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I get asked frequently about technician certification and there’s a lot of misunderstanding and confusion out there in the tech community about it. So I wanted to offer some thoughts that may help you think more clearly and realistically about this topic.
The number one question you should ask yourself about any certification is, “What does it mean?”
Does it mean that someone simply paid a fee to take and pass a test? If so, is the person certified in this way a better technician as a result? No, all this type of certification says is, “We certify that this person was good at taking our test.”
The other meaning of certification is that a person has completed a structured and specialized course of study and instruction and has demonstrated high comprehension of the information throughout the training course(s). This is the meaning of certification as traditionally used by colleges, professions, other skilled trades, and at the Master Samurai Tech Academy.
Merely taking and passing an exam has no possibility of producing a competent technician. It may vouch for a tech’s prior experience and training but, without knowing what the exam is actually testing for, you don’t know what exactly is being validated.
On the other hand, successfully completing a detailed training course taught by industry-recognized experts is a proven method of producing skilled technicians.
Specific appliance technician certifications of various kinds have zero consumer recognition. Customers may like to know, in a general sense, that you are certified (by someone) but they have no knowledge of or interest in the specific certification and what it really means.
You know who is interested in the single exam-type certification? Let's be honest: it's techs trying to impress each other. This goes right to the next question you should ask yourself about appliance tech certification...
Are you wanting certification so you can have initials after your name and a patch on your uniform, thinking this will impress customers? Here’s a newsflash: customers don’t give a rip about initials after your name and a patch on your uniform.
You know what customers do care about? You getting it fixed right the first time without swapping parts like a monkey and hoping to get lucky.
Or are you wanting certification as a testament to your real acquisition and mastery of technical and troubleshooting skills? Who cares about this? I'll tell you...
Any employer would care about this in their technicians and prospective hires.
Owner/operators whose livelihood depends on successful repairs would care about this type of certification.
The last question you need to ask yourself is “What do YOU want out of certification?”
Do you want to sport initials after your name and a patch on your shirt to impress your friends and yourself? Or do you really want to be able to troubleshoot and repair appliance problems that other techs have tried and failed to fix?
Do you want to be the guy with initials after his name but can’t fix the tricky problems any better than the guy without initials? Or do you want to be the go-to tech who can think through problems and that other techs seek out for help?
I’ve offered you some of my thoughts on this issue of certification to hopefully help you think clearly about what it is and what it is not. I hope that this will help you make a decision about certification that’s consistent with your career goals. Let me know what you think.
UPDATE: The Oven and Range Repair course is now open for enrollment. Click here for details.
Team Samurai is turning up the heat this July with a new full-length technical course: Oven and Range Repair
The content that we’ve created for you is absolutely fantastic. We cannot wait to be able to open the doors so you can see it for yourself.
This is a mondo course, with over 30 original videos and 7 Case Studies, that was almost a year in the making using the same training structure for the prerequisite courses we developed for Sub-Zero Wolf factory training.
The Oven and Range Repair training course covers all the technology used in modern gas and electric cooking appliances, ovens, cooktops, and microwaves, and includes seven real-world troubleshooting case studies using the world-famous Ten Step Tango® troubleshooting procedure.
Next to refrigerators, cooking appliances are the most profitable appliances to repair, especially high-end cooking appliances. Any appliance company that expects to thrive and prosper in the coming recession needs to be competent at troubleshooting and repairing high-end cooking appliances and this course empowers any tech to do exactly that.
Here's a list of the topics taught in the course:
1 Groundwork concepts
1.1 Basic electricity refresher
1.2 Conductor ampacity
1.3 120/240 VAC split phase power supplies
1.4 Ghost voltage and electrical measurements
1.5 GFCI and AFCI circuit protection
1.6 Gas fuel basics
2 Cooking appliance technology
2.1 Mechanical and solid state relays
2.2 Capacitive touchpanels
2.3 Motorized door lock assemblies
2.4 RTD oven temperature sensors
2.5 Electronic oven controls
2.6 Microwave oven operating principles and troubleshooting
2.7 Electric cooktop infinite switches
2.8 Radiant and inductive cooktops
2.9 Gas surface burners
2.10 Gas oven burners
2.11 Fuel conversion on gas ovens and cooktops
2.12 Gas burner spark ignition systems
2.13 Gas flame detection and burner reignition systems
2.14 Gas oven hot surface ignition systems
2.15 Direct spark ignition (DSI) systems
3 Seven troubleshooting case studies on modern, real-world gas and electric ovens and cooktops applying the principles taught in the course and the world-famous Ten Step Tango® troubleshooting procedure.
3.1 Dual fuel range - oven no heat
3.2 Double wall oven - long pre-heat
3.3 Dual fuel range - gas surface burner continuous sparking
3.4 Dual fuel range - gas surface burner no ignition
3.5 Gas range - bake burner no ignition
3.6 Gas range - low/erratic oven temperature
3.7 Electric cooktop - hot surface indicator light stays on
The Oven and Range Repair training course will be released this coming Saturday, July 15, 2017, at the bargain introductory tuition of only $375. We'll announce the official release in our newsletter. Look for it in your inbox.
- Industry news: Consumer right to repair laws coming to a state near you. Consumers will have the right to purchase appliance service manuals from the manufacturer. What does it mean for you as a professional appliance repair technician?
