Monthly Archives: April 2005

Mailbag: GE Dishwashers Flooding

Bernard wrote:

Over the past year, at least 3 GE Model ZBD4800 dishwashers in our condo complex failed to cycle properly and stuck on water. Water flowed from the dishwasher onto the floor and from there down the inside of walls to apartments underneath. We seldom use our dishwasher and after 5 months of non-use the timer control on our own dishwasher stuck on wash (water re-cycling inside the chamber). What are your thoughts on cause? preventive maintenance?




Message sent from IP:

I think this is happening because they’re cheap GE dishwashers. When these condos were built, the contractor installed the cheapest appliances he could get. This is always GE because GE has a contractor’s discount program. Let’s face it: the builder doesn’t give a rat’s hairy hind end about the quality of the appliance, he just wants to get the damn thing built and sold at a tidy profit. And anything that costs extra cuts into his profit.

Enter GE appliances.

So that’s what you’re dealing with: cheap GE junk. Oops! Saying GE and junk is redundant, pardon me for repeating myself.

The Samurai School of Appliantology

In case you’re wondering why I haven’t been posting much lately, it’s because I’ve been busy setting up the new dojo for the repair forum, also known as the Samurai School of Appliantology.

Until recently, the forum was hosted at MSN Groups. I was becoming increasingly disgusted with MSN’s crude forum features: no search for the forum, couldn’t edit your own posts, and couldn’t tell who was the last to reply in a thread. Consequently, many followup questions in a thread would go unanswered as they got pushed down the list by the avalanche of new questions.

I finally got so fed up with the crude forum features and glitches at MSN Groups that I sat down on my duff and did something about it. I installed the WoWBB software on my server and have been busy setting up the new school. The new forum has been online for just over a week and it already has critical mass.

Among some of the many nice features available at the new forum are:

  • As a registered user, you can edit your own posts.
  • You can send private messages to other members of the board.
  • You can keep track of the topics you are interested in, and receive e-mail notifications when someone posts to one of those topics.
  • You can receive daily e-mail digests of posts in forums you are interested in.
  • You can have avatars (small pictures to represent yourself on the board).

To take advantage of all the features of the new forum, you’ll need to register. But this process is much less intrusive and byzantine that the Microslop .NET crap. It’s a much more pleasant place in which to hold class for do-it-yourself appliance repair. Come on, check it out.

What’s All the Fuss About Power Quality?

If you’re repeatedly replacing electronic control boards in your appliances, you might be a victim of dirty power. Samurai’s 17th Law of Appliance Repair states that, “Raw power is dirty power.” Power comes to us on the power lines with surges, spikes, and swells and then we crap it up further with harmonic distortion from computers and other home office equipment like copiers. The whole issue of power quality will increasingly come to the forefront of everyone’s attention as we deal with an aging power infrastructure and the additional stress placed on it by the proliferation of home office equipment. You can read an excellent primer on power quality, it’s causes, identification, and mitigation, here: A Power Quality Primer.

Oven Thermostat Repair Lab Report

I got a great email from an engineer, Iceman, who successfully repaired the thermostat on his Jenn-air range. I was so impressed that he took the time to write up his lab report and send it to me that he has earned a permanent place in the Samurai Hall of Fame. This is great stuff! Here, now, for your grokking pleasure, are the Iceman’s pearls of wisdom on repairing oven thermostats:

Iceman wrote:

Konichiwa honorable Samurai Appliance Repairman.

Jennair Wall Oven: W136W-C
Thermostat: 04100575
AKA Maytag Thermostat 703080

Problem: BAKE and BROIL elements stop working

As I was seeking enlightenment in the “Diagnostic & Repair Guide: Ovens & Ranges” for the answer to that immortal question “The bake and/or broil element never gets hot” I was puzzled when I did not see the following possible solution: “The thermostat has failed”.

