Appliance Repair Show Transcript - August 3, 2008

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1980s Whirlpool Belt Drive Washing Machine Won't Spin After Transmission was Replaced

 

JOHN MCCULLOCH

We will start things off this morning with a question from Diane, in Brighton, on the Appliance Repair Show. Good morning, Diane, go ahead please.

 

DIANE

Hello. I have an old, belt-drive Whirlpool. We had a problem with the water leaking into the transmission, so we took the transmission off and we put new gearcase oil (part # 350572) and everything in there. Now we've got it hooked up again but before we did that, everything worked, it was just that it was leaking. Now we've put the cam back into that little pin that goes in the agitator that has two slots in it, and it looks like one slot is bigger on one side than the other? And I wondered if it was possible that we mixed those up, because it seems like it's stuck in agitate mode, not allowing it to spin.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. So first of all you just had a water leak, and you pulled the transmission?

 

DIANE

Well, there was a leak around the seal in the big seal at the bottom of the tub.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

The tub seal?

 

DIANE

Yeah.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

So you changed the tub seal, and you re-installed the transmission?

 

DIANE

Yes, and we replaced all the bearings, the oil seals and lip seals, the agitator and everything, plus the brake.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

So you put new bearings in the spin tube and everything? You guys did a lot of work on this thing!

 

DIANE

We did!

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay and now when you got the transmission back in, it does what?

 

DIANE

It will agitate, and it sounds like it continues. It agitates, but it will not spin. We can't get it to spin now.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. Did you notice when you looked in there, is the tub turning while it's agitating?

 

DIANE

Yes.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. Well, that's basically a sign that the brake is not engaging. It's basically spinning and agitating at the same time. What happens is, when you pull out the transmission, at the very top of the transmission shaft, there's this little white plastic collar. Inside that plastic collar is a small bearing, ball bearing that fits into the shaft of the transmission.

 

DIANE

Right.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

And then this bearing sits on top of it. If you did not get that ball bearing back in there...

 

DIANE

We did.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay because that's generally what happens, is that it will not lock in place. Now you're sure you got the transmission installed correctly? All the nuts and bolts are tight and all that good stuff?

 

DIANE

Yes.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Now, does it, I mean, from what you're telling me, it sounds like the brake is not engaging. It could be in the shift arms that you're describing, I do believe, that go back and forth. There's also a spring in there that puts tension on one side of that yoke.

 

DIANE

We replaced that.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

The only other thing I can think of is the basket drive assembly at times, there are a bunch of little friction pads in there that might have gotten wet and destroyed to the point where it's not engaging. Sometimes there are little set screws that compress the springs on that, that might have moved up a little bit when you pulled the unit out, and therefore it's not engaging properly.

 

DIANE

There was that one pin that the agitator shaft goes into and when we took it apart, there's one side of that pin that has a longer slot than the other and I wondered if it was possible to turn that around backwards so that it wouldn't allow it to move properly?

 

JOHN SOWDEN

You split the gearcase, then?

 

DIANE

Yes.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

It's possible that if you didn't get everything aligned properly in there-now, they do sell a manual for this, and I do believe in the manual they go through a re-building of the transmission process.

 

DIANE

Oh, okay.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

And that's what, at this point, I would lean to and that way you can disassemble and look at what you have and what you're supposed to have.

 

DIANE

Okay.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Any time you split those apart, if you don't get the gears lined up and everything back inside there.

 

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Sounds like they did pretty well, though, if it's running to that degree!

 

JOHN SOWDEN

And changing the bearings on those things is no fun whatsoever!

 

DIANE

Oh, no. I had to beg, borrow and steal a puller.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, you have to use a puller and it's a pretty aggressive repair. It's not an entry level, do-it-yourselfer type thing. As far as what's happening now, it sounds like if it's spinning and agitating at the same time, that the brake is not engaging to stop in the basket drive. Again, it could be from some of those pads slipping in there or something in the transmission is not lined up and it's not allowing it to drop down. Now when you select for spin, the coils are engaging the shift arm to drop down for the spin?

 

DIANE

Yes.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. So electrically, it's working all right because at times, what happens is the wiring that goes to those solenoid coils will actually develop a break in the wires, and as it agitates back and forth sometimes it will engage, and sometimes it won't engage. So I would inspect that wiring as well. Make sure, because sometimes, the wires are not broken in half, they're actually broken internally, so it's not the most fun to try and find but it sounds like you're on the right track. You could have something internal on the transmission causing the failure, or it could be something misaligning it. Unfortunately, at this point I'd have to see it to tell you exactly what it is, because pulling transmissions over the phone and radio is tough!