- The Ten Step Tango troubleshooting procedure: Troubleshooting techniques for any appliance brand or type. If you aren't already registered at the site, click here to sign up for the free TST course.
- Tech training webinars at MasterSamuraiTech.com and Appliantology.org
- Monitoring the training progress of your technician who is enrolled at the Master Samurai Tech Academy.
Download and listen or watch below:
Online appliance repair training: Master Samurai Tech
Professional appliance technician support: Appliantology.org
Troubleshooting is the big missing skill among appliance techs today. In fact, many techs don’t even know what troubleshooting is and mistake pattern recognition and factoids for real troubleshooting.
Classical troubleshooting is a structured and scientific method for thinking and solving appliance problems. There is a method to the madness! The Master Samurai Tech troubleshooting method is called the Ten Step Tango (TST).
There are specific dance steps to troubleshooting, and we teach them to anyone who wants to learn. As an introduction to the TST, we’re offering a free short course to the entire appliance tech community where techs can quickly learn the TST troubleshooting procedure and immediately start benefitting from this skill on service calls.
The TST short course uses a real-world, modern refrigerator (dual evaporator, computer-controlled) case study to lead you through each of the ten steps in the TST to troubleshoot and solve the problem.
To get started, just register a free account at the Master Samurai Tech Academy, and you'll see the “Ten Step Tango Troubleshooting Procedure Case Study” listed as one of your free courses available to you on your login welcome page. If you're already registered at the Academy, just log in as usual and you'll see the course on your login welcome page.
You'll also be able to take our other free courses: Appliantology 101 and Internetology. All our free courses are short and fun to do. So have fun, dammit!
We went on a journey of wonder and discovery in last night's webinar and demystified those vexing gas dryer ignition systems. We learned how the two-stage gas valve works; how it is controlled by those three valve coils, a radiant sensor, and ignitor. We also learned what a "split coil" is and how it works.
We also had an encounter with technical gremlins that attempted to thwart the Appliantological gospel but they were quickly slain. The recording also includes a good roll of the video I tried to play during the webinar. After a little TLC from the Nads o' Samurai (my two sons) who edited the recordings and came up with this Final Cut edition, Professional Appliantologist members and Master Samurai Tech Academy students who couldn't join us last night for the live webinar can share in the adventure at their convenience.
Professional Appliantologist members may watch the webinar recording here.
Master Samurai Tech Academy students may watch here.
In the last webinar, we put on our Master Samurai Tech hats and did a cleanup service call on a gas oven after a parts changing monkey (PCM) had already been out and failed to diagnose and repair the problem. We looked at what the PCM did on the service call as well as he did not do but should have done. We did a quick review of how hot surface ignition (HSI) systems work and how variations in supply voltage can affect the operation of these systems. Then we got inside the head of a Master Samurai Tech and analyzed the problem like a professional technician would: by applying a detailed, technical understanding of the system being troubleshot and understanding how to use specifications to interpret electrical measurements and anticipate ignition system response.
Professional Appliantologist members here at Appliantology can access and watch this webinar recording along with all the past webinar recordings on the Webinar Recordings Index Page.
I know from comments on my previous blog post on The Future of Appliance Repair: a Profession or an "Idiocracy"? that many appliance techs are bemoaning the increasing computerization of appliances. For most of these techs, it's because they have no idea how to troubleshoot them and so feel threatened. Many are even thinking, wishfully but incorrectly, that the increasing use of electronics in appliances is just a fad and will go away.
Computers in appliances are not only here to stay, they're evolving and, for many techs, getting "scarier." Rather than complain about them and wax nostalgic for the "good ol' days," smart techs are learning the skills they need to stay current and successfully repair them, zooming ahead of their competition and reaping the benefits of increased income.
The infographic below gives a nice summary of where appliance technology is today and where it's going in the very near future. If you need the mental tools to effectively compete in the appliance repair market of today and tomorrow, learn these skills cost-effectively and conveniently in our online training courses at the Master Samurai Tech Academy. Learn more, earn more!
Cool infographic courtesy of HalfPrice.com.au http://www.halfprice.com.au/products/roller-shutters/
Christ is risen from death and the rebellious sons of god (fallen angels) from Genesis 6:1-4 are judged and condemned (Psalm 82). The disinheritance from the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11 and Deuteronomy 32:8-9) is ended. The long exile of the 12 tribes is over. ALL people are freed from bondage, liberated from death and the power of demons, and all are called back into communion with the Most High God in the Messiah to be a new creation: the New Israel, a global Eden!
Y’all gather ‘round and ol’ Samurai’s gonna tell you about the best kept secret at Appliantology.
You know the Samurai does periodic webinars on a wide range of appliance repair topics.
At the webinars, we talk about all kinda cool techie topics like basic electric circuits, troubleshooting strategies and tactics, reading schematics, computer control and digital communications in appliances, electric motor operation, gas flame sensing and reignition technologies, and more. Over 30 hours (and growing) of original, high-quality technical training!
Sometimes we cover basics, but many of the topics are more advanced, going beyond what we teach in our online training courses at the Master Samurai Tech Academy.
I know it’s not always possible to make it to the live webinars due to scheduling conflicts, beer drinking, basketball game, whatever. Believe me, I get it.
You may be wondering, “Can I watch recordings of past webinars? Is there a way to find out what the past webinar topics were? So what’s a brutha to do?”
The Samurai’s gotcha covered!
