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Samurai Appliance Repair Man's Blog

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Pearls of appliance repair wisdom from the Appliantology Forums

Entries in this blog

 

No-parts field repairs on two dryers with failed timers

I had two service calls recently on two different dryers with the same problem: the motor wouldn't run.  These are two different dryers: one an old skool Whirlpool-built unit with the lint filter on the top panel and the other a Maytag Neptune-style dryer. Different disassembly, wiring, and schematics, and completely different timers. But in both cases, the problem was the same--a burnt contact in the timer (failed open so would not close). In the two videos below, I show you how to use the schematic not only to precisely identify the specific failed contact in the timer, but also how to do a field repair to bypass that failed contact and get the dryer safely running again without replacing the timer--all in the first trip. Being able to do these repairs was only possible by understanding how basic electricity and circuits work and by reading the schematics. There is no other way. Well, I guess you could just memorize a bunch of monkey tricks like, "If motor no run on a Maytag Neptune dryer, jumper the yellow and gray wires together." Yeah... good luck with that. What's interesting about these two videos is that the repairs done on each are electrically identical but the physical repair looked entirely different between the two. And that's exactly what you should notice in these two videos. These are the kind of skills we teach at the Master Samurai Tech Academy. We're not teaching anything new or pointy-headed, or academic-- these are the skills that most appliance techs used to have 20 years ago but have been largely lost to the trade. That's why you see so many techs out there who don't know how to even begin to troubleshoot an electrical problem and, as a result, the trade is ate up with parts changing monkeys. There is a better way: the Master Samurai Tech way. Start with our Fundamentals course. Don't let the name fool you-- many techs, including those with 20+ years experience do not know what we teach in the Fundamentals course. We know because we've had many students in exactly this situation-- over 20 or even 30 years experience-- take our Fundamentals course and then tell us it was a game changer for them. It can be for you, too. The first video shows the field jumper repair on a Maytag Neptune dryer and the next one is an old skool Whirlpool dryer. Watch and learn.      
 

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

 

