Appliance Repair Show Transcript - November 18, 2007

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Topics Discussed:

Whirlpool Top Loader Washing Machine Will Not Fill with Warm Water

JOHN MCCULLOCH

With a problem with a Whirlpool washer, we go to Winona, in Rochester Hills, on News Talk 760 WJR. Good morning, Winona.

WINONA

Well, when I try to get warm water in my washer, I don't get any. I just get the cold, and yet when I set it on hot, I get lots of hot water.

JOHN SOWDEN

Is this a top-loading machine?

WINONA

Yes.

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. So you're not getting any warm, but the hot and cold do work independently?

WINONA

Uh-huh.

JOHN SOWDEN

Normally it's either in the timer or the temperature selector switch. What happens when you select warm is you're sending power to both the hot and cold coils. If you're getting the different temperatures independently, that tells me that the water valve should be okay. It depends on the model of washer, some have little circuit boards that model the water temperature, and there's what they call a thermistor that senses the water temperature in the water valve and that could fail. But if it's not a fancy one as they say and its straightforward then I'd lean toward the water temperature switch, where you select warm/warm, hot/cold, and all that good stuff. You can determine if that's the case or not, but you have to use the wiring diagram on the unit, and normally that's in the control panel. It will tell you that during this cycle, if you select warm and cold, it will tell you what contacts in that switch are supposed to be open and closed. And if you've got electrical test meter, a volt ohmmeter you can check it. Or, if you have a handyman or somebody who's fairly handy with that stuff, you might want to let them take a shot at it.

WINONA

Okay.

Maytag Side by Side Refrigerator Making a Loud Clicking Noise and the Freezer is Not Holding the Temperature

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Here, in her car, is Lynn with a Maytag side-by-side fridge problem on the Appliance Repair Show. I guess I said that wrong, the fridge is not in the car with Lynn.

JOHN SOWDEN

I was going to say, what is she driving, a bus or something? I'm sorry, Lynn, we're having fun this morning. What kind of problem are you having?

LYNN

I was sitting in the kitchen and I heard a clicking noise like a switch being thrown. Then a buzzing noise for maybe a minute or so, and then another click and the buzzing noise went away. This went on all night, I got up the next day, and my freezer was thawed. So obviously I took everything out of it, I called for service. And, when they got there the next day, it had frozen back up. So the guy looked at it, pulled it out from the wall, looked at the back of it, and said I needed a compressor. So he left and said they'd order it for me and call me back, which was four days ago and I still haven't heard from him. But then it started clicking again, click, buzz, thaw, and it was thawed again. My husband got my hairdryer out and put it on the water line that goes into the icemaker and thawed it out, and now it's been frozen again for three days.

JOHN SOWDEN

Hmm. Well I would say that the defrost in the icemaker water line probably didn't have anything to do with the refrigerator working or not. The clicking you hear is the PTC relay or the components that start the compressor trying to start the compressor, and those can fail, and so you hear it try to start the compressor, and then it can't so it shuts off on an internal overload, it's like a circuit breaker for your house except it's mounted to the side of the compressor. So what you hear, the hum, click, and the buzzing, the buzzing is the compressor trying to start, and then the click is the actual overload switching off, or taking power away so you don't burn out your compressor. From what you're describing, I would suspect that the overload relay assembly for that compressor has failed, versus the compressor. But compressors at times, they can just kind of stick, they are mechanical, and sometimes they become hard starting, so it might be an intermittent compressor as well, but most often from what you're describing I would lean more towards the electrical starting components versus the compressor itself. This is something that's a fairly straightforward do-it-yourselfer type job if you're handy.

LYNN

No, my husband's not even allowed to touch tools! He always does more damage-really, I'm not kidding! So this will have to be left to the service department. I just wanted to make sure that I really needed a new compressor, and I think it's under warranty.

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, if it's still under warranty then it's no cost to you, so if they change the compressor that's a good deal as far as you're starting fresh. As I said it could be either one. The starting components or relays are something that commonly fails, but it happens and then a compressor, especially on a newer unit, is probably less likely, but again, that's why they have warranties. So if they're going to change the compressor and it's all under warranty at no cost to you then, that's not a bad thing.