Lemme tell you about Appliantology’s best kept secret: The Webinar Recordings Index Page. On this page, you’ll find a listing of all past webinar recordings listed by topic and linked to the video recording of the webinar. So it’s easy to scan down the list to find a topic you’re interested in, grab a bag of popcorn, your flavorite adult beverage and go on a learning safari with the Samurai.
Just so you know--we don’t record all the webinars and, sometimes, the technology gods just don’t play nice. But we post as many as we can, and the page is updated as new recordings become available so be sure to check back often.
So why do I call the Webinar Recordings Index page “Appliantology’s best kept secret?” Because not many Professional Appliantologists seem to be aware of it. This is my fault-- I need to do a better job of getting the word out and reminding you guys about it. Hence this blog post!
Master Samurai Tech Academy students and Mr. Appliance® Academy students also have access to the webinar recordings at the links below:
- Master Samurai Tech Academy students: https://mastersamuraitech.com/webinar-recordings/
- Mr. Appliance® Academy students enrolled in Bundle 1: http://mrappliance.mastersamuraitech.com/appliance-repair-course-support/student-forums/forum/webinar-recordings/
We talked about lots of good stuff last night at the Office Hours webinar. I started off with a brief presentation on Neutral and Ground in AC circuits, explaining how they are different and each serves different purposes in AC circuits.
Then we applied what we learned about power supplies in that presentation to decipher some crappy instructions in a service bulletin for a Whirlpool inverter microwave where we had to figure out how to test the digital data input to the inverter.
We then spring boarded off that to talk about digital data communications in appliances. Even though the example we used was a Samsung dishwasher, the principles we discussed are common to ALL appliances, regardless of brand or model.
While we were talking about digital data communications, it seemed like a good flow to get into a discussion about "loading down" in DC power supplies and the troubleshooting technique we would use to test for this. We also talked about why loading down is not an issue affecting AC loads.
But AC loads and switches have their own special way of failing that we as techs need to be aware of: failing under load. So we talked about why we don't trust ohms testing for AC loads and switches.
Finally, we talked about how a high resistance connection (less than 5 ohms!) at a thermostat in an electric dryer can cause long dry times by robbing wattage from the heating element. We worked through a simple Ohm's Law calculation to show how this happens. This little exercise also illustrated the value of having the Ohm's Law pie chart readily accessible in the photo album of your phone so you don't have to rely on memory because it plays tricks on you!
Professional Appliantologist members can watch the webinar recording here.
Master Samurai Tech students can watch it here.
Had a great week at the Annual Service Training Institute (ASTI) in San Diego last week! Got to hang out with old friends as well as meet lots of Appliantologists and Master Samurai Tech students in-person for the first time.
For technical training, I focused mostly on high-end appliances since that's about all that's worth fixing these days. Attended some technical training on Sub-Zero, Wolf, Bertazzoni, DCS, and a couple others, and some business courses.
I also conducted an all-day live training session on troubleshooting using the MST Ten-Step Tango Troubleshooting Procedure. It was an AM and PM session with the PM session a repeat of the AM session. I was surprised by how difficult it was to do! You're standing in front of a crowd of people all day, working through troubleshooting problems, answering questions, talking at volume (large room) all day long. I was pretty wrung out by the end of the day. I have a lot of new-found respect for manufacturer trainers who do this day in and day out as their job. That's a tough way to make a living!
It was pretty sweet the way I did it though, if I do say so myself. I set up my own wifi network in the room and did the whole training session from my iPad that projected on the screen via my Apple TV. That way, I could zoom in and draw on schematics, just like on the troubleshooting workshop webinars we've been doing here at Appliantology. If you've been to any of the recent webinars, the live training class I did at ASTI was a longer version of those workshops. Professional Appliantologists can watch those webinar recordings here.
Here's a short clip of me teaching the troubleshooting class at ASTI. You'll notice some of the guys are looking at their devices. That's because I gave them a link to the schematics I was going over so they could download them and look at them in more detail. Wanna see for yourself? Just go to GetMST.com.
I made an album of photos from the ASTI last week that you can check out here:
If you were at the ASTI and have some photos you'd like to share, please do! You can post 'em here as a comment or start your own photo album in the Gallery.
Troubleshooting is the big missing skill among appliance techs today. This is the skill that distinguishes parts changing monkeys (PCMs) from Master Samurai Techs. It's the difference between a drunken street brawler making monkey jabs versus a trained MMA fighter making kill shots.
PCMs will thrash about wildly, monkey-jabbing at components hoping to get lucky and usually end up getting their asses kicked.
Anyone can monkey jab and the sad truth is that this is the dominant practice of the appliance repair trade today. It doesn't have to be that way. Anyone who wants to can learn how to make kill strikes like a Master Samurai Tech.
Master Samurai Techs don't rely on luck. They have a plan of attack, a strategy. They deploy precision kill strikes that have been honed in the Dojo-- training at the Master Samurai Tech Academy and in the Office Hours webinars-- and systematically dominate the appliance.
Whether you're troubleshooting a simple GE dryer with just a mechanical timer or a Sub-Zero refrigerator with a microcomputer board, multiple sub boards and two different compressor technologies, the troubleshooting procedure is the same. That's the Ten-Step Tango: a structured, disciplined procedure for solving problems.
