Posts

REPAIRING A DISHWASHER

The control panels on the latest dishwashers can look intimidating.

They’re loaded with so many dials, push buttons, and other features that the machine looks too complex to repair. This is actually not the case. With the exception of the control panel, dishwashers haven’t changed much in basic design over the last two decades. You can repair most dishwasher malfunctions yourself, and we’ll discuss tips for do-it-yourself service and maintenance in this article.

Dishwasher parts can be replaced as a unit, which is often easier and less expensive than having a professional service person make repairs. If you aren’t sure a part is still usable, remove it from the dishwasher and take it to a professional for testing. You can then decide whether to buy a new part or have the old one repaired on the basis of the repair estimate.

Dishwashers usually run on 115-volt or 120-volt power. The water they use comes directly from the water heater, and wastewater is drained into the sink’s drainpipe. The dishwasher is not connected to the cold-water supply. For best dishwashing results, set the temperature control of the water heater to no less than 140 degrees Farenheit. Water cooler than this usually doesn’t get the dishes clean, unless your dishwasher is a newer model that preheats incoming water. The water shutoff for the dishwasher is typically located below the adjoining sink.

Caution: Because the dishwasher is connected to both the plumbing system and the electrical system, you must consider both systems when working on this appliance. Before doing any work on the dishwasher, make sure the unit is unplugged or the power to the unit is turned off, and remove the fuse or trip the circuit breaker that controls the circuit at the main entrance panel or at a separate panel. Shut off the water supply to the dishwasher at the shutoff in the basement or crawl space under the kitchen.

 

DISHWASHER NOT DRAINING

Piston & Nut Assembly

Some models of dishwashers utilize a check valve as part of the drain sump. Within the check valve there is the piston and nut assembly. If your dishwasher is not draining water properly, the piston and nut assembly could be the source of the problem. This assembly is located on the bottom of the tub beneath the sump cover and is accessed by removing four screws. The piston and nut assembly should move up and down freely. When the piston is in the down position, it should form a tight seal. If it is not forming a complete seal, the dishwasher will not completely pump out the water and the piston and nut assembly will need to be replaced.

You should also check the body valve gasket to make sure it is fitting properly over the threaded portion of the piston and nut assembly and replace if damaged or worn.

Drain Pump & Motor

All dishwashers will have a method to drain the water. Most models will have a single motor driven pump with two separate compartments, one for circulation and one for drain, each with its own impeller. Other types will have a separate drain pump and some will utilize the main circulating pump in conjunction with a drain solenoid and diverter valve or flapper. On models that use a separate drain pump you should check to see if there is any obstruction to the input and output of the pump and also verify that there is power getting to the pump motor during the drain portion of the cycle. If both check ok, then you should replace the pump and motor assembly.

On models that use a drain flapper and solenoid, again you should check for any obstructions and verify that the solenoid is getting energized and that there is continuity. Use a multi-meter to make these tests. Check that the linkage operating the flapper or diverter is moving freely and replace any defective parts. On models that have a two section pump, the drain impeller may be at fault. First, verify that the motor is running in the proper direction. If the motor does not run, then check for power at the terminals on the motor. If voltage is not present, then you should check door switches, timer or electronic control as a possible cause. If proper voltage is present, then the motor windings could be open. If the motor is humming, then the problem could be that the drain impeller is jammed or the motor could be seized. If the motor is seized, then the motor or motor and pump assembly will need to be replaced. The electrical checks can be made with a multi-meter.

Disassembly of the pump will be required to determine if the impeller is the problem. The drain compartment is typically located beneath the circulating compartment. Remove the lower rack, spray arm, pump cover and filter assembly to gain access. Inspect the drain impeller for damage or wear and replace if required. Also check that the food chopper is in good condition and not allowing large food particles to clog the drain outlet, and that both the chopper and impeller are turning freely.

Check Valve Flapper

Some dishwasher models will use a check valve in the drain outlet. The check valve is used to allow water to flow in one direction but will prevent the dirty water from re-entering the dishwasher. The valve is normally a rubber flapper that is located on the outlet port of the drain pump or housing. If you suspect that the drain hose has a restriction or if you find that waste water is getting back into the dishwasher tub, then the check valve is most likely the problem. The flapper valve should fully open during the drain portion of the cycle but should close the opening to the pump outlet when in the wash or circulation portion of the cycle. If there are no foreign objects restricting this action, then the check valve should be replaced.

Belt

Some older dishwashers may use a belt driven pump. If the belt has come off or is slipping then the pump that drains the dishwasher won’t function properly. Inspect the belt for signs of wear or stretching and replace if required.

Timer

Some dishwashers will use a mechanical timer to operate the cycles. The timer controls the main pump motor as well as the drain solenoid or separate drain pump motor if your model has that style. The timer is normally located in the control panel at the top of the dishwasher door. You will require a wiring diagram and schematic to identify the correct timer contacts that control the drain cycle. These can then be checked for continuity with a multi-meter and if defective then the timer will need to be replaced.