LYNN

Yeah.

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Was it a company repair person that came out, Lynn?

LYNN

It was a local repair person, not a Maytag person.

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Because if it's under warranty, you might want to call a Maytag person.

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, they would have to have a contract, a warranty contract, to do it for Maytag.

LYNN

Yeah, they said they do.

JOHN SOWDEN

Right, they're an authorized factory servicer; I think that is the correct terminology, which is always what you obviously want to go through. You can't get it paid for otherwise if you don't use them. And as I said before those guys are busy this time of year-

LYNN

Yeah, I know, its deer hunting season.

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, I'm not going to pick on those guys. It's the time of year as far as the holidays go, right before Thanksgiving everything gets busy. Normally, refrigeration is something they put as a priority so you can get by without your dishwasher and your microwave and things of that nature, but normally refrigeration, as you pointed out, when it quits it's a mess and you have to take everything out.

LYNN

Yeah, well it's frozen now, but I'm not putting the food back in just in case it thaws again.

JOHN SOWDEN

No, I would not do that until after they get it working for a while.

1994 GE Spacemaker Microwave Running But Not Heating Food

JOHN MCCULLOCH

From Perrinton, Michigan, here's Dwayne, with a question on a GE Spacemaker microwave, on the Appliance Repair Show. Hi Dwayne, what's your problem?

DWAYNE

Yes, it was built in October of 1994, and the microwave actually acts like its running but it doesn't heat food.

JOHN SOWDEN

It counts down but it doesn't heat?

DWAYNE

Yes. And prior to this, when you do popcorn it's got that automatic popcorn thing; it would burn the popcorn right up. It wouldn't even acknowledge. But, prior to this the food heated just fine. And now it won't heat anything.

JOHN SOWDEN

Normally, if it counts down and doesn't heat, the problem is either in one of the door switches, depending on how the unit's wired, or more common would be the circuit board for this or the relay board on this type of unit. Obviously, we tell people to be careful when working on microwaves because they do store energy and we don't want you to get electrocuted. Even unplugged, the capacitor in there holds a charge and if you touch the wrong wiring, it can cause you some problems. Normally on this particular unit, if you do access the control panel, there's a circuit board in there and four wires that plug into the board. You'll probably find, and I do believe it's the red wire that's the power supply; it's probably burnt on the control board. Over time and heat buildup, sometimes you can repair the board. Other times, you have to replace it, and a new board for that, I do believe is around the one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty dollar mark, so on a thirteen, fourteen year old microwave, you might want to think about...

DWAYNE

Just replacing it?

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah.

DWAYNE

Okay.

JOHN SOWDEN

You could certainly have somebody come out and confirm that, but from what you're telling me that's where my money's at.

DWAYNE

Okay. I've been listening to you guys way up here and I appreciate your show.

JOHN SOWDEN

Well thanks! Where is Perrinton if you don't mind me asking?

DWAYNE

It's about forty miles northwest of Lansing. You come in loud and clear!

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Well we sure like to hear that! Thank you, Dwayne. We got a card from a guy in Alaska the other day; he was picking us up.

JOHN SOWDEN

Really? Not on the web?

JOHN MCCULLOCH

No! Actually picking us up on the air.

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, it's good to know the stuff in the other room is working real well!

1996 Kenmore 90 Series Dryer Won't Start When the Start Button Is Pushed

JOHN MCCULLOCH

For sure! With a question on a Sears Kenmore 90 Series dryer, here's Roy, in his car, on the Appliance Repair Show.

ROY

I've got a dryer and she just won't start. You set it to dry and you push the button and she acts like she's going to go, and she just won't go.

JOHN SOWDEN

You get a hum?

ROY

Yes.

JOHN SOWDEN

That's either the motor has failed, or you have something caught in the blower housing. If you're missing any socks or other garments, things that get past the lint trap sometimes get in there and bind against the blower wheel. So, it's either a physical restriction or something holding up the blower wheel, or the motor itself is just tired. Either one will give you that.

