Monthly Archives: May 2009

Washing Machine Floods and the Stupid Plumber’s Trick

Went on a service call for a Maytag washing machine that had overflowed and made a messy flood in the basement. After pulling the water inlet valve, the reason for the flooding was readily apparent: one of the protective inlet screens had been removed! (click for larger view)

This is called the stupid plumber’s trick. Don’t do it! If you have a problem with scale gunking up the valve and restricting flow, then fix that problem by installing a water sediment filter! Removing the protective inlet screen just creates bigger and much more expensive problems.

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

Electrical Symbols on Wiring and Schematic Diagrams

Appliances are what we in the bidness call “electro-mechanical devices.” Oh yeah, mmm hmm, we professionals can throw around all kinda two-dollah words like that– that’s why we makes the big money!

Anyway, “electro-mechanical” just means that they have both electrical and mechanical components, any of which can fail and require troubleshooting and repair. So, on any given service call, there’s at least a 50% chance that you’ll need to troubleshoot an electrical circuit to figger out why that washer ain’t washin’, that dryer ain’t dryin’, that dishwasher ain’t dishin’…. well, you get the idear.

To troubleshoot electrical circuits, we use either a wiring diagram or schematic (or both) that come with the appliance. These diagrams are usually included with the tech sheet that’s carefully and cleverly hidden inside the appliance, safely out of sight of owners who usually just end up losing it if they happen to stumble on it. If you’re working on an electrical problem and you don’t have the wiring or schematic diagram, it’s like trying to drive around an unfamiliar city without a map. Gotta have it!

And really, that’s all a schematic or wiring diagram is: a road map for electrons. If you can learn how to use a street map, you can learn how to use a wiring diagram. Just like in a street map, you have to know what the symbols mean in order to understand what the map is telling you. Same deal with a wiring diagram or schematic.

To help you get started learning how to read circuit diagrams, here’s a handy legend of common symbols used on electrical diagrams. It’s not comprehensive– there’s a bunch of stuff that’s not there– but this’ll get you started. Click it for the larger version.

Cheap Fix for Slipping Clutch in a Whirlpool-Kenmore Direct Drive Washer

See this post for help narrowing down a problem in your washer’s drive train (motor, coupler, transmission, clutch), shown in the diagram below (click for larger view).

One sign that the clutch is slipping is that it’ll feel really, really hot after running for just a few minutes.

Once you’re sure you’re dealing with a slipping clutch, Sublime Master of Appliantology Willie B has a cheap and clever bandaid repair that’ll keep it going for a good while longer, maybe even as long as you continue to own the machine!

Related Posts:

Intrepid Apprentice Conquers a Whirlpool / Kenmore Direct Drive Washer with a Lazy Spin

Common Repairs on a Whirlpool / Kenmore Direct Drive Washer

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

The Permanent Cure for Repeatedly Freezing Condensate Drains in Whirlpool-Roper-Kitchenaid Top-Mount Refrigerators

The condensate drains in certain models of this refrigerator repeatedly freeze over, causing water to run inside the refrigerator during defrost. If you manually clear the ice and open the drain– which you shouldn’t ever have to do– the problem will just re-appear… unless you apply the Fixite Do kata that ol’ Samurai’s about to ‘splain to ya.

Here’s the inside scoop: As the compressor runs, humidity in the air inside the freezer condenses onto the surface of the evaporator. This frozen water on the evaporator is called condensate. The condensate will continue to build up on the evaporator over time, forming a white, fuzzy layer that periodically needs to be melted off during the automatic defrost cycle. During defrost, the compressor is turned off and a heater under the evaporator is fired up to melt the condensate off. As the condensate melts, it drips into the pan beneath the evaporator. Problem is that, in this particular design fluke, the defrost cycle ends and the compressor starts running again before all the water drains from the pan and, as a result, some of the water gets frozen. Next cycle, a little more gets frozen, and so on until the drain is blocked and the melted water starts backing up during defrost and running into the beer compartment below.

Pop Quiz:

What’s the heater beneath the evaporator called?

Did you answer, “I dunno and I don’t care, just get on with the friggin’ article?” Well, I’m sorry, but that’s not the right answer. The correct answer is “defrost heater.” Thank you, come again!

OK, enough high-level refrigerator quantum theory. Let’s get on with the fun stuff: The Fix! You can click the pics below for the larger view.

Freezer Anatomy and Frozen-Over  Condensate Drain PanFreezer Anatomy and Frozen-Over Condensate Drain Pan

Here you can see Le Probleme and get the layout of the essential freezer anatomy for this repair.

To solve this problem, we’re going to rig a way to get some of that heat from the defrost heater to the drain pan and drain hole. To do this, we’ll employ the heat transfer mode of conduction. We’ll use copper wire to conduct some of that heat from the heaters to the drain pan. Come see…

Installing the Condensate Drain Heating RigInstalling the Condensate Drain Heating Rig

12 ga. solid core wire is preferred because it’s slightly bigger and conducts heat more efficiently; but 14 ga., as shown here, is OK.

