Monthly Archives: March 2004

Mailbag: How to Get Help With Your Appliance Problem

Diane wrote:

I truly seek the Holy Grail– which as far as I can tell must be some special tool. Not THAT kind of tool, you testosterone freak. I am trying to clean my cooktop, and the burners have those elevated grills that the pots sit on. Under them are those black rubber seal-rings and they are the devil to get back on. Help! Is there some trick?

Thank you!
Damsel in Distress in CA

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

Message sent from IP:

There’s always a trick! And it all starts with your model number, which you conspicuously omitted. No brand, either. But, I’ll use my psychotic powers to divine the brand and model number. Ok, here goes…dayyam, it didn’t work. Guess I’ll need you to tell me that stuff after all.

Folks, if you want me to help you with appliance problems, which I’m happy to do, my virile and bountiful diagnostic powers are rendered impotent and flaccid without a valid model number. And, please, before you give me a model number that turns out to be gobbledy-gook, follow these guidelines for reading and reporting model numbers. Mucho Domos!

Bird Watching Update: Rare Sighting of the Cacapee Bird

The rare and exquisite 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 spotted 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:

Powered by audblogaudio post powered by audblog

Linking for Fun and Profit!

You’ve probably heard of the mystical and infernal Google Page Rank. As you can see, I’ve been beating my head against the wall trying to make sense out of Google’s Page Rank. Some months, will have a Page Rank of 6/10; other months, it’s down to 4/10. I dunno–I only keep adding content to this website and almost all of it is about appliance repair (with some goofy stuff thrown in just to keep it interesting).

Google keeps its forumula for Page Rank a secret. But they do say that the Page Rank of a website is strongly influenced by other sites that link to it. So, if you like this website and you have a website of your own, then how ’bout we help each other out by trading links? That seems to be the most reliable way for both of us to boost our Page Ranks.

To trade links, just add your website link to my links page. The link to your website will show up instantly and automatically on my links page. Then, add a link to to your website. Sometime, when I get around to it, I’ll review your website to verify that our content is compatible and that my link is on your site. Welcome aboard, sailor!

Mailbag: Gas Dryer Fires Up But Goes Out After a Few Minutes

Ed wrote:

I have a Whirlpool gas dryer and my problem is this:
It starts and ignites but after running for a few minutes the flame goes out. Model #LHI7801NO.
What is wrong

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

Message sent from IP:

You have a case of what we professional appliantologists call Ventitis Restricticus. That’s the academic Latin name for the diagnosis of your dryer problem. Actually, it’s not a problem with the dryer at all–it’s a bad vent. Specifically, the airflow through the vent is restricted by any number of factors: overly long, kinks, crimps, clogs, too many 90º turns, and yada-yada and so-forth and like that-there. Don’t believe me? Ok, here’s a quick and easy way to prove it: completely disconnect the vent hose from the back of the dryer and fire up the dryer. After observing the dryer heat up normally and averting your eyes at my brilliance, refer to The Ultimate Dryer Venting Guide to surgically correct the Ventitis Restricticus. Hail, Caesar!

Appliance Tip of the Day Encore: Dryer Disassembly

appliance tip of the day archiveAt some point during the life of your dryer, you’re gonna need to open it up to do some surgery. Here are basic disassembly procedures for the most common dryer brands and models. And, Hoss, a genuine manufacturer’s repair manual can be a valuable accomplice in your dryer repair odyssey. Come git you some.

For more information about your dryer or to order parts, click here.

grasshoppers visualizing a dryer disassembly with the master

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

Appliance Tip of the Day: How Hard Will It be to Fix It?

appliance tip of the day archiveYour appliance is broken and your repair quest has brought you to Your knees wobble and your bowels rumble as you contemplate doing the repair yourself. Since he is omniscient (and he knows it), the Samurai hears your question before you even ask it: “What am I in for if I decide to do this repair myself?”

Introducing Samurai’s User-friendly Difficulty Scale (SUDS). Created just for Grasshoppers, the Samurai has developed a proprietary scale for rating the difficulty of appliance repairs. SUDS is based on the universally-understood six-pack: the more difficult a repair task is, the more suds it takes to get through it. So now, when I’m helping you do a repair, either in the Appliantology Group or in Live Help, I can quantify the difficulty of the repair task that lies before you using a scale we can all understand: SUDS. Simple. Intuitive. Fermented. That’s the Samurai Way.

