you’re giving up tons of personal, private information about yourself. Yep, I explained all that right here, starting about 35 minutes into the show (the video below will start playing at that time):
In other words, you are whoring out your personal information so you can watch your niece's dance recital or yak with your "friends."
At Facebook, YOU are the product. By the way, this is generally how the Internet works: if you’re not paying for it, YOU are the product.
And I’m here to tell you, what you’ve heard on the news about Facebook is only the tip of the iceberg. People with lots of degrees and initials after their names get paid Big Bucks to design the Facebook platform to psychologically manipulate you and keep you addicted and interacting.
Even what you do and say in “private groups” becomes part of your profile and is used to compile a dossier on you. This can be used for all kinds of nefarious purposes ranging from political campaigns to “outing” people for having opinions that are deemed unacceptable or politically incorrect by The Powers That Be. Consequences could include the loss of your job, negative affects on your business, legal harassment, jail or, in the future, "re-education." Some police departments around the country are already using artificial Intelligence (AI) to mine data and predict crime. And guess what: they suck at it! Unfortunately, the consequences of a mistaken SWAT raid are rarely benign.
But it may even go way beyond that, as I explain in the podcast-- there are credible reports that they’re also manipulating you physiologically by modulating the electromagnetic field (EMF) of your smartphone to influence your brain waves. Who knows what will come out in the next 5 years. You heard it here first!
Facebook’s recent data dump scandal is actually damage control covering for something far worse. It's a controlled release of some bad information in order to avoid fessing up to the really bad shit they’ve been doing.
People with the inside tech scoop are deleting their Facebook accounts leaving the naive on the plantation. Has the exodus has begun? Let’s hope so. And I’m doing my small part to get the word out. In the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, "Come out of her, my people!"
Is Facebook ZUCKing itself into oblivion? It's not unthinkable. Remember that failed Facebook predecessor, Myspace? The graphs below shows how the search volume at Myspace reached a peak and then drifted off into oblivion. Could it happen to Facebook? Well, so far, things are looking pretty similar:
After Facebook, another vogue social media plantation will come along that unsuspecting victims will flock to. And what’s the product on all the social media plantations? YOU: your data, your preferences, your fetishes, your biometrics… your mind.
Nothing on the Internet is really free-- you are paying somehow. If not with money, then with personal information. That’s why you pay for premium access at Appliantology. Appliantology is part of the free-range Internet (meaning we're off the corporate plantation): no data harvesting, no profile scraping, no compiling dossiers, no selling you as a product to big marketing firms.
If you still choose to have a Facebook account, do so with the understanding that they are trying to Zuck you. It’s called the Zuck n’ Jive.
Fantastic Peer Group meeting last night! We had 5 presentations (including mine) and I want to thank the other presenters for doing such a fantastic job! We had almost 20 techs in attendance who stayed the full two hours. Good presentations, good discussion, good times!
Here's a listing of the presentations and presenters:
Network marketing for your business, @Ed V
New AHAM Guidance for Safe Servicing Appliances with Flammable Refrigerants, @KaveMan
Dealing with Customer Personality Types: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, @Jim Westfall
Wi-Fi Basics and Internet Connected Appliances, @Son of Samurai
Two Refrigerator Troubleshooting Case Studies, @Samurai Appliance Repair Man
Thanks again to all the presenters!
I've uploaded some of the presentation PDFs here.
Tech members at Appliantology can watch the full-length video recording of the webinar here.
In this special international episode, the Samurai is in Fiji at Samurai International Headquarters, while Mrs. Samurai is in the Team Samurai New Hampshire pavilion. Although halfway around the globe from each other, Team Samurai comes together through the miracle of the Internet to deliver you this timely and crucial information in this episode of Master Samurai Tech Radio. We compare and contrast three online training options with the Master Samurai Tech Academy.
Subscribe or listen to the audio-only podcast here: http://mstradio.com
In this first video, we troubleshoot a warm beer compartment (fresh food) in a Frigidaire Gallery french door bottom mount refrigerator. The video illustrates the importance of following a cardinal rule of troubleshooting: Fix the obvious problem first.
In this case, the customer simply reported that the FF compartment was warm but the freezer compartment was good. We verified these temperatures upon arrival. But then the customer points out that the lights in the FF compartment were stuck on and melted a hole in the liner at the top-- you'll see this in the video.
So, in keeping with step one of the Ten Step Tango™ troubleshooting procedure, what is our problem statement? Warm FF compartment? Or...
It may have started out that way but now, with this new observation, the problem statement evolves to "lights in the FF compartment stuck on."
We then show how to verify this in diagnostic mode and using the video record function on the your iPhone. Then we show how to use the schematic on the tech sheet to deduce the cause of the problem.
BTW, we had already tested the door switch in diagnostic mode and it was correctly reporting the open/closed status to the UI so we ruled that out.
This case study reveals how imperative it is for the sharp shooter tech to avoid getting tunnel vision based on the customer problem statement and to look for and respond to realtime observations at the service call.
In this next video, we take you inside the defective damper assembly in a GE Profile (Arctica series) side by side refrigerator and shows you a common way these dampers fail, allowing too much cold air into the beer compartment.
Fun Fact to Know and Tell: Four out of five astrophysicists agree that the smartest and best appliance techs in the galaxy hang out at Appliantology.org!
The Samurai and Mrs. Samurai share some highlights from the inaugural Appliantology Peer Group meeting. One of the topics discussed was the idea of doing electronic control board repairs as part of an appliance repair business.
