Monthly Archives: September 2004

Appliance Repair Revelation: Installing an Icemaker Water Supply Line

There are as many different ways of installing an icemaker water supply line as there are people doing it. Some are good, most are marginal or just plain wrong. Here’s a handy list of reminders on the correct way to install a water supply line from the source to the water inlet valve on the refrigerator:

  1. ice maker water line installation kit--come git you oneYou’ll find all kinds of el cheapo plastic tubing kits out there in the hardware sections of Wal-Mart or wherever but 1/4″ copper tubing is the gold standard.
  2. Connect the water line to a frequently used cold water line so you’re sure to use only fresh water to make your ice cubes.
  3. If you have a choice between a vertical or a horizontal water line to tie into, always pick the vertical line.
  4. Use a horizontal line if and only if a vertical line is not accessible.
  5. On horizontal water lines make your connection on the top or sides of the pipe, never on the bottom. If you install the saddle tee valve on the bottom of the pipe, you’re pretty much guaranteeing a future plumbing job because that valve will get crudded up with scale, rust, whatever. Additionally, the accumulated crud in the saddle tee valve will restrict water flow and pressure causing other problems like frozen fill tubes. This picture shows you how to properly install the valve:
    a properly installed, drill-type saddle tee valve for an icemaker water supply line
  6. The self-piercing valves included in many kits are trouble waiting to happen. Always use a drill-type saddle-tee valve when connecting to the water supply line–avoid the self-piercing saddle valves.
  7. Be sure to leave enough coils of copper tubing behind the refrigerator so that you can roll the refrigerator out from the wall when you you need to work back there.
  8. If you’re installing a new icemaker in your fridge, these how-to pages will help: Page 1 and Page 2.

You can learn more about your icemaker and order parts here.

Mailbag: GE Profile Oven with Error Codes

Kazantzakis wrote:

Read the mailbag about error code F7 on GE profile oven. My board on JTP56COD1CC has gone crazy with spurious messages and numbers. Replaced the board.(rip off cost) Worked fine for a couple of weeks and now the same problem. GE has a problem which is now my problem. From Kyoto Meditation Center of Texas.

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Not sure which mailbag post you read, but if you had read this one, you must have glossed over my admonition in the last paragraph:

It’s important that you don’t skimp the disconnect test because there’s a big difference in price between the ERC and touch pad. So, you want to be right on this one…

I can tell you that in my vast and awesome experience, the problem almost always turns out to be the keypad, not the electronic control board. However, I never, EVER skimp on doing the 24-hour disconnect test that I so eloquently explain in my illuminating post. To do so would be in violation of the Samurai’s Cardinal Law of Appliance Repair: Thou shalt not replace a part unless you have proof that the part is bad.

Many times, while on a service call, I’ll quote the repair price to the customer after I’ve diagnosed the problem and the customer will ask, “How much is the part?” Yanno, any imbecile with a credit card can buy a part, but it takes a highly-trained imbecile to know which part to change and how to install it correctly. How much is that worth? Meditate on that.

To learn more about your range/stove/oven, or to order parts, click here.

The Last Kosher Samurai

Once upon a time a powerful Emperor of the Rising Sun
advertised for a new Chief Samurai. After a year, only three
applied for the job: a Japanese, a Chinese, and a Jewish Samurai.

“Demonstrate your skills!” commanded the Emperor.

The Japanese samurai stepped forward, opened a tiny box
and released a fly. He drew his samurai sword and

*Swish!*

the fly fell to the floor, neatly divided in two!

“What a feat!” said the Emperor. “Number Two Samurai,
show me what you do.”

The Chinese samurai smiled confidently, stepped forward
and opened a tiny box, releasing a fly. He drew his samurai
sword and
* Swish! *
* Swish! *
The fly fell to the floor neatly quartered.

“Excellent!” nodded the Emperor. “How are you going to top
that, Number Three Samurai?”