Drain Hose

A dishwasher will not drain properly if it has a restricted or clogged drain hose. Restrictions typically appear most often at the outlet from the pump or drain housing where a check valve may be located, at the input to the household drain system or anywhere that a kink may have formed in the drain hose. If food debris has caused a restriction, then you should check the condition of the food chopper as a possible source of the problem. If the hose has developed a kink it should be replaced and the new hose should be supported well enough to prevent any new kinks from forming.

More Repair Parts

We’ve identified the most common parts that can cause a dishwasher to stop draining, but there are other parts that could be at fault. If you are unable to fix your dishwasher with the information above, enter your model number into the search box for additional repair help. Searching with your model number will give you access to all parts and schematics, symptoms for your specific dishwasher as well as all installation instructions and videos.

Call Absolute Appliance Repair NOW if you have any problems with your dishwasher!

Phone lines

(415) 831-1259 San Francisco
(415) 388-0690 Marin County
(650) 525-0512 South SF / Daly City / Pacifica

 

 

GAS OVEN REPAIR

Is your oven not baking?

  • Bad bake ignitor. You can’t tell it’s bad by looking at it–you must measure amperage. Just because it glows orange, doesn’t mean it’s good. On round ignitors, look for a current draw of 2.6 to 2.8 amps. On flat ignitors, look for 3.2 to 3.6 amps. Insufficient current draw will not allow the gas valve to open. If unsure how to test, check this tech sheet.
  • Bad valve. If ignitor checks out OK, remove power from oven, pull the two wires off the valve and ohm test. Should read two to five ohms. If open, replace valve.
  • Pilot is out. Try reigniting pilot. If it goes out again, check 1) gas supply (out of gas, crimped line, etc.), 2) pilot orifice clogged or dirty.
  • Pilot flame not wrapping around thermocouple. Reposition the thermocouple bulb so the pilot flame wraps around it.
  • If pilot is spark ignited and you’re not getting spark to the pilot, replace the spark electrode, spark module, and the ignition wire. These parts are inexpensive enough that it’s not worth the trouble to just replace one, replace the entire ignition system as long as you’re in there.
  • If your broiler is not working check the above steps with the broiler instead of the oven

Is your oven not self-cleaning?

  • Self clean latch bent or misaligned. Inspect for proper alignment to make sure that latch is contacting the latch switch.
  • Defective Self clean latch switch. Run continuity check.
  • Bad function selector switch. Run continuity check on switch.

Is your gas oven not getting hot enough?

  • Sluggish ignitor. A good ignitor will fire the oven in less than three minutes. If it takes longer than this, the ignitor is starting to go. Measure ignitor current draw as described above. As the ignitor gets sluggish, it takes longer for it to fire the burner as the oven cycles on and off while the in use thus lowering operating temperature.
  • Oven door gasket ripped or torn.

Is your oven door stuck closed?

  • Defective ERC. Check for error code in display. If error code given, check against manufacturer’s code explanations in owner’s manual or tech data sheet inside oven control panel.
  • Misaligned self clean latch. Disassemble oven to manually free latch and realign or replace as needed.

DIAGNOSING DISHWASHER PROBLEMS

Unlike some of your other household appliances, your dishwasher will give your specific symptoms to indicate what’s wrong with it. By diagnosing the problems with your dishwasher, you can save money by cutting down on repair times. You may even be able to take care of the simpler problems yourself. Read the tips listed below and learn about how you can diagnose dishwasher problems yourself .

A leaking dishwasher can indicate several problems.

  • Overloading By putting too many dishes in each load, you may cause the machine to leak. Try fitting in less dishes and see if the leak persists.
  • Faulty Door Seal Check the plastic seal around the door of your dishwasher. If there are cracks or holes, it may cause the machine to leak. Replacing the seal is an easy and cheap problem to fix.
  • Excessive Detergent Check your detergent tray. If there’s a soap residue left over, you’re putting in too much soap per load and causing your machine to leak.
  • Faulty pipe connections Check the pipes in the back of your machine. By tightening any loose pipes, you may be able to stop your dishwasher’s leaking.

If your dishes are coming out of the dishwasher dry and still dirty, it means that your dishwasher isn’t filling with soap and water. This can be caused by one of the following:

  • The hot water valve isn’t open. Check under your sink to see if the hot water value is fully open. If it’s not, opening the valve will allow your dishwasher to fill with water.
  • The inlet valve is clogged. If the valve is plugged with debris and residue, cleaning it will repair the machine and enable the dishwasher to fill.

A little water in the bottom of your dishwasher is normal. But if you think there is an excessive amount of water, you may have a problem with your drain hose. Refer to your machine’s manual to find your dishwasher’s drain hose. Check that the drain hose has no holes, isn’t damaged in any way and is free of debris or soap residue.

