Monthly Archives: October 2003

Mailbag: Slow Flow from a Refrigerator Water Dispenser


John W. Turner wrote:

I have a GE Refregerator model TFX24R,with Water and ice in the door. When I go to get water from the door there is a hesitation and it then comes out slow. Can hear it as soon as I push lever , and have changed filter and lines but still does the same thing. Is ther a part that is holding up the water??
Tahnk You John

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Start by checking the water supply going to the fridge using the technique of the Master:

  • Turn off the water at the saddle tap valve.
  • Disconnect the water line in the back of the fridge. Place the disconnected end in a bucket and open the saddle tap valve.
  • Observe the flow rate–water should shoot out vigorously. If not, then the saddle tap valve is probably gunked up with sediment and you’ll need to replace it.

That should restore normal water pressure. You can buy a new water supply kit, which includes the saddle tap valve, here. More tips on the proper installation of a water supply line and saddle tap valve here.

If the water supply flow rate test, described above, appears normal, then the water inlet valve on the fridge may be gunked up with sediment. Here’s how we check for that:

  • Reconnect the water supply line to the valve and turn the water back on.
  • Disconnect the nylon tube from the dispenser side of the valve and replace it with section of tubing so you can out the other end in a bucket.
  • Now actuate the water dispenser and observe the flow out of the tube. It should be the same as the flow you observed in the first flow test described above. If not, then you know the valve is restricting the flow–replace the valve.

The foregoing discussion is neatly contained in this haiku (inspired by Fixum in the Appliantology group forum):


the bamboo reveals all

Fridge water flows slow.
Saddle tap or solenoid:
it’s one of those two.

New Logo for Fixitnow.com

Check out the new logo. Pretty slick, ey? The old logo served the site well for many moons but, in the end, I just got freakin’ sick of looking at it. Actually, Mrs. Samurai got sick of looking at it first and started harping on me to change it. Those graphics gurus at Logobee.com designed the new logo for me. They were an utter joy to work with: quick turn-around on revisions and fast answers to questions I couldn’t decide. If you need a logo, any kind of logo, click on over to Logobee.

Mailbag: Washer Drain Pipe Overflowing

DK Ezekoye wrote:
Thanks for your site! I have had major problems with all (4) of our less than 3 year old Kenmore aplliances. A tip and one question on my washer (Kenmore 417.40042990 front loader).

Every so often, the machine will not spin properly (at all). Solution, there is an interlock which will not let the spin cycle start if the water level is too high. Makes sense for a front loader. This points to the pump failing. In one case, unclogged it to find pantyhose in the pump(blood boiling). In the second case, there was a nickel in the pump which had sheared off the impeller blades and had rendered the pump useless. $50 for a new pump.

My newest problem is leaking from the standpipe. I snaked, and poured liquid plumber etc., but it stills overflows during the initial surge when the pump starts. Is there anything that I can do short of getting a plumber to put a drain in the laundry room floor? We live in Texas and there ain’t no basements here. Could it be that there is not enough of an air gap between my hose and the 2″ standpipe drain? Thanks…

DK ( a Texas PE)

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Your Kenmore front loader is made by Frigidaire and is, in my vaunted opinion, the best front loader out there. Most of the problems I’ve seen with this washer have to do with debris in the pump, as you described, or door catch breaking. Both are extremely minor problems in the world of washer repair. Compare with the Maytag Neptune which has been nothing but one long, sad song about fried control boards and door latch assemblies–at much more than $50 a pop! I talk more about various appliance brands here.

The U-hook on your drain hose should just hang in the drain pipe–the diameter of the drain hose hook should be less than the diameter of the drain stand pipe. Typically, drain hose diameters are around 1″ o.d. and standard drain stand pipe diameters are 2″ o.d. The hook of the drain hose is simply placed into the drain pipe and secured with either duct tape or a tie wrap. You can see that this creates a natural air break which you should not try to obstruct. If your drain meets these criteria and you’re getting the suds-back condition, then we need to consider a couple of other things.