After you complete your repair using the myriad resources at or the Appliantology Group, you can return the favor and help the Samurai maintain his own supply of suds by giving to the United Samurai Beer Fund. Cheers!

for assessing appliance repair task difficulty
everything's better with beer! Cake walk. You’ll be done before your beer gets warm. This is simple stuff that requires few, if any, tools and almost no electrical skills.
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
Not too bad, but you’ll need a refill on your beer. You’ll only need ordinary tools, nothing specialized. You may need a multimeter to make a simple continuity check.
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
You’ll need a little buzz to get through this one. Basic set of common tools and some specialty tools required. If it’s an electrical problem, you’ll need your multimeter and the wiring diagram.
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
Get the kids out of earshot, adult language forthcoming. Settle in and get ready to spend some time on this one. No quick fix here, Hoss.
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
A third arm growing out of the middle of your chest would be helpful. Time and pain, that’s what you’re in for here. If it’s an electrical problem, get ready for a brain teaser. If mechanical, you’ll be giving libations of your own blood from the skin scraped off your knuckles.
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
everything's better with beer!
What were the engineers smoking when they designed this damn thing? When you’re done with this one, you’ll probably want to hunt down the sadists who designed your appliance so you can give them a taste of the living hell they put you through.

grasshoppers swilling suds with the master after fixing their dryer.

Mailbag: Maytag Neptune Washer Won’t Spin

Mark wrote:

I have a Maytag Neptune MLE2000AYW stack W/D. It runs fine until the spin cycle then justs agitates in both directions it never goes into spin. Any suggestions? All door switches have good continuity.

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

Message sent from IP:

I battled one of these beasts not long ago. Exact same problem. Read all about it in this war story.

Mailbag: Electric Dryer not Heating

mark wrote:

my very old model whirlpool does not heat up and the element is fine. what else could be the problem and how do I fix it?

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

Message sent from IP:

Since you refer to an element, and absent any other information about your dryer, I’m going to clairvoyantly assume that you have an electric dryer.

Before you even open the dryer, use your voltmeter to measure for 240v at the dryer wall outlet. You can’t just look at it and think it’s fine (I actually get people telling me that!) And just because the dryer motor runs, this doesn’t mean you’re getting 240v at the outlet, either. The motors runs on 120v but the heating elements require 240v and a common problem is for one leg, L1 or L2, of the 240v supply to open. If you’re not getting 240v at the dryer outlet, you’ll never get the elements to heat up. Plain n’ simple. Whether you have a four-prong outlet or a three-prong outlet, you gotta check the voltage at the outlet with a meter!

Ok, so you checked the voltage at the outlet and you actually measured 240v on your meter. Now, and only now, we turn our keen, laser-like attention inside the dryer. Let’s look at an example wiring diagram for an electric dryer. This one happens to be for a Whirlpool/Kenmore electric dryer and is probably very similar to yours. In the diagram, the heating element is shown in the lower right hand side. L1 and L2 are drawn on the either side of the diagram. The heating element connects to L1 and L2 through several different components. L1 connects to the heating element through the timer, a thermal cutoff, the operating thermostat, and the hi-limit thermostat. The heating element then connects to L2 through the motor centrifugal switch. All it takes is for any one of these components to fail open and this would prevent the heating element from receiving the needed 240v to get hot. Again, even though the example diagram is for a Whirlpool/Kenmore electric dryer, this is a typical configuration for any electric dryer.

Although any one of these components can kill the voltage to the heating element, there are a couple that tend to fail more commonly and can be easily checked. A quick and easy test to do is to measure the continuity of the thermal cutoff, the operating thermostat, and the hi-limit thermostat. Do this with the dryer unplugged and your meter set on the Rx1 scale. Disconnect at least one wire from the component being tested to isolate it from the rest of the circuit. If you find one that’s open, replace it and problem solved!

