Monthly Archives: November 2007

The Complete DIY Refrigerator Repair Reference

Now, at long last, it’s the complete do-it-yourself refrigerator repair reference that you’ve been clamoring for. This post links you to resources for any type of problem you’re having with your refrigerator, from simple control problems to advanced sealed system work. Awwite, grab ‘hold of those two large lumps at the base of your spine and let’s romp. Giddyup…

If you’re in an emergency because your refrigerator isn’t running and all your beer is getting warm, start with the warm refrigerator fire drill. In particular, if you’re hearing an occasional hum-CLICK and the refrigerator is warming up, start with this page.

Now we move on to more general diagnostics in the Portable Refrigerator Repair Manual.

OK, so you’ve worked through the diagnostics and you’re suspecting that your refrigerator has a Freon leak. How can you be sure? Like ahso.

If you’ve confirmed a Freon leak and you think you have the huevos to do the sealed system work yourself, you absolutely need this refrigeration service training DVD from Electrolux. (The compressor, its associated tubing, the evaporator, the condenser, and the Freon charge in the tubing are collectively referred to as the “sealed system.”) It takes you through all the procedures you’ll need to master in order to do your own sealed system work. If you have an older refrigerator, you may need to convert from R-12 to R134a.

“But, Samurai, shouldn’t we get an EPA license to buy the Freon so that we can be obedient to the gubmint and do everything they tell us to do?”

Ahh, Grasshoppah, your bootlicking question reminds me of a story… what was it?… ah yes, The Story of O.

For written sealed system service procedures and a list of tools you’ll need, download this reference.

And this topic in the Kitchen Appliance Repair Forum has a good discussion about recharging tips.

Naturals, by gawd, every last one of you, naturals! Now go and make an old salt proud!

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

Electrical Outlets for Electric Ovens, Ranges, and Stoves

Bought a new range or planning to? Planning an addition to your house? Building a new house? These are just a few of the ways you could run into converting from a 3- to 4-wire range outlet. Whatever your situation, this illustrated anatomy of electrical outlets for ranges, ovens, and stove should help you see what’s going on.

Three-Prong Range OutletHere’s the older style, but very commonly seen 3-wire range outlet. All the terminals are identified here. Click the pic for the larger view.

Four-Prong Range OutletThis the the 4-wire outlet required by the newer editions of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Click the pic for the larger view.

More help, including parts for all brands and models, ratcheer. If you’re still confoosed, come start a new topic in the Kitchen Appliance Repair Forum.

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

How to Troubleshoot an Electric Oven that Doesn’t Heat Up

We’ve all been there: 12 minutes ’til Oprah comes on– just enough time to bake a frozen pizza. So you turn on the oven and… no heat! Oh my, what to do? Where to start?

In this pearl of appliantological wisdom, I’ll explain the basic troubleshooting strategy for figuring out what’s wrong when your oven won’t heat up. Specifics will vary from model to model but those details are trivial. In the words of our beloved emperor waging democracy around the globe to protect truth, justice, and the Ameedican Way here in der Fazzahland, the key thing is the, uh, strategery.

Right then. Let us begin by opening our hymnals to the 6th Law of Prophecy: start troubleshooting right at the problem. That means right at the thing that ain’t doin’ it’s thang. In this case, that means the bake element.

We’ll start with a visual inspection. For this part of the testing, kill power to the oven. That means to turn off the circuit breaker. If you don’t know what I just said, stop reading now and call a professional appliantologist. Inspect the element with a flashlight, look for obvious burned spots or separations.

Testing an Electric Oven ElementIf the element looks good, then we progress to basic electrical measurements (hint: that’s an illustrative link put there for your edumucation– read it now). Y’see, Hoss, incredibly, the element can look fine from the outside (and usually does) but the inner core, the part that electricity flows through and gets really hot, can be electrically open.

So, we’ll start with a simple resistance measurement of the bake heating element. To do this, you have kill power to the oven and then remove the visible and obvious element retaining screws. Then remove at least one wire from the element; you can, of course, remove the entire element from the oven, as shown in the picture (click for larger view). You’ll be making the measurements with your probes on the element’s terminals.

Measure the resistance with your meter; anything less than 50 ohms is good. If you’re seeing a high resistance reading, like something in the thousands of ohms (denoted with the “K” on most meters) then, ding-ding-ding, you just found the problem– come git you a new element, Part Number: stove elements

If the element tests good, then it’s time to graduate to live tests. That means voltage on the circuit, fire in the hole, fry yo’ ace if’n you ain’t careful. If you don’t know how to safely make live voltage measurements, then stop reading right now and call a professional appliantologist. You’ll also need the wiring or schematic diagram of the oven– these are usually hidden inside the control panel compartment, some disassembly required. Make sure you’ve killed power to the oven before going any further, Homer.

Before we get into the actual live test, it would helpful for you to know how the bake element works so you’ll have some insight into how the live test is done. A bake element operates at 240vac, 120vac is supplied to each side of the heating element. One side is tied more or less directly to L1 or L2 (both of which are tied to 120vac)– see your model-specific wiring diagram, I’m just ‘splaining the strategery here.