Start with the simple things. Have your drain professionally reamed out by a plumber who knows his sh*t: Mr. Rooter. If you’re not using a high efficiency detergent (especially critical for front loading washers), then it’s time to start. Finally, and worst case scenario, if your house is on a septic tank system, the back wash from the drain pipe could be an early warning that it’s time to have your septic tank pumped out.

Bird Watching Update: Rare Sighting of the Cacapee Bird

The rare and beautiful Cacapee bird once flourished throughout all New England. The name, Cacapee, is an Iroquois word meaning, “beautiful feathers.” Its long, brightly colored tail plume was highly prized for fashionable head wear. The wing feathers of the Cacapee were commonly used as “tonsil ticklers” in the vomitoriums which were hubs of social activity in New England during the Colonial period. Because of these popular uses of its feathers, the Cacapee bird was hunted to near-extinction. In fact, this exquisite bird was thought to be extinct…until now.

During one of his recent bird-watching missions, the Samurai documented the existence of one of the last remaining Cacapee birds on the entire planet. The bird was spotted in a forest abutting Lake Sunapee, near the Samurai’s home town of New London, New Hampshire. Unfortunately, the camera was damaged in a shower mishap, so no image is available. However, the audio recording survived. Here, now, is the only recording in existence of the Cacapee bird’s mating call (patent-pending, all rights reserved, void where prohibited). Let’s listen:

Appliance Tip of the Day: Rodent Rage

appliance tip of the day archiveYep, it’s gettin’ frosty outside and all the little vermin are scrambling to come inside for a warm place to crap. Their beady little eyes are fixed on your house and they’re quietly invading at night, while you and your loved ones are sound asleep. A favorite destination: your appliances.

I have repaired many appliances that have been damaged by mouse activity. For example, I recently repaired a fridge that was getting warm because the condenser fan was jammed by a mouse carcass!

The house mouse can live in homes its entire life and reproduce with amazing speed. A female mouse can begin bearing litters of six pups when she is 56 days old. If the offspring begin reproducing at the same time, that means almost 8,000 mice per year can result from one female mouse. That’s a lot of rodents running around!

Mice can nest in walls, attics, cabinet space, and appliances, and can accumulate shredded paper and other soft material as bedding. These piles of nest material within the walls or under appliances can pose a fire hazard. Mice gnaw on just about anything; they can even chew through metal, concrete, and wall boards. These pernicious beasts have caused electrical fires by gnawing on wires.

In addition to posing a fire hazard, those cute, furry little critters carry a smorgasbord of diseases that can infect humans. House mice also are a major cause of asthma and allergic rhinitis in susceptible people.

No house is immune. This time of year, I always find evidence of rodent invasions while doing service calls. Most common hangouts: underneath your dishwasher, behind your range and beside your refrigerator’s compressor.

Now is the time to take the offensive and terminate the invading hoard with extreme prejudice. Place boxes of Decon in the following key locations around your appliances: behind the refrigerator, underneath the dishwasher (behind the kickplates), behind the range, in the cabinet underneath the sink, and behind the dryer. While you’re at it, inspect appliance power cords for damage from chewing.

Personally, I prefer those glue traps with just a dab of peanut butter added. No mouse on the planet can resist peanut butter. I usually only have to leave the trap out overnight and the next day there’s a precious little furball-of-love, desperately struggling to get unstuck. But alas, they never quite make it to freedom before meeting their demise at the end of my hammer. The problem with Decon is that you never get to see the fruits of your labor. But using the glue traps, you get a wonderful sense of closure when that hammer falls.

You animal-rights weenies are probably frothing at the mouth about now, sputtering some typically vacuous comments about, “like, hey man, like, they live here, too, y’know?” I want to hear you say that as you’re staring in disbelief at the smoldering embers that used to be your house which burned down due to mice chewing on the electrical wires behind the walls.