 

DIANE

Yeah! I just thought that there was a certain lineup that everything should be in when you put it right back in. You know, like where that little fork and the agitator...?

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Yes, all that in there. Again, at this point, since you've come this far I'd spend the fifteen or twenty bucks on the manual and go from there.

 

DIANE

Okay.

 

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Do you have the manual at RepairClinic.com?

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, there are two.  There's the belt-driven one, and this unit is probably over twenty years old. They quit making the belt drives in 1986-87ish. Maybe a little later, but they came out with the direct drive around 1985.

 

DIANE

Yes, I've bought multiple parts from RepairClinic for this project.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, we're glad to have your business! I wish I could be a little more help here, but when you talk about rebuilding transmissions and stuff like that and alignment and everything in there, it kind of helps to have a little experience to know what you're looking for and looking at. So I think the manual might help you out quite a bit.

 

DIANE

All right! Thank you.

 

2008 Hotpoint Top Mount Refrigerator Making Loud Noise with Door Openings

 

JOHN MCCULLOCH

And here's Dawn, in Lexington, with a refrigerator question, on the appliance Repair Show. Good morning, Dawn, go ahead please.

 

DAWN

We have a Hotpoint refrigerator that we purchased in June of this year. If you open the door and close the door a couple times in and out of it, it sounds like there's a strain on the motor or the compressor or something. We had the repairman out here three times. The first time they changed the ice maker and the second time the guy just looked at it and said, well that's a normal sound.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Is this a side by side?

 

DAWN

No, the freezer's on top.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

It's a freezer on top? And when you open and close the door a few times you notice the fan speed picks up or gets louder?

 

DAWN

It's louder, but it's like the motor is straining. They keep telling us it's normal but I've never heard a refrigerator make that kind of racket!

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Now this is inside the unit?  You're talking about the motor inside the freezer section?

 

DAWN

It's coming from the bottom of the refrigerator itself.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Oh, okay. So it's coming from the underside of it?

 

DAWN

Yes. I don't know if it's the compressor or the motor or what.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, it's certainly something that you need to try to figure out where the sound is coming from, if it's coming from the compressor or the motor. It might entail you sliding the unit out and seeing in fact which one is making the sound. Now, I can tell you on a lot of the newer units, when you open and close the freezer door, what it does is it senses the difference in temperature and the actual fans will pick up speed; depending on what kind of unit you have, the compressor might pick up speed depending on whether you have one of the new variable speed compressors. They run the fans and they run the compressor almost all the time, and they adjust the speed and/or capacity of the cooling by the door openings and what the temperature thermistors are sensing inside. So it's actually more energy efficient to do that, even though it's probably running more than your old one. That's because your compressor starts generally when you're really spinning the meter outside. That's when you draw all of the electricity, so you keep it running at a low speed and try to maintain, and it also helps keep a little more even temperature. Then when you open and close the doors and things, it goes into an accelerated mode that will speed up the fan motors in the freezer section and, at times, the compressor. So it just depends on how your unit is wired.

 

DAWN

It does it also with the refrigerator door. Both doors.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Right. Any time there's an influx of warm air, the cabinet is sensing, "It's warm in here, let's turn things up a notch" so it could be normal operation. Now, as far as the noise goes, if you have a compressor that's got a bad valve or a fan motor with a bad bearing or something like that, that's something that you certainly want to take care of in a warranty situation, and with the unit being only a few months old you're still within the warranty. So what I would do is try to determine if you can which component it seems to be coming from.

 

DAWN

The compressor or the motor?

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Right, if it's the compressor or the motor.

 

DAWN

Okay.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

You still have a warranty on this, so if you still feel you're not getting any help on it, you can always take it up with the manufacturer. If the fan motor is noisy, then maybe just put another fan motor in there and see if that helps out. It could be just some bad bearings or something like that. As a service person, you come in and you have a snapshot of exposure to the appliance, whereas you're in the home all the time, you're listening to it through dinner and whatever but they come in and it could be running fine. Sometimes it's hard to catch it when it's doing it.

 

DAWN

Right.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

So anything you can document to help them as far as, for example, "I think it went through a defrost and it started making more noise", or "when I had the door open for five minutes it really got bad", anything you can do to help out. But again, try to find out where you think the sound is coming from, and then tell them to bring that component with them and try to speed up the process. That way you won't have to stay home from work an extra day in order to get this straightened around.

 

DAWN

Okay.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

And at times, it could be normal operation.

 

DAWN

That's what the repairman was telling us. He said, "Oh, Hotpoint's just make this noise!"