ROY

It's about eleven years old.

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah. Sometimes you can turn the drum. Open the door and see if you can turn the drum by hand a few revolutions. If it's something caught in there sometimes it will free that up. Even if it's a dead spot on the motor, which from what you're describing I would suspect, it will take off, and if it does, it's probably a new motor that will be required to get this thing going again.

ROY

Okay.

JOHN SOWDEN

You're looking at...I think most of them are around one hundred bucks. They're fairly straightforward to change if you're handy. You can always pick up a manual for the machine, for an extra ten or fifteen dollars, versus a new one, this time of year with all the Christmas bills, coming, I'm sure people are trying to save a few bucks versus going and buying a new one.

ROY

Right, right. Okay. Sounds simple enough, thank you.

GE Top Mount Refrigerator Door Is Not Sealing Properly

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Here with a door seal problem on a GE fridge, Joe in Detroit, on News Talk 760 WJR. Joe, go ahead please.

JOE

Yeah, it's an upper and lower GE fridge, and the bottom door doesn't seal very good unless you really press hard on it.

JOHN SOWDEN

Have you inspected the door to see if there are any tears in the gasket or if it's binding in the corner?

JOE

Yeah, it looks okay to me.

JOHN SOWDEN

It looks all right?

JOE

Yeah.

JOHN SOWDEN

But you say the door doesn't close very well?

JOE

The rubber seal doesn't make a good seal unless you really press on the door.

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. A lot of times it's not the seal that causes this, it's the actual door hinge or the door is sagging and it's causing it to bind up. What you want to do is see when you close the door, if the lower panel on the actual interior of the refrigerator is hitting the inner door panel on the door itself, if they're rubbing. That might be why it's not sealing well is actually the bottom two pieces of the door, the cabinet and the door liner are actually rubbing against each other and not clearing.

JOE

You can actually open the door with no effort at all, when it does that.

JOHN SOWDEN

Right. Well it would open easier, because if you look at the slope on the inner cabinet, it's actually sloped towards the floor. So if you have to push it up, you're pushing it, for lack of better words, on a ramp, so it would open easy, but if the door gasket looks okay, and there are no tears, normally, it's a door adjustment situation, and I would lean more towards looking at the bottom, opposite the hinge side on that corner, and look and see the plastic, what they call the breaker assembly, if you see any wear, or you have to lay on the floor and look as you close the door, if the inner door liner is hitting or barely rubbing on the interior part of the cabinet. That's more than likely your problem. Sometimes you can adjust the door. Other times you have to add a shim to the freezer door hinge, and all you're doing is lifting that whole door up, maybe a sixteenth of an inch or so, to keep it from hitting. But normally from what you describe, if the gasket is an issue, it's normally torn, on the hinge side it's folded over. If that all looks good, then it's normally just a matter of getting the door to meet the door frame. And even being out of level will cause that. I'd inspect the bottom of the refrigerator door panel where it hits the cabinet.

JOE

This is like a double door we're talking about right, with the big door on the bottom and the smaller freezer door on the top?

JOHN SOWDEN

Right, it's the refrigerator door.

JOE

Yeah.

JOHN SOWDEN

Right. And that's the one that has the most weight, with all the food in there and stuff, and that's why they sag sometimes, and you have to shim it up some more or loosen up the hinge and try to lift it up just a little bit so it clears.

JOE

So that fridge should be sitting level on the floor, right?

JOHN SOWDEN

That's the best way to have it, as level as you can get it. And, if it's not level the cabinet can warp just a little bit, especially with a lot of weight in there, and then you're trying to close the door against a not square surface, and again, normally, it's something that will rub on the bottom of the refrigerator door and cause it to have a little resistance as you just start to get it closed.

JOE

Okay. Thank you.

Whirlpool Gas Dryer Not Heating

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Here with a question on a Whirlpool dryer, David in Allen Park, on the Appliance Repair Show. Hi David, what's your problem?

DAVID

Hi. My dryer has no heat. It runs, but there's no heat to dry the clothes?