While you’re checking the continuity of these things, check the wiring for burnt or loose connections–this is another common cause for no-heat in electric dryers. If all those check out, then that leaves the the timer and the motor centrifugal switch.

Easiest way to test the timer is to detach one lead from the heating element (doesn’t matter which one), run the dryer and measure for 120v out of the timer pin that powers the heating element circuit–in our example, it’s pin R. Measure for this voltage by setting your meter to the 150vac scale and placing one probe on timer pin R and the other on any metal point on the dryer frame. Oh, I know what you’re asking, “But if the heating element needs 240v, why are we only measuring for 120v at the timer?” The heating element gets its 240v in two halves: 120v from L1 and 120v from L2. We’re only looking for the L1 half at the timer so we’re looking for 120v.

Finally, if the timer voltage checks good, then that only leaves the motor centrifugal switch which, if you’ve made it this far in your checks, you can safely assume is bad. Since the centrifugal switch is an integral part of the motor, this means you have to buy a new motor. A manufacturer’s repair manual and an AllenBar take a lot of the frustration out of this job.

Ok, go fix your dryer!

Mailbag: Dryer Heats but Drum Won’t Turn

Tom wrote:

I have a maytag gas dryer, it is heating up but the tumbler is not turning, what can the problem be?

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

Message sent from IP:

This can only be one thing: broken belt. Here’s your three-step prescription to dryer wellness:

  1. Get your dryer model number use that to buy a new belt.
  2. Disassemble your dryer to access the broken belt.
  3. Install the new belt.

Mailbag: Dishwasher Won’t Drain When Connected to the Disposal Drain Port

chip wrote:

hose from dishwasher to garbage disposal:

when disconnected from garbage disposal the dishwasher drains.

when connected to garbage disposal the dishwasher does not drain.

What the heck is goin’ on….

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

Message sent from IP:

This is a classic case of what we professionals call Drain Portus Gooktivitis. That’s a little Latin lingo. Oh yeah, we professional Appliantologists know how to throw around lots of fancy words like that while on the job so we can impress the customer with our vast and esoteric wisdom. But, hey, that’s why we make the Big Money.

Mailbag: Burner Indicator Stays Lit on an Electric Range

Dana wrote:

LAst nite my stove arc’d and popped a breaker. I checked it out and it appeared that I needed to replace the receptacle for the 8″ burner. I replaced it today, and now the burner indicator lite will not stay off. The burners all appear to be working and I am not seeing any other problems.

Is there a reset switch? Is something else damaged? Is it safe to leave the breaker on?

It is an older Whirlpool freestanding range.

Thank you so much.


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

Message sent from IP:

Congratulations on replacing the burner receptacle yourself! The problem with the burner indicator is that one of your surface burner infinite switches is burned out–probably the same one that connects to the burner receptacle that you replaced. This page explains how to check out the infinite switch.

Mailbag: Hot Water Heater Gets Cold too Fast

Gregory & Kara Miller wrote:

I love the advice on the website, but wonder if you also have any free advice for hot water heaters? Mine suddenly seems to run out of water too quickly.

The pilot light is lit.
The water valve is open.
The pipe leaving the heater is hot.
Hot water comes out of the heater for a while, but…
it starts to turn cold before even filling a bathtub with water
(the heater has MUCH more capacity than the tub!).

Any quick thoughts? This seems to be a recent problem (didn’t notice it before a few weeks ago).


Greg Miller.

At the bottom of your hot water heater, you’ll see a drain valve with a standard garden hose fitting. Connect a garden hose to the valve as shown here and open it all the way to flush all the accumulated scale and crap out of the tank. Leave it open until the water runs clear then close it. Wait one hour and then go take a long, hot shower. Ahhh!

Appliance Tip of the Day: How Long Should Appliances Last?

appliance tip of the day archiveThe two most frequent questions I hear while on an appliance service call are 1) “How much is a new one?” and 2) “How long should appliances last?” I’ve already discussed the first question in the linked article and this pearl of appliance wisdom will answer the second one.