To hear just the audio portion, subscribe to the podcast: http://mstradio.com/
Samurai Appliance Repair Man and Mrs. Samurai suss out various angles and facets in a sensational recent news story where a Sears contractor tech attacked a customer. Lots of interesting lessons from this story for both customers and in-home service professionals.
Link to the news story: http://denver.cbslocal.com/2018/02/19/repairman-arrested-homeowner-attack/
The Samurai and Mrs. Samurai talk about the Biz of appliance repair and other topics:
Customer relations and strategic market targeting
Culture of dumbass among some techs
Free Appliance repair expos like in the HVAC industry
Upcoming Appliantology Peer Group web meeting
In this appliance repair extravaganza, Samurai Appliance Repair Man shows you how to think like a real technician using the schematic as your troubleshooting strategy map and track down the cause for a no heat problem in a gas dryer.
Learn appliance repair online at the Master Samurai Tech Academy
Get tech support at Appliantology.org
I’m going to explain how you can get a free tech membership here at Appliantology, the premiere online tech support community.
Hot on the heels of two, free tech memberships here at Appliantology that we announced recently-- the Master Samurai Tech Alumni and Senior Appliantology Fellow programs-- today we're rolling out yet another free tech membership program! This membership gives verified techs free access to most of the tech-only forums and downloading privileges from the Appliance Repair Manual Pot Luck Supper with over 4,300 service manuals and tech sheets (and growing!).
"Sounds too good to be true. What's the catch?" you ask, warily.
No catch but there are a few limitations. It's easiest to explain this by comparing and contrasting the two tiers of tech memberships here at Appliantology.
There are two tiers of tech membership at Appliantology: Limited and Premium.
Limited tech members are in the member group Legacy Tech. They have access to the tech-only forums with the exception of the technical training webinar recordings (although they are invited to attend the live webinars). Legacy Techs can download service manuals from the Appliance Repair Pot Luck Supper but they can't post service manual request in the Appliance Service Manual Requests forum and the download speed is limited. Also, Legacy Techs can download only one manual at a time but there is no limit to the number of consecutive downloads. Legacy Techs also have limited access to the private message system. Other than these differences, they are full tech members here at Appliantology.
Premium tech members are in the member groups: Professional Appliantologist, Senior Appliantology Fellow, and Master Samurai Tech Alumni. These groups all have the same access and privileges: unthrottled and unlimited simultaneous downloads, requesting manuals and tech sheets not already in the Downloads section, full access to all tech-only forums including webinar recordings, unlimited access to the private message system and some other goodies.
"Okay, but why are you giving this away? What's in it for you?"
My, my-- suspicious much? Call it a dietary vitamin C deficiency compounded by long, sunlight-starved winters in New Hampshire. Call it early onset Alzheimers. Call it coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs. But I hope you're not so coo-coo that you don't recognize a good deal when it's slapping you upside the head!
My thought in doing this is that it gives professional appliance repair techs a better look at what Appliantology has to offer, and I hope that you'll like what you see enough to stick around and either pay for a Professional Appliantologist membership or earn an Appliantology Fellowship by participating. Plain as that.
"Okay, how do I hop on this gravy train?"
I thought you'd never ask! First, register for a free Grasshopper (non-tech) account. Then send in the form below to request a free upgrade to a Legacy Tech account.
&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a data-cke-saved-href="https://mastersamuraitech.wufoo.com/forms/qyisdb70vd2d3e/" href="https://mastersamuraitech.wufoo.com/forms/qyisdb70vd2d3e/"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; Fill out my Wufoo form! &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Hot on the heels of the Master Samurai Tech Alumni program that we just announced, we're launching yet another way that professional techs can earn a free, full-tech membership here at Appliantology.
You may have seen some of the brethren here at Appliantology whose member group is "Senior Appliantology Fellow," such as Brothers @john63, @Budget Appliance Repair, @AccApp, @sh2sh2 and others. These are a select few members who have a long history with Appliantology and have been prolific posters, helping other tech members solve appliance problems. We've never had a really formal structure for gaining this vaunted status but we've come up with something that I hope you'll like.
Here's the two-step tango for requesting a Senior Appliantology Fellowship:
You have been a tech member at Appliantology for at least one year
You have at least 1,000 total posts
If both the above are true, then fill in the short form at the end of this post and we'll get that going for you mo'scratchie (that's Samurai-speak for "quickly").
Questions and Answers:
Q. What does being a Senior Appliantology Fellow membership get me and why should I bother?
A. It's a full tech membership with all the same privileges as a Professional Appliantologist member (a $197/year value-- FREE):
access to all tech forums
unlimited manual downloads with no download speed throttling
access to webinars and webinar recordings
Q. Why are you doing this?
A. Because we're awesome and we think you are, too.
Q. Do I need to make 1,000 posts every year to keep my Fellowship active?
A. No, this is just the "bar to entry" to apply for the Fellowship program.
Q. Why 1,000 posts?
A. Because experience and history have shown that this is enough to 1) show the value of the member's knowledge and posts and 2) ensure that the member thoroughly understands how to use Appliantology. Also, at least some of your 1,000 qualifying posts should be recent to show that you're currently active at Appliantology. In other words, if you have over 1,000 posts but your last post was a year ago, get active again before applying for a Fellowship.
Q. Once I get a Fellowship, is this a permanent deal?
A. Few things in life are permanent but this is pretty close. As long as you stay active at Appliantology (meaning you help answer questions or upload files when you can) then your Fellowship is secure. This doesn't mean you need to post every day. On the other hand, it does not mean you can stay away for months at time, not posting or only coming around to download manuals. Make Appliantology one of your regular haunts for appliance repair info and tech camaraderie and you are good to go.