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. Is this gas or electric?

DAVID

It's gas.

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. When you go to start it up, do you hear any noises, as far as the motor runs and the gas valve assembly, is it making any clicking noises?

DAVID

No, nothing at all.

JOHN SOWDEN

Nothing at all?

DAVID

When I start it up the motor starts to run and the drum starts to turn.

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. The first thing you need to do is observe the gas burner assembly and see if you can see the igniter glowing. If the igniter glows and cycles off, glows and cycles off, two or three times and you get no ignition, the most common problem is the gas valve coils have failed. That's a pretty straightforward job to replace them, you're looking at thirty or forty dollars in parts and a couple of screws, and so it's not really expensive. It's probably one of the most common things. If you get no glow from the glow bar, and normally you'll see it glowing bright orange, then I would inspect the glow bar and see if it's cracked or broken. You can check those with an ohmmeter. If that's something you find to be the problem then you're probably not getting any current or voltage to the gas valve assembly itself. That would be from a failed thermostat or thermal fuse on the dryer itself and they normally will show you the path of electricity on the wiring diagram, which on this animal is probably in the control panel or in the lower kick plate.

DAVID

Okay.

JOHN SOWDEN

So, if you have any other questions you can visit our website, RepairClinic.com, we have a lot of this stuff on our website where you can get these ideas as well as print them off, take them downstairs with you, it gives you a walk-through, and if you have a specific question you can always contact us via email. We do not give technical advice over the phone due to the large volume of calls we get, it's just hard for us to do that. But we'll help you out.

DAVID

Okay. So for the most part, the main part would probably be the coils if I were not getting any heat?

JOHN SOWDEN

Yes or the igniter itself. Those are the two most common failures. There's also a light sensor, but again if you turn it on and you see it glowing and cycling off and glowing, cycling off, it tells you that you have current to the gas valve, you've got the igniter glowing and the light sensor is cycling it off which is what it's supposed to do. So the process of elimination would leave you with the gas valve coils for what has failed.

DAVID

The coils...okay, thank you very much.

Kenmore Top Loader Washing Machine Water Is Not Flowing Into the Machine Fast Enough

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Here is Ed, in Allen Park, with a question on a Kenmore washer on the Appliance Repair Show.

ED

I have a Kenmore top loader washing machine, and I was wondering, are there filters for the water coming into the machine?

JOHN SOWDEN

Are there filters for the water coming into the machine? Unless you have a household filter in your home, there is not a filter on the machine. What problem are you having with the machine?

ED

Well it seems like sometimes the water doesn't come in as fast as it used to.

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, there's the water inlet valve that allows the water in, and are you on a well or do you have hard water?

ED

No, I'm in Allen Park so it is city water.

JOHN SOWDEN

One thing is you might want to disconnect the hoses from the machine as well as from the water valve itself and see if you have any sediment, because you can still have stuff from your hot water heater and your plumbing that could still plug it up. If the screens are clean, then it could be that the valve itself is just not opening all the way.

ED

But there are screens?

JOHN SOWDEN

There are screens as far as in the water valve itself, I guess I was thinking of a water filter that you would change on a periodic basis like you would for your icemaker or something. There's nothing like that for the washing machines.

ED

But there are screens?

JOHN SOWDEN

There are screens in the water valve and some people when they install the hoses, you can actually buy hose washers with the screen in them, that's why I say take it off at the spigot as well, because there could be a screen there. If they are dirty, you can try to clean those out. If it's really bad you might have to replace the water valve. On your particular model it looks like you have a bunch of dispensers in there, and those water inlet valves can become pretty expensive because they're doing three or four different things. When you turn the machine on it's putting water through to dispense your bleach, your fabric softener, and they have a lot of jobs to do, so the more stuff that's involved with the water valves, like anything else, the more expensive they are as a component to replace.

ED

I can get at that--where those screens are-- I can get at that just by going through the back?

JOHN SOWDEN

Yes, although if you have to change the water valve then you will have to remove the cabinet and we have all those instructions on our website free of charge.

