Appliance Repair Show Transcript - November 25, 2007

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2003 Kenmore Gas Range, Model 790.71011200, Not Heating Up

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Donna in Riga. Good morning, Donna.

DONNA

Hi. I have an oven that won't heat.

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay.

DONNA

Okay. It's a Kenmore, I bought it in January 03, and the model number is 79071011200. You turn it on, the pilot comes on and that's as far as it goes. The top works.

JOHN MCCULLOCH

You say this is the pilot, or do you see the igniter glowing?

DONNA

Or, the igniter. Whatever. It just doesn't go any farther.

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay, you see it glowing, but it doesn't turn on the gas for the main burner?

DONNA

No.

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, most often the problem is still the igniter, even though it is glowing bright red or bright orange. It has to do with how much current that igniter is drawing, and after a period of time it becomes weak and it doesn't draw enough current to actuate the oven safety valve properly. This is a fairly common thing we run into, where people say the oven's not working, and it can't be the igniter because I see it glowing bright orange. The only way to really tell if it's the igniter is to use what they call an amp probe, and what that does is you hook that around one of the wires going to the igniter, and it will tell you how much current in that circuit is being drawn, and then you match that up to your gas valve as far as what the parameters are on that. If you don't have an amp probe, most often the vast majority of the time, if you just replace the igniter, it will work for you. If you go to the website, RepairClinic.com, put the model number in that you just provided to me, you'll see a picture of all the common parts for your unit, and also the igniter and depending on how close you are to Canton, you can either pick one up or have it shipped to your door.

DONNA

Okay, because I just turned it on, and it's all lit up there but that's it.

JOHN SOWDEN

Again, it's a common problem as far as igniters go, and being five years old that's about the norm depending on how often you use your oven, but that's a fairly straightforward do-it-yourselfer-

DONNA

Oh, my son can do it!

JOHN SOWDEN

There you go! Put him to work.

1967 GE Refrigerator, Model TC469WB, Door Gasket is Not Sealing Properly

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Norman from Southfield. Good morning and welcome to the Appliance Repair Show.

NORMAN

Well thank you for your program because I've not heard anything like it before and I know you've answered this question from other people, but I never get to hear it when you do. So my problem is this: I have a refrigerator, it's about forty years old, it's a GE TC469WB and my wife likes it but it has a problem. The problem is it has a thick tacky shellac type material on the door seals, and what it's doing, it's allowing the ice, the moisture and the heat to get in and it freezes...when I dump the ice cubes in it freezes on the trays, so I know it's leaking through the seals. Now I tried to clean it with hot water and detergent, but it wouldn't cut it, it's a thick stuff, it's like shellac, it's quite gummy but it doesn't come off. What do I do? I called your clinic and they referred me back to you.

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, first of all, does this unit have a latch handle on it, as far as the age of it, does it have the positive latch handle, or does it just pull open?

NORMAN

It's a magnetic thing, when it closes it is on magnetic seals. At the time it was the best one they had, and it's been great to us but you know it's old now and I can't clean it.

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, the door gaskets, if you can't get the stuff off you might have to replace them and as you said it's forty years old, it may or may not have a replacement gasket available.

NORMAN

I checked around town, and in fact I called GE and they didn't have any idea who might have anything anymore. I know I have to clean it, and I'm afraid to use something real strong and hurt the seal, you know?

JOHN SOWDEN

One thing you can do if you don't use this refrigerator every day, if it's a second refrigerator, you can take the door gaskets off and try soaking them in a cleaning solution and hot water, not boiling-

NORMAN

Well we use it all the time! It's an important thing in our lives, so I can't really do without it for very long.

