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The need for a number of dishwasher repairs often arise from one single cause: food particles.
Some manufactures of dishwashers make the claim that their models have a special built-in chopper that can pulverize any food pieces left on the dishes, and safely pump them down the drain. The simple fact is that even solid food particles as small as cooked rice, seeds, strands from celery and other vegetables will often cause problems requiring the dishwasher repairman.
Some of these items can actually bend the tiny chopper, clog the internal filters reducing water flow, jam the pump, and block the jets that spray water and rotate the wash arms. Also, food commonly collects at drain line bottlenecks and check valves preventing the dishwasher from draining properly. Food removal is one of the most common repairs on dishwashers. The good news is that most of these problems can be alleviated by rinsing all food particles off the dishes prior to loading dishwasher. Grease and oil of course, are easily handled by most brands of dishwashers.
Poor cleaning can also result from the input of fresh water that is not hot enough.
Most manufactures require that the water entering the dishwasher should be at least 120 degrees F.(check your owner's manual). To help this you can let your kitchen tap run until it gets hot, just before starting the dishwasher. Also, check your water heater so see if its thermostat is set high enough. This not only helps the dishes get clean, but may also shorten the dishwasher's cycle time because, to get the water hot, the dishwasher will not have to heat the water as long.
Most Dishwashers have a water level sensor that operates as a float. The float is usually located inside the tub, near the front bottom, at the left or right corner. It is a dome shaped cap, about two to three inches in diameter, that bobs up and down with the water. When the water starts to get to a prescribed height, a switch is tripped, and the water fill valve is shut off. Sometimes a piece of cutlery or other objects can get stuck underneath the float, preventing the water fill valve from opening.
If you are finding transparent spots on your dishes, you may have what is known as hard water. This is when your water has a high content of minerals, and a corresponding increase of water tension. Too much water tension causes the water to bead on your dishes instead of running off in sheets. When the beads dry, they leave spots. If you have this problem, check out the 'Jet Dry' website.
Another cause of this problem is using too much soap.
A Range is an oven with a flat top with gas burners or electric heating elements for cooking with pots and pans. To generate heat, most ranges use just gas, or just electricity. However, there are some models that are 'dual fuel', usually having electricity for the oven, and gas for surface cooking.
A stove is an apparatus that burns fuel to heat a living space as well as provide a surface for cooking. Stoves will not be addressed here.
It has been decades since live pilots on domestic gas ovens and ranges were legal.
The pilots were tiny live flames that remained constantly on, to ignite the large burner when needed. With the millions of tiny pilots burning all over the country, a lot of energy was being wasted. So new, non-live flame ignition sources were developed.
The most common in use today for ovens is the 'glow bar ignitor'. This is a device that is mounted next to the gas burner. When the oven requires heat, the ignitor glows reddish-white to ignite the burner.
The ignitor is controlled by an oven thermostat, or sensor, along with the range's electronic control clock, where you set the temperature. Electric ovens, control their heating elements the same way. The gas burner (or electric element) is cycled on and off as heat is needed to maintain the desired cooking temperature. It is not unusual to have a on and off variance (differential) of plus or minus 15 degrees F.. The mean average of the differential is the cooking temperature or set point. As an example, if you select a baking temperature of 350 degrees F., the oven will preheat to about 365 degrees and cycle off. As the oven cools to about 335 degrees F., the oven will cycle on again.
When the differential is greater than plus or minus 25 degrees F., or does not have an average of the desired set point, then usually this means the oven either needs service for an adjustment, or a repair.
Electric ranges utilize two 120 volt household type circuits. The range's clock and other electronics use one of the 120 volt circuits and the elements use both circuits together to make 240 volts for greater power. Sometimes a faulty wall panel circuit breaker will allow one circuit to remain on, while the other is not fully set to on. When this happens the clock may light up and appear to function properly, but the oven will not heat well.
First push the circuit breaker fully off and then fully on to properly reset it.
The new front load type washers have recently been selling in large numbers. The appeal seems to be the the trendy, glamorous hi-tech new look, and the promise of greater efficiency. It is true that the front load washer does use much less water than the older style top load washer. However to achieve this, the front load washer has to carefully control the motor speed and be able to reverse direction every few rotations to prevent the clothes from tangling. On most models, this requires three separate computer boards; the interface board, the main control board, and the motor control board.
All this extra complexity means more to break and a much greater up front cost that will take quite a while to make up for, by the savings from less water usage.
