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  • Samurai Appliance Repair Man

    Appliantology is Your Key to Appliance Repair Service Call Success!

    By Samurai Appliance Repair Man

    The Old Skool method of doing service calls was to go out on the call and pray to the pot bellied Buddha that the tech sheet was still hidden somewhere on the appliance. The plan being that, if the tech sheet was still there, you could stare at the lines and squiggles long enough to convince the customer you had reached a definitive and scientific conclusion about the problem.  My friends, I'm here to tell you that the Internet has made this Monkey Boy way of doing bidness obso-frikkin-lete
    • 1 comment
  • Samurai Appliance Repair Man

    [video] Troubleshooting a no convection bake problem on a GE Advantium Speedcooker

    By Samurai Appliance Repair Man

    We troubleshot a GE Advantium Speedcooker from the control board for a no convection bake problem and determined that either the convective heating element or the TCO had failed open. Testing each component individually required uninstalling the oven with special equipment. So on our second visit, we returned with both parts-- the convection heating element and the TCO. The specific failure turned out to be the non-resettable TCO that had failed open.  Watch how I used the schematic to sele
    • 1 comment
  • Son of Samurai

    How to Troubleshoot a GE Cooktop like a Real Tech vs. like a PCM

    By Son of Samurai

    What we call Parts-Changing Monkeys (PCMs) around here at Appliantology are techs who rely on pattern recognition, tech myths, and blind luck to make their repairs. Case in point with this example of a GE ZGU385 gas cooktop, where said PCM figured he would get lucky by replacing a couple of components that seemed related to the problem, apparently without any troubleshooting beforehand. Spoiler: he didn't get lucky. Real technicians don't rely on luck to get things fixed. We rely on kn
  • Samurai Appliance Repair Man

    Samurai's Big Three Troubleshooting Secrets

    By Samurai Appliance Repair Man

    It's tough for appliance techs today. Our biggest competition is from cheap replacement machines. The proliferation of pricey electronic boards in appliances (and their uncertain procurement these days) means that if you can't quickly do a slam-dunk diagnosis, you are at risk of losing customers and your profitability. Meanwhile, electrical troubleshooting is largely a lost science. What exactly have we lost? The Old Skool troubleshooting techniques that us old timers learned way back. And
  • Samurai Appliance Repair Man

    Tech Memberships at Appliantology

    By Samurai Appliance Repair Man

    Appliantology is an invaluable resource for working appliance repair technicians, providing service manuals and datasheets, continuing education technical training, and a community of thousands who have your back whenever you need help or have questions. To maintain the quality of our community and keep it ad-free, we do charge an annual fee of $297 for our Professional Appliantologist membership, which unlocks all that Appliantology has to offer, including tech-only help forums and unthrottled,

Our community blogs

  1. If you read my previous post about sealed system basics, you know that understanding the thermodynamic states of refrigerants (saturated, subcooled, and superheated) is essential to sealed system troubleshooting. In that post, I explained these states in terms of a simple pressure-temperature table. While that keeps things simple, it doesn't really give you a strong visual and mental model for how the refrigeration cycle works thermodynamically.

    That's why we're going to spend this whole post learning how to read a P-H diagram. It takes a bit more work than just reading a P-T table, but this diagram is where those values on the P-T table come from, so learning to read it will give you a deeper understanding of what's going on in the sealed system.

    Without further ado, here's the P-H diagram for the refrigerant R-134a:


    Pretty overwhelming, right? I remember how quickly my eyes started crossing when I first looked at one of these. This diagram conveys a ton of information, but some of it isn't really necessary for us techs, and the stuff that is useful gets lost in the jumble if you don't know what to look for. Let's strip this diagram down to something really simple, then start adding lines back in step by step.


    That's a bit more straightforward! For those who aren't in the know, the vertical axis labeled P is for pressure, and the horizontal axis labeled h is for enthalpy. That's not a term we use often, but enthalpy is just a measure of how much heat energy is in the refrigerant. Note that that's not the same thing as the temperature of the refrigerant -- we'll get into that soon. So the farther up the chart you go, the greater the pressure, and the farther to the right you go, the greater the enthalpy.

    This heavily simplified diagram highlights the centerpiece of the P-H diagram: the saturation dome. As the labels say, when the pressure and enthalpy of the refrigerant places it in that dome, the refrigerant is saturated. That means it's in the transitional state between a liquid and a vapor -- what we commonly refer to as boiling.

