Monthly Archives: February 2005

Banishing the Beeping Bosch

For most Bosch’s, this sequence will turn off the incessant end-of-cycle signal. If it doesn’t work on yours, consult the tech sheet in your dishwasher (co-located with the schematic):

  • Open door, push and hold Delicate/Econo button, then turn the dishwasher on while holding Delicate/Econo button.
  • Release Delicate/Econo button.
  • If module beeps, then end of cycle tone is on. Press Delicate/Econo button to disable tone.
  • If module doesn’t beep after button is pressed, then tone is disabled.
  • Turn off dishwasher to save selection.

“Is There a Washer and Dryer Worth Buying?”

rosehillworks wrote:

I am thinking about buying a new washer and dryer instead of repairing my kenmore frontloader set. Is there a brand worth buying that will last awhile before dying. I am a family of six and really need a dependable washer and dryer set.

Thanks,
Helen

(Posted in the Appliantology Group repair forum)

A good question and one I get asked a lot during service calls. It’s also hard to find unbiased information on this topic. Like Terry said, forget about Consumer Reports— they are either a scam organization or just plain stupid, I haven’t figured out which. Here, I’ll talk about the cheap top loaders that everyone likes to buy; in a subsequent post, I’ll talk about two of the best washers on the market today: the Staber and the Whirlpool Duet.

First off, you have to accept that the days of getting ~15 trouble-free years of service from a new appliance are long gone. On average, expect to do repairs every two to four years, no matter which brand you buy. What varies among the brands is the frequency and expense of the repairs. And, no, it’s not an evil plot by the manufacturers. Think about it: you can buy a new washer, dryer, refrigerator, whatever, for about the same number of dollars that you would have paid 15 years ago. Meanwhile, during that period, inflation has increased (so the dollar buys less), manufacturer’s costs have increased (materials, labor, insurance, worker’s comp., etc.), yet, magically, you can still buy that appliance for the same number of Federal Reserve Notes! How is this possible?

Because it’s not the same quality appliance that you would have purchased 15 years ago. “Aha! So they deliberately build them flimsier so they’ll fail more!” Nah, nothing nearly so exotic. The real story is a mundane matter of the manufacturers having to build appliances that people will buy, that people can afford to buy. If you had the opportunity to buy an appliance of the same quality and workmanship that you could have gotten 15 years ago with today’s dollars, you’d pay at least four to five times as much for that appliance.

Ok then. So the good news is that you can buy a new appliance for the same number of Federal Reserve Notes as it would have cost you 15 years ago. The bad news is that there’s a hidden cost of ownership in that you’ll be doing repairs every two to four years. But then, that’s why God gave us Fixitnow.com and the Appliantology Group!

Now, on to brands. In general, Whirlpool brands seem to provide the best overall value, meaning the best optimization of price and reliability. This is not to say they’re trouble-free, no-siree-Bob, not by a long-shot. You’ll still be doing repairs on ’em about every two to four years. But, in general, the repairs will be comparatively minor. For example, after three years, you may need to replace the drive coupler or the lid switch on a Whirlpool direct-drive top-loading washer– both of these are simple repairs that rate at most two mugs on the SUDS-o-meter. On the other hand, in the same three year period, you could be replacing the transmission or some other major drive component in a Maytag or GE top-loading washer. Even if such a repair is covered by warranty, you have to deal with the whole fuss of getting warranty service which, in some areas, could take weeks.

I’ve also found that, as a company, Whirlpool is very easy to deal with. They tend to go the extra mile to take care of the customer. They make warranty parts procurement easy, even for the consumer. And they make technical information readily available, a particularly enlightened paradigm when other manufacturers seem to go out of their way to make it difficult for independent servicers to obtain technical service information on their products. GE is especially bad in this regard. Speaking of GE…

Avoid GE appliances and all GE brands. They charge a premium for their products yet their repair frequency is as much or more than other brands. And the repair will cost you more because GE parts can cost two to three times more than comparable parts for other brands; it’s not like they’re better parts, either– GE just charges more for ’em. Why? ‘Cuz they can. Appliance techs often joke that GE stands for Greedy Electric. But, sadly, the real joke is on the schlumps who buy GE appliances.

Another sad joke is Maytag. This once-venerable maker of the standard-bearer of appliance reliability has taken a page from the GE playbook: make cheap junk and sell the hell out of ’em. The recent class-action settlement for the Neptune washer is one visible example. The only Maytag-brand appliances that I like anymore are the Maytag-branded dryer and the Maytag- or Magic Chef-branded gas ranges. Avoid the highly over-rated Jenn-Air brand– it’s just overpriced junk.