Q. Why are you calling it a "Fellowship?" Seems kinda gay.
A. It comes from academia where visiting scholars are often given a Fellowship for sharing their wisdom with the University. So, although many modern scholars may, in fact, be gay, the genesis of "Fellowship" is absolutely not. Most famous scientists and engineers in history, for example, were awarded a Fellowship at a prestigious institution early in their academic careers. This tradition persists in modern science and engineering today.
&amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a data-cke-saved-href="https://mastersamuraitech.wufoo.com/forms/q1pmvkjs191vicb/" href="https://mastersamuraitech.wufoo.com/forms/q1pmvkjs191vicb/"&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; Fill out my Wufoo form! &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
In this glimpse into the glamour life of an appliance tech, we troubleshoot an E-OE error code on a Samsung gas range with the added twist of rat infestation and yapping little dogs. It's winter in New Hampshire and rodents will seek out warm places but this place was a literal rats nest. The smell of rodent piss was gagging us (me and @Son of Samurai) as soon as we walked in the door. It would have been stronger if it was actually warm inside the kitchen but it was probably only about 45F which kept the stench at sub-gag level. And then, to make our joy complete, we were serenaded by yapping Jack Russell terriers the entire time. (Isn't it about time we outlawed little yapping dogs? How 'bout at least make it legal to shoot them on sight?)
Really, what the hell is wrong with people today?
In this epic episode:
- Wrap up of the 2018 Annual Service Training Institute (ASTI) held in St. Petersburg, FL
- Technical and business training at the ASTI
- Travel tips to avoid getting sick
- Fun facts to know and tell about how social media manipulates you and gives you brain damage
You can subscribe to the podcast and just listen to the audio portion here.
In this special episode, we explore the question of size of the Samurai's ego. Turns out that it's so massive that we needed a whole episode devoted to it. Yes, size does matter!
- Upcoming ASTI in St. Petersburg
- Tech training challenges
- Three stumbling blocks to becoming a better tech
- What makes Appliantology so great?
- MST Alumnus program
Subscribe to the podcast here.
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 three 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 met all currently required quiz and exam score requirements for the course; see this page for details.
2017 is quickly coming to an end, and the new year is just around the corner. This is your last chance to get in some tax deductible business expenses, and an enrollment in one of our enlightening and empowering appliance tech training courses at Master Samurai Tech is just the thing!
Most of you reading this will be in either the 15% or 25% tax bracket. Training costs for your employment or business are tax deductible. If you claim your tuition as a deduction on your 1040, this is effectively like getting our top-notch, online appliance repair training at a 15 to 25% discount!
If you have already enrolled this year, be sure to claim your tuition as a business expense. If you haven't yet enrolled, you can still claim this deduction on your 2017 taxes if you enroll by the end of the year.
Why let the government take more of your money when you can spend it on empowering, knowledge-packed courses that are sure to level up your appliance repair business?
From all of us here at Team Samurai, we wish you and your family a healthy and prosperous 2018!
The Master Samurai Tech Academy
Employment numbers for the appliance repair industry
Whirlpool lawsuit against Samsung because Samsung is kicking Whirlpool's corporate *ss on front load washers
Samsung opening a new, state-of-the-art $380 million manufacturing facility in South Carolina Kenmore appliances on Amazon
Appliantology monthly workshops
Refrigerator sealed system repairs: what you really need to know
Top Kendo Master at Appliantology each month wins $100!
Oven and Range repair training course- just in time for cooking season
You can watch the video below or subscribe to the podcast for the audio-only portion.
Tech members at Appliantology earn points for answering questions. The top 5 point earners and a running tally of their points are listed in the "Kendo Masters" block on the Appliantology homepage. At the end of each and every month, the member with the highest Kendo point score (the “Ichiban Kendo Master”) wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate!
It's that simple. No gimmicks.
Check it out:
If you earn Ichiban Appliantology Kendo Master for only two months, you will more than pay for your Professional Appliantologist membership!
If you earn Ichiban Appliantology Kendo Master every month for a year, you could earn $1,200! (in Amazon gift certificates)
Mah breverens, this here be's a killer deal! No strings. No gotchas. No chit, mon! You could win a $100 Amazon gift certificate just for talking shop with your Brethren in the Craft!
Just think what you can do with that money:
Finally get that Fluke meter set you’ve been drooling over
Buy that new digital micron gauge you’ve been wanting
Get a cool tool backpack like the one I use
Buy whatever else makes your heart go pitty-pat in that impulse buyer’s emporium known as Amazon.com
What is “kendo”? Kendo is a modern Japanese martial art that derives from samurai swordsmanship. Unlike it’s lethal predecessor, participants use bamboo swords. Seemed appropriate for what we do here at Appliantology: we sharpen our troubleshooting skills as we help our fellow techs solve problems. The person seeking help and the person(s) helping all improve their skills.
The top point earners, Kendo Masters, are listed for the week, month, and year. This is a simple rolling look-back for 7, 30, and 365 days respectively so it usually changes each day depending on activity. On the last day of each month, starting now (October 2017), the Kendo Master with the highest monthly score will win a $100 Amazon gift certificate.
Since I also accrue Kendo points just like any other member, that means you’ll have to beat my monthly Kendo score in order to win.
You earn Kendo points for your replies to all topics, even topics that you start. But you probably won’t accumulate enough Kendo points to win that way. So you’ll also need to reply to other people’s topics in order to earn enough Kendo points to win for the month. And that’s the whole point! (pardon the pun)
In addition to the $100 Amazon gift certificate, Ichiban Appliantology Kendo Masters for each month will also get special recognition in the Kendo Masters Hall of Fame forum. A new topic will be started there each month to commemorate the Ichiban Kendo Master of the Month.