In our Office Hours webinars, we've begun a series of workshops on the Ten-Step Tango, applying it to different troubleshooting scenarios on real-world appliances. We started off by introducing the Ten-Step Tango procedure and then applied it to simple appliances (no control boards, just mechanical controls, like timers). Then, in the next workshop, we kicked it up a notch and troubleshot appliances with multiple control boards, digital communications, hoodoo, voodoo, and all kinda weird stuff.
The workshop webinar recordings, along with all the other Office Hours webinar recordings, are available for Professional Appliantologists and Master Samurai Tech Academy students to watch at the links below:
Master Samurai Tech Academy Students: http://mastersamuraitech.com/webinar-recordings/
Mr. Appliance® Academy Bundle 1 Students: http://mrappliance.mastersamuraitech.com/appliance-repair-course-support/student-forums/forum/webinar-recordings/
Professional Appliantologists: https://appliantology.org/topic/58003-webinar-recordings-index-page/
The next workshop will be in January 2017 and will be announced here at Appliantology as well as in the MST-Appliantology newsletter.
You old timers remember back in the day when we used to get service calls on scrotum scrubbers? Yeah, I was really glad when people stopped using those. Well, just when you thought the bad old days were gone for good, get ready, guys, because there's a new, even more disgusting personal hygiene appliance coming to the market that we'll be getting calls on: the butt wiper. Coming to a neighborhood near you:
Here's wishing all my Brethren in the Craft a Happy Thanksgiving! May all your service calls be easy and may none of your customers be turkeys.
Brethren, on this Veteran's Day, I present to you a timely and fitting guest blog post by Ray Starmann, the Editor in Chief of US Defense Watch. Enjoy!
An open letter to America’s college cupcakes on Veterans Day
November 11, 2016
by Ray Starmann, US Defense Watch, http://usdefensewatch.com/2016/11/an-open-letter-to-americas-college-cupcakes-on-veterans-day/
Dear College Cupcakes:
America has watched for the last year or so, as our nation’s universities have been consumed by a new strain of left wing totalitarianism that has all the traits of the haunting Marxist dictatorships of the past.
Free thought and expression and discussion are disappearing from college campuses and being replaced by behavior and lexicons out of 1984.
In the greatest arenas of free speech across this land, you shriek and howl and cry and stamp your feet like two year olds when someone disagrees with you.
You have mental meltdowns when reading passages from the world’s greatest literature that somehow offend you in every conceivable way, shape or form.
You feel oppressed and terrorized when viewing someone in a Halloween costume that you dislike.
You are triggered by opposing views from Presidential candidates, who do nothing more than say things that you may disagree with.
When triggered by every imaginable word, phrase and action on this planet, you find it necessary to retreat to so-called safe spaces, where you will be further coddled by counselors, Play Doh and Bubble Guppy videos.
Like raving martinets, you accuse anyone you disagree with of being a racist, a rapist, a sexist or any other derogatory term you can create to soothe your tender and warped psyches.
You have been told for your whole lives how special you are and these fantastical words have been reinforced by the ridiculous behavior of helicopter parents and idiotic teachers who found it necessary to control every facet of your lives and ensure that each of you precious little snowflakes received a trophy, even though many of you only deserved a kick in the behind.
Your latest irrational tirades concern the election of PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP. Inspired by the lunatic behavior of your socialist professors, you are the laughing stock of the rest of the country as you hold cry-ins, need therapy dogs and hide under the covers in your dorm rooms because a man was elected President.
Today is Veterans Day, when we honor those who served, which I have no doubt none of you ever have. The nation particularly honors our combat veterans who drained deep the chalice of courage and who fought against real racists, like the Nazis; real boogeymen like the Imperial Japanese Army, the Chinese, Victor Charlie, the Republican Guard and the Taliban.
Today, at this very moment, as you tearfully meltdown because Donald Trump is our next President, our current military is in harm’s way in Mosul, fighting real sexists who call themselves ISIS.
King George, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam, these were real threats, some of the greatest madmen the world had ever seen and our veterans fought and defeated them in hot and cold wars.
Our veterans, men and women, many of whom were your age at the time they served, never had the luxury to wallow in self-pity over imagined nonsense and monsters.
Their threats weren’t created in the hallowed ivory towers of Harvard Yard. Their threats were created in the British Parliament, in Bavarian beer halls, in jungle outposts and jettisoned across the globe to cause havoc and death. The only thing that stopped them, the only thing that prevented the world from descending into darkness was the US military and our veterans.
There were no safe spaces on Iwo Jima or Omaha Beach. There were no cry ins on Bunker Hill or at the Frozen Chosin. There were no counselors in the Ia Drang Valley or at Khe Sanh. There was no time to protest imaginary enemies at Fallujah. The enemies were real and were doing their damnedest to kill Americans and destroy our way of life.
As I stated, our enemies were fighting against Americans who were mainly your age. I and many Americans have serious doubts that you aggrieved marshmallows could rise to the occasion and fight anyone, much less the Redcoats or the Waffen SS.
How and why America has gotten to a point where being a wimp is looked upon as normal behavior for young people is the subject of another article and a disgrace in itself.
Instead of claiming half the nation is racist for voting for Donald Trump, you precious little snowflakes might want to get off your asses and read about men who overcame real prejudice and racism and fought for their country; like the Tuskegee Airmen.