Make the drain heater by wrapping one end of the wire around the heater a few turns, as shown here. The other ends will be fanned out in the drip pan and run into the condensate drain hole two or three inches. Just watch out for the sharp fins on that evaporator; they’ll shred your hands like ground beef before you even knew what happened. OK, it’s not really that bad; I just wanted to talk like a crusty old timer. Would it kill you to humor an old man?

Closeup of the Condensate Drain Heating RigCloseup of the Condensate Drain Heating Rig

The Completed Condensate Drain ModificationThe Completed Condensate Drain Modification

Muy domos to Senior Apprentice Appliantologist TMR777 for the beautifully annotated photos of his fine craftsmanship.

Part Number: Refrigerator Parts and Help

Leaking Pump in a Whirlpool DU810DWGQ1 Dishwasher

Leaking Pump in a Whirlpool DU810DWGQ1 Dishwasher
Leaking Pump in a Whirlpool DU810DWGQ1 Dishwasher

These are cheesy, inexpensive dishwashers that are prone to leaky pumps, as shown here (click the pic for the larger, annotated view).

Whirlpool DU810DWGQ1 Dishwasher Pump and Motor Diagram
Whirlpool DU810DWGQ1 Dishwasher Pump and Motor Diagram

The problem is usually a leaky shaft seal kit, shown here as Items 7 and 8 (click the pic for the larger, annotated view).

Fortunately, the shaft seal kit is inexpensive; but it can be a booger to install, depending on how much rust you’re dealing with. May require a destructive removal of the impeller, too, but ain’t no thang ‘cuz the shaft seal kit comes with a new impeller. Here’s a nice, purdy picture of a brand new shaft seal kit. And just to help motivate you a little more, the money you save from replacing just the shaft seal vs. replacing the entire motor-pump assembly is well over a Benjamin. So you go ahead and drill, cut, and chisel all you want on that old impeller!

shaft seal kit for whirlpool-built dishwashers with the horizontal pump and motor assembly--click it it git it

And Whirlpool just came out with a spiffy new DIY repair manual for this dishwasher, which will assist you mightily in the many repair adventures you are certain to have with this dishwasher:

whirlpool dishwasher diy repair manual-- click it to git it

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

Whirlpool Direct Drive Washer with a Leaky Pump

Next time you need to open up your Whirlpool-built direct drive washer (also sold under the Kenmore label), be sure to check the motor shaft and pump drive hub for rust. If you’re replacing the drive coupler— a very common repair on this otherwise fine machine– then you have to remove the motor and pump anyway.

Rusty Motor Shaft on a Whirlpool Direct Drive Washer MotorRusty Motor Shaft on a Whirlpool Direct Drive Washer Motor

Rust on the motor shaft is a tell-tale sign of a leaking pump. Where else would the water come from? The pump fits directly onto this motor shaft.

Rust Inside Pump Socket = Leaking PumpRust Inside Pump Socket = Leaking Pump

Sometimes, the rusting on the motor shaft can get so bad that you can’t pull the pump off. In these cases, you may need to resort to a destructive removal. The pump is just plastic and can be removed with hammer, chisel, drilling, whatever works. Doesn’t matter how ugly it gets because the pump is being replaced anyway. The motor is pretty sturdy– just avoid getting plastic shavings down in the winding– could melt and smell funny.

If your washer needs a new pump, come git you one!


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

Frigidaire-Kenmore Front Loading Washer Knocks and Shakes During High Speed Spin

The two most common causes of knocking noises and instability in this washer during high speed are: 1) a bad shock absorber and 2) a bad “drum support spider“.

Frigidaire Front Load Washer Drum Assembly DiagramOn these washers, if a shock absorber is bad, it’s usually obvious — you just need to get some eyeballs on ’em. Just remove the rear panel from the washer and there you be, as shown here. Click the pic for a larger, annotated view. If one of the shock absorbers is bad, replace ’em as a set. Easy fix!

The drum spider, OTOH, ain’t quite so obvious ‘cuz it’s attached to the drum and is hidden from view by the outer tub. So we have to use special Zen Techniques to diagnose it.

Mildly Corroded Drum Spider in a Frigidaire-built Front Loading WasherThe main cause for failure of the drum spider seems to be galvanic corrosion. You can see the corrosion at an early stage on this spider. Click the pic for the larger view.

Completely Corroded Drum Spider in a Frigidaire-built Front Loading WasherThe drum support spider in this Frigidaire washer had corroded so much that the hub and drive shaft actually broke off. Note the pitting in the metal. That’s from galvanic corrosion. It weakened the spider structural strength so much that it failed during use.