Let the Kendo games begin!
Many professional appliance techs do not currently offer refrigerator sealed system repairs but are thinking about adding it to their service repertoire. In this post, I’ll offer some thoughts to help you decide if this makes sense for your service area. I'll also offer some resources for learning sealed system repair if you decide that makes sense for you. I encourage any of my Brethren in the Craft to post their comments and experience.
The false mystique of sealed system repair
First, understand that actually doing sealed system repairs is distinct from diagnosing a sealed system problem to begin with. Here’s the reality: it's easy to train PCMs on how to do sealed system work; it’s much harder to train technicians how to think and diagnose warm refrigerator problems correctly and cleverly. And you know what they say: If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. If all a guy knows is how to do sealed system work, guess what: every warm refrigerator problem looks like a sealed system problem. Yes, I actually know guys like this.
In fact, I've found that a lot guys who do sealed system work don't actually understand how the sealed system works. I know, it sounds crazy! But that's the dirty little secret of sealed system work: you don't have to understand the thermodynamics of a refrigeration system, you just have to know how to follow a procedure and wield a torch. It's a PCM's wet dream!
Doing sealed system work is a matter of following a procedure, paying attention to details, using some expensive equipment, reading pressure gauges and weight scales, and acquiring some degree of proficiency with brazing copper (and soon, Lokring). When I first started doing sealed system work 20+ years ago, there was a definite cool factor--playing with gauges, vacuum pumps, and torches just like in all the pictures. After I fixed my first one, I strutted around like a rooster, "Yeah, I'm a badass like those guys in RSES magazine!" But then I found sealed system work quickly became boring and repetitive and that troubleshooting refrigerator problems was a much more commonly needed skill and was also more interesting.
Brazing copper lines seems to be the skill that most techs are in awe of. My dear old dad, Grant Brown (of blessed memory) owned Hillphoenix Refrigeration, a company in Conyers, GA, that manufactures commercial refrigeration systems. I worked there as kid growing up and during summers while I was studying engineering at the University of Georgia. Anyway, Grant Brown had a saying, “Any asshole can learn how to braze copper; it takes a highly paid asshole to learn how to weld steel.”
The point is that in the range of physical skills required for metalwork, brazing copper is a relatively easy one and thus not highly compensated in the industrial world.
Everett Ball was Grant Brown's star brazer, shaping and making the copper pipe connections on compressor racks (these were commercial multiple compressor systems to allow staged refrigeration capacity to more closely match the refrigeration load). Everett Ball was an absolute artist with copper. He could shape the pipe and make perfect hand-made solder joints first time, every time, 100% free of pinholes. But ol' Everett liked his beer... and his vodka, and his bourbon, and probably even sterno and lighter fluid if he ran out of those. Grant Brown bailed him out of jail for DUI more times than I can remember (he knew the judge from Rotary Club). Everett also couldn't manage money so he was always "borrowing" money from Grant, which only delayed his inevitable bankruptcy and losing his house. And then there were the divorces (yes, plural). He didn't have a very big vocabulary but he could swear to make a drunken sailor blush. Although Everett was not the sharpest knife in the drawer (to put it kindly), the man was a frikkin' Picasso with copper and torch.
The point of that little story is this: don’t be freaked out about learning how to braze copper-- it’s a well-worn path that thousands of people with far less intelligence than you have mastered. A little practice with some silver solder and copper pieces and you’ll get it.
Adding sealed system repairs to your service offerings
Having plucked the bloom of mystique off the sealed system rose, I’ll go on and discuss doing sealed system work from a business standpoint.
Let me say right off the bat that doing sealed system repairs in the right circumstances is very high margin and profitable work. But the circumstances are all-important. I’ll talk about the good, the bad, and ugly.
The length of time to complete a sealed system repair can vary from about two hours to half a day or more. The big variable is locating the leak and the difficulty in making the repair depending on where it is. Sometimes, it’s a slam dunk because it’s a known problem and the manufacturer has put out a service bulletin on it. For example, the leaky evaporator problems with some Whirlpool models and older Sub-Zero models. Other times, you have to use dye or some other leak locating technique to pinpoint the location of the leak. And then you may find the leak is in a location that’s difficult to access and physically awkward or nearly impossible to braze in. These stretch out the repair time and make for painful, tedious repairs.
As you might gather from the foregoing, doing sealed system work as a warranty servicer is often a losing proposition. If you connect with the wrong company, you are essentially whoring out your time like a two-bit hooker and the manufacturer is completely exploiting you as such. Why do some of them do this? Because most servicers don't have enough self-respect to "just say no" and negotiate a fair compensation rate.
The exceptions here are some high-end manufacturers like Sub-Zero because 1) they actually pay a reasonable rate for warranty sealed system work (without having to haggle) and 2) the COD referrals alone make it worthwhile.
How about a business doing only COD sealed system work? Great gig if:
you can get enough of it,
you don’t like to think much (i.e., troubleshoot), and
you have a high tolerance for repetitive, manual labor.
But, yes, it would be high margin, high paying work relative to say, doing repairs on a throw-away Whirlpool vertical modular washer.
But what if you could book two to four service calls on quality cooking appliances, either high-end brands or the upscale offerings of mainstream brands, in the same time span as one sealed system repair? Job average on high-end appliances is about $400 with an average time of about an hour each. Now you’re talking about:
comparable or even more money,
more customers taken care of,
much less tedium, and
you don’t come home feeling like you’ve been hit by a Mack truck from huffing solder fumes and working in a cramped, awkward position all day.
But doing these other types of jobs profitably does require more diagnostic expertise and understanding appliance technology.