How to Troubleshoot the New Inverter Compressor Refrigerators

The new inverter compressors ain't like the old skool compressors used in yo momma's beer cooler. Oh, they still do the same basic job-- pump refrigerant vapor. But you have to troubleshoot them differently from the old skool compressors. In their quest to comply with increasingly onerous Energy Star requirements, all the appliance manufacturers are producing refrigerator models that use inverter compressors. Like it or not, inverter compressors are here to stay. Many a fine tech has been befuddled by these new compressor systems but not you! For the Samurai shall reveal the truth unto thee, and the truth shall set thee free. Conventional Old Skool Compressors Before we talk about how these inverter compressors work and and how to troubleshoot them, let's quickly review the old skool compressors so it's fresh in our mind when we compare with how the inverter compressors work. In the conventional compressor technology that's been around for decades, the compressor has a start winding to help kick things off and a main (or run) winding that keeps the compressor going after it's started. A start relay and sometimes a start capacitor are used to momentarily power the start winding and then take it out of the circuit once the compressor is up and running. The compressor runs off standard, single-phase, 60 Hz 120vac. If the start relay fails, the compressor will sit there trying but failing to start and drawing locked rotor (LR) current. Where the normal operating current draw on a conventional compressor is somewhere between 1 and 2 amps, LR current could be somewhere north of 8 amps. All that current makes heat, lots of heat. As the compressor sits there straining to start, it starts boiling the oil and burning the varnish insulation on the motor windings. If this goes on for very long, the compressor will literally self destruct (internally) from all the heat. To prevent this unhappy scenario, the engineers added an overload device that's used to kill power to the compressor if something goes wrong, like a bad start relay, open compressor start winding, bad internal bearing, or a seized piston inside the compressor that prevents it from starting correctly. The idea being that if the problem is just a bad start relay (very common), this can be repaired easily and inexpensively compared to replacing the entire compressor (or refrigerator). If you were to measure the resistance of the start winding and the main (or run) winding, you would find that the start winding has a  higher resistance than the run winding. It's also made of thicker wire  because the start winding has to handle the extra current flow through it that's needed to get the compressor piston going from a dead stop. A common troubleshooting technique with these old skool compressors is to rig up a test cord and manually power the compressor to see if it'll run. More details on compressor test cords here: http://appliantology.org/blog/1/entry-669-rigging-and-using-a-compressor-test-cord-to-manually-operate-a-compressor/ Once they're up and running, these old skool, compressors run at the same speed and move the same amount of refrigerant vapor per minute. In other words, their refrigerant capacity and motor RPM is constant the entire time it's running. They can't work "harder," just longer. So, let's summarize the old skool compressors: - has two windings, a start and a run winding, which are physically different windings and have different resistances; the start winding has higher resistance than the run winding - runs off standard 120vac household power - uses a start relay to initially power the start winding and then take it out of the circuit after the compressor is up and running - can rig up a test cord to directly power the compressor - are constant capacity and speed machines Keep all this in mind as we now look at the new inverter compressors... Inverter Compressor Systems Although inverter compressors do the exact same thing as the old skool compressors-- pump refrigerant vapor-- and they physically move the vapor the same way-- through a vapor-compression cycle-- they are powered and controlled very differently. For one thing, inverter compressors use a special three-phase voltage produced by a special control board called an inverter. Fuggetabout 120 VAC, 60 Hz line voltage. We're not in Kansas anymore, boys and girls! Both the amplitude (amount) and frequency of the input voltage will vary. Typical specs are 80 to 230 VAC with the frequency ranging anywhere from 57 to 104 Hz. The higher the frequency, the faster the inverter compressor will run. So, inverter compressors, unlike their old skool forebearers, really can work harder. In fact, this is exactly why the manufacturers are using these inverter compressor systems; they can match how hard the compressor needs to work to the actual refrigeration work needed to keep the beer cold. By doing it this way, the compressor draws less power and the manufacturers can meet the Energy Star requirements. Inverter compressors have three windings, not just two like the old skool units. All three windings should have the exact same resistance. If the resistances vary from each other by as much as a 1 ohm, the compressor will not run correctly. In fact, this is one of the ways of checking an inverter compressor: making sure that all three windings have the exact same resistance. Check the manufacturer's spec for what that exact resistance reading should be. This is different from the old skool compressors with just two windings and the start winding has a much higher resistance than the run winding. Remember how a common troubleshooting trick with the old skool compressors is to power it directly with a test cord and see if it starts? Don't try that on these inverter compressors because you'll permanently break it. If you're a professional Appliantologist and you do this on a service call, you just bought your customer a new refrigerator! Let's summarize the inverter compressors: - have three windings, not just two; all three windings have the exact same resistance - does not use a start relay/overload device - runs off a special voltage produced by an inverter board; the voltage varies in both magnitude and frequency: the higher the frequency, the faster the compressor runs - variable capacity, variable speed - cannot directly power the compressor (well, you could but you'd regret it) Troubleshooting Inverter Compressor Systems If you're working on an inverter compressor system where the compressor isn't running, you can't power an inverter compressor directly to test it. But you can (and should!) check the resistances in all three windings to rule out an open winding. If the compressor windings check good, this is not diagnostically conclusive that the compressor itself is good. But if, OTOH, the winding resistances are imbalanced or one of them is open, this is diagnostically conclusive that the compressor is bad. Okay, so let's say the compressor windings check good but it's not running. Now what? Now you have to check the inverter board itself. There are two different tests you can do on the inverter board to see if it's good or not: 1. Check for good input voltages. An Inverter board will have two different input voltages: - 120 VAC main power supply - 4 to 6 VDC control voltage from the main control board (or Muthaboard-- a completely separate circuit board in the refrigerator) If you're missing one of these voltages, the inverter board can't run the compressor. You'll need to backtrack and find the missing voltage. Could be a bad wire harness connector, bad muthaboard, etc. BTW, make all voltage measurements with everything CONNECTED. Otherwise, you'll get different readings that could be misleading. OTOH, if you're getting both of these input voltages to the inverter and the compressor isn't running (and you've already checked the compressor winding resistances), then you need to do this next test: 2. Check the current draw on the 120 VAC power supply. - Disconnect the 120 VAC power supply from the inverter board. - Connect your amp meter around one of the wires supplying 120 VAC to the inverter board (doesn't matter which one). - Reconnect the 120 VAC power supply to the inverter board and watch your amp meter. If the meter stays at 0 amps, the inverter board is toast-- it's not even trying to start the compressor. If you see the current draw jump to say 4 amps (typical LR current in these inverter compressors) and then drop off, keep watching. Most inverter boards will repeatedly try to power up the compressor. On GE refrigerators, for example, the inverter will try to start the compressor 12 consecutive times. If the compressor fails to start, the inverter will timeout for 8 minutes and then try again. Other manufacturers may have different test schemes but the idea is the same: if the inverter is working properly, you'll see activity on your amp meter as the inverter tries to do its job. In the video below, I demonstrate troubleshooting an inverter compressor system on a GE refrigerator. The only thing I didn't show in the video is checking the inverter board's current draw.    Here's the replacement inverter board I used to fix this refrigerator: http://www.repairclinic.com/PartDetail/Inverter-Board/WR55X11138/2443233
 