ED

Oh, I see, okay I appreciate that.

Amana Range Is Not Heating Up During the Self Cleaning Cycle

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Here with a question on a self-cleaning oven, Matt in Detroit, on the Appliance Repair Show. Go ahead, Matt.

MATT

Yeah, I've got an Amana range, and it's got a self-cleaning feature on it, and any time you slide the lever to lock, the clean light will not come on and it will not heat up.

JOHN SOWDEN

When you slide it over to lock, you don't get any...so you have a manual latch, you have to slide it over?

MATT

Yes.

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, most-

MATT

If the oven's on and you slide the latch over, it will quit heating and all the lights will go out altogether.

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, well it's a separate circuit that they use for self-clean. When you slide that latch over you're making a series of two or three switches, that all have to be made properly to sense that the door is locked and also allow the oven to heat, so I would either lean towards perhaps, one of those switches has failed, or if in the past this has been used and somebody tried to open the oven prematurely, a lot of times you will end up bending the latch or the latch handle, and the same thing happens where it doesn't actuate the switches properly. And, unfortunately, on these it's not much fun to get at because you have to lift the main top of the range up in order to access those. I would lean more towards the switches on the lock assembly itself. As you turn that lever over, there's a cam back there that you're moving to actuate these switches.

MATT

Okay. So you think one of the switches is probably bad?

JOHN SOWDEN

It's either that, or like I said there's a whole different set of circuitry that they use for the self-clean. But from what you're describing, the switches are where I'd start looking.

1999 Whirlpool Top Mount Refrigerator: How to Replace the Refrigerator Door Gasket

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Here with another question on a refrigerator seal, Mark in Hazel Park, on the Appliance Repair Show.

MARK

I'm sorry, but I'm driving right now and the model number is at my house. It's a Whirlpool, it's a 1999, but the top corner, the thing runs all the time, and I know I have to clean underneath again. I usually do it once or twice a year to keep those coils from getting all dusty. But how hard is that to do and is that cost effective?

JOHN SOWDEN

To clean the coils or to replace the seal?

MARK

Oh, no I'm sorry! To replace the seal. In other words, I know it needs to be replaced, but what do you think?

JOHN SOWDEN

Is this a side by side or freezer on top?

MARK

You got it.

JOHN SOWDEN

Which one is it?

MARK

Oh, I'm sorry, freezer on top.

JOHN SOWDEN

And is this a refrigerator or freezer door gasket?

MARK

It's a refrigerator gasket.

JOHN SOWDEN

A refrigerator. Obviously those are most commonly replaced because the door gets opened four or five times more often than the freezer door does. Yeah, replacement of the door seal is normally a straightforward thing; they normally run between fifty and one hundred dollars for the door seals. It's something that you can do yourself. You have to spend a little time and re-adjust the door, but it's a decent do-it-yourself weekend project. As far as whether it's worth it or not, your refrigerator's not that old, and it does as you say, cause it to run a lot less and over a period of time it may pay for itself in just run times and things of that nature. Plus, you can also get, in the summertime, with a leaky door seal, a lot of condensation and moisture inside the refrigerator that's never good for its operation. So yeah, I mean door seals are a pretty commonly replaced item and it's a customer replaceable item, although sometimes they're a pain and you might want to call for service. Normally if you work with it and spend a little time, even as you get the door seal, they put them in a nice box folded up when you get them, so if you lay it out on the floor, I normally recommend that people soak them in hot tap water, not boiling from your tea kettle water, and then lay them out on a flat surface, whether it's your basement floor, anywhere that's flat and let them sit for a couple days and it'll get all the kinks out of it that come from shipping and it makes your job a lot easier when you go to attack it.

MARK

Gotcha. Let me ask you this real quickly, with those coils, do you guys have a good way of doing those, is there anything they sell?