Number Three Samurai, Obi-wan Cohen, stepped forward,
opened a tiny box releasing one fly, drew his samurai sword
and
*Swoooooosh!*
flourished his sword so mightily that a gust of wind blew
through the room.

But the fly was still buzzing around!

In disappointment, the Emperor said, “What kind of skill is
that? The fly isn’t even dead.”

“Dead, schmed,” replied the Jewish Samurai. “Dead is easy. Circumcision: now THAT takes skill!”

Stress Management Technique

Just in case you’ve had a rough day, here is a step-by-step stress
management technique recommended in the latest psychological texts. After a rough day of appliance service calls, this is one of the Samurai’s favorite stress-management exercises.

1] Picture yourself near a stream.

2] Birds are chirping softly in the cool mountain air.

3] No one but you knows your secret place. No one.

4] You are in total seclusion from that hectic place called “the
world”.

5] The water in the stream is crystal clear.

6] You can easily make out the face of the person you’re holding
underwater.

7] See! You’re smiling already!

What a relief, huh?

Appliance Repair Revelation: Troubleshooting a Gas Oven That Won’t Fire Up

If you have a gas oven that’s not firing, don’t be bonehead and automatically assume the valve is bad (hint: it’s usually not). What else could it be? Ah, Grasshoppah, read and learn.

Gas Oven Service Sheet--click for larger viewYou may even see the orange “glow plug” (called a hot surface ignitor) glowing orange and so assume that it’s OK. But you would probably be wrong. Many $$ wrong. You gotsta measure the current drawn by the ignitor before you can say it’s OK or not. The gas valve has a bi-metal that snaps open when a certain amount of current flows through it to heat it up. The ignitor is wired in series with the gas valve. As the ignitor ages, its resistance increases to the point where not enough current is flowing to the gas valve bimetal to open it up. Consequently, the gas valve never opens up. BTW, a common symptom of the early stages of this problem is erratic temperature control in the oven due to delayed firing of the bake burner while cooking. This service sheet illustrates the main players in the ignition system and how to test them.

Gas Range Components--click for larger viewHere’s another picture that shows the main components in a gas oven. The big thing to notice is the difference in current draw between the round and flat ignitors. Look, there’s just no substitute for measuring the current draw–this is the gold standard for diagnosing gas oven ignition problems. I’ll let you in a little secret, though: if the ignitor glows but the oven takes longer than three minutes to fire up then, 97.98745987% of the time, the problem is a bad ignitor. Here’s another tip: if you buy the ignitor through this parts link and that doesn’t fix it, you can return the ignitor for a refund. Who else but the Samurai will make you a deal like that?

I’ve talked to lots of shotgun parts-changers about this problem. These are guys who can’t be bothered with the theory of operation. Besides, they already know everything anyway, so they just shoot from the hip and end up replacing a bunch of parts that were still good. They blew beaucoup bucks on a new valve and just can’t understand why the oven still won’t fire up. But now, you know why.

To learn more about your range/stove/oven, or to order parts, click here.

Appliance Repair Revelation: Troubleshooting Gas Stove Burner Ignition Problems

Did you know that 90% of the spark modules in gas ranges and cooktops that are replaced are perfectly good? A statistic like that tells me that this topic is screaming for a revelation from the master. So, my incredulous grasshopper, remove your thumb from your dorsal orifice and come with me now on a journey through gas stove spark ignition systems and how to fix ’em.

picture of a typical gas range spark module--click for larger viewHere’s a typical spark module. The N terminal on the input side must be wired directly to line neutral. The L terminal is the 120v supply which is supplied to the module through any one of surface switches. The output terminals each connect to two burner ignitors; so the module shown here is designed to handle four surface burners–the most common configuration. Modules came in all different sizes and configurations, depending on the range.