Finding service manuals for Kenmore model numbers in the Downloads section of Appliantology

Here's a quick tip for finding service manuals for Kenmore model numbers in the Downloads section here at Appliantology.  Let's say you have a Kenmore model number like 796.31512210. The site search doesn't play nice with special characters like the "." in the model number. Easy workaround: Use the search wild card character, "*" to replace the model number prefix including the "." like ahso: *31512210 Copy and paste that search term into the search bar at the top of the page. In the search box, be sure to specify the "Files" section of the site otherwise you'll search the entire site and get a bunch of results that don't help. Sometimes, you'll need to click "More options" in the search box choices in order to see the "Files" selection.  In cases where the model number also has a trailing part of the model number with another ".", do the patented double wild card search. Example: Model number: 795.51022.010 Replace both the prefix and suffix with the wild card: *51022* Search as instructed above and you'll find it. 
 

Tech Memberships at Appliantology

We offer 4 different ways for professional appliance techs to participate in the Appliantology tech community. Three of the memberships are premium, and one is limited. The features and benefits of each option are summarized in the table below: Click the links below for details: 1. Professional Appliantologist: the easy, instant premium membership for less than $4 per week. 2. Fellow Appliantologist: this free premium membership is earned by being an active participant in the Appliantology brotherhood. 3. MST Alumni: this free premium membership is earned by getting certified in the Fundamentals of Appliance Repair course.  4. Legacy Tech: this free limited membership is for professional techs who want to check out the Appliantology community and hopefully like what they see enough to either earn or purchase a premium membership.  Aside from the benefits listed above, every Appliantology tech membership ensures two things that very few other sites out there do: no ads and no data harvesting. We strive to provide our members with an uncluttered, ad-free experience, and during your stay at the Appliantology forums, absolutely none of the content you create or your personal data is collected for our own or any other company's purposes.

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

 