And there is the claim that with the tumble action of the front load washer, instead of an agitation action, the front load washer is gentler on the clothes. Perhaps it depends on the circumstances. Some of our customers tell us that the front load washers are not really better.
Damage to the clothes comes from when the garment fibers are forced against a hard surface. This action could occur with the slapping of the clothes on the basket of the tumble action front load washer, or the forceful action of the agitator in the top load washer. However, with the top load washer this happens mostly when the washer is overloaded, causing the agitator to press on the clothes, instead of having the clothes slosh freely while suspended in the water. Some of the new top load washers use a rotating disc instead of a tower agitator. The disc has gentle waves formed in its surface that create standing waves in the wash water to do the agitating. These clothes washers are generally more complicated, thus more expensive.
Also, the front load washing machines are sealed when the door is closed. If the door is left closed when not in use, often mildew will grow causing an undesirable odor. Putting the front load washer through a wash cycle with chlorine bleach usually solves the problem. Top load washers don't have this problem.
Since all machines will eventually break and require service, it is important to consider what difficulties you will be confronted with when this happens with your washer. An appliance repairman's ability to provide knowledgeable, and fair priced appliance service is heavily based on his ability to acquire the proper technical data for your particular brand and model. Appliances made in the last decade use much more electronics and are more technical in their designs. This can sometimes require specific information in order for the appliance repairman to perform a proper diagnosis. Unfortunately, most manufactures deliberately withhold this information in order to force the consumer to spend their dollars with the manufactures own repair hub. This can result in fewer repair companies to choose from and higher repair prices for you.
However, there are two manufacturerers that take the exact opposite business practice, Whirlpool and Speed Queen.
'Whirlpool', who also makes Kitchen Aid, Maytag, Jenn-Air, Estate, Amana, and other brands, takes great length to make sure their technical data is available to all technicians. Plus, their appliances are usually designed to be easy to repair and diagnose. This of course means less cost to you. Speed Queen seems to have a similar practice. Almost every appliance repairman is eager to work on Whirlpool and Speed Queen products, and will gratefully recommend them.
We love to repair dryers! Especially vintage Maytags and Whirlpools.
These grand old machines made in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s were made to last. All the wear parts can be easily and economically replaced every seven or eight years. You can keep these dryers for a long time.
Venting is a big issue with dryers. They require a lot of air moving through the drum. Cool room air is pulled through the heater and drum where it picks up moisture from the wet clothes and then gets blown out through the vent. Vents should be as short as possible with the fewest number of turns possible. They must be fireproof! If a fire starts in the dryer the dryer duct must be made to contain the flames all the way to the outside of the house.
The best material to make a vent from, especially when passing through walls or constructed parts of a building, is 4” diameter galvanized steel pipe. It is completely fireproof, cleanable and lasts nearly forever. It does, however take some skill to work with sheet metal. For connecting the dryer's duct to the wall vent, flexible mylar foil duct is a good second choice. Commonly known as 'Supurr-Flex', it tends to spring back to shape when crushed, requires less skill, but is not as durable or flameproof as steel pipe. But it will suffice as a transition duct, from the dryer to the wall, for most installations. We do not recommend the bendable aluminum spiral duct, which easily crushes and will remain so.
Keeping your dryer vent flowing well will reward you with shorter drying times and real savings in energy costs. Clogged vents result in longer drying times and can dramatically shorten the life of the heating element. Another consequence is lint build up inside the dryer. This can be very dangerous as lint is combustible. We often see a blanket of lint laying on the combustor of a gas dryer slowly toasting just below the ignition point. Thats scary! If you suspect that your vent is clogged you should ask the dryer repairman to look for lint build up in the dryer. A normally operating dryer should dry a large load in just one hour or less. If your dryer takes more than one and one-half hours to dry, suspect the vent.
The design of clothes dryers has fully matured over the past fifty years. Today most dryers are simple in design with little to break. And since the conversion of electrical energy to heat energy, by using a heating element is by nature 100% efficient, on those type of electric dryers, there is not much improvement needed. Even gas dryers utilize most of the energy they consume. These type of dryers require a portion of their energy usage to be expended out the duct to raise the duct 's temperature to above the dew point. This helps prevent excessive moisture and lint build-up in the duct along the way to the outside. This is one energy loss that has not been addressed on dryers with heating elements and gas burners.
With the introduction of the new ventless dryers, which have tiny heat pumps in them, energy usage has been reduced further. But they are expensive, so its a trade-off of higher up front cost, versus energy saved.
