Monthly Archives: August 2011

Appliantology Newsletter, August 2011: Appliances and Disasters

Appliantology Newsletter, August 2011: Appliances and Disasters

0. Introduction
1. Can I use my appliances during a disaster?
2. Does it hurt my appliances to run them or have them plugged in while the power is blinking on and off?
3. Can running my appliances off a generator damage them?
4. What about water?
5. How do I store food safely while the power is out?
6. Epilogue

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0. Introduction

With Hurricane Irene rampaging up the East Coast and record-breaking earthquakes off the coast of Virginia (or a nuclear detonation in a sea bed bunker, depending on who you’re listening to), disaster prep seemed like the obvious topic du jour for this Special Irene Edition of *Appliantology*.

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1. Can I use my appliances during a disaster?

Using appliances during a storm or other disaster can be risky to the appliance because of the power going on and off, voltage spikes (more on that below), trees falling on power lines, etc.

Even most gas appliances need electricity. For example, the spark module for your gas stove burners won’t work though the burners are still usable by manually lighting the gas, which is perfectly fine; it’s safe and doesn’t hurt the appliance. Just don’t use the gas stove to heat your house!

Most modern gas ovens with hot surface ignition require 120vac to heat up the ignitor and there’s no manual bypass for that so, without a power source, you won’t have an oven.

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2. Does it hurt my appliances to run them or have them plugged in while the power is blinking on and off?

Absolutely! Every time that power blinks off and goes back on, it slams your appliances with transient voltage spikes. Depending on the severity of the spikes, these can fry control boards right away or slowly degrade them over time through a process called electronic rust. After getting slammed with a finite number of such spikes, the electronic control board(s) will eventually fail (at great expense and inconvenience to you).

To prevent this unhappy and completely avoidable scenario, any appliance with an electronic control board in it– which is most of ’em today– should be plugged into a surge suppressor, not directly into the wall. Surge suppressors for common household 120vac outlets are inexpensive and you can get ’em at your local hardware store. This will provide reasonable protection for all your 120vac appliances. Read more about surge protection for your appliances here…

To protect your 240vac appliances with fancy control boards during a storm, such as an electric range with a digital display, you should switch off the circuit breaker to that appliance until the coast is clear.

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3. Can running my appliances off a generator damage them?

If you haven’t purchased a generator by now, it’s probably too late for the Irene event. But in case you can (or already have a generator you’re planning to use), here are some fun facts to know and tell about using generators with appliances.

For appliances with electronic control boards– which is most appliances today– you should only use generators that produce a pure sine wave output.

Most generators produce a modified sine wave output, which is not a pure sine wave but more of a stylized square wave. This is fine for motors but not good for the AC-to-DC rectifiers in appliances. The modified sine wave messes with the rectifier, making it overheat and crank out off-spec voltages for the control board. The result is often burned out rectifiers and fried control boards.

Producing a pure sine wave output requires much more sophisticated circuitry in the inverter and usually only comes with more expensive, higher-end generators. It’s a big selling point, too, so if a generator doesn’t specifically say it’s a pure sine wave generator, then it’s safest to assume that it only puts out a modified sine wave.

So, if you do not have a generator that produces a pure sine wave output, be careful to only run appliances that do not have the electronic control boards.

Oh, and one point of safety: don’t run your generator inside the house. I know, it sounds crazy to even say it but there are knuckleheads out there who do that kind of thing. Like this guy…

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4. What about water?

Flood waters in urban areas are a lethal cocktail of sewage, petroleum products, and just about every kind of chemical you can imagine. Simple disinfection (e.g., boiling, chlorine drops, iodine drops, etc.) is woefully inadequate for this water. You can treat the water so it’s safe from pathogens and it can still be lethal because of the gasoline, mercury, or any one of thousands of other contaminants commonly found in urban Ameedika.

The other problem is that coastal flood waters will also be either salty or brackish which, in itself, renders the water undrinkable.

The best treatment for making flood waters potable is distillation. Reverse osmosis is the next best thing. If you can’t treat flood waters using either of these two methods, don’t drink it at all!

Bottled water is the best bet but there are logistical limitations on how much you can store.

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5. How do I store food safely while the power is out?

I posted some information on food preservation and safety during disasters. You can read it here:

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6. Epilogue

As we say in Fukushima, “Rots of ruck, GI!”

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

The Samurai School of Appliantology

Find and Buy Appliance Parts

How to replace the Hall Sensor in an LG front-loading washer

So, you tested the Hall Sensor in your LG washer and determined that it’s toast. Now the big questions: 1) Where to get the new sensor? and 2) How to install it?

1. Where to get the new Hall Sensor?

Right here, of course! With fast shipping and a 365-day return policy, the choice of part vendor is clear! Part Link ==> Hall Sensor.

2. How to install the new Hall Sensor?

I’ll let Master john63 from the Samurai School of Appliantology explain that:

1. Unplug washer

2. Remove the rear access panel (4 phillips screws)

3. Remove the large 17mm bolt at the center of the ROTOR
Pull off the ROTOR (has magnetic tension)

4. At the bottom of the STATOR ASSY (Motor Coil) remove the phillips screw on the
metal wire harness-plate. This will allow slack when removing the STATOR ASSY.

5. Remove all of the 10mm bolts from the STATOR ASSY.
Carefully lower the STATOR ASSY & disconnect the HALL EFFECT SENSOR plug.

6. Unclip the *single* tab of the HALL EFFECT SENSOR to remove it from the STATOR.

7. Install new HALL EFFECT SENSOR—verify that all 4 snap/lock tabs are securely
attached to the STATOR ASSY.

8. Re-assembly in reverse order.

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

How to handle and store food safely during power outages

With Hurricane Irene and earthquakes cranking up along the East Coast and the ensuing power outages that are sure to follow, here’s some timely info on safely storing and handling food during weather emergencies and power outages.

We practice basic safe food handling in our daily lives, but obtaining and storing food safely becomes more challenging during a power outage or natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.

Steps to Follow to Prepare for a Possible Weather Emergency:

Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer. An appliance thermometer will indicate the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer in case of a power outage and help determine the safety of the food.

Make sure the freezer is at 0 °F (Fahrenheit) or below and the refrigerator is at 40 °F or below.

Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers after the power is out.

Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately-this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.

Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.

Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours. Purchase or make ice cubes and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.

Group food together in the freezer—this helps the food stay cold longer.

Steps to Follow During and After the Weather Emergency:

Never taste a food to determine its safety!

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.

The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed).

Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below.

Obtain block ice or dry ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.

If the power has been out for several days, then check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer or food thermometer. If the food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below, the food is safe.

If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, then check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.

Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items after 4 hours without power.

When in Doubt, Throw it Out!