Twas the night before Christmas and the oven control board was repaired…

It was a cold December day when the call came in. Just a few days before Christmas. Gas oven no bake and loads of family coming to visit from out of town. The customer was desperate, hoping for a Christmas miracle. Things were looking grim when it turned out NOT to be the igniter, but the control board. Not only was the board not available for several weeks, but it didn't even make sense to spend that kind of money on this older, POS range. And yet, there was no time to get a replacement range installed before the Christmas festivities. But all was not lost. Come watch the illuminating and heart-warming repair saga of how the Samurai saved Christmas for a family by repairing the control board in their gas range. If you've been reading this blog or following my Youtube channel for a while, you know my opinion on doing field repairs on electronic boards: it's a repair you do in a pinch to get the customer going but it can never be a routine part of an appliance repair company's long-term profit with growth potential.  The reasons have to do with two things: time and money. I'm not going to start shopping around for and stocking relays, triacs, capacitors, etc., to repair a control board in a customer's appliance. Why? Because the profit margin is too slim on these repairs to make it worth my time.  There are only two board field repairs that I will do, and only under specific circumstances: 1. Fuses: if a fuse that’s hardwired onto a board has blown, with no other damage evident, I’ll replace it. It’s easy to do and for about 5 bucks you can have an assortment of fuses on hand - no specialty components to get. 2. Burnt solder joints: this just requires a simple soldering kit. I’ll do this to temporarily buy the customer some time until the replacement board arrives or they are able to replace the whole appliance. I don’t guarantee this repair, so I make sure my customer knows it’s considered a temporary fix.  I learned to solder when I was a teenager, playing around with electronics kits, so I’m surprised when I see techs who seem to think repairing control boards is "sexy." Yet many of these same techs cannot use a timing chart and schematic to troubleshoot an old skool Whirlpool direct drive washer. First things first!  Working on boards isn't difficult--anyone can learn to solder. There may be an obvious, visible fault on the board (as I show in the video above), but you aren't going to be able to know if the event that led to the fault you can see caused other damage that you can't unless you really understand circuit boards and how to test them. There's a reason that companies that repair circuit boards charge what they do. And their business model only works because of volume - they have guys sitting at benches cranking out repaired boards all day long. When you install a new OEM board, you can guarantee that job. When you do a board repair, you really can't, unless you've tested all the other components on that board. And if you're spending all that time doing that, then you're going to have to charge more to cover the time and capital costs for the required equipment, all of which erodes the supposed savings you're trying to pass along to the customer. Some techs are attracted to doing control board repairs because they see it as additional income to their meager bottom line. The reality is that doing a low-margin repair like this is a drag on your bottom line. You can’t charge much more than your service call fee, and maybe a bit of labor. There’s little to no parts to markup. Calls like this have to be rare to remain profitable.  And then there’s the “opportunity cost” of doing board repairs. We have a limited amount of time each day that we need to wisely parcel out. The better we are at this, the more money we make. Consider the time you spend repairing a board— even buying new components if you go that far with it— is time that could otherwise have been spent repairing a Wolf or other high-end range. But that slice of time is gone. Forever. And you sold it cheap. Way to go.  The video above shows one of the few exceptions when I’ll do a control board repair: four days before Christmas, customer without an oven and no time to buy the board. Also, on this low-end POS range, I actually recommended that the customer NOT spend the money for a new control board and instead put the money toward a whole new range. So, it’s the classic “in a pinch” situation that I could easily overcome with a dab of solder.  After troubleshooting the problem to a burnt solder joint at the bake relay on the control board, I told the customer we would repair the board at no additional charge beyond the normal service call fee. I also explained that this means the repair carries no warranty-- could last a week, could last a year, only the Lord knows!  We got the oven working again, customer was delighted, and Christmas was saved by Samurai Santa! 🎅  
 

