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Son of Samurai's Blog

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Entries in this blog


What's the Difference Between Neutral and Ground?

Is there a reason to distinguish ground from neutral when it comes to electrical testing? If you need a reference for a voltage measurement, doesn't ground work just as well as neutral? Not at all! Ground and neutral are supposed to be two separate things in an AC circuit, and so they can't be used interchangeably. In this short webinar excerpt, the Samurai breaks down what the difference is and why you should only ever use neutral in your AC voltage measurements. The full version of t

Son of Samurai

Son of Samurai


Control Board Troubleshooting: Inputs, Outputs, and Algorithms

Many techs are intimidated when it comes to troubleshooting control boards. After all, we're talking about computers here -- computers that just so happen to run appliances. But as complicated as that may sound, control board troubleshooting really boils down to just three things: measuring your inputs, measuring your outputs, and understanding the board's algorithm. Let's start with inputs. Input just means anything, be it a power supply or some information, that the board receives f

Son of Samurai

Son of Samurai


BrandSource Partners with Master Samurai Tech Academy for Tech Training

Team Samurai has been training appliance techs at the Master Samurai Tech Academy for over 6 years now, and helping out repairmen on the web for far longer. Mr. Appliance has already used our online training for 4 years to make their techs the best they can be. Now, BrandSource has teamed up with us, too! BrandSource is a non-profit buying group for independent retailers of furniture, mattresses, electronics, and, of course, appliances. They help the little guys by negotiating better prices

Here's why YOU have been doing your voltage measurements all wrong...

Have you ever been robbed of a quick troubleshoot by ghost voltage? How about by an open neutral? Sounds like you need to start using a loading meter for ALL of your AC voltage measurements. Watch the video below to learn why, and find out some things you didn't know about circuits and electrical measurements along the way. Want to see the full troubleshoot of this dryer, showcasing multiple ingenious voltage test locations that ensure for a fast and accurate diagnosis? Click here to watch

Quick Tips for Reading Unclear or Ambiguous Schematics

Sometimes, the schematics that manufacturers give us aren't as clear as we would like them to be. Take this refrigerator, for example: There are a few confusing things going on with this schematic, but we'll start with the part I've circled. What is that rectangle? It's drawn with the same lines as all the wires, and we're seeing connections going directly to it. There's no label anywhere calling it out as a discreet component. Could it be that that rectangle really is a loop of wire

Learn the Samurai's Secret Technique for Deciphering Timer Charts...

In this short, informative video, the Samurai walks through the steps of the patented Timer Chart Cha-Cha -- a system for reading and applying timer charts to schematics so that you can make sense of what's going on in the circuit. In just 2 minutes, you'll learn the steps of the Cha-Cha which empower you to troubleshoot timer-controlled circuits with ease. Want to see the Timer Chart Cha-Cha in action and watch how it improves the troubleshooting process? Click here to watch the full webin

Can Low Water Pressure Cause Solenoid Valves to Leak?

We run into water inlet solenoid valves in many different situations -- washers, dishwashers, refrigerators -- so it's important to have a firm grasp on exactly how they work. For example, I just talked with a tech recently who was wondering why low water pressure can cause inlet valves to leak. It seemed counter-intuitive to him, and he's not wrong. Wouldn't it make more sense for high water pressure to cause leaking? But once you learn exactly how these valves work, it will all make sense

Would you Troubleshoot this Washer Motor Problem the Right Way?

Do you know the most efficient way to troubleshoot this washer motor, or would you go through unnecessary disassembly? Watch this webinar excerpt to find out. This is just a short excerpt of a webinar that's packed with even more vital info on how to maximize your service call profitability through solid troubleshooting techniques. Click here to watch it now. This and 50+ hours more of awesome webinar recordings are available only to our premium members at Appliantology.  

GFCIs, AFCIs, and Nuisance Tripping

The most basic circuit safety device that everyone is familiar with is the circuit breaker. All a breaker has to do is detect if the amperage in its circuit exceeds a certain threshold and open the circuit if it does. Simple and effective, but not every electrical hazard involves excessive current. In fact, having less current than you should can also indicate a serious safety issue. Enter the GFCI and the AFCI. You might already be familiar with GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interruptors) --

Pop Quiz: Can You Solve this Series Circuit Puzzle?

Think you know your circuits? How about we put that to the test! In this excerpt from one of our many illuminating webinar recordings, the Samurai traces out the circuit for a refrigerator evaporator fan. Interestingly, the neutral side of the fan's power supply goes through both the defrost terminator and the defrost heater. How can this be? Watch this excerpt and ponder the mystery for yourself. When you think you have the answer, click here to view the full webinar and see if you go

What Does "Split-Phase" Really Mean in Motors?

You're probably familiar with the term "split-phase motor", but do you actually know what it means? That's exactly what we'll dive into in this post. The whole trick with motors on single-phase, standard household power is how to get them going from a dead stop. Once the rotor is spinning, it'll keep going happily as long as power is applied to the motor winding. But without a little engineering, single-phase power won't get a motor spinning -- it'll just hum and twitch in place. The t

Push to Start Switches in Dryers -- and Much More!