Frigidaire (often pronounced Frigg-i-daire by technicians working on their equipment) makes about the same quality product it always has: mediocre. If someone held a gun to my head and made me pick from either GE, Maytag, or Friggidaire, I suppose I’d choke down my bile and take the Friggidaire. The worst part about the Friggidaire is working on them. Friggs require a high degree of manual dexterity for some repairs, especially on their washing machines. These machines seem like they were designed to be worked on by extra-terrestrial technicians who have a third arm sprouting out of their chest. And from the customer’s standpoint, Frigidaire is a real pain in the pooper to deal with– unlike Whirlpool, they won’t send out needed warranty parts directly to a consumer to make their own arrangements for the repair.

Then lots of people ask, “Ok, well, what about Kenmore? Is that a good brand?” Well, who makes Kenmore? If you bothered to click that link, you’d have seen that everyone makes Kenmore… except Kenmore. Y’see, the only thing Kenmore makes is money. There ain’t no Kenmore factory in Malaysia or anywhere else. In the old days, all Kenmore appliances were made by Whirlpool exclusively. But not so any longer. So, if you buy a Kenmore, you don’t really know what you’re getting. The other problem with Kenmore is that you’re stuck dealing with Sears to resolve warranty issues since Kenmore takes over the product warranty from the manufacturer. Running a do-it-yourself appliance repair website, I hear all kinda sordid stories about people getting ripped-off or jerked-around. This one about a Kenmore refrigerator in Florida has got to be one of the all-time classics.

Recommended Reading:

Come See the Samurai

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.

Let the Samurai Help you Fix It Yourself!

Everyday, Samurai Appliance Repair Man helps thousands of people fix their own appliances. Why, here’s a recent testimonial from a satisfied do-it-yourselfer:

How's it hangin', Hoss? "When my Scrotum Scrubber 2000® broke, I went into a pure, blind panic. The manufacturer, Scrotilia Corporation, was going to charge me $115 for the repair with a turn-around time of more than four weeks! In desperation, I searched the web and found Samurai Appliance Repair Man and, boy, am I ever glad I did! The Samurai helped me diagnose the problem and figure out what part I needed for my Scrotum Scrubber®. I bought the part through an online vendor and was happily scrubbing away in just a few days. Domo arigato, Samurai-san!"

What can the Samurai help you fix today?

Government Schools: The Failed Experiment

There has been a heated debate for some time now in our area (New London, New Hampshire) over what to do about an aging, over-crowded middle school for our school district. Many are pushing hard for a large, expensive, central facility in the center of the district; others want two smaller schools at either end. Here is my contribution to the debate, submitted as a letter to our local newspaper. I imagine it was unappreciated by most, but this is an issue that needs to be discussed in every town.

— Mrs. Samurai

The Middle School issue is heating up once more! But I think there is an important aspect missing in the debate. Before we potentially commit a huge amount of financial resources to a building, we should step back and look at the larger issue of public schooling – because there is a small but growing debate about its effectiveness that should influence the decision we as a community make now.

There is overwhelming evidence that public schooling has not been a successful experiment and should be dramatically altered, if not phased out entirely. I feel a little like the kid who claimed the emperor had no clothes in saying that because it is such an accepted institution in our country. But did you know that until the mid-1800’s there was no compulsory schooling and yet evidence shows that the non-slave population in that time was nearly completely literate – including a large number of indentured servants? However, since compulsory government schooling began, literacy has steadily declined. In fact, over the span of the 20th century, functional illiteracy (unable to read or write a simple message) doubled to around 20%. No doubt you’ve all heard other grim statistics, and no matter how much more money or brand-new facilities we throw at the problem, it’s only getting worse.

So, our country had an early educational system which basically centered around family choice and free-market schools. You may argue that if things were so great, why did public schools even get started? The short answer is that by the mid-1800’s a lot of powerful people were getting nervous about the possibility of lower-class uprisings (“Red Scares”) as well as the large influx of immigrants with their strange customs and religions (such as Catholicism!). What better way to exert influence over people than for the government to be in charge of education? Before you think I’m some kind of conspiracy nut, you should know that in Massachusetts, where this all began, the idea of compulsory government education was so abhorrent to most citizens, so against the ideals of our free society, that there was resistance from about 80% of the population and even armed uprisings in some communities. It took a few decades before the militias finally forced the last of the families to comply.