Awwite, load ’em up, Hoss. We got us some rodents to kill. Yee-haw!

grasshoppers sitting with the master happily munching on freshly caught mice

Mailbag: GE 2200 Dishwasher, “Check Water Supply” Error

carolyn kaluzniacki wrote:

Hi,
I like your web page and email message set up. Very user friendly.Nice job.
Ihave a GE “2200” dishwasher that runs through the prewash cycle then stops and gives a “5” message ie “not enough water, check water supply” I had a fix it man out who did a temporary fix, but said it might not last and if it reverts back to not working it means the solenoid is broken and he said I should then buy a new dishwasher if that’s the case. The dishwasher seems like it should still work fine if the glitch could be fixed. How hard is it to replace a solenoid here? I live in Arizona and occasionally my son comes home from San Francisco. He is a fixer type person–more with computers–but the fixers are usually good at most things. Is it really tedious and laborious to replace a solenoid? Should I wait till my son comes home or buy a new dishwasher. THANKS, Carolyn

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I can’t believe someone would recommend trashing your whole dishwasher just because one stinking little part, the water inlet valve, may be clogged and need to be replaced! Well, that’s why he’s just a numb-nutz “fix-it” man and I’m Samurai Appliance Repair Man.

If you’re getting the “not enough water, check water supply” error message on this dishwasher, it usually means that the fill level in the basin is insufficient for proper cleaning. This almost always results from sediment and/or pipe scale accumulating on the protective screen of the water inlet valve. In this case, you can simply replace the valve, and dishwasher nirvana shall be restored.

Replacing the water inlet valve is no more difficult in your part of the country than it would be elsewhere. You can easily access the valve by simply removing the kickplates from the front of the dishwasher. You can buy the replacement water inlet valve here. Replacing the water inlet valve is simply a matter of turning off the water supply and then disconnecting and reconnecting a couple of water and electrical connections. It’s plug and chug, any bonehead can do this.

Still thinking about buying a new dishwasher? Read this first!

Samurai Web Cam

Samurai Web Cam--click for the latest shotI just got one of those cool web cams, you know, those X-10’s that you see in popup ads everywhere you go on the web? Yeah, one o’ those. Well, I finally broke down and bought one. It was easy to set up and seems to work pretty well. I have it set up here on top of my monitor, taking pictures while I’m working. Here, check out the latest shot from the live Samurai Web Cam.

See you later.


The Samurai on Assignment: Message from Mars

The CIA has once again requested the help of the Samurai–this time to interpret an anomalous signal originating from Mars. I heterodyned the signal with a low frequency beat harmonic and was able to step it down into the audible range of human hearing. Since it has been recently de-classified, I am now at liberty to share it with all of you. It’s pretty shocking so I recommend that you sit down before listening. DISCLAIMER: If you have a heart condition or hemorrhoids, please consult a physician before listening. The Samurai shall not be held liable for any unforseen side effects that result from listening to this authentic recording. All other unconditional disclaimers listed here apply, as well. You have been warned.

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Appliantology: “How Much is a New One?”

The latest issue of Appliantology, The Journal of Appliance Wisdom, has been submitted to the publisher and will rear its hoary head in next week’s issue of the Kearsarge Slopper. This issue addresses the perennial question that all my Grasshoppers secretly ponder to themselves behind closed doors while contemplating the “repair or replace” enigma, “How Much Be a New One, Yo?

Click and learn, Grasshopper.

Appliance Tip of the Day: The Ultimate Dryer Venting Guide

appliance tip of the day archiveI reckon dryers are trickier than I thought for most folks. People seem to have a hard time understanding that the dryer vent is absotootly, posilootly critical to the safe and efficient operation of your dryer! Period. Folks, if your dryer vent sux, then your dryer’s performance and safety will suck, too. It’s just that simple. The idea with a dryer vent is to have as little back pressure as possible. Back pressure retards the flow of moist air outta the dryer and also collects lint in the dryer and vent system creating a fire hazard. And, hear this, poor venting will cause dryers to overheat, too! Another great cause of dryer fires.