Triac Operation for Appliance Techs

Had some good questions at the webinar on the Bi-Directional PSC drive motor system used in Whirlpool VM washers. Professional Appliantologist members can grab some popcorn and watch the webinar recording here: Bi-directional PSC Drive Motor Systems in Whirlpool VM Washers During the webinar, Joe asked how triacs are turned off. I wanted to give a more complete and accurate answer in this post.  To understand how triacs are turned off once they're turned on (and conducting) we need to have a little understanding about how triacs work. So that's what I'm going to do here. Before we light this candle, I'll start with the three take-away points that we need to know about triacs: 1. Triacs are used to control AC power supplies 2. You can think of them as solid state relays 3. Triacs are current controlled devices. This means that you need electrons bustin' down the Gate to turn it on AND you need load current flowing through them in order to stay on.  Okay, here we go... Intro The word "Triac" is an acronym that stands for Triode for Alternating Current. "Triode" is the old Skool word for a three-terminal (or electrode) vacuum tube used to amplify a signal.  Triacs are used to control a AC power supply. In appliances, they are used to turn the AC power supply off or on.  Here's what a typical triac looks like, such as what you might find on an appliance control board: Here is the schematic symbol: The leads labelled A1 and A2 stand for “Anode 1” and “Anode 2.”  You will also see them referred to as “MT1” and “MT2” where MT stands for Main Terminal. Same thing. This is the business end of the triac where the main working current passes. This part of triac can complete the circuit for lots of different AC loads, from light bulbs to motors.  The other important thing to point out is the “G” terminal. This is the Gate and it has the power to turn the triac on with just a little DC voltage, usually a 5 VDC digital pulse generated by a microprocessor. So this little Gate voltage and tiny current can make a triac turn on and pass a heap big mondo working current.  Triacs are like solid state relays and, in the appliance world anyway, serve the purpose of the relays with a coil and set of contacts. The difference is that triacs don't have metal contacts that can arc and burn out and don't have a coil. (And, of course, triacs are made of semiconductors and PN junctions. More on that in a bit.) Relays are electromechanical devices whereas triacs are solid state devices. Inside a Triac Triacs have two sets of three PN junctions. Look at the diagram below: As with any semiconductor device, it requires current flowing through it, or more properly stated, electrons being forced through it by a voltage source, in order to collapse the PN junctions and cause it to start conducting. Refer to the webinar recording on “Semiconductors and PN Junctions” in the Professional Appliantologists forum and at Master Samurai Tech for more details on this.  The triac is constructed in such a way that a little tiny gate current is all that's needed to “forward bias” the triac and make it turn on and conduct a large AC current that can drive a load like a motor. This Gate current is typically driven by a small DC voltage like 5VDC.  Turning a Triac On and Off Triacs require a minimum current through the Gate in order to turn on. In order to stay on, they also need a minimum load current flowing through them from MT1 to MT2. This is called the “holding current.” This is why we say that triacs are current controlled devices.  When the AC voltage crosses the zero line (the x-axis), the current then goes to zero and the triac “turns off.” So the triac naturally turns off at every half cycle of the AC sine wave. The Gate voltage, which produces the Gate current, must then be reapplied in order to the turn the triac on for the next half cycle.  Let's look at this: In the diagram above, the sine wave is the current passing through the triac from MT1 to MT2 (or A1 to A2, same thing). The notches represent the triggering points where Gate current has to be supplied in order to keep the triac turned on for the next half cycle. Also notice the holding current dashed lines. This is the minimum current that needs to be passing through the triac in order to stay on.  AC voltage goes to zero every half cycle (120 times a second in a 60 Hz power supply). No voltage means there's no current because current, electrons, cannot move unless there is a voltage difference between two points as you learned in the Basic Electricity module of the Fundamentals course. Since there is no current flowing through the triac at this point forcing the PN junctions to stay collapsed (current drops below the minimum holding current required to keep the triac conducting), the triac turns off and stops conducting. To get the triac to turn on and start conducting again, you have apply a Gate trigger voltage (which drives the gate current) to the Gate terminal. If you to want to have the triac conduct through several AC cycles, you have to re-apply the Gate trigger voltage each and every time the AC voltage sine wave goes to zero (i.e., when it crosses the x-axis). Here's another diagram showing the gate current triggering pulses: A couple things to notice about the graph above: 1. Look at the timing of the Gate current pulse. It occurs right around the time the AC load current through the triac goes to zero.  2. You don't need to keep supplying Gate current the entire cycle to keep the triac turned on, just when the load current goes to zero. So you can supply Gate current in specifically-timed pulses. We're talking accurate timing down to the microsecond. Mind boggling for us; piece of cake for a microprocessor-- they do this kind of stuff all day long.  If you were to connect an oscilloscope to both the gate voltage and the voltage output at one of the the triac main terminals, it would look something like this: The Gate pulses in the oscilloscope photo above are wider than the ones in the preceding diagram but the idea is exactly the same. Channel 1 is the Gate voltage and Channel 2 is the AC voltage output of the triac.  I'm talking about voltage now. That's perfectly fine because in non-reactive devices, like triacs, there is no phase shift between current and voltage. So whatever voltage does, current also does at the exact same time. It's just easier to show voltage on an oscilloscope. Notice that the gate pulse on Channel 1 goes from zero to 5.5 VDC each and every time the AC voltage sine wave on Channel 2 crosses the x-axis (at which point the AC voltage is zero). So while the frequency of the AC line voltage is 60 Hz, the frequency of the Gate pulses is 120 Hz. You can see this in the lower right hand corner of the photo above.  Since the AC voltage (and hence current) goes to zero 120 times a second, all you need to do to stop the triac from conducting is remove the Gate voltage. Done!  The Two Golden Rules for Gating Triacs 1. To turn a triac ON, a gate current greater than the minimum required for that particular triac model must be applied until the load current is passing through from MT1 to MT2 . Being a semiconductor, temperature affects this and is one of the design considerations the engineers have to consider.  2. To turn off a triac, the load current must go below the minimum holding current for that particular triac model long enough for the PN junctions to re-establish themselves. We're talking microseconds here. And, of course, remove the Gate current. With the Gate current removed when the load current (and hence voltage) goes to zero, the triac will not conduct, even if the load voltage later goes to something other than zero.  Summary 1. Triacs are used to control AC power supplies 2. You can think of them as solid state relays 3. Triacs are current controlled devices. This means that you need electrons bustin' down the Gate to turn it on AND you need load current flowing through them in order to stay on.  Beyond understanding how triacs operate, technicians need to be aware of configurations where a triac is controlling the power supply to a load because this affects how the supply voltage is tested and measured. We go into details on that in this webinar recording: Voltage Measurements, Meters, Ghost Voltages, and Triac-controlled Neutrals