Instead of being offended by words in books, you precious little cupcakes might want to step out of your safe spaces and read about American matadors at places like Trenton, the Wheatfield, Seminary Ridge, the Meuse-Argonne, the Bulge, New Guinea, 73 Easting and Tal Afar.
As for the election, get used to saying President Trump.
Suck it up buttercups.
Editor in Chief, US Defense Watch
We have a lot of moving parts at play in the appliance repair industry today. Over the past couple of decades, appliance technology has become much more complicated, yet technician troubleshooting skills have eroded. This creates some uncertainty about the direction our industry is going.
Are we going to be a profession, filled with well-paid, highly-skilled technicians at the top of their game, or a semi-skilled trade, filled with low-paid parts changers who are essentially just the eyes and hands carrying out the directions of tech-line personnel? Will both of these types of techs coexist, or will one go extinct?
We’ve worked with thousands of techs and scores of business owners online over the years, most of whom take training and their profession seriously. We meet lots of folks like that at events such as ASTI. It makes us feel that the transition from trade to profession is here, and here to stay.
A big wake-up call for the Samurai
Recently, however, I had an abrupt reminder that there are still many who are not on board with that vision and are also influencing the direction of our industry.
I was doing ride-alongs with techs at a large service company to assess the effectiveness of our online training at The Master Samurai Tech Academy. I was surprised and dismayed to see that the techs weren’t using many of the techniques that we emphasize in our training, such as coming to a job prepared with tech documents, doing a simple load analysis using the schematic, and performing electrical measurements from easy-access locations to definitively identify the component failure. In fact, they seemed to have forgotten even how to do many of these things.
What the heck? Where did I go wrong?
It all became clear to me when I had a chance to go over the day’s calls with a service manager for the company. When I described the troubleshooting methods we used on a dryer call, he declared that we had gone "full retard" (a phrase from the movie Tropic Thunder) for actually looking at the schematic, doing a few amp readings and one simple Ohm’s Law calculation.
I was speechless. This is the guy who is supervising the techs who were paid to go through Master Samurai Tech training. However, it explained what I had seen that day. Although one of the senior managers at this company saw the value of using the MST Academy training for their techs, the other managers were not on board. Many of the skills taught at the Academy were not just ignored or discouraged, they were outright ridiculed. So of course the techs basically became parts-changers who simply carried out instructions from their manager or tech line.
At that point, another movie came to mind, Idiocracy, which imagines the dismal result of several hundred years of cultural anti-intellectualism.
I’m used to encountering techs who are a bit defensive about their lack of troubleshooting skills, but when even service managers mistake pattern recognition, parts changing, and a collection of factoids for real troubleshooting or, worse yet, have become hostile to it, then idiocracy is gaining a foothold in the appliance repair trade.
Attitudes: the good, the bad, and the ugly
Over the past decades, the technical skill level among many appliance techs has degenerated to such a low level that they don't even know what cause-and-effect troubleshooting is anymore. Since service managers are now being promoted from this group of techs, this attitude has become firmly entrenched in some organizations.
In all my dealings with techs over the past 20 years, I have come to realize how phenomenally important attitude is. And I’ve seen it all. Some techs love to keep learning and sharpening their skills, no matter how many years they’ve been doing it, and enjoy the pride of accomplishment and the profits that come along with it. Then there are others who have worked long enough to have some know-how based purely on pattern recognition (“if this problem on that model change this part”) and resist the notion that their job performance and income would benefit even further if they learned real troubleshooting skills. The causes of this attitude include ignorance, arrogance, and laziness. Ignorance is curable through outreach and training. Arrogance and laziness are difficult and dangerous qualities in a tech, but even worse in someone who is in a leadership role.
What's the risk to the industry if too many techs go down the road of idiocracy? Doesn’t that just give an opening for more success by those companies that behave like professionals?
Not necessarily. The expression "a rising tide lifts all boats" works in the opposite direction as well. The experiences our customers have with “parts changers” can negatively impact their future interactions with other service companies. They will often be more suspicious and price sensitive.
Furthermore, appliance manufacturers are seeing this problem in the appliance repair industry today, too. They realize there is uneven, often inadequate technical expertise in the trade. As a result, they are adapting to this general dumbing down in troubleshooting skills by dumbing down their training programs to essentially spoonfeeding what's already in the service manuals, knowing that most techs don't RTFM. They're also developing new technologies to decrease reliance on field techs to troubleshoot and solve problems.
Here's what the future could hold:
- Wifi-enabled appliances will report errors and diagnostics directly to the manufacturer's central technical staff who are specialists in that product.
- Corporate techs can then run diagnostics and do most troubleshooting remotely.
- The service company is then dispatched to simply replace a part- no troubleshooting required.
If this comes to fruition, the end result will be a decrease in skill level expectation from technicians. And since higher pay accompanies and incentivizes the acquisition of specialized skills, there will be a concomitant reduction in "technician" pay and skill level. Service managers will be be reduced to route makers and time card checkers with a corresponding reduction in their skill level expectation and pay.
All is not lost on this front. I speak with enough manufacturers to know that they would still like a better trained corps of appliance techs out there who can keep our mutual customers more satisfied. They haven’t given up on us yet!
Take a look at yourself! Have you looked at yourself?
I’m sure most of you reading this don’t come anywhere near being the kind of person who would call technical troubleshooting going "full retard." But, we would all benefit by stepping back and taking an honest look at our attitudes and expectations to see what part we are playing in raising our trade to a profession, and identify (and remedy) any weak links in our organizations.