JOHN SOWDEN

Other than trying to soak it, that's about the only thing I can suggest. As far as replacement gaskets go, you can, at times they have some kits available that you can replace it with and you have to cut part of the old gasket apart, it's kind of labor-intensive and it doesn't always work out to well. One thing you can try is with the temperature getting down here at night is if you don't have a lot of stuff in the freezer, you can work on emptying the freezer, and then set the food in the refrigerator outside or in the garage somewhere overnight when we get down here in the thirties and that way you don't lose any food, and then take the gaskets off and soak them in some hot water and some cleaner and see if it works out for you. Otherwise at that age, if you can't get the replacement part and you can't get it clean, it might be a good idea to get one of those door-buster deals on a new refrigerator that they've got going.

The Difference between Natural Gas and Propane Appliances

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Here with a question on natural gas versus propane, we have Brian in Perry on the Appliance Repair Show. Go ahead, Brian.

BRIAN

Listen, I'm in the process of buying a new house, but it has propane and I've been used to natural gas all my years. What's the difference between the appliances?

JOHN SOWDEN

The difference between the appliances is basically the orifice size and the regulator that they use to get the combustion for the different types of gas. Natural gas has a pressure of normally three or four inches of water column and propane's at eleven. So normally what happens is the hole that the gas to come through to provide the flame is normally smaller with the propane versus the natural gas. If you hook up a natural gas appliance to propane and don't convert it, then what you have at times is kind of a flame thrower. Because you've got twice the ability to let twice as much gas out-

BRIAN

So in other words you're saying if I wanted to roast half a cow I could use that.

JOHN SOWDEN

You could, and then hopefully you have good insurance to cover your new home. Yeah, I've seen it where people didn't convert their dryer, and the flames actually came up into the drum of the dryer. So it is important that you have it properly set up. Some appliances have a fixed orifice, meaning that you just change the small part in there and they have a predetermined size. The other ones are adjustable, where you have to either loosen or tighten the orifice hood on each gas valve, and that's kind of a sight thing. You can also use a monometer, what it does is it gives you the accurate reading of the pressure in each line and adjusts it that way. But most guys that have been out in the field for a while can do it by sight, they can adjust it down and get each flame to where it looks nice and burns clean.

BRIAN

Yeah, that's why I was curious about it, because I've got all new appliances in there, I've got one gas appliance that's like, I'll just settle with the old house and I might as well refit the whole thing.

JOHN SOWDEN

The other thing I want people to understand is that not every appliance is convertible. Most of them are, but some of them are sold natural or LP, and they don't make kits readily available to convert them, or the kits are so expensive because you have to change every component, that you might as well just build a new appliance. Depending on what appliance that is, normally laundry stuff is pretty easy to convert, but built in cook tops and gas ovens are at times sold natural or LP and you're kind of stuck with what you have.

BRIAN

Great. Thank you very much, that clears a whole lot up for me.

1998 Jenn-Air Dishwasher Stopped Before Completing the Cycle and Will Not Restart

JOHN MCCULLOCH

And now we will talk about a Jenn-Air dishwasher with Dee in Lake Orion on NewsTalk 760 WJR.

DEE

Good morning, John. I have a Jenn-Air dishwasher and its nine years old. I turned it on the other night to run, which I usually do late at night, and when I got up in the morning it still had forty-one minutes to go out of the usual eighty-six or eighty-seven minutes; it had stopped at that point. I know I had a panel problem once before and I called Jenn-Air's service, and they suggested that I needed to go down to the main circuit breaker and shut it off, leave it off for a few minutes and then turn it back on and that usually resets it. I tried that a few times and then finally it did it, but it went to a PF code on the printout, so when I pushed the clear and stop, it stopped everything. Nothing will work at all now.

JOHN SOWDEN

PF stands for power failure so what the board is saying is you turned power off to me and I want you to know that, because if you woke up in the morning and saw that it had not completed the cycle you would know that you lost power in the middle of the night and it wasn't necessarily a problem with the dishwasher. Now you say you turned the power off a few times and it doesn't do anything.

DEE

It actually didn't, when I would come back upstairs I would look at it and it would still have that forty-one minutes on it and I turned it back on. I did it three times I believe. The third time I got the PF message.