Whence cometh this galvanic corrosion? Not certain at this time but distinct possibilities include: 1) dissimilar metals between the spider assembly and the drum setting up a galvanic reaction– which would be a design flaw, 2) some combinations of detergents, fabric softeners, and water conditions may set up a galavanic "cell" inside the washer during use, 3) improper, poor, or no grounding at the outlet the washer is plugged into could result in small, stray voltages in the drum during wash inducing stray currents and causing galvanic corrosion (could I have said that with anymore geekspeak?).

If the drum support spider is ate up in your Friggidaire (not a typo) washer, and you want to repair it instead of buying a new one, you’ll need to replace the entire inner tub assembly— not a job for the loose of bowel or slim of wallet:


If you decide to take this beast on, here’s some complimentary teardown information that’ll hepya. And if you’re looking for some good reading material for the outhouse, you can buy the complete service manual for this washer.

Related Posts:

Frigidaire-built Front Loading Washer Goes Thumpety-Thump During Spin

High Efficiency Detergents, Front Loading Washers, and the Great Unwashed

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

GE GSD5500G00WW Dishwasher Spray Arm Retaining Clips Broken

lower spray arm assembly for a GE GSD5500G00WW dishwasherIf those little clips break, the spray arm won’t turn and the water will just shoot straight up to the lower rack. You can’t just replace the clips because GE doesn’t make enough money that way. Instead, you get to buy the entire lower spray arm assembly. Thank you, GE!

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

Jenn-Air SVD48600 Range Power Relay Board and Electrode Changeout: A Pictorial Odyssey

This range had two complaints. One was that the gas grill module wouldn’t ignite.

The other complaint was that the cooling fan would come on at 100F and stay on– very annoying, also very common in this model. In addition, the temperature on the display would never increment beyond 100F even though the actual oven temperature could be 350F. Both of these problems point to a bad Power Relay Board (PRB).

Corroded Spark Electrode
Corroded Spark Electrode

This corroded spark electrode is one of the reasons the customer called me– no spark at her grill module. The cause is obvious but you still make sure that you’re at least getting spark to the electrode. In this case, the spark was being delivered but getting grounded out by the broken hood. The hood was so corroded that it actually separated from the rest of the assembly. It’s positioned this way in this photo just for your viewing pleasure.

Jenn-Air Range Rear View and Cubby - 1
Jenn-Air Range Rear View and Cubby – 1

Notice this range has both gas and 50 amp, dedicated 240vac power supply– that’s ‘cuz it’s a combi-range: electric oven and gas stove. Ranges that are gas-only just need a conventional 120vac wall outlet (for the oven lamp, spark module and/or ignitor).

Jenn-Air Range Rear View and Cubby - 2
Jenn-Air Range Rear View and Cubby – 2

Usually, on these Jenn-Air jobs, you need to shut off and disconnect the gas supply. Got lucky in this case– they had used a generous length of flex tubing for the "last mile" connection to the range. SoooWEEET! All’s I had to do was unplug the electrical, remove the vent duct from the downdraft fan (remove the kickpanel from the front bottom, you’ll see it right there) and pull ‘er back. Good to go beaver!

Back Panel View
Back Panel View

The PRB is located in the back of the range behind this rear panel. Back panel is held on with 4 1/4" screws. Comes right off and exposes… (that’s your cue to go to the next pic)…

Back of Range with Rear Panel Removed
Back of Range with Rear Panel Removed

… a big ‘ol hairy mess o’ wires! And the component of interest: the Power Relay Board.

Power Relay Board
Power Relay Board

Bunch of connections on this board! Best way to change it out is to do one wire at a time. Helps if you have another pair of arms. In my case, that other pair was attached to my son, Stephen, who was a big help on this job. Also helped with the electrode changeout– more on that in just a bit.

Side View
Side View

Now, according to the service manual, in order to remove and replace the spark electrode for the surface modules, you need to tear down the entire top assembly of the range. A royal pain in the gluteous because it involved about a gazillion screws and it’s fraught with danger because any of the screws could be rusted and stripped, especially in a range that age. All of this can slow you way down. But, thankfully I had an extra pair of hands with me on the job and I put ’em to good use.

Underside of Top Pan Showing How the Electrode Attaches
Underside of Top Pan Showing How the Electrode Attaches

That’s the nut that has to come off, unstring the spark wire, re-string the new electrode and then secure it with that nut. Yeah, it’s as narrow as it looks.

New Spark Electrode Installed
New Spark Electrode Installed

There it is all shiny and purdy!

Parts Used in this Repair Job:

Power Relay Board (PRB)

Spark Electrode

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

Repair Guide for the Whirlpool-built Stand-Alone Ice Machine

This is the ice machine that makes a slab of ice and slides it onto a grid that cuts the ice into little squares. Along with clear and cogent explanations, this excellent and comprehensive repair guide for the Whirlpool-built stand-alone ice machine also contains lots of links to parts and other repair resources for these machines. This guide also applies to GE and KitchenAid labelled ice machines– they’re all built by Whirlpool.