After all, if you’ve invested in training the techs in your company, it’s a waste of money if you aren’t implementing and nurturing the skills and practices that the techs learned in that training.
Here’s what I still see too often when I go on ride-alongs with techs. Do you recognize any of these traits in your own service calls?
1. The tech arrives at the service call with no technical literature (service manual, tech sheet, bulletins) pre-loaded on his tablet or notebook computer. A manager may have pre-screened the calls and had probable parts pre-loaded on the service tech's vehicle, but the tech himself/herself is walking into the call completely cold.
2. If the call is anything other than a simple mechanical problem or parts replacement, the tech calls either his service manager or the manufacturer tech line.
3. Either way, the tech is spoon fed information to complete the diagnosis or repair; he is merely following detailed instructions but not doing the troubleshooting himself. From the tech's standpoint, this is only adding to his internal database of pattern recognition and factoids.
4. Neither the service manager nor the tech line guy has the time, patience, or skill to use this experience as a teaching moment and coach the tech through a troubleshooting thought process by asking leading questions. Examples:
- what is your load of interest on the schematic?
- what other components have you identified in the circuit for that load?
- where does the schematic indicate that you would test the power supply for that load?
5. The appliance may get repaired as a result of the spoon feeding but the tech never grows in his ability to perform independent troubleshooting analysis-- he has simply added another pattern to his repertoire for recall on another job with the same problem. Reliance on outside counsel such as service manager and manufacturer tech line, which should be a rare event for a skilled tech, is perpetuated. Job security for the service manager and tech line guy is assured, but no skill growth for the service tech takes place.
The foregoing is a typical pattern of degraded tech performance that is accepted as the "new normal" by far too many service companies. The problem is compounded when the service company middle management-- the service managers-- not only accept this degraded performance, but defend it.
Pattern recognition and a head full of factoids do have their place in appliance repair. In fact, these form the basis of experience in older technicians, allowing for quick diagnosis and repair of commonly-occurring problems with known solutions. But these experiential skills should not be mistaken as classical troubleshooting and are insufficient for service calls with problems that don't fit the pattern or are "off the flow chart."
The rewards of professionalism
Techs who take the time to hone their craft with training, continuing education, and pre-diagnostic work are true professionals. Being prepared and able to competently troubleshoot any type of appliance and failure scenario is where the big payoffs happen in terms of reputation and profit. First Call Completes are maximized, callbacks are minimized, and cheerleader customers are forged. That’s what a professional business looks like.
Is it too late to turn back the tide of idiocracy in the appliance repair trade? We at Master Samurai Tech firmly believe it is not too late and we have developed affordable, time-flexible training solutions to aid our brethren in the Craft. These skills are eminently learnable by anyone who desires to do so, and we’ve seen countless examples of techs and owners who have reaped the rewards of rising to the challenge.
Join us, and help avert the future portrayed here:
In a recent webinar, I offered a mental framework for executing classical troubleshooting strategies during service calls. Professional Appliantologist members and Master Samurai Tech Academy students may watch the 1-hour webinar recording here:
Great turn out for this webinar-- had over 30 people on! That means there are lots of techs who recognize the need for help with these skills. This is good because they can be easily learned by anyone who wants to learn them! This webinar lays out a road map for you to declare your independence from tech lines.
Professional Appliantologist members may watch the webinar recording here: Appliance Service Call Structure and Troubleshooting Strategies
Master Samurai Tech Academy students may watch here: Click here to go to the webinar!
Mr. Appliance® Academy Bundle 1 students may watch here: Appliance Service Call Structure and Troubleshooting Strategies
This recording has also been added to the ever-growing Webinar Recordings Index Page.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, this is your Samurai speaking. We're expecting a little turbulence today as we make some adjustments to the Master Samurai Tech Academy website. There may be periods throughout the day where the site either doesn't load at all or may look strange. This, too, shall pass.
For now, I invite you to sit back, relax, and peruse the latest pearls of appliantological wisdom in my blog here at Appliantology.
Samsung's in the news lately with exploding washers and tablet computers. So people may be wondering how reliable Samsung appliances are. Here's a good article from the Yale Appliance blog comparing Samsung repair rates with industry averages. Yale Appliance and Lighting [website] is a large appliance dealer and service center in the Boston area. Yale completes over 20,000 service calls per year so I expect their results to be a good representation of reality.
One comment that caught my eye, "Also, many technicians cannot fix the Korean brands for whatever reason. You may want to check that your dealer can service before you buy Samsung or LG."
You may be asking yourself why this is the case. This illustrates a huge problem in the appliance repair trade today: there is a critical shortage of skilled technicians who understand appliance technology (basic electricity and electronics, motors and motor control systems, microprocessor-based control systems, etc.) and know how to troubleshoot. As a result, many appliance servicers are really parts changers who do "troubleshooting" by pattern recognition: if this problem, replace that part. So if something merely looks different than what they're used to seeing, they're at a complete loss.
The reality is that electricity works the same way in Korea as it does everywhere else on Planet Earth and the Koreans are using the same technology as all the other manufacturers. But because the Koreans give more details in their service information (for example, showing circuit details of their control boards) parts changers freak out and think they're using space-age technology.