The number one thing you should do to make your dryer safer to operate and dry clothes more efficiently is to follow the do’s and don’ts in this chart. Look at this figure carefully. I didn’t put the link there just to look purdy. Examine it, study it, memorize it, print it out and sleep with it under your pillow…well, maybe not. But you get the idea.

In addition to the basic do’s and don’ts above, you shall obey these dryer vent length criteria. You like your overly-long dryer vent just the way it is? Ok, Slick, here’s your future.

Note that white vinyl vent hoses are not UL-Approved and are a great way to start fires in your house. The American Household Appliance Manufacturers Association (AHAM) recommends the use of either rigid aluminum or steel duct or spiral-wound aluminum flex hose–NOT the white vinyl hose. For any dryer, but especially gas dryers, white vinyl vent hose should never be used. If yours has this installed on it, replace it ASAP with UL-approved materials. Examples of UL-approved dryer venting materials are shown here. If you need to upgrade your vent using UL-Approved materials, some recommended items are listed below. Hint: these are links, you can click ’em to see pictures of ’em.

  • Basic Dryer Vent Kit – To vent a gas or electric dryer up to 8 feet from the dryer outlet. 4-inch diameter flexible semi-rigid venting up to 8 feet in length. Includes two protector style connectors and foam seal. Instructions included.
  • Side/Base Exhaust Kit, Maytag – Kit for exhausting a Maytag dryer either through the side or through the base. Includes exhaust opening plate, exhaust duct with bracket, exhaust duct, elbow and instruction sheet.
  • Side/Base Exhaust Kit, Amana – Kit for exhausting an Amana dryer either through the side or through the base. Includes two self drilling screws, exhaust duct, exhaust opening plate.
  • Loop Vent Kit – 4-1/2-inch wall clearance. Snap fittings and rotating collars make installation easy. Additional vent can be snapped on for longer runs. Kit includes two close elbows, one 6-foot flexible vent and two 4-inch adjustable steel clamps.
  • Flexible Dryer Vent Duct, 6 foot – Flexible 4-inch diameter dryer vent expands to 6 feet. Male to female connections.
  • 8-foot flexible dryer venting – Vent expands from 8 inches to 8 feet. Fits most common home installation requirements. Clamps are designed for quick and easy installation. 4 inches in diameter.
  • Flexible Dryer Vent Duct, 5 foot – Flexible 4-inch diameter dryer vent expands to 5 feet. Male to female connectors.
  • 8-foot Semi-Rigid Dryer Venting – Semi-rigid metal construction is flexible and easy to install. Vent expands from 23 inches to 8 feet and fits most common home installation requirements. 4 inches in diameter.
  • Periscope Vent – Use when vent outlets overlap or are offset. Provides 2-1/2-inch clearance between dryer and wall. Extends to 18 inches.
  • Elongated 90 degree, Close Wall Elbow (Wall Vent) – Snap-lock, rotating collar. Elbow turns 90 degrees within 4-1/2-inches of wall. Clamp required. Male to female connections (use on wall vent outlet).
  • 90 degree Close Wall Elbow – Standard, 90-degree, short radius elbow. Use for 90-degree turns within 4-1/2-inches of wall.
  • Elongated 90 degree, Close Wall Elbow (Dryer Outlet) – Use where outlet vent on dryer is projecting outward. Snap-lock, rotating collar. Elbow turns 90 degrees within 4-1/2-inches of wall. Clamp required. Female to male connections (use on dryer outlet).
  • Dryer Vent Pipe – Deflecto 4-inch by 24-inch aluminum dryer vent pipe.
  • Dryer Vent Hood – Through-the-wall gas or electric dryer tube and vent hood with a removable bird and rodent guard. Louvered self-closing internal damper keeps out drafts and provides efficient dryer airflow.
  • Dryer Vent Periscope, 0-inch to 5-inch – Includes uniquely designed periscope to allow close placement of the dryer to the wall. Vent adjusts from 0 inches to 5 inches and pivots 180 degrees. Metal clamps make installation easy with common household tools
  • 90 Degree Close Dryer Vent Elbow – Uniquely designed elbow to allow close placement of dryer to the wall. Energy efficient metal construction for safe operation. Simple instructions for easy installation with common household tools.
  • 4 inch Clamp – Two 4-inch clamps for use with dryer venting duct. Phillips/hex head screws.