    The left side of the dome is the liquid side. If a refrigerant is plotted directly on that line, that means that it's at saturation, but still fully a liquid. If it moves to the left of that line, then it becomes subcooled. So "subcooled" just means that the refrigerant is anywhere to the left of the saturation dome. It doesn't necessarily mean "really cold" -- only "below saturation".

    Conversely, the right side of the dome is the vapor side. A refrigerant plotted directly on that right line is at saturation and fully vapor. If it moves to the right, then it becomes superheated. So "superheated" refers to refrigerant anywhere to the right of the saturation dome. It doesn't necessarily mean "super hot" -- only "above saturation".

    Lets add some of those lines back and take a look at something more like a real P-H diagram, but only with the info we're concerned with: quality and temperature.


    Let's look at those green lines with percentage labels first. Those are the quality lines. All that quality means is what percentage of the refrigerant is vapor. This one is pretty straightforward to understand: the refrigerant starts as a saturated liquid on the left edge of the dome, and then it steadily transforms into vapor as you move to the right, until it's all vapor at the right edge.

    Those dark blue temperature lines look kinda funky, though -- what's up with those sharp 90 degree turns? This is where we can really get into the cool stuff that happens at saturation and understand how refrigeration works.

    First, look at the lines to either side of the dome. The temperature lines are almost entirely vertical, meaning that temperature increases steadily as enthalpy increases. That makes sense -- adding heat energy to the system seems like it should make things hotter, right?

    But in the saturation dome, the temperature lines are perfectly horizontal: adding or removing heat energy within the saturation dome has no effect on temperature. Kind of wild, right? Instead, while the refrigerant is at saturation, any heat energy that gets added increases the refrigerant's quality. So all that energy is going toward changing liquid refrigerant into vapor, and none of it is felt as temperature. It's what we call latent heat, and that absorption of heat energy to change the state of the refrigerant is what we mean when we talk about the refrigeration effect.

    Those of you who are getting the hang of reading this chart will notice something else: in the saturation dome, temperature and pressure are in perfect lockstep. If you increase the pressure (moving up the diagram), you also increase the temperature. And decreasing the pressure (moving down the diagram) decreases the temperature. This is a key concept to grasp, because this direct temperature-pressure relationship at saturation is a fantastic sealed system troubleshooting tool. If you take a temperature measurement at a point in the sealed system that's at saturation, then you know the pressure at that point. No gauges required.

    One more addition to the diagram to drive this home: let's plot the pressure and enthalpy of the refrigerant on the P-H diagram as it moves through the sealed system.


    Let's start at Point 1: That's the suction line (intake) of the compressor. With our newfound knowledge of how to read the P-H diagram, we can easily see that the compressor increases the pressure of the refrigerant, since the line is moving up. The compressor also superheats the refrigerant a bit, since the line moves out to the right of the saturation dome.

    Point 2: Here's our condenser line. This line is completely horizontal, so we have no change in pressure in the condenser. It's simply shedding heat energy, moving left all the way through the saturation dome, and even subcooling the refrigerant slightly at the end.

    Point 3: The "throttle" is the metering device that separates the high-pressure condenser from the low-pressure evaporator -- usually a thin capillary tube in household refrigerators. As the refrigerant exits the capillary tube, its pressure drops drastically. Note, however, that the enthalpy remains the same -- the line is completely vertical. But because of the direct relationship between pressure and temperature at saturation, the temperature of the refrigerant plummets with the pressure. In addition, a lot of the refrigerant instantly flashes from liquid to vapor. Judging by the quality line, you can see that 35% of it is already vapor at Point 4

    Point 4: The exact opposite of the condenser line: the refrigerant absorbs heat energy from its surroundings, moving all the way to the right of the saturation dome, where it's saturated vapor.

    Believe it or not, there you have it -- you now know how to read a P-H diagram! There are other aspects to the diagram that we've not covered, but none of that info is necessary for us techs. Hopefully, you can now start using your deeper understanding of the refrigeration cycle to bolster your sealed system troubleshooting.

    We've just skimmed the surface here into the amazing world of refrigeration thermodynamics. If you want to take a deeper dive, professional tech members at Appliantoloy and Master Samurai Tech students can watch the 5-part video series on refrigerator sealed system thermodynamics. 

    If you'd like to learn more about troubleshooting and repairing both the controls and the sealed system in refrigerators, then check out our Advanced Refrigerator Repair Course over at the Master Samurai Tech Academy.

  2. Inevitably you will at some point in your career damage a customer's stuff.  Most common is usually the appliance you are working on, or the floor.  The big stuff is flooding a customer's house, fire, smoke, etc.  