We've got quite the library of awesomely informative webinar recordings here at Appliantology -- literally days worth of it! Don't believe me? Here's a little taste. Push to start switches are extremely common technology in dryers, but do you actually know how they work? And do you know the fatal troubleshooting error that can lead you to misdiagnose them? Watch this short excerpt to find out. If you want to watch the full recording and take your appliance repair skills to the next lev

BLDC Motor Configurations, FG signals, and PWM signals

BLDC motors aren't new technology in appliances anymore -- in fact, they've become the norm. As such, it's important to be aware of the different configurations you'll see these motors in across appliances. These configurations fall into three categories: 2-wire, 3-wire, and 4-wire. An important thing to note before we continue: all BLDC motors in appliances are run by inverters. The inverter may be a separate board, like you'll see in washers with BLDC motors, or it may be built into the m

Bubble, Dew, and Glide in Refrigerants

To follow along with this blog post, you should go ahead and download the refrigerant slider app called "Ref Tools" to your smartphone (don't worry, it's free!). It's the one developed by Danfoss. I'm going to be referencing a few features of that app as I explain some properties of refrigerant, so go ahead and familiarize yourself with it. It's a great tool to have on hand regardless, since it lets you painlessly calculate superheat and subcooling in sealed systems. Got it? Good. What I wa

Diodes in AC Circuits

Put simply, diodes are devices that only allow current to flow in one direction. In DC circuits, this means that a diode can either act as a conductor, just as a stretch of wire would, or as an open in the circuit, depending on the configuration. See the examples of DC circuits with diodes below: That arrowhead-like symbol is the diode. The fat end of the arrow is the positively charged anode, while the narrow end that meets the straight line is the negatively charged cathode. Fi

Samurai's Picks: Quickly find the best tech info on Appliantology!

Appliantology is a big place, and there's valuable technical info constantly being posted in the forums and the blogs. But techs are busy folks, and we know that you don't always have the time to read through everything that's going on at the site. That's why I want to direct you to your new favorite page at Appliantology: Samurai's Picks. Accessible at any time from the main menu bar, Samurai's Picks is the go-to place where you can find content from the site that's hand-curated by u

Troubleshooting Thermistors, Identifying EEPs, and More...

When you want to measure the voltage across a component, where do you go to do that? Do you just resign yourself to disassembling the machine until you have access to that component? If you want to troubleshoot like a real tech, you use EEPs -- that's Electrically Equivalent Points. Identifying EEPs requires both being able to skillfully read a schematic and having a solid understanding of how electricity works. By doing this, you eliminate all unnecessary disassembly, increasing the profit

Is 120 VAC Really 120 Volts?

Let's take a look at the sine wave you would see if you hooked up an oscilloscope to a typical household power supply. This is showing reading line with respect to neutral. Hopefully you're already familiar with using a sine wave to represent AC voltage like this. To define a little terminology: the peak voltage (shown in green) is the voltage difference between the middle line (0 VAC) and the highest point of each peak. This diagram shows 170 VAC peak. Peak to peak voltage, on the ot

Know your Multimeter: a Short Breakdown of Every Meter Function

Let's take a look at a multimeter and talk about what each function does and what it's good for. This is specifically for a Fluke 116 multimeter, so if you have a different meter, you might see a slightly different array of functions. But this will be representative of a typical multimeter. LoZ: That stands for "low impedance". This is the loading function of your meter, meaning that it allows you to do voltage measurements that actually put a load on the circuit, allowing for a small

Educating Customers About Self Clean

Self-clean sounds like a great idea, right? Just push a button and watch your oven burn away all that caked-on grease and charred food.It certainly makes for a good selling point. But is this no-hassle cleaning feature really all it's cracked up to be? And what is the best way for the customer to use it (if at all)? First off: does it actually work? Can the oven clean itself just by getting really hot? Yes, definitely. Self-cleaning isn't just a gimmick, and when used properly, it does actu

How to Identify Unfamiliar Parts in Schematics

Take a look at the cooktop schematic below. I don't know about you, but "tranformator" isn't a familiar term to me. it certainly sounds like a transformer, but why would a transformer be necessary in a 240 VAC cooktop element circuit? The best thing to do here is to look up the part numbers for the "transformator" as well as other key components, such as those cooktop switches that the transformator is supplying power to. Then we can use a parts site to look at physical pictures

What You Need to Know to Repair Internet-Connected Appliances

Internet-connected appliances aren't a niche anymore. They're made by just about every brand out there, from Samsung to Whirlpool and beyond, so if you want to stay in the appliance repair game, you've got to know how they work. Lucky for you, this post is going to break down what you need to know to work on them. The key thing to keep in mind is this: internet-connected appliances are not that much more complicated than normal appliances. As long as you grasp a few fundamental concepts, th

Identifying Sensing Wires in Schematics

Have you ever noticed some connections on a schematic that just look plain unnecessary? Take a look at CN1 on this diagram. If you trace out those three wires, it may not be immediately obvious to you what the point of them is. Let's look at each connection individually, starting with pin 1. Well that looks pretty standard. It takes a direct path to neutral with no components in between. Nothing unusual about that -- the board needs its own neutral supply in order to run, a

Son of Samurai

Son of Samurai


Follow These Two Rules for Successful Part Replacement...

When it comes time to perform the repair and install a new part, the last thing you want is a surprise throwing a wrench in your plans. All the unexpected twists and turns should have already been dealt with during your troubleshooting. Ideally, performing the repair itself should just mean doing as little disassembly as possible, installing the new part, and collecting your repair fee. While there will always be unforeseen problems every now and then, there are a couple rules of thumb to a

Son of Samurai

Son of Samurai


PSC Motors and How to Properly Test a Capacitor

PSC (Permanent Split Capacitor) motors are nifty pieces of technology that you'll most often encounter in Whirlpool's VWM washers. They operate a bit differently from your typical split-phase motors. Rather than having a dedicated start winding and run winding, with each winding having different specifications, PSC motors have two windings that are physically identical. The only difference between them is in what direction the windings are wound. Another big difference between PSC motors an

Son of Samurai

Son of Samurai

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