One of the ways that dryers can start household fires is by igniting the excess lint that accumulates around the motor, burner shroud (for gas dryers) and cabinet interior. Y’see, Slick, lint is composed of very small, dry clothing particles which includes cotton and polyesters–both very good fire starters. Polyesters are particularly pernicious fire starters and are very difficult to extinguish once they ignite. Polyesters, vinyl in particular, pose another fire hazard when used as vent hoses, which we’ll talk more about later in this article.

One of the biggest causes of vent hose fires is when this accumulated lint inside the vent hose ignites. Lint gets caught in the folds and creases and sticks there because of the humidity. Over time, the lint builds up to such a degree that the dryer cannot exhaust properly. This results in increased drying times initially and, ultimately, in a fire. Once a fire starts in a vinyl vent hose, the hose itself ignites and burns vigorously creating a fire that is very difficult to extinguish.

clean out your dryer vent using a vent brush--come git you one!Another reason for using rigid, smooth-walled aluminum ducting for your dryer vent is that you can easily clean it out using a vent brush. You need to do this annually to keep your dryer running at optimum efficiency and to ensure that you won’t get any lint fires started inside the dryer vent. Oh yeah, it can still happen even with aluminum duct but the results will be far less catastrophic than a white vinyl vent fire.

Folks, I don’t make this stuff up. I couldn’t make this stuff up even if I wanted to. If you’re having dryer problems like long dry times and overheating, you need to check out your venting in accordance with foregoing pearls of wisdom.

I can’t even tell you how many time I hear Grasshoppers tell me, “My dryer is (circle one) [overheating, runs too long, fires the heaters only briefly, smells hot, blah blah blah] and I checked the vent and it’s OK.” Checked the vent and it’s OK? Checked the vent and it’s OK? Well, just what in the hell does “OK” mean? What criteria are you using to check the vent? Do you even know what to look for? (Hint: the answer to all the above is “I didn’t know but now I do after reading your inspiring and illuminating Appliantology article on the subject, oh wise Samurai.”)

Ok then.

grasshoppers meditating with the master and visualizing short, aluminum dryer vents

Mailbag: Winterizing a Dishwasher

cedarsyrup wrote:

I have a dishwasher (whirlpool) in a summer camp. Do I need to do anything to protect it from freezing?

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Excellent question, and the short answer is an emphatic “oui, oui!”

Two methods are commonly used to winterize wet appliances: the dry method and the wet method. Briefly, the dry method involves draining every last bit of water from the appliances using compressed air and requires more technical expertise. In the wet method, you run a nontoxic, potable antifreeze (propylene glycol or “the pink stuff”) through the working parts of the appliance. For home appliances in most parts of the sub-arctic northern latitudes, including my beloved home state of New Hampshire, the wet method provides adequate protection (and it’s a whole lot less hassle). So, that’s what I’ll describe.

The first step for winterizing your dishwasher (and generally all wet appliances) is to make sure that the dishwasher is as empty of water as it can get after a normal wash cycle. If residual water remains in the basin, sop it up with a sponge. Then, turn off the household water supply, open every single faucet in the house and leave them that way. Pour about half a gallon of PINK antifreeze–not the green or blue stuff, just the pink stuff–into the basin of the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher so it pumps the antifreeze around for a few seconds and then turn it off. You’re done.

Have a good winter. See you next summer!