Let’s look at a couple of case studies as illustrative examples.
Case study 1: 11 year old Amana FDBM refrigerator, MN AFB2534DEW, retailed new for $1,300. Start device failed open and subsequently compressor start winding also failed open. Needs new start device (PN W10613606), compressor (PN W10309989), and filter dryer (PN WPW10143759 - replacing the filter dryer is SOP on any sealed system repair). Quoted Blue Book repair fee: $1,003.14
Question: How likely is it that the customer will opt for the repair given 1) the age, 2) what they paid, and 3) that they can get a new one for about $1400?
Answer: A near-zero percent chance.
Case study 2: 11 year old Sub-Zero 700TFI built-in all-freezer, retailed new for $6,985. Open winding in 3-phase compressor. Needs new compressor (PN 7002026), upgraded control board (PN 4204380), and filter-dryer (PN 3014230). Quoted Blue Book repair fee: $1,449.98
Question: How likely is it that the customer will opt for the repair given 1) the age, 2) what they paid, and 3) what it would cost to purchase and install a new one?
Answer: Extremely likely.
Do you see a pattern here? Because of the cost of doing sealed system work, you probably won’t be doing much of it on lower to mid-level appliances unless you signed a “sucker’s contract” with one of the manufacturers who don’t pay very much for sealed system work. Do your homework and negotiate the rate!
Moral of the story: You probably won’t do much profitable sealed system work unless you’re working on high-end and usually built-in refrigerators such as Sub-Zero. As mentioned before, if you can get a Sub-Zero authorized servicer contract, this would be a big boon to your business. Pretty much anyone else: fuggetaboutit. (Your market may vary: do your research!)
The 90-10 rule
Finally, let's keep in mind an important rule of thumb: over 90% of the normal mix of refrigerator calls you run will be due to a control problem, not a sealed system problem. So you need to ask yourself if it's worth tooling up for sealed system work ($1,500 to $2,000) for what will amount to less than 10% of the refrigerator calls you run. Seems to me you'd want to make sure you have the 90% calls dialed in first, that you're able to accurately troubleshoot control problems because that's where most of your money will be made.
The 90-10 rule also means that if you're going to offer COD-only sealed system repairs to your customers, you're going to have lots of expensive equipment and sealed system doo-dads and nick-nacks sitting around not being used most of the time, cluttering up your shop or truck.
Of course, the foregoing comments do not apply if you have a lucrative Sub-Zero authorized servicer contract- in that case, doing sealed system work is a no-brainer.
Handling "gray areas"
What if you don't offer sealed system repairs, you run a warm refrigerator call and diagnose a sealed system fault- how do you handle this with your customer? As we saw previously, if it's a lower- to mid-level refrigerator then it almost certainly doesn't make sense for the customer to have a sealed system repair anyway. You would advise them of this and collect your service call fee.
The gray area is the "affordable luxury" line, such as the $3,000 Samsungs or LGs. This is a tougher call because a COD sealed system repair would make sense here. And diagnosing a sealed system fault in these models requires more technical finesse, so you will definitely earn your service call fee. But we may have a perception issue with the customer. How do we handle this?
First, recognize that this situation is the rare exception, not the rule, and we don't structure our business systems around exceptions. You definitely need to charge something otherwise you're sending the message that the valuable skill you just provided in diagnosing the problem isn't worth anything. An easy customer perception management technique is to give a discount off your service call fee, say $25. This feels like a significant discount to most people and usually preserves good will.
The EPA has some silly regulations based on politically-motivated "science" requiring refrigerant recovery.
The short story behind these regulations is that Dupont's patent on R-12 (a CFC refrigerant) was expiring so they funded lots of "studies" at American universities purporting to show that CFC molecules caused ozone depletion. How do I know this? I was a graduate student in Environmental Systems Engineering at Clemson University in the mid- to late 80's when these studies were being funded and carried out. Everyone knew Dupont was funding these studies and the bullshit agenda behind them but the political fix was in.
So now to purchase refrigerant and do sealed system work, you have to have an EPA "certification."
You'll occasionally come across guys swaggering about getting their EPA certification. The way you hear some of them cluck, you'd think they'd been inducted into Mensa. Or that they must be wizards with a rare understanding of the thermodynamics of refrigeration cycles and keen, penetrating insight into the intricacies of using a pressure-enthalphy graph to design refrigeration systems. Time for a reality check...
To work on residential refrigeration sealed systems, EPA requires that you have a "Section 608, Type I" certification. Section 608 refers to the regulatory code. What do you think that the EPA, being yet another dumbass government regulatory agency, cares about with these silly tests? Thermodynamics? Pressure-enthalpy graphs?
Not even close.
These tests are conspicuously void of any science or engineering. All the the EPA cares about is that you can parrot back the regulatory requirements for each certification "Type." The "Types" just refer to the size of the refrigeration system as defined by the pounds of refrigerant used in the system.
You can get a Type I certification by taking a quick online, open-book quiz. Here's one of hundreds of places that offer this. Download their regulatory study guide, parrot the answers back on the open-book quiz and, behold!, you are now a "certified" refrigeration technician... in the eyes of the EPA.
In other words, you don't need to know the first thing about how refrigeration systems work but as long as you can parrot back the right answers about the regulations, you, too, can be an EPA certified "technician" and write home to momma about it, "Look, Maw, I done got me a gubmint certification. Ain't you just so proud?"
Yes, it's a minor hoop you have to jump through if you're going to do sealed system work. If you hear some guy bragging about getting an EPA certification like it was some kind of life accomplishment, then know that you are talking to someone who rode the short bus to school and would get gold stars for spelling his name right.