In reckless disregard of the master’s wisdom, this grasshopper jumped the bake contacts on the thermostat and the bake element changed to the color of the rising sun. Upon removing the thermostat for deeper inspection, all auxiliary contacts were confirmed to operate correctly. However the two primary sets of contacts (the ones operated by the capillary tube of form �Double Pole Single Throw�) (Perhaps BAKE and BROIL contacts?) remained in the off (open) position regardless of the thermostat dial position. By loosening the back of the thermostat thus increasing the clearance slightly between the capillary tube�s push rod and the spring loaded clicker switch, I was able to simulate normal operation (Clicker switch now opened or closed depending on thermostat dial position). I have two questions fearless one, which I humbly submit for your consideration and for the enlightenment of grasshoppers patient enough to read:

1) When a capillary tube based control fails why does it fail open?

I would expect if the fluid leaked out it would fail closed, since a decrease in fluid pressure would simulate a lower temperature resulting in a call for heat (=> closed primary contacts). However the failure mode was definitely that the push rod was longer than it was supposed to be, not shorter, which in this control at least, turns the main contacts off. Perhaps the failure mode is that when the fluid becomes contaminated with oxygen it expands irreversibly. I doubt it. The way it is, it fails safe, so that is obviously the design intent, I just don�t understand the failure mechanism. Perhaps the fluid is still intact and the failure mode is that it turned to jelly. Certainly my vice-grips could not persuade the push rod to reduce its length. Perhaps the push rod just seized. Perhaps it is a mystery not attainable by the untrained mind of a grasshopper�

2) Why is it not possible to obtain replacement capillary tubes and push rods as a single subassembly, or is it?

Surely this would be far less expensive than replacing the entire switch. I was able to remove my capillary tube/pushrod subassembly without damage, so presumably the reverse procedure could be performed just as well. The control was made by Robertshaw, but they do not appear to offer replacement capillary tubes. For that matter, my control is no longer offered for sale by them.

Warning, this procedure involves a high voltage safety hazard, work with one hand behind your back if oven breakers have been turned on (or even if they always were on). Better still, just assume they are turned on:

In any case, may I humbly suggest updating the “Diagnostic & Repair Guide: Ovens & Ranges” answers to “The bake and/or broil element never gets hot” to include �Check to see if your thermostat is hosed up by locating the primary BAKE Contacts, or primary BROIL contacts on the thermostat control and jumping them when the thermostat is in the on position (one pair at a time). If the respective element lights, you have a defective thermostat control. If both light (respectively) when they both did not previously, the defect is likely in the liquid bulb attached to the capillary tube or in the capillary tube itself (not repairable), otherwise the defect is in the primary contact surfaces, which a patient grasshopper can repair by cleaning with wet and dry paper and isopropyl alcohol. Be careful not to lose the tiny ball bearing behind the capillary push rod when you take the control apart (like another grasshopper who is now out $160 did) or your thermostat will never work again.

Arigato gozaimas for your pearls, honorable Samurai Appliance Repairman.


Domo arigato to you, Iceman!

Appliantology Newsletter for March 2005

Appliance Wisdom

Washing Machine Shootout: The Staber vs. Whirlpool Duet

Do Maytag Neptune Washers Still Suck?

Appliance Repair Revelation, Disassembling the Maytag Neptune Dryer

Appliance Repair Revelation, A Peek Inside the Whirlpool (and Kenmore) Duet Dryer

Fixite Do: The Ancient Martial Art of Appliance Repair

Field Notes: Frigidaire Dryer Front Drum Glide Replacement

Coughin’ Up More Cash for New Appliances

The Appliance Repair Hotline Assumes Room Temperature

Three Easy Steps to Total Washing Machine Flood Prevention

Appliance Repair Mania

Washing Machine Drain Pipe Backin’ Up Blues

Black Smudges Left on Clothes After Doing Laundry

Burner Flame on Gas Stove Won’t Shut Off Completely

Whirlpool Duet Washer Giving Some Not-So-Good Vibrations

Rich Repairs on a Maytag Neptune Super Stack Washer

Replacing the Motor in a Maytag Dryer

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Dumping the Empire

The Empire Strikes Back

Herd of Sheeple

Life is Good

No Child Left Unmedicated

Hillstomping Update: Mt. Kearsarge

Hillstomping Update: Mts. Welch and Dickey

A New Pinch off the Old Loaf

Hillstomping Update: Smarts Mountain

Let’s Call a Spade a Spade

Big Brother Moves to Squelch Political Speech on the Internet

Hillstomping Update: Mt. Liberty

Hunker Down for the Hard Day

Appliantology Newsletter for February 2005