The Koreans aren't going away. Samsung in particular is gaining US market share faster than any other manufacturer. For a service company to refuse to work on them or to not acquire the technical skills and competence needed to be an effective appliance technician today is a bad business decision and a recipe for low income or bankruptcy.
Link to original article: http://blog.yaleappliance.com/are-samsung-appliances-reliable
Are Samsung Appliances Reliable? (Reviews)
I was watching the news last week and learning about Samsung's problems with phones exploding for no clear reason. Most new products have issues in my experience. The computer industry innocently calls them bugs.
Exploding products is a problem especially when you deliver them in your home. Gas ranges, dishwashers, and laundry can cause more damage than a phone.
So I wanted to answer the question: Are Samsung appliances reliable?
Measure of Reliability
Every year our service department completes over 20,000 service calls. Our formula is service calls divided by sales as a percentage of service within the first year. Then we compare brands and products as we have in various articles for a 12 month period.
We will compare Samsung's service rates to the industry in their major categories: Cooking (not including microwaves, because they do not break in any brand), laundry, dishwashers and French door refrigerators.
BTW, these numbers always change as they are measured on a 12-month rolling basis. Also, we have only sold Samsung for 18 months, so I do not know about the products manufactured before 2014.
Samsung Reliability Numbers October 2015-October 2016
Front Load Washers: 13 Serviced / 130 sold - 10%
Top Load Washers: 0 Serviced / 35 sold - 0%
Dryers: 10 Serviced / 92 sold - 10.4%
Industry average is just over 11%, so Samsung is slightly better. There have been 21 cases of the top load breaking apart due to the rod unfastening. However, 21 out of millions sold since 2011 throughout the country seems relatively small. However, this could be a concern.
Read Most Reliable Washers to compare against other brands
Dishwashers: 4 Serviced / 107 Sold - 3.7%
The average for all dishwashers is about 10.9%, so Samsung is more reliable.
Read Most Reliable Dishwashers to compare against other brands
Gas Cooking: 13 Serviced / 178 Sold - 7.3%
Samsung is serviced about half the average of about 14% in gas ranges.
Read Most Reliable Gas Ranges to compare against other brands
French Door Refrigeration
French Door Refrigerators: 71 Serviced / 425 sold - 16.7%
Refrigerators have service rates of 20% or more. Icemakers are the number one service call at Yale. Sending a frozen cube through a cool refrigerator dispenser will cause leaks over time.
16.7% is not great, but still better than the total.
Read Most Reliable French Doors to compare against other brands
Should You Buy a Samsung Appliance?
People ask me about what to buy all the time on this blog. I always say the same thing. I like what does not break because we have to fix broken appliances.
But I will answer the question on Samsung more directly.
The product seems reliable as the numbers show.
When there are problems, their logistics of parts and technical support are not as easy as a Frigidaire or Bosch. Also, many technicians cannot fix the Korean brands for whatever reason. You may want to check that your dealer can service before you buy Samsung or LG.
However, the product seems to be designed incredibly well. The new induction with the blue LED “flame” is creative, as are the designs of the French doors and front load laundry.
A company who has battled Apple successfully over the years (until recently) cannot be underestimated especially in a staid industry like appliances.
Looking for answers before you buy major appliances? Get the Yale Appliance Buying Guide with detailed profiles of the major brands plus answers to the 10 most asked questions. Well over 185,000 people have read a Yale Guide.
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I had the pleasure of attending Sub-Zero Wolf (SZW) factory training last week in Madison, WI. Flew in on Monday, training was Tuesday thru Thursday, and then flew out on Friday. The class consisted of 15 techs from around the country but also included a tech from Puerto Rico and another from Barbados. The techs included a few students from Master Samurai Tech and some Appliantology members.
This session was all Wolf products: gas and induction cooktops, gas and dual fuel ranges, vent hoods, downdraft vents, coffee makers, and microwaves. We worked on 5 different wall ovens, 4 different ventilation systems (both hood and down draft), 4 different ranges, 4 different cooktops, 2 different microwave ovens, a steam oven (each lab group actually baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies!), and the coffee maker system.
The 3-day training session was held in Madison, WI, from October 11-13 (Tuesday thru Thursday). Everyone arrived on Monday and SZW took us all out that evening for a traditional Wisconsin dinner of locally brewed beer and real Wisconsin brats and sauerkraut, beef brisket, and mac n' cheese. It was fantastic! SZW provided all our food during the training and paid for our hotel rooms. Breakfast was at the hotel, lunch was catered at the training center, and they took us out to a different restaurant each night for dinner. A shuttle took us from the hotel to the training center and back each day.
The training format was a mix of classroom instruction and "lab" exercises. During the lab portion, we broke up into groups of 3 or 4 techs and rotated around working on different product stations as we solved specific problems on those products. Doing this required extensive use of Sub-Zero's servicer site, Service Central, that we accessed on our tablet computers to find and refer to service manuals, schematics, and bulletins for the model/serial we were working on. Numerous rolling tool chests and Fluke meters with the LoZ function were also provided. Instructors would roam around from group to group to answer questions and provide hints, tips, and instructions. This was a great format for getting familiar with the products.
Part of the training was a factory tour of the Wolf production facility including the new 4,000 sq. ft. manufacturing space to accommodate the production of their new dishwasher, Cove, which they'll start selling in 2017. The facility was immaculate, highly organized, with surprisingly few production personnel on the floor. What amazed me most about the manufacturing process was the amount and sophistication of robotics they're using for everything from fabrication to QC testing. Every finished product is connected to electricity and/or gas (as appropriate for the product) and 100% function tested using robots!
