Archive for the ‘DIY Tips’ Category

Refrigerator Defrost problems – Diagnosing the most common malfunction of refrigerators and freezers

Oct 13, 20 • DIY TipsNo Comments

All Brands (Whirlpool, GE, Frigidaire, Electrolux, LG, Samsung, Kitchenaid, etc..) of Frost-Free Refrigerators and Freezers Have Defrost Systems.

Symptoms:

  1. Food in the freezer is soft and cold drinks in the refrigerator are no longer as cold as they have been. 
  2. Adjusting temperature settings does not result in colder temperatures.   

 

Confirming your refrigerator has a defrost system malfunction.

  1. The Defrost problem can be confirmed by removing food from the freezer.
  2. Remove the freezer interior panels that cover the cooling coils.  
  3. A defrost problem is confirmed if the cooling coils are covered with ice.  If there is no ice then the defrost system is working normally and you must look elsewhere for the source of your refrigerator malfunction.  Call U-FIX-IT Appliance Parts for free diagnosis assistance.
    • Ice acts as an insulator preventing the cooling coil from lowering the temperature in the freezer compartment to the desired setting.
  4. A hairdryer can be used to defrost the ice. Ice picks are a bad idea.
    • The freezer (and refrigerator) will operate normally after the ice is removed.
    • Normal operation will continue until the coils are again covered in ice which is usually about three days.  Food can be protected by continuing to defrost manually as needed until the repair is made.

 

Three components of the defrost system.

  1. Defrost Heater
  2. Defrost termination switch (thermostat).
  3. Defrost timer or control board.

 

Purpose of Defrost System

The refrigerator and freezer doors will be opened and closed numerous times as family members store and retrieve food and drink. Every opening and closing of the doors allows air from the room to enter.  Cold surfaces inside the freezer will cause moisture in the air to condense and form frost on the food items and cooling coils. Over time frost that is not removed will build up eventually forming solid ice. The defrost system prevents the buildup of frost and ice by periodically initiating the defrost cycle.  

 

Defrost System Operation

  1. The defrost timer or control board initiates the defrost cycle. 
    • Mechanical timers initiate and terminate the cycle based on time.
    • Control boards initiate and terminate the cycle utilizing combinations of time, logic, and temperature sensing.
    • Timers and control boards are commonly located in the refrigerator section near the temperature controls behind plastic panels.  Control boards may be mounted on the back of the refrigerator.  Call U-FIX-IT Appliance Parts with your model number if you need help locating your board. 
  2. The defrost cycle blocks power to the compressor and sends power to the defrost heater.
    • Heaters are usually calrod heaters (look like small bake elements) or elements encased in a glass tube.
    • Heaters will be fastened to the bottom of the cooling coils in the freezer section.  High-end refrigerators with cooling coils in the refrigerator section will have a second defrost heater.  Most refrigerators have one heater.
    • The heat from the heater will melt the frost and ice on the cooling coil.  The water (melted ice) runs down the cooling coils into a trough below the coils.  Water collected in the trough is routed to a condensate pan located in the compressor section where it evaporates back out into the room from whence it came.
  3. The defrost termination switch (thermostat) or in some cases, a temperature sensor stops the heater from thawing the food in the freezer during the defrost cycle.
    • Power is routed through the defrost termination switch (thermostat) to the heater.
    • The defrost termination switch (thermostat) is mounted to the coil at the top.  
    • The defrost termination switch (thermostat) will cycle power to the heater off and on for the duration of the defrost cycle.
      • As the heater raises the temperature of the defrost termination switch (thermostat) the power will cycle off to the heater.
      • As the temperature of the defrost termination switch (thermostat) cools the power will be restored to the heater.
    • Some defrost systems use a temperature sensor instead of the defrost termination switch (thermostat).
      •  Temperature sensors and heaters connect directly to the control board.
      • Power to the heater is controlled by the control board.

 

The Quick Solution:

Repair technicians will usually replace all three components of the defrost system whenever it malfunctions.  The symptoms are the same no matter which one of the three components fails and all three are the same age.  Replacing all three eliminates the need to isolate which one of the three is bad.