typical gas stove electric ignition wiring diagramNow, here’s what’s supposed to happen–refer to the wiring diagram show here and sing along. You turn on one of the surface switches to fire up a burner. When you turn the switch to the “ignite” position, you complete the circuit, through the switch, to the module. This fires up the coils to produce a 15,000 VDC spark to the burners. The path this high voltage spark takes is through the ignitor wires to the ignitor (the ceramic electrode thingy up at the burner) where the spark jumps to the burner base. The voltage then passes through the burner to the grounding strap, through the chassis and then to the grounding strap of its partner burner (remember, each output from the module is tied to two burners), to its burner base and then jumps from the burner base to the ignitor (that’s right from the base to the ignitor), passing back through the ignitor wire, to the coil, thus completing the spark circuit. The principle behind this is that the spark module must sense the electrical pulse. If it doesn’t, well, your stove won’t fire up right and that’s why you’re reading this illuminating and inspiring repair revelation.

When you’re having trouble getting your stove burners to ignite, usually it takes the form of one of the three types of problems:

  • You hear clicking but there’s no ignition.
  • You hear clicking but it’s erratic.
  • You don’t have ignition and you don’t even hear clicking.

Let’s take ’em one at a time and list the things you need to look at.

You hear clicking but there’s no ignition.

First thing to do in this case are the following observation checks which do not require any tools, instruments, or taking anything apart.

  1. Check the spark color. A healthy ignition system will produce crisp blue sparks. A weak ignition system, on the other hand, will produce light blue, almost white sparks. The following two checks can be made by switching the suspected burner with a known operating burner:
    • Ignite the burner with a match to verify proper gas supply and air shutter adjustment. Make sure the flame is a clean blue flame, not yellow and sooty.
    • The gap between the ignitor and the burner base is too large. It should be about the thickness of two dimes.
    • Gookus is caked on the ignitor or burner base. Clean the burner caps, heads, flame spreaders, ignitors…that whole area. HINT: do not use stuff like Comet because you’ll gunk everything up big time. Warm water and Basic-H are a good choice.

    These following two checks are done by physical inspection “under the hood”:

    • Loose wiring connections at the ignitor, the grounding strap, or spark module.
    • Broken or pinched ignitor wire between the burner and module.
  2. Check the spark frequency. Say what? A healthy spark system will crank out three to five sparks per second. If yours is a lot slower than this, then the prime suspect is reverse polarity at the 120vac outlet the range is plugged into. The picture below shows a 120vac outlet with the proper polarity.

You hear clicking but it’s erratic.

Gas Stove Spark Ignition Troubleshooting Flowchart--click for larger viewThis is usually a bad spark module. But first, verify that the outlet polarity is correct before you change the module. This flow chart gives you further guidance on troubleshooting erratic spark problems.

You don’t have ignition and you don’t even hear clicking.

First, verify that the spark module is getting the 120v on terminal L when you turn on any one of the surface switches. If it is, and still no spark, that module is DOA, replace it– Part Number: spark module

Well, there it is, the web’s most definitive gas stove electric ignition troubleshooting guide. If this was helpful to you, your donations to The United Samurai Beer Fund are much appreciated. Cheers!

To learn more about your range/stove/oven, or to order parts, click here.

Appliance Wisdom from On High

Samurai Appliance Repair Man wants you to know that even though he spends as much time in the White Mountains as Mrs. Samurai will permit, he’s always thinking of his devoted grasshoppers. Why, here he is at the summit of Mt. Tom on his cell phone, counselling a grasshopper on the fine art of repairing a Scrotum Scrubber 2000.

So, if you need help getting started fixing your appliance or finding information here at the colossus of appliance repair help, the Samurai is at your beck and call on the Toll-free Appliance Repair Hotline.

Samurai Appliance Repair Man at your beck and call.
Samurai Appliance Repair Man
A beacon of hope in your time of appliance despair.