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Everybody has the complaint, but my old one didn't do this, and that's all you have to compare it to, but as I stated, the new machines with the energy efficiency laws and everything else, they're designed to operate a little differently and it takes a little more acclimation to get used to that. But if you still think you have a problem, if the noise is too excessive, then I'd certainly babysit it, see what you can document and have them come out while it's still under warranty.

 

DAWN

Great. Thank you very much.

 

1995 Kenmore Range Beeping and Displaying F1 on Control Panel

 

JOHN MCCULLOCH

We go now to Mike, in Castalia, Ohio, with a question on an oven, here on the Appliance Repair Show. Hi Mike, go ahead please.

 

MIKE

Good morning. What I've got is a Sears Kenmore oven. It's about ten, maybe fifteen years old at the most. It's got a digital control on the front. It has the knobs to turn the burners on, but it's got the digital control panel that you read. All of a sudden it started beeping and it says F1 on the display. I went to the manual, and the manual says disconnect it from power and plug it back in and press the reset. I did all that, and within ten seconds it started doing it again and wouldn't stop. I have no idea what F1 means.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Normally in the owner's manual it will tell you, unplug the oven or call for service. Normally if it's something like a spike of electricity just scrambled the board or something, then it will reset it. Now, F1 is a fault code, fault number one, and it depends on who made your stove as to what action you need to take. If it's a Sears Kenmore that means it could have been made by several different manufacturers. It could be a GE, it could be a Frigidaire or a Whirlpool-it depends on who made it. You can generally determine who made it by the first three digits of your model number.

 

MIKE

Okay.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

And from there you can go to our website and type in F1 and it will take you to our fault code page. Once you figure out who made it, you can then go through and see what the manufacturer says that F1 means. An F1 display for most manufacturers means a touchpad has stuck. Meaning that either it's got an open pad or has one pad stuck down and it's telling it to do something all the time. That's not across all lines, but if I was to bet, most often an F1 is a bad touchpad. But again though, they change. Some manufacturers an F1 code means a bad circuit board. So, some come all in one piece, so it doesn't really matter which one is bad, because the circuit board and the touch pad are all one assembly but generally, each manufacturer has different F codes for their different product lines and sometimes within their product lines. A lot of it has to do with the vintage as well. Unfortunately, they haven't gotten like cars yet in the appliance industry, where they are all uniform now and one code will always mean one thing. So look at the first three digits of your model number, and you can go to our website; We have a chart that will tell you which manufacturer you have, and then you can go to our "Repair Help" site, or just type F1 in our website and it will walk you through what to look for on this. A lot of this stuff is hard to diagnose. If it's a stuck pad and you don't know which components are supposed to be open and closed when you touch them, then it's kind of plug and play, where you just replace the touchpad and cross your fingers but most often, that's what you have.

 

MIKE

Let me ask you, is this website the WJR site and you click on the appliance guy? Is that what it is?

 

JOHN SOWDEN

You could do that, but the quickest way is to go to www.RepairClinic.com and you're there.

 

MIKE

Okay. I appreciate that.

 

JOHN MCCULLOCH

You can always use us as a back door if you can't remember RepairClinic.com but that's the quickest way to do it.

 

Frigidaire Side by Side Refrigerator Ice Maker Water Fill Tube Consistently Freezing

 

JOHN MCCULLOCH

And here with a question on an ice maker, our first ice maker question of the day, here's Jim, in Wales Township, on the Appliance Repair Show. Good morning, Jim, go ahead please.

 

JIM

I have a Frigidaire ice maker.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Sure.

 

JIM

The tube leading to the back of it, right where it comes in, it freezes up.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay.

 

JIM

And then what I'll do is I'll take the tube out and get a turkey baster (part # 19950151) and put hot water through it, and that seems to work for about two or three cycles of filling up the ice.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

And then it freezes back up again?

 

JIM

Right. It freezes back up.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. Do you have this unit on a reverse osmosis system?

 

JIM

Yes, I do.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, that's probably the problem. See, what's happening is, the water valve, when you call for ice, normally it opens for six to eight seconds and then shuts off and fills the ice maker, but the ice maker water valves need between eighteen and twenty PSI of constant pressure to shut off positively. Actually the pressure behind it helps seat the water valve, and most RO systems, unless you've got a pump, you're not getting that constant pressure. So what happens is, the unit fills, and then the water valve tries to close but some water seeps by and then freezes in the tube. Then it fills another three or four hours later when it dumps the ice, and then you get another fill of the ice maker and another trickling of water. So it slowly will, kind of like rings on a tree, it just keeps growing and growing until you freeze over the water inlet tube.