After the factory tour, we got to sit in with a tech line tech and were given a headset so we could listen in to both sides of the conversation as they took calls from techs in the field. It was dizzying seeing how fast these guys could fly around Service Central pulling up service manuals and bulletins to help the tech on the phone. Most of the guys who called in while I was there were authorized and had access to Service Central so could have probably answered the question for themselves if they had just spent a few minutes at Service Central and then RTFM. Getting authorized techs to effectively use Service Central is one of SZW's big training objectives. Even among SZW authorized techs, there's an over-reliance on tech line and flow charts instead of reading the service manuals, using the schematics, and applying gray matter.
By the way, SZW tech line will help any tech, authorized or not, who calls in working on one of their products. Non-authorized techs are treated exactly the same as authorized techs and they'll be talked through as much as they need to complete the diagnosis and repair, including step-by-step disassembly if needed. Their main concern is getting the customer's appliance fixed as quickly as possible, not protecting SZW service information.
Sitting with tech line, I also realized why SZW uses a select circle of parts distributors (Premier Partners). Here's a typical scenario: a tech calls in working on a SZW product and, working with tech line, determines he needs a kit described in a recent service bulletin to fix the problem. Tech line is tied directly into the inventory database of all their Premier Partners and can tell the tech if that kit is in stock there or not. If it is, he'll go ahead and have that part shipped right then and there. If not, he can check factory inventory and have it shipped to the partner right there during the call. There's no ambiguity about whether a part is in stock or where it is or when it will arrive like there is with so many other manufacturers.
In addition to a great technical training experience on Wolf products, I also got a good feel for the SZW corporate culture. Not surprisingly, it reflects the people who work there, mostly native midwesterners and particularly Wisconsin: not at all stuffy or pretentious but instead clean, organized, competent, down-to-earth, get things done. Real people making really excellent, 100% US-made appliances. If any of you guys are SZW authorized and haven't been to the factory training yet, you really should go. I think you'll be impressed and learn one helluva lot.
In this video, I use an old skool Whirlpool electric dryer to demonstrate electric circuit troubleshooting and analysis techniques. This is the ancient art of Circuit Fu. Although this is a simple circuit by today's standards, the principles and techniques can be used on any circuit because electricity works the same way. When you know basic electricity and circuits, you can decipher these diagrams and become a troubleshooting master...
Learn Circuit Fu and how to kick appliance butt at the Master Samurai Tech Academy. The training is distilled down to the fundamental essentials that every appliance tech should know (but, alas, many do not). The training covers the classic skills, like those shown above, yet is up to to date with the current technologies used in modern appliances. Our training is affordable for anyone, self paced, on demand, and comprehensive.
Enroll at the Master Samurai Tech Academy and start learning today: http://MasterSamuraiTech.com
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...
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.
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
No schematics on this one! I know that'll be a relief for some of you. Honestly, it was a nice break for me, too. I love these easy jobs where you can troubleshoot using only your eyeballs and fix it with something as simple as a paper clip.
In this short little video, I show you how to troubleshoot a problem with a surface burner on Bosch gas range. The burner was not lighting correctly and would sometimes flare up.
All gas range surface burners operate using the same principles so don't let the fact that this is a Bosch fool you. Gas fuel, just like electricity, works the same way in the US as it does in Germany, Korea, or anywhere else in the world. So the same principles and repair shown here apply to all gas surface burners regardless of brand.
Master Samurai Tech Academy students may access the webinar recordings here.
Mr. Appliance® Academy Bundle 1 students may access the webinar recordings here.
Professional Appliantologist members may access the webinar recordings here. The index page is continually updated with new webinar recordings but this is the index page as of this post:
Ultra Short Primer on Basic Electricity, Circuits, Ohm's Law, and Schematic Reading
Basic Refrigerator Troubleshooting
Schematic Reading Workshop, 10/2015
Troubleshooting Strategies for Computer-Controlled Appliances
Semiconductors and PN Junctions
Appliance Temperature Sensing Devices & Technology
Voltage Measurements, Meters, Ghost Voltages, and Triac-controlled Neutrals
Troubleshooting with Tech Sheets, Part 1, 4/2016
Troubleshooting with Tech Sheets, Part 2, 4/2016
Tech Sheet Review, 4/9/2016: Bosch Speed Cooker, Amana Refrigerator, GE Glass Cooktop Range
Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) Switches used in Samsung Switched Mode Power Supplies (SMPS)
PWM Computer Cooling Fan in a Whirlpool Refrigerator
Understanding AC Split-phase Household Power Supplies
Troubleshooting a Samsung Electric Dryer without Disassembly using Live Tests and the Schematic
Troubleshooting a Bosch Dishwasher No-Heat Problem using the Schematic and Live Tests
Linear Motors and Linear Compressors
In case you missed it or would like to review, Professional Appliantologist members here at Appliantology may watch the recording on Linear Motors and Linear Compressors webinar on August 15, 2016 here:
And just a reminder that Professional Appliantologist members have convenient access to all the webinar recordings on the Webinar Recordings Index page here:
Master Samurai Tech Academy students have access to all the webinar recordings here: http://mastersamuraitech.com/webinar-recordings/