I hope my comments have been helpful to you in charting your business course. I’ll leave you with some resources for pursuing sealed system repairs should you decide that’s where you want your business to go.
If you’d like to get better at diagnosing refrigerators to determine if it’s the sealed system or (more likely) a control issue, then check out the Refrigerator Repair course at the Master Samurai Tech Academy.
Any comments or questions? Please post them below.
Refrigerant Recovery, Evacuation, and Charging Procedures
Sealed System Training Manual from Electrolux
Refrigeration Brazing and Evaporator Repair
Lokring Repair Method Service Guide from GE
Lokring Tube Connection System Service Manual from Whirlpool
Brazing and soldering techniques
Evacuation and charging
Replacing the filter dryer
Replacing the compressor
Flushing with R134a
The Retail Observer is a widely-read publication in the appliance and retail industry. We contributed an article that just came out in the August 2017 issue. Enjoy!
Technician Diagnostic Skills In the Age of Computer-Controlled Appliances (PDF, 97 kb)
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!
Back in the ‘90’s, when the internet was new and I didn’t have any grey hair yet, I started the first of several incarnations of sites that offered appliance repair wisdom online. Appliantology.org was started in November 2010. It’s an old site by Internet standards. It has evolved a lot over the years and I expect it will continue to do so.
As it exists today, this site is dedicated to supporting the professional appliance tech community with teaching, training, information, and camaraderie. This wasn’t always the case.
The purpose of this little magnum opus is to relate the long and storied history of this site and its predecessor, Applianceguru.com, and to reflect on how we’ve changed, some of the dysfunctional people we’ve dealt with over the years, and where we are today.
I’ve learned a lot about running internet communities, often the hard way and by trial and error. The Internet was a brave new frontier for everyone back in the 90’s. So everyone was making it up as they went along. You’ll get a glimpse into the challenges of keeping a forum community alive and kicking.
Come with me now on a journey through the Appliantology looking glass...
History - the "Good ol' days?"
I started the old forums at ApplianceGuru.com waaay back in 2003. It was a plain-jane forum-- no downloads section, no webinars, no blogs, no galleries, just a fraction of the functionality and features of this current forum software.
The Applianceguru.com site was started as a DIYer support forum. DIYers were the focus and it was 100% funded by affiliate parts purchases from DIYers. It was a workable part time model back in the day that brought in a little beer money.
Other techs started coming to the site and helping answer DIYer questions. Naturally, techs started helping each other out, too.
I started collecting service manuals in a Mediafire account. I called this “the Stash.” Eventually, I started sharing lifetime access to this file storage with techs who paid a modest one-time fee ranging from $5 to $40. That account and file storage still exists today.
The developer of the old forum software quit or died or something and he stopped supporting it. This was at a time when smartphone usage was starting to get big and there was no possibility of a mobile-friendly version of that forum software ever being developed.
So, in November 2010, I took the plunge and started a whole new forum-- this one-- using completely new software and at a completely different web address. Thus Appliantology.org was born.
As a courtesy and convenience to tech members at Applianceguru.com, I migrated their accounts over to the new forum, even though the old forums at Applianceguru.com remained open until a couple of months ago (the software was completely obsolete and couldn’t be maintained any more).
When Appliantology was first running, there was no Downloads section like we have now. The only Download available was the access link to the Mediafire account. Techs still had the option of making a small, one-time donation to access the Mediafire account.
Eventually, I started adding files in a separate Downloads section, what is now called the Appliance Repair Manual Pot Luck Supper. Today, that library has grown to almost 4,000 files and more manuals are added almost every day and on request. All the manuals are indexed and searchable.
Several things changed that caused us to have to restructure the business model used to support this site:
DIYers started coming to the site to get help, but then shopping elsewhere (eBay, Amazon) for the part to get it for a buck cheaper. Some would actually come back and brag about it.
Affiliate parts sales (and hence all income to run and grow this site) dropped to almost nothing.
Since DIYers had basically said to hell with us, we decided to change the whole business model of the site to focus on supporting the professional appliance tech community.
The increased bandwidth from users and downloads required a more expensive server arrangement (ultimately getting the dedicated private server that we have today).
The increased hard costs and man-hours needed to run the site as a high-quality tech support resource meant I had to make a decision: either run it like a business or shut it down.
I wasn’t ready to just shut the site down because I believed that enough people in the appliance tech community would value a high-functioning, full-featured appliance support site. So we set out to reinvent the site. We did this by making a few changes:
We briefly offered a lifetime membership shortly after we set up shop here at Appliantology, until we realized it wasn’t going to support the features we wanted to provide. So we created a new membership group called Professional Appliantologist with an annual membership fee. This is used to pay for the operation and maintenance of the site.
All techs who had purchased a “lifetime membership” for access to the Download Stash at Mediafire from Applianceguru.com or in the early days of Appliantology still have access to that resource. They also have gratis downloading privileges but it is at a throttled speed and one file at a time. This was necessary to ensure that limited server resources were available for the Professional Appliantologists.
All lifetime techs likewise have access to the tech-only forums (which is now most of the site) and the live training webinars.
Remember: most paid a ridiculous pittance, $5 to $40, more than 7 years ago for lifetime access at a completely different website, Applianceguru.com, not unlimited access to this site, Appliantology.org. In either case, the Download library did not exist as it does today. Extending downloading privileges at all to the original tech group was a pure gift on our part. Unfortunately, a small segment of these techs did not see it this way.
Accusations from Malcontents
Most techs at this site are really great people to interact with and value what we strive to provide for them here. The malcontents and detractors comprise less than 1%. If you think about it, this is probably true with your service call customers. It’s about the same distribution anywhere you have a large group of people.