Appliantopia: The Prophecy of the Man-Machine

CharlieChan wrote:

Man, do I owe you a six-pack!!!!Your web site saved me at least $75.00. I had a venting problem(you were right) and when disconnected, the dryer worked fine. After about 30 mins of swearing and shortening the flex vent,IT STILL DIDN’T WORK!!!!!!!!!!
and shut off after 30 secs. Anyways, I did more investigating and found that the exterior stucco idiots had stuccoed the vent door closed and once this was chiseled out, the dryer is working fine.
Thanks for giving me a place to start troubleshooting from. Let your readers know that when purchasing a new home, to make sure the trap door is working on the vent.

Thanks Samurai Master

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The above message was sent when you were offline, via your LivePerson site.

Message sent from IP: 198.81.26.104

Ah, grasshopper, although the Samurai is honored by your accolades, it is you who deserves the laurel of victory. It is your own persistence that ultimately led to the discovery of the problem with your dryer vent. I merely provided you with a weapon of knowledge, but it was you who applied this knowledge and thus converted it into true appliance wisdom. I have helped other grasshoppers who battled dryer venting demons in their new house. If all my grasshoppers would evince the same fighting spirit as you have, we could eradicate appliance disease from the face of the earth and usher in the era of total union of man and appliance foretold in the Appliantopia Prophecy.

Appliance Repair Revelation: Is Your Washer Belt-Drive or Direct-Drive?

appliance tip of the day archiveIf you have a Whirlpool or Kenmore washer and post a question about it in The Appliantology Group or call me on the Toll-free Appliance Repair Hotline about a problem with it, the first thing I’m going want to know is whether it’s a belt-drive or direct-drive machine. You don’t have to tear it apart to find out, nor do you need a degree in mechanical engineering. You just need to feast your keen Vulcan squinties on these pictures below and compare with your washer. Hare Krishna!


Belt-Drive Washer

Direct-Drive Washer

To learn more about your washer or to order parts,
click here
.

grasshoppers sitting with the master, wearing freshly washed robes free of unsightly link.

Appliance Repair Revelation: Wiping Out Washer Lint

appliance tip of the day archiveAhh, yes, the infamous ‘residue’ problem. Before you go gettin’ your panties in a wad, ready to sue the manufacturer of your washer, do these two tests to rule out mechanical problems:


  1. Slow Drain Test
    Fill washer to the maximum level then advance timer to spin. Time for 90 seconds. If all the water isn’t pumped out, then there’s a restriction in the drain system. If all the dirty water doesn’t drain outta da tub, that gookus will stay on your clothes, dontcha know?
  2. Water Pressure Test
    Make sure you’ve got a strong stream of water for both cold and hot. Especially cold because rinse is done with cold. No cold water == no rinse == gookus on clothes. If no cold water, the valve is probably plugged by gookus in the inlet screen. And, Hoss, don’t go doin’ the cute plumbers’s trick and remove the inlet screen–replace the valve!

Ok, so you did those tests and now your saying, "I’m still getting gookus on my clothes, Mr. Smarty-pants Samurai Guy. Now what?" Hey, you’re not happy with the free information you get from the Samurai? Ask for a refund. Ver goot, we shall proceed.

Other common usage things to check:

  1. Detergent formulation
    Make sure you’re using a high quality detergent that contains both sodium carbonate and aluminosilicates. They’ll be listed on the ingredient list.
  2. Amount of detergent
    The detergent amounts given on the usage label of the detergent box are for average water hardness (4-9 gpg). If your water is harder than average, or if your clothes are really dirty, you’ll need to use slightly more detergent than what’s recommended on the box. If you have really hard water, you may need to add a packaged water conditioner to each load, such as Calgon® or Spring Rain®.

    If your water is softer than normal, you’ll create too many suds, which will retain gookus. In this case, you’d use slightly less detergent than recommended on the box.