The other side of the heating element is connected to the electronic range control either directly or through some intermediary controls. (Antique, RV, or off-grid ranges may not have an ERC but rather a mechanical thermostat. Ahh, those were the days…)

Now, here’s where the real strategery comes in. The basic idea is that when the bake element is turned on, BOTH sides of that element should get 120vac (remember, the element is supposed to have 240vac to heat up properly). So we’re going to split the problem in half by seeing which side of the bake element power circuit isn’t coughing up its 120vac. Then we shall deal harshly with its insolence.

Power Leads to an Electric Bake ElementOk, are you ready to rock or are you ready to shock? If you’re still rockin’, here’s how we do the live test:

  • kill power to the oven (which you already did earlier, right? 😉 );
  • disconnect one wire from the bake element and then secure it so it doesn’t touch anything else
  • clip the common side of your meter to any known ground point, like an unpainted metal surface in the oven;
  • re-apply power to the oven;
  • measure voltage at both of the element power wire leads;
  • the one that isn’t giving you 120vac is the circuit you need to troubleshoot; you can ignore the other side.

See, you just cut the problem in half! Now kill power to the oven again and focus your keen, Vulcan-like squinties on the wiring diagram and locate your problem circuit. Then identify the next component in line between the end of the heating element wire with the missing voltage and wherever it ends up, be it the circuit board or one of the power lugs on the terminal block in the back of the oven. The rest is trivial. Continue applying this essential kata until you find the missing voltage in that circuit.

Ahh, Grasshoppah, can you snatch these pebbles from my hand? If not, or if you need help with the particulars of your range or oven, come start a new topic in the Kitchen Appliance Repair Forum where we can illumine your path with more sage wisdom.

Mafia Goon Learns Appliance Repair from the Samurai

Samurai Appliance RepairAs many of you already know, the Samurai practices a unique style of appliance repair called Fixite Do (pronounced “fixi-tay doh”), shown here (click the picture for the larger view).

My aggressive appliance repair techniques attracted the attention of none other than the Goddfaddah himself! He recently approached the Samurai and “asked” him to train his nephew, Rocko, in the ancient art of Fixite Do. The Godfaddah wants to start a legitimate appliance repair business to be a front company for a money laundering operation and he wanted his boy trained personally by the Samurai. Let’s just say he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

It took a lot of time and work, but I think I finally managed to make a decent appliance tech out of my underworld apprentice. Don’t be fooled by his slovenly appearance and doltish accent– Rocko will make a fine appliance tech… well, he’ll at least be very good at getting paid. The video below was recorded by a hidden camera during Rocko’s first solo service call. Notice how he wields his wooden katana with Samurai precision as he troubleshoots the problem:

Replacing the Transmission in a GE Top-Loading Washing Machine

This how-to applies to the cheap, GE top-loading washers, like the one you bought at Home Depot, with model numbers like WPSR3100WOWW. Some of the busted-transmission symptoms on this washer include:

– Loud roar like a jet engine during spin;
– Won’t agitate (Note 1: you already checked the belt and it’s OK; Note 2: a stripped out agimutator drive bell will also cause this problem, but this will be obvious when you remove the agimutator);
– Puddle of viscous red/brown oil underneath the washer.

If your washer has any of the above, then your washer’s transmission may be FUBAR. You need to either replace the transmission in this machine or buy a new washer. BTW, now is a good time to think about buying a new washer.

“*Gasp!* But, Samurai, how could you, the Fermented Grand Master of Appliantology and All Things Appliantological, even think about buying a new machine instead of doing the repair?”

Ahh, well said, my young grasshoppah; I couldn’t have asked a better question myself. According to Proto Grand Master Musashi, in the true strategy of Fixite Do, you learn to perceive that which you cannot understand or comprehend. In the words of Master Musashi, “By knowing things that exist, you can know that which does not exist.” Accordingly, I perceive that the money you now have in your bank account will no longer exist after you waste your time and cash fixing this pig.

OK, let’s light this candle.

– Basic disassembly help here.

– Parts you’ll need:

Now, I turn you over to my brother in The Craft and recent Appliantology 3000® microchip implantee, Jedi Appliance Guy.

The Jedi has created a very detailed step-by-step photo album on Flickr showing him executing this repair with his legendary finesse (including some patented Jedi-exclusive techniques). And many of the photos are annotated with pearls of enlightenment. So, to get the best overview of the Hell you’re in for should you decide to take on this repair– due to a dietary deficiency of Vitamin C, or something– start with this first photo in the set and then click through each one. That way, you can read the helpful notes and comments.

And may the pot-bellied, bald-headed Buddha grin down on yo’ ace.