Identifying Which One of the Three Defrost Components is Bad:

  1. Defrost heater is good if it has continuity between the leads and no continuity to ground. 
  2. The defrost termination switch (thermostat) is good if it has continuity when cooled below 40 degrees.
    • Temperature sensors can be tested by reading the resistance (ohms) at room temperature.  Call U-FIX-IT with your model number for the ohm reading for your sensor.
  3. If the defrost heater and termination switch (thermostat) test “good” then the defrost control (timer or board) needs to be replaced. 
  4. U-FIX-IT will test the heater and thermostat free of charge if you remove them and take them (along with a cup of ice) to your nearest U-FIX-IT Appliance Parts store.

 

What can be wrong when a Whirlpool washer will not fill with water?

May 22, 17 • DIY Tips36 Comments

Whirlpool washers start the wash cycle by filling with water.

Nothing happens when the water does not flow and the problem can be one of several things. First, a quick explanation of why we care about the water level switch when the washer is not filling and then I will detail the basic steps I use to troubleshoot any washer that will not fill.

The function of a water level switch on a Whirlpool washer. 

The water level switch controls the power going to the water inlet valve. Electrical power is routed from the timer through the water level switch to the water inlet valve.  When the correct water level is reached in the tub, the water level switch will remove power from the water inlet valve and direct it to the motor. This action ends the fill cycle and begins the agitation phase. Specific models may have more components in the circuit, but this is the basic operation.

Troubleshooting steps I use to identify the problem.

These steps apply to the most common washers.  Upscale models may have additional components in the circuit (such as thermistors and water valves with more than two solenoids), but these basic steps can serve as a starting point.

  1. Select different water temperatures.
    1. If the water flows on one temperature selection and not another.
      1. Disconnect the water hoses at the machine and test by running water through each hose into the drain.
      2. Inspect the sediment screens in the inlet of the water valve and clean any sediment that is blocking the flow.
      3. If suspected flow problem is corrected, reconnect hoses and go back to step 1, otherwise, go to step 3 “Test the Whirlpool washer inlet valve” (skip step 2).
    2. If there no water flow on any selection go to step 2 below picture.Pressure switch
  1. Remove and test the Whirlpool washer water level switch (picture above) also known as a pressure switch. Use a multi-meter to test for continuity (connection) between the terminals. Alternatively, the pressure switch can be taken to the nearest U-FIX-IT store for free testing.
    1. Two of the three terminals should show continuity between them.
    2. Blow gently on the hose connection of the pressure switch until you hear a click.
      1. The two terminals that were showing continuity should now show open until the pressure is released.
      2. The common terminal should now show continuity to the third terminal until the pressure is released.
      3. Water level switch is bad if it fails to test as described in the previous two steps, otherwise, go to step 3.Testing water valve
  1. Test the Whirlpool washer water inlet valve or remove the water valve and take it to the nearest U-FIX-IT store for free testing.
    1. Set the water temperature to warm.
    2. Using a multimeter check that there is 110 volts present at one of the solenoid coils on the water valve.
      1. If 110 volts is present at the coil and no water is flowing through the valve then water valve is bad.
      2. If 110 volts is not present at any solenoid then use the schematic wiring diagram to work back through the circuit until the lost voltage is found.

If these steps for identifying the common Whirlpool washer fill problems do not isolate the problem, locate the wiring diagram for your washer and call the nearest U-FIX-IT store for personalized help in locating the problem.

4 Household Appliance Myths

Nov 24, 15 • DIY Tips13 Comments

household appliance myths and tips Household Appliance Myth Busting

Urban myths are usually entertaining, but appliance myths are another story. These mechanical tales are passed around with the best intentions, but they aren’t based on facts, and some can be dangerous. If you buy into any one of these four household appliance myths, it’s time to bust them with a little common sense and these tips.

1. The Oven Can Heat the House

Leaving the oven on with the door open warms up the kitchen, but at a cost. With the door open the oven overheats causing the bake element or igniter to fail sooner. Wall ovens can be hard on the electronic controls and the cabinets as well. Your oven will last longer between repairs if you keep the oven door closed.