JOHN SOWDEN

Yes. They have condenser cleaning brushes that we sell, if you visit our website RepairClinic.com and go to Accessories, under refrigerators, you'll see a condenser cleaning brush that looks like a great big baby bottle brush with a long handle. We also have an attachment that goes on your vacuum cleaner and it allows you to go in there to vacuum it out. I like to use both because as you're brushing the coils out you get dust all over the place, so it's always good to have a decent shop vac or a vacuum cleaner with an attachment that has good suction and get in there with a flashlight and it makes a mess but that will probably help your run times as well.

MARK

Boy, thanks a whole lot, I appreciate it.

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Quick question, John, on the refrigerators that have the coils on the back, do you want to clean those too?

JOHN SOWDEN

That is not as imperative to do. You can brush them off but they really don't collect that much dirt. I've seen a few that were kind of dirty and it probably causes the head pressure to go up a bit. But generally, because they're not compact and air-cooled, there's a lot of air from the room being blown across them, they really don't get as dirty.

JOHN MCCULLOCH

So there isn't one underneath, then, if I've got one on the back?

JOHN SOWDEN

That's correct; generally they're one or the other.

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Okay, it's the dumb question of the day!

JOHN SOWDEN

No, it's not dumb question. The ones on the back are called static condensers and the ones underneath are forced-air condensers, because they have a fan motor.

Sub Zero Side By Side Refrigerator: Model Number Location Help

JOHN MCCULLOCH

And here's Harold, from Southfield, who's trying to identify some old appliances, here on the Appliance Repair Show. Go ahead please, Harold.

HAROLD

Yeah, I have two quick questions. Number one is I have a Sub Zero, and I can't read the model number because there happens to be a screw that's on the faceplate. And, there's a screw right through where the model number is. I have a serial number but everyone I call says I need a model number to get parts for it.

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay, first of all, you say the screw is through the faceplate. Normally, depending on the age if you open up the refrigerator door and look at the hinge side, that's where the sticker is going to be. Is that where you're looking?

HAROLD

No, actually I was checking on the freezer side, that's where I happened to notice a sticker that had the model number.

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay, but it's on the hinge side?

HAROLD

Yes.

JOHN SOWDEN

That's unusual that there would be a screw through it.

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Would there also be one on the refrigerator side?

JOHN SOWDEN

No, there's normally only one model tag, but what, how old, do you have any basic idea of the age?

HAROLD

Probably ten years.

JOHN SOWDEN

And is this a freezer on the bottom?

HAROLD

It's a side by side.

JOHN SOWDEN

It's a side-by-side, okay. Generally, by the serial number, that should be some help. If you send us an email we can see if we can track that down. Basically, it depends...if nothing else you can send us a picture and I can try to figure it out.

HAROLD

Where do I send that?

JOHN SOWDEN

Go to our website, it's RepairClinic.com, and go to Contact Us" section, give us your email address, ask your question, and we'll try to research that and see if we can help you out there.

Thermador Double Oven Door Won't Close

HAROLD

The other quick question is, a friend of mine has a house that was built in the sixties and there's a Thermador double oven, side-by-side oven. The door won't close.

JOHN SOWDEN

You mean upper and lower?

HAROLD

No, these are actually two separate ovens.

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay, so they've mounted them side-by-side?

HAROLD

Two separate ovens, side-by-side. And the door for one won't close. I've been on a couple of websites where I could locate parts, but again they want the model number and I can't find a tag anywhere.

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, on that one they hide it. It's actually on the bottom of the oven door, and normally you have to almost open the oven door and look at the very bottom where the door meets the frame and you'll see a tag down there.

HAROLD

Okay, now also in that particular one the door won't close.

JOHN SOWDEN

Right. There's a series of cables and springs that close that hinge assembly. The cables breaking can cause it.

HAROLD

That's what it seems from looking at the picture. Are there any companies in the Detroit area that could come out and fix that particular piece?

JOHN SOWDEN

I'm not aware of one company over another. What you might want to do is see who factory warranties for Thermador, that way you're at least getting people that are pretty well versed in working on it. If you do have to have the door cables replaced, you have to pull the ovens out, and that's a pretty labor intensive thing, not a lot of fun, so it might be a pretty big labor bill, small repair parts bill for that.

HAROLD

I understand. Thank you, sir.

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