    Let's talk about the small stuff first.  

    Scratched/ damaged appliance:  Just understand that your maximum liability on this is the value of the appliance.  Not the cost to replace.  The value of a 10 year old used appliance.  If you did the damage the first thing you should do is own it.  Second, and most important: Dont ever talk about insurance or compensation etc.  Once you start planting ideas in the customer's head, there is no turning back.   For example: you broke a crisper bucket during removal.  All you need to say is "your crisper bucket broke during disassembly, do you want me to order you a new one? The cost is X.XX.  Its not so much you want them to pay for the bucket, its more so that you are conveying that you did not just F* up. Normal course of things.  If you arent that brave, just tell the customer what you did and that you will bring back another one in a few days. 

    You dented the door: Say to the customer: "How do you want to resolve this?" You really need to smear on the humility.  Call yourself and idiot, etc.   The goal is to build empathy, and avoid the adversarial confrontation.   You will be surprised how often they say don't worry about it.  Sometimes they ask for a discount, some will ask for a new door.  If they ask for a door, look it up right there, on the spot.  Figure out the cost of the door, write the lady a check on the spot for the door + $150 for someone else to install it.   Its not your problem that the door is NLA, I can almost guarantee you they will just pocket the money and buy a fifty cent magnet.  The important part is to settle the matter right then and there.  Write the check, or discount the bill, you need to specifically write that you are fully compensating them for the damage to the door.  Make them sign.  

    The damaged flooring:  This is one where most of you will throw your hands up and file a claim.  I have been in the appliance business for 20+ years and I can shamefully tell you I have (my delivery guys really) damaged many floors, doors, windows, walls, cars, and more.  If you damage a floor, do not get the customer involved.  Its your mess, you clean it up.  If you tell the customer to go get an estimate, you will end up buying Karen a new floor.   Most flooring damage is in the way of a dent, and some more severe have a dent/ minor scratch.  A good steam mop will pull 99% of dents out.  If there is a scratch, buff it out with a bit of floor polyurethane and a rag.  The trick to resolving this in my experience is to do the entire kitchen.  Just steam/ clean, not POLY) Steam ALL of her dents out ,and get an excellent hardwood floor cleaner (like BONA) and clean her floors.  Leave her the cleaner as a parting gift.  When you see the customer's eyes get big, or crack a smile, not only did you dodge an expensive bullet, but you get to keep the customer.  


     YOU change the window, YOU (or YOUR contractor) fix the wall/paint/trim.  Your people will look out for you, and generally will give you an excellent price for the correction.  Your customer's contractor will get paid big time. 

    If you break a ceramic tile: If you break a tile its either you were Grossly negligent, or the floor was installed incorrectly.  Buy the closest thing you can find, but DO NOT install that tile in front of the stove/ fridge.  Its likely not an exact match and will look out of place.  Harvest a tile from under the fridge or stove and install that tile, putting the new tile out of sight.  

    Water damage- wood flooring:  If you catch it within a couple weeks you should be fine.  Wood swells up when wet, and will always shrink when dry.  Solve the leak, apologise profusely, and get to drying it.  Hair dryers, towels, and a few trips will take care of it.  

    Water damage drywall:  Hire a contractor, tell him to take care of it 100%, AND SEND YOU THE BILL.  


    WHY BOTHER, I HAVE INSURANCE FOR THIS?   Your insurance will cover the first claim, and I promise at your renewal you rates will skyrocket IF they even take you back.  If you file 2 claims in about 5 years, not only will your insurance co drop you, but good like finding anyone to cover you.   If you do some BIG damage, like massive flooding or fire/ smoke, that is what insurance is for. 


    It really boils down to this:  You can fix a scratched floor for a few hundred dollars.  Once you get insurance, the customer, and random contractors involved, it instantly becomes a four figure repair. You will end up paying for all of it one way or another.  






  3. From the latest USA newsletter:

    Pricing Service in a Small Service Company

    By David Oliva

    While doing research for this series of articles the topic that came up most frequently was pricing.  How do I know what to charge, what pricing structure should I use, what’s “fair”, what’s the value of our service, should I be cheaper than my competitor, etc?  Appropriate and profitable pricing is one of the most important parts of running a successful small service company (SSC).  It’s also one of the most difficult. Most SSC owners, me included, have no formal business training and so we struggle with issues like this.  Many SSC owners undervalue their skills by quite a bit because of this lack of training and so are sometimes extremely underpriced.  This creates a variety of problems such as not having enough extra income to cover the cost of necessary training and an inability to expand or improve the company due to lack of funds.  It also creates a problem for the industry as a whole because it undermines professionalism and creates an atmosphere where customers are taught not to value our profession as they do other professions.