2. A Huge AC Keeps You Cooler

Even in Texas, bigger isn’t always better, but long, hot summers inspire homeowners to install over-sized air conditioners. This myth drives up cooling costs. Comfort is dependent on low humidity as much as a cooler temperature. The house cools down more quickly with a powerful AC, but that fast temperature drop results in short run times that are insufficient to lower the humidity resulting in a cold but clammy house.

3. Drip Pans Need Foil Linings

This myth probably started when someone got tired of cleaning the drip pans on their range. The stove top strategy is supposed to extend drip pan life, but the holes in those shallow, chrome bowls are designed to help ventilate the oven. New drip pans are inexpensive, so just replace them as needed. If you have a self-cleaning oven you can switch to ceramic drip pans which can be cleaned in the oven.

4. Less Use Means Longer Life

Appliances are meant for everyday use. If you think hand-washing pots and pans extends the dishwasher’s life, you’re wasting time in the sink. The seals around a dishwasher’s door are meant to perform in damp conditions, and the material dries out if you don’t run any loads for several weeks. Trust the mechanical muscle in your appliances, and let them flex on a regular basis.

We hope our myth-busting appliance tips save you from extra wear and tear, but we’re here with all the parts you need just in case. From heating elements to drip pans, U-Fix-It carries everything you need for DIY appliance repair at our four locations across the DFW area and here on our online shelves. When you need help fixing it yourself, you can count on us for the parts and the facts.

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Air conditioner not cooling – outdoor unit not running

Jul 26, 14 • DIY Tips, News546 Comments

It is a big deal when the air conditioning goes out on a hot summer day, but there is no need to wait for help to come to you.  Many air conditioning malfunctions are not difficult to identify and repair.  The following test procedure will help you identify if the problem with your outdoor unit is the fan motor, the capacitor, or the contactor.

Condenser-Fan-Motor

Troubleshooting the “outdoor air conditioner unit not running” starts with some easy commonsense steps:

  1. Make certain the thermostat is set to cool and the indoor unit is running (blowing air out the room air vents).
  2. Listen to the outdoor unit for the sound of the compressor running.
  3. If you hear the compressor running go to “section A” below. Note, compressors can run quietly.
  4. If you cannot hear the compressor running go to “section B” below.

(more…)

Whirlpool dryer not heating

Jan 31, 14 • DIY Tips436 Comments

This is the most common symptom we hear on all brands of dryers. One of the appliance parts most of us suspect first is the heating element (see common Whirlpool elements below), but there are several other appliance parts on the dryer and one item that is not on the dryer that can produce the same symptom. You will save time, energy, and money if you will take a few moments to prove exactly which part is bad before purchasing a replacement part.

Dryer-Heating-Element-NA-4391960 Dryer-Heating-Element-NA-3387747 Dryer-Heating-Element-NA-279838 (more…)

Gas Furnace – Burner Goes Out

Nov 6, 13 • DIY Tips88 Comments

Symptom – Burner lights off, but goes out quickly.

What is it? – This symptom is often caused by a dirty flame sensor that can be easily cleaned.  Not all furnaces have a flame sensor, but if your furnace has one, it will be mounted close to the burner with the metal rod positioned in the flame.  Flame sensors vary in size (2 to 4 inches) and shape (see examples below).  They are powered by a single wire carrying a small amount of electricity (less than 10 DC microamps). (more…)

Ice Maker Not Working? Try these easy steps.

Sep 25, 13 • DIY Tips6 Comments
Icemaker replacement

This easy test for ice makers will quickly prove if the ice maker has failed or the water inlet valve is bad.

Icemaker-ERWIMFollow the steps below:

  1. Use a cup to pour water into the ice maker mold.  
  2. Close the freezer door and wait for two hours.

If the ice maker makes cubes and kicks them into the bucket – the water inlet valve is bad.

If there are no new cubes in the bucket – the ice maker is bad.

Call U-FIX-IT for free assistance if you have any questions about this test.  U-FIX-IT has most ice makers in stock.

Purchase a New Ice Maker

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Know the part you are looking for but can't find it? Let us find it and let you know when we do.