 

JIM

Okay.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

So it's normally a water valve failure, or a water pressure to your refrigerator failure, and that can also be from the water shutoff valve downstairs, when you have it mounted to your plumbing downstairs that can get plugged up. But again, that's why I asked about the RO. If you have one, sometimes it will work for a while and then it won't.

 

JIM

Yeah, when I first got it, it worked fantastically.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Right. You could change the valve and see what happens, but I would, if you still run into problems, get it off the RO if you can. Or again, they do make pumps and things that jack up the pressure in the system, but those can get kind of expensive.

 

JIM

Right. Yeah, it sounds like, yeah, the RO. It's a couple of years old now.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Yes. One thing you can do to try it before you spend any money, if it's easy enough to do, is simply hook the water up to a different point and bypass the RO system.

 

JIM

Sure, I can do that.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

And then if it goes a couple of weeks without any problems, then you know where your problem lies. If you continue to have issues, you might have a problem in the water valve, which can cause the same condition but obviously, if my first question was, "Is it on an RO system?" then this isn't my first rodeo with that one.

 

JIM

Would that be part of the refrigerator?

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Yes, that's the part where the water from your RO was hooked up to in the back.

 

JIM

Oh, underneath?

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Yes. If you've got a side by side there are only two outlets on it.

 

JIM

Yes. One for the water and one for the ice.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

One for the water in the door and one for the ice maker, that's right.

 

JIM

Okay. That sounds great.

 

2002 Compact Manual Defrost Refrigerator Suddenly Stopped Working

 

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Let's talk with Vincent, in Sterling Heights, about a mini fridge, here on the Appliance Repair Show. Go ahead please, Vincent.

 

VINCENT.

Yes. I have a small, four foot tall second refrigerator in the basement. All of a sudden it just stopped working.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. Does the light inside work?

 

VINCENT

Yes, the light inside works.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

But everything else is dead?

 

VINCENT

Right.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

And it doesn't make any noise? You don't hear anything?

 

VINCENT

I don't hear any noises. Nothing.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. Well, it depends on what particular style you have. Is this a self-defrosting or a manual defrosting?

 

VINCENT

It's a manual defrost.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

So this is a bare bones small upright refrigerator?

 

VINCENT

Right. It's just a little cheapie.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

I said bare bones!

 

VINCENT

That sounds better.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

I was politically correct! And that's all you need for a second refrigerator. You don't need anything very fancy.

 

VINCENT

Right.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Most often, if it doesn't have a defrost cycle in it, if it's just a manual defrost, then the only other components that can come into play and cause it to be dead would be either the thermostat has failed, or the compressor, or compressor start package has failed. The thermostat is working and yet the current being supplied to the compressor, but the overload is burned up or something of that nature. One thing you can do to test this out is you can check the thermostat with an ohmmeter (part # DM10T) and see if the contacts are open or closed. If it's warm in there they should be closed. At times, if you don't have that, you can just bypass the thermostat and just hook the two wires going to the thermostat together. That's kind of a quick-and-dirty way to do it. If it starts, then you know that the thermostat is bad. If it doesn't, then you know you have a problem with the compressor or the start package for it. From what you're telling me, most often it would probably be in the thermostat. If the compressor has shorted, normally you would have at some point noticed the thing trying to start, dimming the lights, and/or some other problems along the way.

 

VINCENT

When it did run, it seemed like it would be clicking on and off every few seconds.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay! Now we're in a different world! That's the sound of the compressor trying to start and it can't. After it does that for so long, and the clicking you heard was the overload, which is a circuit breaker, for lack of better words, on the compressor. If that's been doing that and now it's dead, the overload is probably just burnt out now. So you might have a compressor problem. Again, you can start with the thermostat and see, check and see if the contacts are closed. You can then try a new start package for the compressor. If you go to our website, under "Repair Help", we have a document in our self help library that will tell you how to check the windings of the compressor with an ohmmeter (part # DM10T) to see if they're shorted or open. It could be that the compressor package is bad and you can either get another overload and relay for that or we also have kind of what they call a hard start kit, which has got all the components all in one package, and you just wire it in and replace all of the existing manufacturer's stuff. It's kind of a generic replacement.

 

VINCENT

Being that this is a fairly small refrigerator, would it be advantageous to take it to a repair shop?

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, that's the thing. If you have somebody come out, that's a service call and time and stuff, so you could have a hundred bucks into it. If there's a place around that does have a shop that you could take it into, most will have a small bench fee between fifteen and twenty bucks to diagnose it. The other thing you have to remember is, if you have to dispose of it, you need to have the refrigerator evacuated and have it stickered so that the junk man can pick it up. That depends on your local trash guy, as far as that goes. There can be more cost in getting rid of refrigerators these days than fixing them sometimes.