    Let’s start at the beginning. The foundation for all pricing starts with your cost of doing business (CODB).  Without knowing your CODB setting prices is a guessing game. United Servicers Association has a great, free, CODB calculator on their website.  What it will allow you to do is input all of your expenses and calculate your CODB on an hourly basis.  Knowing how much it actually costs you simply to be open for business each hour of the day is invaluable and, at least the first time you do it, eye opening. It was a big shock to me when I ran those numbers about 5 years ago.  I had no idea we had to spend so much money just to be open.  Once you have that number you can begin planning a pricing structure.   

    Link to USA free CODB: https://www.unitedservicers.com/codb-calculator

    There are two basic structures for pricing, hourly or flat/job rate.  An hourly rate is self explanatory but a job rate structure may be unfamiliar to some.  A job rate structure will typically have between three and ten rates, which will vary from the simplest jobs to the most involved and complex. With a job rate system the time it takes to complete a repair is only one factor out of many used to determine the price. Job rates systems are generally the most profitable way to price repairs in our industry.  The benefit to the independent SSC of a job rate system is the ability to capitalize on experience and skill. With an hourly rate the better and faster one gets the less money they will collect on each job, making it necessary to complete more jobs to make the same amount of money. With a job rate system the faster you are the more you make because the price of the repair is not tied to time. Job rate systems reward skill and efficiency.
    What is fair? This is a contentious point in our industry. Many SSC owners feel that we should not charge professional rates for the work we do or that job rates are “unfair” to the customer because they tend to increase the overall repair price.  I believe this stems from a lack of respect for the work we do, even from people within our industry.  This attitude, as stated above, undermines the industry as a whole.  There is no reason why we should not be well paid for the service we provide to our customers.  Fairness is subjective and so it is a meaningless concept in regards to pricing.  Pricing in an SSC, which typically does a low volume of repairs relative to larger companies which can take advantage of high volume, should be fundamentally based on two points.  The first, and most important, is CODB.  Without covering your CODB you will fail, this is simple math.  If your CODB dictates rates that you feel are “unfair” then you either need to reduce your CODB or let go of the idea that prices can be fair or unfair.  The second point is your market.  After you’ve calculated your CODB you can then feel out your market for profit maximization.  The old school method for feeling out maximum price still holds true, if you’re not getting at least a few complaints about your prices you can charge more.

    Value is also subjective, and so ideal customers may be those that place a premium on quality service and are willing to pay for it.  If your market is a large metropolitan area then chances are high end brand appliances are plentiful in your service area.  Typically customers with these brands will value quality over price and be willing to pay higher rates for better service.  In such a case why try to compete by having the lowest price?  Why not offer the highest level of service available and charge appropriately for it? Competing on price is often a race to the bottom and in the current economic climate lowering your prices may not be a viable option. Compete on quality, not price.

    The biggest obstacle to higher rates, and higher profits, is often psychological.  It’s very common to hear SSC owners say “I can’t charge that! No one will pay it. My competitor only charges $10.”  This is a myth based on nothing but fear.  I was once browsing the racks of luxury retailer Neiman-Marcus and came across a shirt from the designer brand Givenchy.  This was a simple sweatshirt with a screen printed Rottweiler on it. This shirt was priced at $900. You may not be interested in designer fashion, but LVMH Group, the parent company of Givenchy, made about $5.7 billion in profit in 2017. The point being that customers are willing to pay almost anything for what they perceive to be valuable.  And this is where value comes from, a product or service is valued at whatever people are willing to pay for it.  If you can set up your company to be perceived as more valuable than your competition then you can command higher rates. 

    This industry is full of people who love what they do, and are very good at it.  They treat their customers with respect; they provide quality service and honor their warranty.  The go out of their way to help people who need help.  And so why shouldn’t they make enough money to drive a new service vehicle, have excellent health insurance and take a great earned vacation now and then?  Why shouldn’t they value their skills the way other trades and professions value theirs?  Why shouldn’t there be enough extra profit to provide for a great retirement, another topic of great interest to SSC owners?  The answer to all of those questions is they should, and there should be.  Pricing appropriately will ensure that and we need to focus more on this, and in greater depth, especially for the SSC owners, since we are the ones who need the most help with it. 