JOHN SOWDEN

That's because you turned it off. There are a couple things it could be. When dishwashers go through the cycle, a lot of times when it gets to the rinse portion, it will stop and heat up the water. It doesn't necessary stop the wash arms, but the advancing of the program will stop, and it will turn on the heating element in the tank and heat the water up to a predetermined temperature, depending on if you selected sanitary wash or regular wash, normally it's around one hundred and fifty to on some of the newer units, one hundred and seventy degrees. Once you hit that temperature, it will then continue. So if you have a problem in the heating cycle, it will cause it to sit there forever until it senses that it's time to move on. So my point is if your heating element has failed, this may have caused the problem. Or, there's normally a small thermostat underneath the tank that senses when the tank temperature is proper, and it tells the control board to move on. If that is okay, then I would suspect that your control board has failed. The other thing you can do is make sure that all the connections on the circuit board are correct and re-secure all the connections on it. Sometimes with the dishwashers, laundry stuff like that, you're dealing with moisture and sometimes it can get into the connections on the board and cause a bad connection. So sometimes by jiggling it a little bit you can get it to work. If that continues I would replace the board because a lot of times it's not just a connection but you can also have a small crack in the circuit board, which over time will intermittently work.

DEE

It's a nine year, I mean it's just my husband and I here, so it's not like the dishwasher is used a whole lot. Probably every few days we run it. But it was like halfway through the cycle, and there is water left in the bottom.

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, it's going to just sit there. Yeah, I would look at the heating element, and normally if you remove the lower panel or sometimes you have to remove the front panel, there will be a tech sheet and a wiring diagram for it and give you some common test procedures if you want to tackle this yourself a little bit and see, if not you can call for service. But this looks like it's one of the top-of-the-line dishwashers, and being a plastic tank they don't go bad, they don't chip or anything.

DEE

Is it worth repairing, being nine years old? They talk about most appliances lasting about ten years now. Am I going to be putting good money into something bad?

JOHN SOWDEN

That's a risk you always take. You can look and see what a new dishwasher would cost, the one that has the comparable options. If you don't install it yourself remember you're going to add seventy to one hundred dollars to have it installed, so add that to the cost of a new one. And then that's only a decision that you can make. You can have somebody come out and look at it.

DEE

I wonder how much it would cost to have a new board installed. My husband is listening to this, too, because I certainly don't know anything about this except a few little troubleshooting techniques that I've learned.

JOHN SOWDEN

Well the other thing you can do, if you have somebody out to service it, they can look at the machine and tell you if everything else is in good working order. That might be a better idea if you're going to spend your money on a service call.

DEE

I think I'll do that. Thank you so much.

1990 Gas Range Will Only Heat Up If Lit Manually

JOHN MCCULLOCH

And John from Wyandotte has a question on a stove that isn't lighting, here on the Appliance Repair Show.

JOHN

I've got an oven, I'm not sure the name brand of it, but we kind of inherited it from my wife's aunt. Anyway, the stove was about fifteen, maybe twenty years old, and when I turn the stove part on, the natural gas pilot, I can see the pilot rays to light the oven, but it won't light until I reach in with the lighter and heat up the little thermal light. When I heat that up, it lights, but then it will go out again, but then when I heat it up again it will go on and stay on. It's almost like it has to reach a certain temperature to stay on. I'm just going to hang up and listen to your answer. Is that okay?