Adding hi-tech electronic displays with glowing lights and controls, will just increase the purchase price and incidence of repair, and generally will not improve the drying process. When it comes to clothes dryers, we say, keep them simple.
Even though refrigerators are not just mechanical, but partly chemical in their method of operation, there are still some simple things you can check before arranging for a service call to have your refrigerator repaired.
Basically, refrigerators are little window air-conditioners that simply blow cold air into the insulated freezer section instead of into a living space. Some of the freezer's cold air is diverted by a baffle into the fresh food section for cooling there. The heat energy that remains in the food, and the heat that gets in every time the refrigerator or freezer door is opened, is transferred to a radiator type grid with a fan, and is blown back out into the room. Thus, keeping this radiator clean (actually called a 'condenser'), will help the fridge cool, freeze easier, use less electricity, and the appliance will function longer before needing a repair.
The condenser is usually located underneath and can be cleaned from the front with a long narrow brush and a vacuum cleaner. On some models the refrigerator's condenser is accessible by removing the cover panel on the outer-lower back. Be sure to put the panel back, because it is often also be there to direct the air flow. On older models, the condenser was a large grating hanging off the back. Most manufacturers have stopped making this design, because it requires the refrigerator to sit further out from the wall, allowing less room inside for food. Also, some refrigerators and freezers have their condensers unexposed in the side walls. It is normal for the side walls to get warm on these models.
Both the refrigerator and freezer controls should normally be set to medium or about half way. When making adjustments, make them slight, one increment at a time, then wait for twenty-four hours for the food and inner panels to balance out to the new setting before making another change. If you find it necessary to turn the controls up all the way to get a satisfactory temperature, then that often means that something is malfunctioning and should be checked.
Freezer-refrigerator combination boxes, such as 'Top freezers', 'Bottom freezers', and 'Side-by-sides', will generally cool to similar temperatures. The target temperature for the freezer is usually between minus five and plus five degrees Fahrenheit. For long term storage boxes, such as chest freezers and upright freezers, the temperature should be held down to between minus 15 to 0 degrees F.. At these temperatures ice cream should be hard.
The fresh food section's target temperature is usually about 37 to 38 degrees F.. If the temperature control thermostat is set as low as 35 degrees F, because of normal temperature gradients inside the fresh-food section, items such as lettuce may reach 32 degrees F., and freeze.
It is not recommended setting the temperature above 40 degrees F, because at 41 degrees or above, items will spoil prematurely.
Garbage Disposers (Disposalls) operate like huge blenders that grind up the food until it is fine enough to wash down the drain. To accomplish this, they have a big rotating chunk of metal, or jaw, in the disposer's neck (called the grinding chamber). Disposers must make the food particles small enough to allow them to pass between the outer edge of the jaw and the wall of the grinding chamber as you run water through it. The space that the food particles must pass through is only about the thickness of a penny. With a little understanding of how disposers work, you may help reduce the need for a repair or service call.
The motors that turn the jaws in most domestic disposers are usually strong enough to easily shred almost any kind of food. But, like most electric motors, the motors on these disposers have very little of their rated power when they first try to start. Only when they get up to speed do they develop a significant amount of strength. If a hard seed, or a lot of stringy strands from food like celery, become lodged between the grinding chamber wall and the jaw, the motor may not have enough starting power to overcome the jam. This is why it is good to keep food out of the disposer's neck (grinding chamber) until you first, turn on the water, second, start the disposer, and only then allow the food scrap to wash down the drain opening into the disposer. The disposer should only be used with the water running.
If your disposer is making a humming sound, do not let the unit be on for more than a few seconds, or it could over heat and burn up the motor, or at least trip its internal or external circuit breaker. The internal type circuit breaker resets itself after a few minutes. The external type of circuit breaker is located on the bottom of the disposer. It appears as a small button that extends out when tripped. Simply push it in to reset it.
If inappropriate items such as broken glass, screws, or other noncompressible objects get into the disposer, they can cause a jam that may not be repairable. They should be quickly picked out with a needle nose pliers before someone turns the disposer on, and makes the object irremovable. Be sure to only do this with the wall panel circuit breaker off.
When normal food particles lodge and prevent the disposer from starting, it will be necessary to break up the particles by working the disposer's motor shaft back and forth. Most disposers have a hexagonal shaped hole at the center bottom of the unit, that will accept a 1/4 inch Allen wrench. With the wall panel circuit breaker off, and the water running, you can apply much more torque with your hand than the motor can at starting. This should shred any normal food matter and allow it to wash down the drain.