 

VINCENT

One more question:  Would the refrigerator give off any kind of a smell? We had a sweet smell down in the basement for about a week.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

It shouldn't. The only thing you might have is a burning smell, which could be from the overload. Normally there's a burnt electrical smell that you would get from that. But no, the refrigerant, even if it had a refrigerant leak, that's normally odorless and colorless, so you're not going to smell that.

 

VINCENT

Okay.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

At times, you might smell the refrigerant oil if it has a leak but as far as the refrigerant itself goes, you need a refrigerant sniffer or leak detector to actually sniff the refrigerant for that. Now from what you're telling me, I'd say your problem lies with the compressor or the compressor start package. You can call around and see what it would cost to fix this. It's what, a two hundred dollar unit?

 

VINCENT

Something like that, yeah.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

And how old is it?

 

VINCENT

Oh, I would say five or six years old.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. Well out of the warranty period, then.

 

VINCENT

Right.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Well, again, see if somebody is available to check it in a shop for a bench fee. I'd do that before I tossed it out or just put a new start package on it and see if it starts up or not. But otherwise, they're not worth putting a new compressor in there. At that point it's time to buy a new refrigerator.

 

VINCENT

Yeah. Thank you very much.

 

Kenmore Electric Dryer Makes Noise at Start Up and No Longer Tumbles

 

JOHN MCCULLOCH

Jeff, in Utica, you're next here on the Appliance Repair Show. Go ahead please, Jeff.

 

JEFF

Hi guys. Great show! I have a Sears Kenmore dryer that won't turn most of the time. You push the button and you hear a sound, it begins to turn and then it stops. This has been going on for at least two weeks. I let it rest a week and then it worked for about a week but now it doesn't at all. I tried to tighten the tension belt, but obviously I didn't know what I was doing.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

So, when you go to press the start button, you hear a loud hum at times?

 

JEFF

Right. It begins to turn and then it stops. It's more so a loud buzzer type sound.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. That's normally a sign that the motor has gone astray. What its doing is it's loading up and trying to turn. Either the bearings are worn or the motor electrically has failed and it's not able to get the thing started with the belt and everything hooked up to it. From what you describe, that's not abnormal. When they start to go, you can dry for a load or two, but when you go to start it for a second or third load, you'll get that. You can wait for the motor to cool down and then it will run for a load. Eventually, it gets to the point where you're at now. Now you said you did adjust the tension pulley. Were you able to turn the motor shaft? Was it pretty easy to turn, or was it hard to turn?

 

JEFF

It was pretty easy to turn.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Okay. Then I'd say it's probably more of an electrical failure rather than a bearing failure. More than likely you need a new motor for the unit. You can log into RepairClinic.com and have one shipped to your door. There's also a manual available that will give you step by step instructions on how to change that. You're probably going to have one hundred to one hundred and thirty bucks into the whole repair. So you need to look at what the dryer's worth, what kind of condition it's in otherwise.

 

JEFF

I could get it to start, if I started turning it and then pressed the button.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, you're helping it out. I've had people hold in the door switch and reach in and spin the tub while they're hitting the start button. All you're doing is helping the motor get started because the start winding isn't able to do it on its own.

 

JEFF

Yeah.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

From what you're telling me, I'd say your motor has had it. Again, it's just a matter of the condition of the dryer, whether it's worth putting a new motor in. If you buy a new one, it's pretty much the same design if you get another Whirlpool, which I think yours is.

 

Pros and Cons of Using Gas Dryers

 

JEFF

How do you feel about gas dryers versus electric?

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Well generally gas is cheaper to operate but when you go to purchase a new gas dryer, they're fifty to a hundred dollars more than an electric. So, it's a pay now versus pay later kind of thing.

 

JEFF

Okay. I have one, but I just have to run the gas line to it. I guess about twenty-five feet of copper.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, every house is different and every installation is different, but if you've got the option and you want to use gas, you can run it over there and switch over.

 

JEFF

Is there a certain size that the copper has to be that's going to the dryer? I noticed that the line that's feeding it is kind of thin.

 

JOHN SOWDEN

Yeah, it really depends on your local codes and what you can use and what you should use. Some might require you to actually hard pipe it to your dryer and then put a shutoff in and use a flexible stainless steel line or something like that, which I would recommend. Others, yeah, you can use half inch copper or five-eighths and run it over. Some allow as low as three-eighths. It all depends on how much gas the dryer is using. I would always recommend following your local code, especially if you go to sell the house. In that case they're going to want you to upgrade it anyway, so you might as well do it now.

 

JEFF

Thanks a lot.

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