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

 

The Master Samurai Tech Alumni Program

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.
 

Secrets of the Ten-Step Tango™ Troubleshooting Method Revealed!

I've been working with appliance techs online for over 20 years. One of the biggest changes I've seen in the tech community during that time is a steady decline in competence in troubleshooting electrical circuits. It's to the point today that many techs don't even know what real troubleshooting is or looks like. A common misunderstanding is that pattern recognition and parts changing are what constitute "troubleshooting." 

Real troubleshooting starts with a succinct problem statement that answers one or both of these questions: 1) What is the appliance doing that it should NOT be doing? 2) What is the appliance NOT doing that it SHOULD be doing? 

Using the problem statement and the schematic, a skilled technician will identify the load of interest (LOI), analyze the LOI power supply circuit, and then proceed to kick some appliance ass. I've codified this analytical troubleshooting technique into the Ten-Step Tango™ Troubleshooting Method. 

I've posted multiple webinar recordings demonstrating the Ten-Step Tango™ on various appliances, from simple to complex, from wall ovens to refrigerators and everything in between. Today, I want to call your attention to just three of these. 

In these three enlightening webinar recordings at Appliantology, each about an hour and a half long, the Samurai unveils the secrets of his own troubleshooting technique: The Ten-Step Tango™. In ten clear, easy to follow steps, you'll learn how to apply this structured troubleshooting procedure to diagnose ANY electrical problem, whether it's an appliance, home solar power system, or anything else electrical. And you'll troubleshoot it with precision and competence. No more guessing and hoping to get lucky.

If you're a premium tech member at Appliantology (Professional Appliantologist, Appliantology Fellow, or Master Samurai Tech Alumnus), you can watch these webinar recordings at Appliantology on-demand, 24/7. Access to videos like these are one of the many perks of a Professional Appliantologist membership at Appliantology. You can become one today by clicking here.

This first video walks you through the Ten-Step Tango™, then shows how to apply it by working through several scenarios based on real-life service calls. This next video gets into some more advanced troubleshooting kata with even more exercises. If you hadn't quite gotten the hang of the Ten-Step Tango™ in the last video, this one will really lock it in for you. Without a solid troubleshooting plan and schematic know-how, the refrigerator problems in this video might have made a parts-changing monkey out of you! Luckily, you've got the Ten Step Tango™ on your side. You'll find all three parts of this webinar series here on the webinar recordings index page at Appliantology. Beyond that, there's over 30 different videos -- that's over 40 hours of content -- all covering fundamental appliance troubleshooting and technology. The knowledge in this treasure trove will serve you well, no matter what kinds of appliances you service, because at Master Samurai Tech, we teach the fundamental technologies that are common to all appliances. Learn more, earn more.    
 

What's wrong with this picture?