JOHN SOWDEN

That's fine. If you have a standing pilot stove, and from what you describe that's what you have, what happens is when you turn on your oven thermostat, you send an additional amount of gas down the pilot line, and that increases the pilot flame. The pilot flame kind of rides down this little ramp and engulfs the sensing bulb for the gas safety valve and it heats it up. Now once it gets hot it then opens the main gas valve and allows gas to come out across the pilot flame and then light the main gas burner. From you adding additional heat to that, tells me that you have one of two problems. Either the oven safety valve itself is tired and doesn't want to open unless you really add a lot of additional heat to it; but more commonly, what happens is that the pilot assembly that small little ramp that the flame has to crawl up into is dirty, and a lot of times if you look at it you might see a white residue, and it's just from some of the impurities in the gas and stuff. If you take, and obviously are very gentle, a small wire brush or the like, sometimes you can just take a screwdriver and scrape it, but you don't want to bend it or manipulate it in any way. Clean that area off, and you'll probably find it will start working again. On occasion, the pilot orifice will also become dirty as well, and that is a very small hole and we recommend you just replace that because if you try to take a pin or something and enlarge that hole, then you've created a whole different mess. But yeah, from what you describe I would start by just cleaning out that pilot assembly, and you'll probably find that it will start working again. If the pilot assembly is clean and you're getting a really good flame, then I would replace the safety valve itself, and they're between seventy and a hundred bucks for one of those. Again, depends on brand, age, and all that good stuff.

JOHN MCCULLOCH

So you've got to get the model number and go to RepairClinic.com on the web and plug that model number in and the safety valve will pop up.

JOHN SOWDEN

If it doesn't, simply give our 888 number a call, that's 888-34-FIXIT, and if it's something that we have to research in some of the older books and archive stuff we have we're more than glad to do that for you. This time of year people get their stove in the basement working, which is a secondary stove that they use for the holidays and stuff, so we have to go back to the library there and dig out some of that information. But we have all that stuff and we're more than willing to do it for you to get you on your way.

JOHN MCCULLOCH

And John, if you're driving and you couldn't write that number down, which I assume that you wouldn't do while moving, then what I would do is just go to RepairClinic.com and the number's there and you can call and get your advice.

1997 Maytag Neptune Washing Machine Does Not Spin

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Now we will go to a question on a ten-year-old Neptune washer from Bob in Linden on the Appliance Repair Show. Good morning, Bob.

BOB

I have approximately ten-year-old Maytag Neptune washing machine and it will not go through the cycle to spin the water out.

JOHN SOWDEN

Have you had any other service done to this machine?

BOB

Never.

JOHN SOWDEN

Never had it worked on?

BOB

No.

JOHN SOWDEN

Ok. Well...

BOB

It's been very dependable. If I turn it on it will wash the clothes it will go through everything, just not the spin cycle.

JOHN SOWDEN

So it won't go into a high-speed spin then?

BOB

Correct.

JOHN SOWDEN

Have you noticed any unusual noises? Has it been getting louder over time?

BOB

No, the only thing I noticed is that there was a sloshing noise, after it went through the spin cycle. If you move the tub there was a sloshing noise in the bottom.

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, that might not be abnormal operation, it depends if there's water in the bottom between the tubs. From what you're describing I would suspect one of two things. One is that the rear bearing assembly is starting to wear, and it just is so much drag on the system it's just not able to get it up to high spin speed. More commonly what I would suspect is that you have a failure in what they call the motor speed control board, and also what's called a wax motor, and it's a piece that is in the door lock assembly. A lot of times what happens is that wax motor will fail, and then it shorts out the board. You can probably figure out what is wrong if you take out the main board and turn it over and look at the backside of it, there's a series of resistors there and they're labeled and I think it's the R11 resistor you might find is burned open if that's the case. If that is the case you can order a kit for that, and if you're looking to do the job yourself it's a few hundred bucks to repair this.

BOB

How much did you say?

JOHN SOWDEN

I'd say a couple hundred bucks for the kit for that.

BOB

Whoa!

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, well, honestly if you're going to get into it I'd recommend the manual too, which is another twenty dollars or so. But you know these things are all electronics and there's a lot of stuff going on. Again, to spend ten, twenty dollars on a manual is money well spent if you're a do-it-yourselfer: it gives you not only how to fix a particular machine but it also gets into the theory of operation and you can learn other stuff by reading it. But yeah, it's at a point where, if you do it yourself you're looking at twenty five percent of the cost of a new one, if you have somebody come out and do it, you could be at a third of the cost of a new one. Those are all decisions that you have to make, but those are the two things I'd suspect from your complaint.