The notion that an appliance has a definite life-span after which it should be hauled off to the landfill is one that the savvy marketing departments of the appliance manufacturers have carefully implanted into that muck between our ears. One of the ways they do this is by talking about appliance life expectancy. Appliance manufacturers would have you believe that you should replace an appliance after a pre-determined number of years, regardless of brand, maintenance or myriad other life-extending factors. And they’re counting on the fact that most people are so inept at critical thinking that they never see this notion for the marketing tripe that it is.

But not so with you, intrepid grasshopper, for the Samurai shall reveal the truth unto thee. And the truth shall set you free.

Closer scrutiny of the phrase appliance life expectancy reveals a delicious ambiguity which the manufactures hope you’ll never take the time to fully examine. The first concept to master is that anything can be repaired–it’s just a matter of cost. Cost can be measured in Federal Reserve Notes (mistakenly referred to as “Dollars”) and it can be measured in hassle, time, and aggravation, collectively referred to as “aggra-dollars.” The very question, “How long should an appliance last?” seems to ignore the reality that appliances are composed of thousands of different electrical and mechanical parts made at different factories all over the world and slapped together in a Mexican sweat shop. Appliance life expectancy–if there really is such a thing–is the collective life expectancy of all these different parts. Appliances don’t die. An internal part breaks. And most of time, broken parts can be replaced cost-effectively. Given this, does it even make sense to ask, “How long should an appliance last?”

The correct model for appliance longevity is the appliance half-life for a particular type of appliance. Appliance half-life is defined as the number of years after which it would not be cost-effective to repair half of the appliances in the group. For example, if the half-life of all dryers is 13 years, this means that in a group of 10 dryers, all 13-years old, it would be cost-effective to repair only five of them. The other five would be too badly deteriorated from abuse, poor quality, heavy use…whatever, to cost-effectively repair them. I have repaired dozens of 25-year old Whirlpool dryers that only needed minor repairs. I’ve also seen 10-year old Whirlpool dryers that were so far gone and would have needed such extensive repairs that I recommended the customer buy a new one. By the way, I’ve also seen 4-year old GE dryers that were ready for the trash heap the day they were built.

The table below lists the appliance half-life of various types of major appliances. I adapted the data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) table of appliance life expectancies. As a Grand Master of Appliantology, I immediately saw through the deception of such a designation. And now, through the miracle of the internet, you can benefit from my keen insight and understand the real meaning of appliance half-life.

How to use this table. Suppose you have a 15-year old side-by-side refrigerator that breaks. You look up side-by-side fridges and see the half-life is 14 years. You correctly conclude that since your fridge is just past the half-life age, that you have a slightly less than 50% probability of making a successful repair. Armed with this information, you can make more informed decisions about whether or not to repair it (with personal guidance from yours so very truly, of course) or to buy a new one. Suppose, on the other hand, that your side-by-side fridge was just 10 years old. In this case, the chances for a successful repair are much higher than 50% and you can proceed with the repair, confident in a happy outcome.

Appliance Half-Life
  • Side-by-side and top-mount freezer models: 14 years
  • Bottom-mount freezer models: 17 years
  • Full-size single-door refrigerators: 19 years
  • College dorm refrigerators: five years
Washing Machines 11 to 14 years. Always be sure to install these simple and effective flood control measures.
Dryers 13 years. Good maintenance, cleaning the lint filter after every load, and using only a properly designed dryer vent make a huge difference.
Dishwashers 11 to 13 years. Built-in models tend to last longer than portable ones.
  • Single built-ins: about 13 years on average
  • Double built-ins: 21 years
Microwaves Nine years.
In-Sink Disposals 12 years.
Gas or Electric Water Heaters Six years or more depending on quality and maintenance.
Ranges, Ovens, and Stoves
  • Built-in ovens: 16 years
  • Drop-in single ovens: 11 years
  • Slide-in single and double oven ranges: 17 to 18 years

Source: The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM)

grasshoppers channeling the spirits of appliances who have crossed over to the other side

Mailbag: Changing Parts Without a Clue

Johnnie Dew wrote:

I have a kenmore direct drive washer and it doesn’t spin. I changed the motor coupler and brakes and clutch with still nix on spin. It fills,it agitates and drains but it will not spin? Help!!!

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

Message sent from IP:

the bamboo reveals all

Here comes Johnnie Dew,
changing parts without a clue.
Replace the lid switch.