Call Absolute Appliance Repair NOW if you have any problems with your dishwasher!

Phone lines

(415) 831-1259 San Francisco
(415) 388-0690 Marin County
(650) 525-0512 South SF / Daly City / Pacifica

 

 

 

 

REPAIRING A FREEZER

Whether you have a refrigerator/freezer combination or a chest-style freezer — regardless of optional lights, ice makers or other features — the cooling system of any freezer works the same. The freezer compressor squeezes a refrigerant, typically freon, then transfers it to the condenser. Inside the condenser coils, the refrigerant changes from vapor to liquid as the heat in the refrigerant is expelled. This is the heat you feel blowing near the freezer when it’s in a cooling cycle. Next, the now-cooler refrigerant flows through an expansion valve and into the evaporator. There, the refrigerant absorbs heat inside the warming freezer and cools the contents even as the refrigerant turns back into a warm vapor. Finally, the now-warm refrigerant returns to the compressor to restart the cycle.

Even perfectly functioning freezers will not maintain frozen food if the door is left even slightly ajar, such as when an item sticks out enough to press on the door. Also, using a freezer to cool hot items or opening the freezer frequently will affect the temperature inside. Another common reason you may think the freezer is running but not freezing is improperly packing the contents. Situated behind a vent inside your freezer, typically in the rear, the evaporator fan circulates cool air. Pull the contents away from this fan vent and leave room around items so air can reach every point in the freezer. After you’ve done that, put a thermometer inside the freezer and check it after an hour or two. The temperature should read about zero degrees Fahrenheit.

The seal around the freezer door can be another problem when your freezer is running but not freezing. Test your freezer’s door seal by inserting a dollar bill between the door and freezer. Close the freezer door and see if you can pull out the dollar bill. If you can, something is interfering with the seal. A door seal that is dirty simply needs to be cleaned; if it’s badly damaged, replace it. Different seals vary, so follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. If your freezer isn’t level, it may also prevent a proper seal. Use a carpenter’s level to determine when the door is plumb — straight up and down — or level and adjust the legs as needed.

If you’re lucky, the temperature setting in your freezer was raised accidentally and the repair is obvious. There are a few other things to check when your freezer runs but fails to cool. Pull the freezer out and look for dust, debris or ice that might be smothering the coils. As chest-style freezers use internal coils, this applies to upright models or refrigerator/freezer combinations. A hair dryer quickly melts ice and a vacuum or soft cloth makes quick work of dust. With the freezer unplugged, locate the motor underneath the freezer and clean it. Defrost the freezer if it’s clogged with ice. If you notice water pooling on the floor when the freezer is running but not freezing, check the drain tube in the freezer’s floor or underneath the vegetable drawers in the refrigerator compartment. Insert a turkey baster of bleach water into the tube to clean it, or run a length of smaller tubing through it to push out the clog. Also, check for adequate clearance around your freezer and ensure it doesn’t sit in a sunny, hot and humid location or in an unheated area.

Internal component repairs generally aren’t DIY friendly. The cooling system involves dangerous parts and attempting to service them yourself can lead to injury. Some repairs also require specialized tools and in-depth knowledge. Among these repairs are bad evaporator fans that chirp and squeak or refuse to circulate cool air and lower refrigerant levels. A malfunctioning door safety switch is difficult to pinpoint but also prevents proper cooling even though the freezer is running. Likewise, a faulty defrost control timer, a bad thermostat and a failing evaporator will prevent cooling. Some repairs aren’t even practical; both a bad compressor or a faulty main control board cost more to fix than to simply replace the freezer. A loud thumping is a sure sign that the compressor is at fault. Consult a professional in these situations.

Call Absolute Appliance Repair NOW if you have any problems with your freezer!

Phone lines

(415) 831-1259 San Francisco
(415) 388-0690 Marin County
(650) 525-0512 South SF / Daly City / Pacifica

 

 

REPAIRING A GAS FURNACE

Natural gas and propane burn cleaner than fuel oil, and most gas furnaces present fewer operational difficulties than oil burners do. In fact, the problems that affect gas furnaces typically involve the furnace’s thermocouple, the pilot light, or some component of the electrical system.

Gas furnaces and heaters have control shutoffs to prevent gas leaks, but they are not fail-safe. If you smell gas in your house, do not turn any lights on or off, and do not try to shut off the gas leading to the furnace. Get out of the house, leaving the door open, and immediately call the gas company or the fire department to report a leak. Do not re-enter your home.

 

Most natural gas furnaces have few operational difficulties. 

 

 

 

 

On some gas furnaces and heaters, a plug-type door covers the pilot light assembly. To gain access to the pilot burner, pull the door out of the furnace housing. On other units, remove the panel that covers the pilot and gas burners.

The pilot light controls, reset buttons, gas valves, and thermocouple are usually contained in an assembly at the front of the furnace. The furnace limit switch is located on the plenum (main chamber) or main duct junction on the upper housing of the furnace.