    Recommended Reading: The Hard Facts About Hard Water

  3. Cold water washing
    If you wash clothes in cold water only, the cold water should be in the range of 65-75F. If it’s too cold for your hands to comfortably be in the water, it’s too cold to activate the detergent.
  4. Overloading
    After the washer is loaded with clothes and then filled with water, there needs to be enough head room in the tub for the clothes to swish around in. A properly loaded washer has clothes loosely placed in the tub up to the top row of holes.
  5. Rinse-added fabric softener
    Some fabric softeners and detergents have a chemical reaction that can create white deposits (also called ‘gookus’) on the clothes. Try switching brands of fabric softeners or detergents or not using fabric softener at all for a couple of loads.

Well, there it is, more wisdom from On High.

To learn more about your washer or to order parts,
click here
.

grasshoppers sitting with the master, wearing freshly washed robes free of unsightly link.

Online Refrigerator Repair Manual

Refrigerator Diagnostic & Repair Guide
Problem Possible Causes
The fridge compartment is warm, but the freezer seems ok.
Freezer keeps frosting up real fast.
  • Well, the defrosting system is crapped out. Check defrost timer, defrost heater, and defrost thermostat to locate faulty component. Read more about diagnosing defrost system failures.
  • A fried evaporator fan motor can cause this problem, too. Usually accompanied by a warming-up beer compartment.
The whole fridge just isn’t as cold as it should be or it’s warming up.
  • It ain’t plugged in…duh!
  • No voltage at the outlet. Go ahead and check the simple things first. And make sure that circuit breaker ain’t tripped.
  • Load of crap on the condenser coil. Pull the bottom grill off and get down on your hands and knees to look. And, Hoss, use a flashlight and a condenser brush if you need to clean the condenser.
  • The condenser fan motor (the one underneath) is fried. If it’s not running, replace it even if it starts running when you start it off by hand. Oh, you may think you fixed it if you get it started again but, believe me, it’ll crap out on you again real soon.
  • You should still check the stuff listed in the previous problem ’cause you might be in the early stages of defrost system failure and it just hasn’t gotten that bad…YET.
  • The cold control is open (that’s "thermostat" for those of you in Palm Beach). I like to jumper out the two wires on the cold control contacts. I don’t know what you like to do but you’re liable to get your gluteous flabeous shocked if you’re not careful doing this.
  • The compressor ain’t starting. This is the dreaded "hummm…CLICK" sometimes heard when a compressor can’t start. There are several things to check if this is the case:
  • The compressor start relay could be fried. The newer solid state relays are especially bad for this.
  • One of the compressor motor windings is opened up. How do we check open circuits, boys and girls? That’s right, we use our ohm meter. These should measure on the order of single digit ohms. The start winding should have slightly higher resistance than the run winding.
  • Current leakage from compressor motor winding to ground. You need to use a special instrument called a megohmmeter.
  • Procedure for checking the compressor.
  • You sprang a freon leak or you got an iceplug in the cap tube. Go shopping.
  • The light could be staying on in the compartment. You’ll need to check and replace that light switch.
  • Someone (kids usually) left the door ajar. "Oh no, I never do that." Yeah right, Bubba, I’ve heard it all before.
  • Fridge is leaking water all over the place.
    • The defrost drain opening or drain hose is plugged up with ice or crud. If the drip pan is bone dry, it’s a sure sign that the drain opening or drain hose is clogged. Trace the drain hose back to see where it pick up the condensate in the refrigerator cabinet. Remove whatever pieces you need to to clean that sucker out.
    • On some models, you may need to rig up a drain heater.
    • Door gaskets are torn or not making good contact with the cabinet. No? Well then where’s all that water coming from, Einstein? It can only come from the humidity in the outside air–your fridge can’t make water, dontcha know.
    [RV or Gas Refrigerator Only]
    I opened the door and the smell of cat piss ’bout made me hurl that mess o’ Spam and grits I just ate!
    • The cooling unit’s rotten, Homer. Time to either buy a new cooling unit or have yours rebuilt. Word up: the cooling unit is 90% of the cost of your fridge, so plan out shelling out some serious jack if you buy a new cooling unit. Rebuilt means the cooling unit has been:
    • completely removed from the fridge cabinet,
    • stripped of urethane and had the boiler pack removed,
    • completely sandblasted,
    • repaired and rust-proofed/repainted,
    • reinstalled into the cabinet with fresh urethane.
    [RV or Gas Refrigerator Only]
    It cools fine on electric but doesn’t get all that cold on gas.
    • Fouled or dirty gas burner. You should remove the brass orifice plug and clean it out with alcohol and compressed air. Brush off any crud on the burner face, too.