This is a picture from a recent service call I did. That white/translucent plastic tubing you see coming out of the floor and connecting to the gray PEX tubing on the refrigerator is a big No-No. That's a flood waiting to happen. Think about it: that plastic tubing us under household water pressure 24/7-- that's 40 to 60 psi. Combine that with with the fact that it gets hot behind a refrigerator that's pushed back against the wall, especially in summer. Heat... plastic... brittle... cracked or burst plastic tubing. And what's to stop the water from spraying out at household pressure when (not if) that plastic tubing breaks? Ain't but one thing: your hand on the shut off valve to stop the water flow. What if you can't find the shut off valve to stop the water flow because the plumber installed it in a weird location or the house has been renovated since the water line was installed and the valve is inaccessible? What if you can't reach the shut off valve because it's up behind a drop ceiling and you can't find the ladder during the panic to stop the water? What happens if you're not home when that cheap plastic tubing bursts, as it inevitably will given enough heat and time? You get the idea. So how do you avoid all this unpleasantness? Any water supply line or tubing in your house that's under continuous household pressure should only be one of three things: copper, steel-braided flex line, or PEX. Now, if the plastic water tubing were AFTER the refrigerator's water inlet valve, as is commonly the case with older refrigerators, not such a big deal because 1) the tubing is not under continuous pressure; it’s only under pressure when the solenoid valve opens which 2) only occurs for several seconds every couple of hours or so for the ice maker or on-demand for the water dispenser. Moral of the story: plastic and household plumbing don't mix.
 

Free Tech Membership at Appliantology

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. <a data-cke-saved-href="https://mastersamuraitech.wufoo.com/forms/qyisdb70vd2d3e/" href="https://mastersamuraitech.wufoo.com/forms/qyisdb70vd2d3e/"> Fill out my Wufoo form! </a>    

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

 

Sealed system repairs: the mystique, the reality

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. EPA "certification" 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.  Good luck!  Technical Documents: 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 Instructional Videos: Brazing and soldering techniques Refrigerant recovery Evacuation and charging Replacing the filter dryer Replacing the compressor Flushing with R134a  
 

MST Radio Episode 28 - The Biz of Selling New Appliances

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  
 

[Tech Tip] How to find Whirlpool tech sheets at Appliantology quicker using the PUB number

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: Whirlpool Kitchenaid Jenn-Air Amana Maytag some Crosley 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! 
 

Using an Airflow Meter to Check Your Dryer Vent for Safety and Efficiency

In this journey into appliance repair enlightenment, Samurai Appliance Repair Man shows you how to use an airflow meter to analytically test the back pressure on a dryer vent for safety and efficiency. Looks can be deceiving, as this video shows, and even a short simple dryer vent that appears to be ideal can have airflow problems. So it's always wise to use a meter to actually measure the back pressure. Here's the air flow tester I used in the video ==> http://www.repairclinic.com/PartDetail/Tester/W10106710/1447456 To learn more about your dryer or to order parts, click here.
 

Appliantology March 2018 Peer Group Meeting

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.
 

Appliantology through the Looking Glass

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.). Play fair. 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.   
 

The Facebook Zuck n' Jive

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.  
 

Rigging and using a compressor test cord to manually operate a compressor

One of the many things that can make a refrigerator warm up is the compressor is trying but failing to start. You may occasionally hear this type of noise from the back of the refrigerator (starts about 15 seconds in): This is the sound of your compressor trying, but failing miserably, to start. Best case scenario: Bad compressor start relay. Worst case scenario: open compressor start winding or seized compressor bearing == buy a new refrigerator. Question: How do you tell which is which? Answer: Compressor test cord. Question: What's a compressor test cord and how do I make one? Answer: Question: How do you know which is the start, run, and common connection posts on the compressor? Answer: Use Brother Bobice's procedure for identifying the compressor electrical terminals:
 

A Day in the Life: A Tale of Two Refrigerator Service Calls

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!  
 

MST Radio Episode 27: Online Appliance Repair Schools- the good, the bad, and the scams

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
 

MST Radio Episode 25: Sears tech attacks customer

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/    

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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