Alas, now we take it as a given that the government will have a complete monopoly on the education of our young people. This in a country where almost any other product or service is subject to the forces of the free market. We can go to the store and choose from a variety of good-quality and reasonably priced ball-point pens, but when it comes to the education of our children we are forced to pay more and more for schools that are increasingly failing to produce well-rounded and well-educated children. Even though we are “free” to homeschool or send our kids to private school, our choices are pretty limited and our taxes are still going to the government schools.

I don’t have room here to really address another problem with institutional schooling – the harmful effects of keeping children segregated with their own peers and a handful of adults for such a huge chunk of their childhood. Of course, schools aren’t the only thing wrong with our children’s environment. For various reasons there has been a gradual decline in the life of the family and community, especially due to the influence of television and other electronic media. But whether schools are a cause or a symptom, we will never be able to restore some of what’s been lost without dramatically changing the way we view education and acknowledge the importance of having children spend less time in an institutional setting and more time in the community and with family.

So how does all of this relate to our current debate? This is a huge issue, and even if the majority of citizens agreed with my position, how we could get from where we are now to a free-market system of education is obviously beyond the scope of this letter. My point is that if a financial commitment is made now to a large central facility, then for generations to come the future of schools in this area will not be up for debate. Even if, as I suspect, people increasingly question the method of institutional schooling we’ve been experimenting with, we would be stuck – too many resources would be tied up in that building to try a system that offers more freedom and choices to the families in our communities.

Spiffy New Appliance Parts Lookup Tools

Finding those appliance parts you need just got a whole lot easier, Budrow. Now, you can find the part you need right here, right now using this spiffy new form:

Please
choose appliance type, brand and enter the model number:
Appliance
brand:
Appliance
type:
Model
number:




Go ahead, try it out with your own appliance brand and model number. You won’t break nothin'; in fact, you’ll quickly find that part you need to fix something!

Already have the part number and just need to order the ding-dang part taco-pronto? We-l-l-l, we gotcha covered there, too, Hoss. Check this bad boy out:

Please
enter the manufacturer number:





Oh yeah, it’s slick and it’s quick. Take it for a test drive. Let’s suppose you need a new ignitor for your gas range and you happen to know the part number is 12400035 (this is the part number for the Maytag ignitor kit, which works great in most ovens, regardless of brand). Well, go ahead and enter in that part number, 12400035, above and, walla!, there it be, bigger n’ life. It works with any part number– I haven’t been able to stump it yet!

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be placing these spiffy new parts look-up tools into strategic spots throughout the website to make it so convenient to buy parts that hopefully we’ll increase parts sales here at Fixitnow.com.

People often ask me, “Oh, thrice-blessed Samurai, how can you offer such an incredible website with all this free repair help?” The answer is simple: parts sales. The thing that made me realize I need to make parts ordering easier and more obvious is because lots of times I’ll be helping someone in online chat figger out what’s wrong with their appliance and they ax me, “Ok, do you know where I can buy the part?” Meanwhile, there’s a big ol’ “Buy Appliance Parts Here!” link staring ’em right in their eyes!

I never understood how people could use a reading-intensive medium like the internet and yet they don’t read. I dunno, too many words or something. Why can’t Johnny read? ‘Cuz Johnny went to gubmint schools. Y’see, I know I’m safe in saying that some of my users are functionally illiterate because I know that most of ’em won’t even bother reading this anyway. They’ve long ago skimmed on to the next purdy picture, or called me on the toll-free hotline to find the answer that was right in front of ’em on the very page they had open in their browser… but didn’t bother reading it. One day, websites will all be equipped with Peter Jennings talking heads and then we won’t have to be bothered reading a bunch o’ gobbledy-gook no mo’.

Come git me, Mother, I’m through.

Appliantology Newsletter for January 2005

Appliance Wisdom

Appliance Repair Revelation, The Secrets of Household Electricity… REVEALED!

Samurai Appliance Repair Apprenticeship Training

Appliantology 3000� Microchip Implant Now Available

Mailbag: Whirlpool/Kenmore Direct Drive Washer Suspension Springs

Mailbag: Whirlpool/Kenmore Calypso CE Error

Mailbag: Making Simple Repairs Complicated


Mailbag: Removing Mineral Deposits from a Dishwasher

Whirlpool Taking Over Fisher & Paykel?

Kitty in the Microwave

New Member Settings for the Appliantology Group

Appliantology Repair Forum: Glitch or Hack?

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Government Program that Saved Us from the Jungle

New and Improved Sounds at Fixitnow.com

The Samurai Gets Stabbed in the Back

Louie and the Samurai Reproductive Units

Post Back Surgery Update

Obituary: Common Sense. Died 24/7/1960 in America’s Heart, USA

Appliantology Newsletter for December 2004