One type of malcontent we’ve encountered are the “lifetime” members from the early days who thought they should get all of the privileges and benefits that our current PA members do. We were accused of various forms of selling out, greed, and “only being in it for the money”, despite all the access that they still had, as described above.
Again, we’re talking about a handful of users. Most of the techs from the early days either were content with their legacy-member benefits, or simply upgraded to a PA membership to get all of the new goodies.
Most people are unaware of how carefully an online forum has to be managed to keep the community healthy, to retain old members and attract new ones. This is one of those skills I had to learn by a lot of trial and error. But learn I did, and over the years I have escorted several people off the site for various reasons, which I’ll discuss in a moment. It’s always regrettable but also necessary to maintain the quality experience of the site for the other members.
In cases where a person had paid for a Professional Appliantologist membership, I refunded 100% of their money even though they had persistently violated site Guidelines and were several months into their membership term. I did this with the hopes that we could simply part ways amicably. Unfortunately, being “amicable” is not in everyone’s toolkit.
Have you ever decided not to continue on a job that you could tell was breaking bad, refunded any money the customer paid, and then they STILL talk shit about you? Then you know what I’m talking about.
Part of my responsibility as your gracious host is to maintain a positive atmosphere at the site. Occasionally this means showing folks to the door when they persistently demonstrate one or more of these defects:
Uncouth or unpleasant in their communications with other members
Unwilling or unable to learn, either about how to effectively and properly use the site or about basic technology, such as electricity and circuits (things about which it is not a matter of opinion-- you’re either right or wrong)
Persistently, albeit unintentionally, giving inaccurate information even when myself and others would try to correct it
Bullying or overbearing personality
You’ve heard the saying, “The customer is always right.” Well, that’s bullshit. The customer is not always right if they’re not the right customer. And any business that’s been around long enough will inevitably have a few of those kinds of customers that need to be “pruned.” On the other hand, when they are the right customer, you will bend over backwards to please them.
Some people left quietly, accepting that Appliantology just wasn’t right for them. But others, despite getting their money back, have gone on to spread malicious lies about me personally and even my wife, accusing us of being “greedy” and “ripping them off.”
All Content Creators are “turd magnets”
Do you ever wonder what causes people to leave nasty comments on YouTube or other places? They’re doing what envious non-creators have always done to creators: shooting off their big fat mouths because that’s all they’re really good at.
You can probably relate to this in your repair business, when a customer gives you a scathing online review that shows they know nothing about what it takes to run a professional in-home service business.
It takes a lot of time and hard work to create valuable content that people are willing to pay for. If these malcontents had any real talent, you would see the results online. Instead you see them bellyaching and lying. They have never created anything online that anyone would pay a nickle for. In short, they are entitled, envious, pathetic losers. This is the same psychological profile of the infamous “YouTube hater.”
Creating a comprehensive information and training resource takes dedication, talent, and years of in-depth education, things that envious haters are in desperately short supply of. So their lying and complaining is not really about money-- it never was. It's about rejection. And their fragile egos can't handle that.
Again let me say that the turds are maybe 1% of my interactions. But, dayyam, they sure can stink up the place! It takes the occasional sweep with the pooper scooper to keep our community a pleasant place to hang out. Before I leave the topic, let me tell you about a few of the...
Weird pathologies I’ve dealt with over the years
One of the weirdest, most perverse pathologies that all teachers deal with is where a student attacks the teacher instead absorbing the teaching that the teacher offers. This sick dynamic exists in all teaching settings, from high schools to trade schools to here at Appliantology. There have been a few techs with whom I professionally disagreed on a technical point go on to disparage me, my site, my personal hygeine, my parentage… you get the picture.
A related psychosis that teachers encounter is where someone benefits from the teaching and then turns around and resents the teacher for telling them something they didn’t know. I know- it’s absolutely insane! Yet it happens all the time to all kinds of teachers.
A third sickness is where someone sifts through the mountain of information that a teacher has produced and offered over the years to find some insignificant (usually imagined or misunderstood) flaw and tries to use that to discredit everything the teacher has ever done, despite the fact that they benefited greatly from the material. This is a pathetic attempt to pull down the teacher to make himself feel better. This is the ugly face of pure envy.
I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting these diseases early on and terminating the relationship before it festers.
This site is a business
I appreciate and value the many awesome techs who have joined me in my online appliantological adventures over the years, but let’s be clear about something: this site is my virtual dojo. I work here for a living. I don’t do this for free. Nor do I do it as a public service. My time and talents are valuable and I produce high quality content that many people are happy to pay for. I may give some away, but the best stuff I reserve for paying members. To those people, I strive to overdeliver on value for the price they pay.
This site is not a hobby run out of some guy’s basement. It is a business. That means a couple things:
It is professionally managed in every way: hardware, software, and content.
Professionals get paid for their time and talents. I am one of those professionals. So is my son, Sam (Son of Samurai) and my wife of 28 years, Susan (Mrs. Samurai)
All businesses are based on voluntary exchange: people value the information and services we offer more than the dollars they’re holding and thus a free market transaction takes place. As a business, we’re always looking for ways to please our valued customers in the hopes that they chose to continue doing business with us.
Membership here is a two-way relationship, not an automatic right or an entitlement. I choose not to associate with boors, bullies, and boneheads because life is just too short to piss it away with the wrong people. I know that most of my fellow Brethren in the Craft at Appliantology feel similarly.
At the same time, I try to make this site an appealing value, even a “killer deal,” for techs looking for a positive, full-featured information resource.