    [RV or Gas Refrigerator Only]
    Works on gas but not electric.
    • Burnt out heating element.
    • Corroded wire terminal connection.
    • Check for 120v AC or 12 v DC, depending on whether yours is a two-way or three-way fridge.

    [RV or Gas Refrigerator Only]
    Doesn’t get cold on gas or electric.
    • Listen for a percolating sound in the boiler pack. If you hear it, your cooling unit replacement nightmare has begun.
    • Bad thermostat. Try jumping it out and see if the fridge will fire up.

    Order Parts for Your Refrigerator

    Appliance Repair Revelation: Zen and the Art of Refrigerator Door Gasket Replacement

    appliance tip of the day archiveAhh, Grasshopper, you are about to embark on the artistic side of appliance repair. There’s more to changing a fridge door gasket than just turning a few screws…not much more, but enough so that if you’re not aware of them, you’ll do a crappy job. Finesse, man, finesse, that’s the name o’ dis game.


    When you get the new gasket, it’ll come in a box, all twisted up with wrinkles and puckers. If you were to just install the gasket as it is right outta the box, you’d have more gaps in the final gasket seal than Clinton’s memory during the Lewinsky deposition. A puckered or wrinkled door gasket makes a cruddy seal with the refrigerator cabinet and will cause lots of condensate and temperature control problems inside your fridge. Stick that sucker in the dryer on medium heat for about 10 minutes. That’ll give you enough time to do some prep work on the fridge door.

    First thing you gotta do is take all the food off the door shelves. If’n you don’t, you’ll probably have a hard time making door square up right with the cabinet when you’re all done.

    Next, loosen all them billion and a half retaining screws all around the perimeter of the door. Your gasket may have a metal strip retainer as shown here or it may be the non-retainer style gasket and just tuck behind the inner door liner. Either way, you’re gonna have to loosen all those ¼” screws. One of those Versapak screw drivers with a long ¼” nutdriver attachment takes away alot of the drudgery here. Don’t take the screws out all the way, just back ’em out about 2 full turns. Then pull the old gasket out all the way around.

    By the time you finish pulling the fool thing apart, your new gasket should be nice and warm and soft from its ride in the dryer. Wash your hands at this point so you don’t get gookus from the old gasket on your new one. Take the new gasket outta the dryer and untwist it.

    Lay the new gasket up around the door like it’s supposed to go on and start at a corner working the lip into the retaining bracket. On some fridges, there are no retaining brackets, they just use the whole plastic shelf piece to hold the gasket in. Either way, same idea. Get the gasket in all the way around and situated like it’s supposed to be before you tighten any of the retaining screws.

    Now, here’s the finesse part. Some of these doors get really floppy when all the retaining are loosened. Start tightening the new gasket from the top working down to the bottom of the door. Periodically, close the door against the cabinet to make sure it ain’t warped, like what’s shown here. If it does seem to be warping on you, just hold the bottom half with your leg and warp it back into place.

    On some older refrigerators, the original gaskets are no longer made and you have to buy a universal gasket kit for the door. These kits will have four sections each with welded corners and you cut the straight sections to fit the dimensions of your door. Just keep one simple rule in mind: all corners have to have welded corners–you can’t just take a straight section and bend it around the corner.

    Once you got it looking right, go ahead and tighten the retaining screws. I like to put a little silicone lube along the surface of the gasket that’s next to the door hinge so it don’t squeak s’damn much.


    To learn more about refrigerators or to order parts, click here.

    grasshoppers obtaining satori on refrigerator door gasket replacement