    We all want to grow our companies,  but finding and keeping qualified techs or just finding anyone that posseses even the slightest work ethic is a difficult,  near impossible task.  This song laments this sad state of affairs but also is a tribute to the recent passing of one of the greats. 


    Scroll down,  start the video,  scroll back up and sing along! 

    Whirlpool Drain (or if Prince was an Appliantologist looking for good help) 

    Maybe you never meant to cause me any sorrow
    Maybe you never meant to cause me any pain
    I only wanted to one time see you working
    I only wanted to see you
    working on a Whirlpool Drain

    Whirlpool Drain, Whirlpool Drain
    Whirlpool Drain, Whirlpool Drain
    Whirlpool Drain, Whirlpool Drain 
    I only wanted to see you
    Steaming up a Whirlpool Drain 

    I never wanted to be a hard-assed employer
    But neither could I be some kind of friend
    Now please go away,  go work for another
    For your employment with me has to end

    Whirlpool Drain, Whirlpool Drain
    Whirlpool Drain, Whirlpool Drain
    Whirlpool Drain, Whirlpool Drain
    I only wanted to see you
    Underneath a Whirlpool Drain

    Dude, I know, I know
    I know  appliances are changing
    It's time we all reach out
    to learn something new, that means you too

    You say you want me to teach you
    But you can't seem to concentrate your mind
    So I think you better pack it
    Since you can't even Ptrap a Whirlpool Drain

    Whirlpool Drain, Whirlpool Drain
    Whirlpool Drain, Whirlpool Drain
    Service Owners, if you know what I'm singing about up here
    C'mon, raise your hand

    Whirlpool Drain, Whirlpool Drain
    I only want to have one
    Only want to see one
    Working on a Whirlpool Drain


    This song debuting on AppLYRICology  Best of Durham Music Vol 1  


  5. Well ladies and gents. Sorry I have been MIA for a while. Life has been crazy with service calls and my new technician. Also had our first baby (technician in training) blogentry-82264-0-29266900-1449760812_th. It's been an amazing experience. I am loving every second of it. It has been tough through all the changes which is why i have been absent from here for a bit. But i'm BACK! I hope the Samurai and Durham have been holding the fort down and not letting you guys get away with too much! hahaha.

  6. tpoindexter's Blog

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    Recent Entries

    I was talking with another tech this morning about checking RPM. this brought up the subject of strobes. As we were

    discussing strobes it occurred to me someone had probably created an app with RPM already. Shazaaam!!! :woot:

    Here's a app that will allow you to test RPM on fans. You can also test motor rpm, if, you place a mark on the shaft.


    To check fan speed just dial it in till the fan appears to be not moving at all. That'll give you your RPM.

    Same with a motor if you mark the shaft. When the mark appears to no longer be moving you've got the RPM.

    I'm not really sure if this is the correct use of this Blog thingy, but, bet I'll find out sure enough!! Yeeehaw!!!

    Huh... I hope I wasn't the last person on earth to figure this out!

  7. Here's a Thai-inspired chicken soup that is easy to make and bursting with flavor! It's healthy comfort food with an Asian twist.



    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, ghee, or butter
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1-2 pounds uncooked chicken breast, diced
    • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
    • 1 quart chicken broth (I use either homemade or a box of low sodium, no added MSG.)
    • 1 can coconut milk (look for this in the Asian/Thai section of the grocery store. I prefer regular, not "lite".)
    • 1 lime, juiced, divided
    • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
    • 4 scallions, chopped
    • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
    • salt, to taste
    • optional: Thai fish sauce, cooked rice


    Heat a soup pot over medium high heat, then add the coconut oil. Saute the onions with a little salt for a few minutes, then add the chicken chunks with a little more salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is just cooked through. Add the ginger and half of the garlic towards the end of this.

    Stir in the broth and bring to a boil, then stir in the coconut milk, half of the lime juice, and the red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for at least 15 minutes (longer is fine, too).

    Turn off the heat, and add salt to taste (depends on the amount in your chicken broth). Stir in the rest of the garlic, the scallions, and most of the cilantro (leave a little aside for topping individual bowls). Add the rest of the lime juice if desired. Cover and let sit off-heat for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve.

    Great served over rice. Add a few drops of fish sauce to your serving to knock the flavor out of the park!

  8. kdog's Blog

    [Yes, I did reset the breaker and checked the voltages. Here's the wiring diagram:


    Source: Amana NED7200TW Dryer no heat, problem with cycling thermostat?

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