Reasons to be or not to be here
Appliantology is open to all and all are welcome within the terms of the site’s Guidelines. Professional appliance techs may choose to purchase a membership to enjoy all its many benefits. But Appliantology is not trying to be all things to all people--an impossible goal for any business.
I’ll go over some reasons to be here and some reasons to not be here.
Appliantology is probably a good fit for you if...
You want to learn new things and become a better tech
You want to help other techs learn to become better at their craft
You understand what it means to disagree without being disagreeable
You learned what yo momma taught you when you were little:
Share everything (i.e., information, technical literature, etc.).
Don't hit people.
Clean up your own mess (i.e., close out your topics with the solution).
Appliantology is probably not a good fit for you if...
You have something to prove to yourself or others
You are unwilling or unable to learn new things like
How to use this site correctly and effectively (Hint: it’s not at all hard if you just READ)
How to read schematics, understand technology and think like a real technician
You're only looking for parts changing information
You resent the rare instances that I may correct a post you made (in the spirit of being helpful) or hide it altogether when it is not helpful, may only confuse the OP (original poster- the guy who started the topic), or is a distraction from the teaching point I'm trying to help the OP to understand.
Do you value a tech support site that...
uses state-of-the-art software with lots of features and functionality?
has nearly 100% uptime?
is hosted on its own private server which enables consistently fast page load times and download speeds?
is monitored and maintained 24/7?
has no Google ads or popups for Professional Appliantologist members?
is 100% mobile-friendly and the full functionality available on desktop is also available on mobile?
emphasizes understanding the underlying technology behind specific failures, applying good troubleshooting techniques and clear thinking to problem solving rather than merely parts changing info (“if this problem, replace that part”)?
has three full-time people (one of which is me) dedicated to constantly improving this site, adding enhanced features to continually add value for members?
uploads new service manuals and technical literature almost everyday and on request?
offers regular, live tech training webinars on topics and technologies that you will never learn anywhere else?
makes many of these webinar recordings available for you to watch at your convenience?
prizes accuracy and clarity of information?
maintains a positive and professional environment by flushing the occasional turd?
If you value these things, then Appliantology is your home because we value YOU as a member of this tech community! We are constantly looking for ways to add value to your membership and welcome your suggestions.
Appliantology has come a long way and Team Samurai works hard to make this site the premier professional appliance tech resource on the web. If you are a member, I sincerely thank you for being a part of this community. If you're thinking about becoming a member, I hope some of my comments were helpful in that decision… or at least entertaining.
Lemme know what you think. Post your comments below.
Great news: the annual fee for Professional Appliantologist members will never increase as long as you keep your membership active. That last part is very important for reasons I’ll explain below.
The annual fee for new Professional Appliantologist members has increased. This does not affect current members as long they do not allow their membership to expire.
The annual fee increase is also great news for prospective new members! Huh? Why?
Because it means we are still accepting new members… for now.
We came very close to implementing one of two options:
Close off new memberships altogether and just keep the site open for existing members as long as they wanted to remain
Allow memberships only for Master Samurai Tech Academy students and alumni making Appliantology the on-going support site for the MST community.
In the end we decided on a third way: keep the annual fee the same for existing members in perpetuity and still allow new members but at a higher fee. This may discourage membership but that’s okay-- our focus is on quality, not quantity.
Master Samurai Tech Academy students with active enrollments(s) (i.e., still working on a course) are currently offered a 10% student discount off Professional Appliantologist membership. That will remain in effect, too.
How to Prevent your current Professional Appliantologist membership from expiring
An invoice will be automatically emailed to you two weeks prior to your membership expiration. If you want keep your membership at the current fee and you do not have a credit card on file, be sure to pay the invoice right away! If it expires, you’ll need to re-purchase the membership at the new, increased fee.
If you’d like to mitigate the risk of your current PA membership running out because you somehow missed the renewal invoice, you can keep a credit card on file with our payment processor, Stripe. Your credit card information is not stored on our server-- it is stored securely on Stripe's server. (Stripe is our payment processor. They are lightyears ahead of Paypal in both security and features and are an Apple Pay certified partner. Their website is here.)
Once your card is on file, you will get a reminder email 3 days before the payment is taken. If your card is current, you don't need to do anything and your membership will autorenew.
To enter your credit card info, go to Memberships > My Details > Cards and click the yellow "Add New Card" button.
Desktop membership menu:
Mobile membership menu:
We have have a huge and growing library of technical literature here at Appliantology. If, after searching the Downloads section using the techniques shown in the how-to search video, you're not finding what you need, I have a trick for you that applies to all Whirlpool-built appliances, including those that are Kenmore-branded Whirlpool-built.
Whirlpool-built appliances include the following brands:
many Kenmore models (indicated by the three-digit prefix)
For these brands, you want to find the PUB number of the tech sheet. This is important because the same PUB number can apply to multiple different models. So searching by model number won't necessarily find the tech sheet PUB number you need.
Here how to find the PUB number for the tech sheet:
Open a new browser tab. Go to the Sears site and paste your model number into the search box
You'll pull up several thumb nails of parts diagrams. Usually on the first page, the tech sheet part number (what we call the PUB number here at Appliantology) will be listed. It won't necessarily be the first item-- keep reading down the list.
Copy that PUB number into your browser (you don't really need me to tell you how to mark, copy, and paste with your browser, do you?)
Switch back to the Appliantology browser tab, select "Files" in the site search box and paste in that PUB number.
If something comes back in the search results, that's the file you need.
If you're still not finding the tech sheet, then post a request in the Appliance Service Manual Requests forum and we'll get it for you. Including the PUB number you found helps us help you.
Go git 'em!