BOB

All right. Well, thank you very much.

1997 Amana Washing Machine Leaking Oil inside the Tub

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Here with a question on a ten-year-old Amana washer, Tom in Plymouth, on the Appliance Repair Show.

TOM
We have an Amana clothes washer, and my wife did the clothes the other day and we have oil inside the drum.

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay.

TOM

It comes off the agitator. It appears that it leaked outside the agitator. My question is, do I repair it, or do I get a new one?

JOHN SOWDEN

You've taken the agitator off and you see--?

TOM

No, I haven't, I can't get her off.

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, they're a lot of fun. First thing you need to do is make sure it is oil. A lot of times if you have a fabric softener buildup in the drum it will look like oil on the clothes, but if you use a cleaner on it, a pre stain treatment and wash it again it will come out. If that happens, normally it is fabric softener. It will leave spots on the clothes and look similar to oil. If it's oil, then what you have is a leaking transmission. At that point, to answer your question, should you repair it or not? If you do it yourself you're going to have a few hundred dollars in just the parts, and while you're tearing it apart-

TOM

No, I'm not able to do that kind of thing.

JOHN SOWDEN

Then I'd say at this point, that if it looks like oil and you're sure it's not a fabric softener thing, if you have somebody come out and do the job it will be at least half the cost of a new one; and if it's ten years old there are other things that could start to go out on it. It may be time to do some Christmas shopping in the appliance stores for a new washing machine.

TOM

Yes sir. We'll check that out for a buildup of soap. Does that get black?

JOHN SOWDEN

Yes.

TOM

And if we use something like Shout on the clothes and if that comes off...?

JOHN SOWDEN

It could be softener; if it doesn't normally then its grease. There's a lot of times that one can kind of look like the other, but you can just take it over to the sink and wash it out rather than ruin some more clothes by putting it back in the washer.

JOHN MCCULLOCH

If it is the softener is there some way to get rid of that?

JOHN SOWDEN

You can try to do a few loads of just hot water and slosh it around. If it's buildup under the agitator you can try to take the agitator off and clean it out. Most of those, to take the agitator off, you just have to pull up really hard to get it to pop off. They actually make special tools to get those off. I've basically have had them come off, and I've had other times had to split them in half with a big screwdriver because you just can't get them off.

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Oh, geez!

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah.

TOM

Well, thank you!

1997 Roper Range Does Not Reach the Proper Temperature

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Here from his car is R.W. with a question on some oven parts he can't find here on the Appliance Repair Show. Go ahead, R.W.

R.W.

My mom has a Whirlpool oven, it's under the cabinet kind, it's either slide in or built in, I can't remember which. I think it was built by Roper, about ten years ago. We've had the guy come out and take a look at it, one guy's checked the probe, one guy's checked the control panel and that's what they think it is. I've contacted Whirlpool and they don't have the part any longer, the control panel for it. I was just wondering where I might be able to find it.

JOHN SOWDEN

Is it giving you an F3 code?

R.W.

No, actually it doesn't reach the proper temperature.

JOHN SOWDEN

Does it heat at all, or

R.W.

It does heat, but it doesn't reach the proper temperature. You set it for 350 degrees and you expect something to be done in an hour and it takes two hours.

JOHN SOWDEN

Ok. And is this gas or electric?

R.W.

I believe it's electric.

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. So you say the oven sensor is okay, that somebody has checked that for you. It should read a thousand ohms at room temperature.

RW

Yes.

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, the thing is that Roper was purchased by Whirlpool, that's who handles the parts for it now. At one time GE was actually handling some of the parts, and I do believe that they handle that now, as far as some of the parts go. So what you might not be able to find from one manufacturer, you might from another.

R.W.

Okay.

JOHN SOWDEN

But normally, for most appliances, manufacturers are required to carry parts for seven years for replacement parts, and you said this is ten years old. You might be in that window where they're just discontinuing that, because a lot of times a company buys another company, they support all their replacement parts and service for a period of time, and then after that they phase it out. Even though you can still buy a new Roper and they handle parts for that. This particular unit that was made by Roper itself instead of the mother company, which is Whirlpool, the parts might no longer be available.