Tips for Painting Appliances

Re-modeled the house and you’d like to spruce up the looks of your otherwise fully-functional appliances so they match the new decor? One way of doing this is to re-paint the appliances. Yeah, it’s tedious, detailed, unforgiving work but, for some, it’s a treasured tradition in the appliance repair martial arts. Here, now, are some rare pearls of wisdom from a Zen Master of the ancient and mystical art of appliance painting, Sublime Master

I paint alot of appliances, your not gonna get a very good finish with a roll on. You need to start out wet sanding with 220 wet/dry, then wash it down and dry it completely with something that is lint free. once all the water is visually dry, let it sit there for about an hour (there’s still moisture that you can’t see that the air will evaporate). Tape off any trim work and go to town.

enamel / epoxy works best and get the cans that have the “fan spray nozzel”

optimal temp. for painting is 65-70 degrees, if painting outside, dont paint in the wind.

hold can about 8-10″ away and travel about 2″ per second overlapping the previous run about an inch.

wait about 10 min. per coat and do at least 3 coats.

take your time and dont get frustrated, there is an art to it and you are likely to mess up.

if you do mess up (run the paint, put you hand in it, etc.) you gotta let it dry completely and resand that area again (if you want it to look good.)

Hope this helps

Broken Ice Dispenser on a GE Refrigerator

This problem is common in the GE Profile side by sides with ice dispensers, such as the GE Profile PSS26MGPABB. The dispensers in these otherwise troublesome refrigerators have been a cause of acid reflux and intestinal cramping for billions of unsuspecting owners of GE refrigerators.

The root problem is that the freezer just gets too warm. Ice at the bottom of the augur bucket melts just enough to add a thin layer of water around the augur screw assembly. The water then re-freezes and immobilizes the augur screw. Now, if you go and use the ice dispenser, the mighty augur motor starts to turn the augur screw and… breaks the drive mechanism. You’ll usually end up needing one of these:

GE Ice Bucket and Auger Assembly-- click it to git it.

And it may well happen again due to a screwup in the design of the refrigerator which lets the freezer get warm enough to cause all this mess in the first place.

You could also try replacing just the augur screw– not a user-friendly repair, see this topic in repair forum for details on that.

So, whoever’s gonna buy GE appliances again, raise your hand. Bueller? …Bueller?

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

Does Your Refrigerator have a Freon Leak?

Whenever grasshoppers have a refrigerator that’s warming up, the first thing they think is that the compressor is bad or it “needs a shot of freon.” In fact, the compressor, copper tubing, or freon (collectively called the “sealed system”) is at fault less than 20% of the time when a refrigerator is warming up; usually, the culprit is something simple, like the cold control, condenser fan, or a problem with the defrosting system.

Freon Leak in a Sub-Zero Refrigerator - click for the larger viewSo how can a hapless grasshoppah, who doesn’t own any fancy refrigeration tools, like manifold gauges, know for sure whether or not the sealed system is the problem? Usually you can tell by simple observation. Unplug the refrigerator and disassemble the freezer compartment to expose the evaporator coil– that’s the coily tubey thingy with fins in the freezer that’s supposed to get really cold. Then plug the refrigerator back in and let it run while you suck back on a can of PBR, just like yo’ pappy used to do. Then open the freezer up and feast your blood-shot squinties on that evaporator coil. It should be lightly frosted on about 2/3 of the coil. If the coil is wet and clammy or if you see just a patch of frost on one corner, like this, then, ding-ding-ding, you got yo’self a gen-u-wine sealed system problem. Could be a bad compressor or a leak somewhere in the tubing that circulates the freon around the refrigerator. Either way, it’s trouble in doggie land. Sealed system work is expensive and, unless you paid so mucho dinero for the box that you’re married to it, you’re probably better off just buying a new refrigerator.

Recommended Reading:

The Portable Refrigerator Repair Manual

Refrigerator FAQs

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

The Portable Refrigerator Repair Manual

Portable Refrigerator Repair Manual, click here to downloadNow, just in time for Thanksgiving, you can download this handy, three-page refrigerator repair manual, lovingly annotated by yours so very freaking truly. Links to illustrative web pages are embedded in the manual; words underlined in blue are hyperlinks and you can click them to go to the supporting page. Notes appear as yellow blocks; click ’em to read ’em. Download it today and send it to your friends– it’s the perfect Thanksgiving gift!

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

Troubleshooting and Repairing Major Appliances

This is the latest edition (2007) of this very useful primer on appliance repair, Troubleshooting and Repairing Major Appliances. I own a copy of the first edition, which came out in 1995 and it occupies prime real estate on my bookshelf among my more valuable appliance repair references. This latest edition has added coverage of gas appliances and offers a complete guide to the latest tools, techniques, and parts for troubleshooting and repairing any appliance; 10 entirely new chapters and new illustrations throughout!

Packed with over 200 illustrations, the book includes step-by-step procedures for testing and replacing parts; instructions for reading wiring diagrams; charts with troubleshooting solutions; advice on using tools and test meters; safety techniques and more.

If you have any aspirations of fixing your own or someone else’s appliances, you need this book. Buy it today— I did. 8)

Appliantology Newsletter, Fall 2007

Konnichiwa, My Friends!

Appliantology: The Oracle of Appliance Enlightenment.  Click to download.Another edition of our award-winning newsletter, Appliantology, has hit the streets face-first and screaming! Download this issue now (about 580 kb, PDF file). Lots of cool new features have been added to and are ‘splained in this newsletter so hurry and download it today before it gets all used up. You’ll be glad you did! 🙂

In case you missed the previous issues of Appliantology, you can peruse the archives.

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