R.W.

Right.

JOHN SOWDEN

If you need a circuit board for that, and if it's the one I'm thinking of, it's a drop-in. It came as a kit, where there's a circuit board and part of a vent to keep steam from getting into the circuit board and all this good stuff, and you might not be able to find it. You can try giving us a call with the part number or the model number, and we can look it up and try to see if any of our affiliate suppliers have one on the shelf. If not then there might not be anything you can do. Unfortunately, since this is a built in, you might have a hard time finding something to fit in it's place because you're going to have to find one that fits into the same countertop to drop in. That's going to be fun, too. You might be limited as to what you can buy. Or, time to call a cabinet guy out and do some remodeling.

2005 GE Refrigerator Icemaker Not Dispensing Ice or Water

JOHN MCCULLOCH

And, here with a question on a two-year-old GE refrigerator icemaker, Paul in Chelsea, on the Appliance Repair Show.

PAUL

My refrigerator/freezer is a couple years old, and a couple of days ago it stopped dispensing either ice or water. I don't know what to do about that, so I wondered if you could help me.

JOHN SOWDEN

You've got the electronic touch pad on the front?

PAUL

That's correct.

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, and it's not doing either?

PAUL

It has the three options, the crushed, cubed, and the water, and none of them are working.

JOHN SOWDEN

More than likely there's a small circuit board behind that that does all the directing, and that's probably failed but before you replace it and fire it up again you also want to inspect the solenoid that shifts the ice from crushed to cubes. If that solenoid has failed and grounded out, or stuck, then that again will cause high current draw in that circuit board and cause it to burn out. So you might have two problems and if you just replace the board you might only be solving it temporarily until it wipes out the new board. You can check-

PAUL

Is that a self-help kind of a thing, or would I need to get a technician out?

JOHN SOWDEN

That depends on your abilities to get at the solenoid for the dispenser. You do have to empty the freezer, remove the back wall, there's a series of screws. It's not hugely difficult but you do need to find a place for all the food in there. As far as the module goes, usually the faceplate will just pop off to get at that board, it's not too big a deal to access that and changing it is just a matter of a few screws and a couple wiring harnesses. But, I would just make sure that that solenoid's not stuck and it's not shorted before I'd put a new control module in.

PAUL

All right.

GE Gas Range Does Not Heat Up

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Here with a question on a GE oven, Darnell from Brownstown on the Appliance Repair Show. Go ahead Darnell, quickly. We're up against the clock.

DARNELL

Yeah, I've got an oven, the broiler works, the oven doesn't. It just started last night and I need to know what I need to do to get it going.

JOHN SOWDEN

This is an electric?

DARNELL

It's a gas oven.

JOHN SOWDEN

And you have an upper broiler assembly...you have a broiler in the ceiling of the oven?

DARNELLE

Yeah.

JOHN SOWDEN

So you have two separate components then?

DARNELL

The broiler is at the top. I think it heats from top and bottom.

JOHN SOWDEN

Right, right. And the broiler works and the bake does not.

DARNELLE

Right.

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, most often that's caused because the oven igniter, the lower one, has failed. And the reason it's failed before the broiler is most people use the oven five or six times more than the broil. What you can do is if you put the model number into our website, you can see if the bake and broil igniters are the same, and if they are you can simply take the one out from the broil and put it in the bake position and try it. If not then I would order the one specifically for the bake. Now I noticed that the number you provided for the model number here is incorrect. What you have there, that is actually the part number for the wiring diagram or the tech sheet for the oven. And that's another problem that people have when we say we need the model number, they open up the door and see a plate with a number on it, but it doesn't specifically say model number or mod. number and so you have a part number for the wiring diagram. So look around the oven and get the information off the sticker, and we can take it from there.

DARNELL

Okay, very good. Thanks a lot!

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