I really enjoy taking things apart as well. But you're correct that we need to be careful what you take apart. Because there's nothing worse than having to take something you took apart into an expert to have it put back together.
Harnesses and connectors are the Achilles heel of too many products. After 15 or more years of running 10 Amps of heater blower motor current through 1 Amp connectors, GM has finally admitted a problem and is offering to replace the connectors for free when they fail.
A similar thing happened to my dishwasher. They used a four-pin Molex style connector (like the power connector to a 5.25" or 3.5" disk drive) to connect the harness to the board of switches in the door. Two of the four pins just carried current for the motor. The other two carried 10 or 15 Amps for the "Calrod" heater element. After a few years, these two burned up nicely, melting the plastic connector shroud and blackening the board. The board was no longer available. Re-forming the connectors for tighter grip solved the problem for a few years. Then a more serious arc-and-burn destroyed these two contacts completely. I cut these two wires of the harness from the connector and crimped high-current automotive-style bullet connectors on the wires. I soldered leads to the switch leads and installed mating bullets on them.
I made sure to install one bullet plug and one bullet socket on the harness, and one of each on the switch, so that if I had further problems I could simply plug the two harness leads to each other and avoid the switch board altogether.
LloydP, thanks for that extremely useful information. My husband and I usually end up going online first to look for schematics and other diagrams. I don't think he's yet gotten all the way inside of either the washer or the dryer--so far we've just replaced smaller components or boards/modules, since both machines are only 11 years old. He will be *very* happy to learn that for the bold, there are instructions waiting.
I grew up with Depression-era parents, so maybe that's why I'd rather fix than replace. But these columns and their comments have completely convinced me!
I will soon be offering a similar tale of woe, but it will be about a Pioneer brand surround-sound receiver that has poor connector soldered joints. Cheap lead free solder will never be as good as average tin-lead solder. What were those fraidy monkey types thinking?
Bob, this story would make a good Sherlock Ohms posting. Are you interested in fleshing it out a bit? We would need it to be at least 400 words, but if you told the story step-by-step, that should be easy.
If you're interested, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Clearly, washers and dryers have entered the age of disposability -- as opposed to being repairable -- just like TVs and all electronics devices. They've just come to that point later in the game, which is why we're seeing various levels of outrage/annoyance. It's not really surprising, though, when you think about it. These are still essentially commodity items, albeit possibly with more viable profit margins than TVs (which have none). So it's obvious that manufacturers would try to cut costs. I also think that some of it is an unintended side effect of the supply chain, where certain older, more robust parts simply aren't made anymore.
@Jennifer. I could not agree with you more, particlarly when I see the prices on new washers. Our first washer was a Frigidaire that lasted 20+ years when I had to relace it because the bottom of the cabinet rusted away to such a degree that I could no longer prop it to stay in place. That was replaced by a used GE that cost me $50 and lasted 5 years, so we splurged and bought a brand new GE that is still in service. In all we have been married 45 years and have had 3 washers and 2 dryers.
I hope I do not jinx anything by posting this. Oh yeah about that red appliance, our first washer was Avacado and looked hopelessly dated when it died. The first dryer was Sierra Gold and our range and refigerator were Copper Toned. All looked ridiculous when that color fad died. Nothing but white after that.
Most of the large appliances I have repaired include a schematic, wiring diagram, and a timing diagram hidden somewhere in the guts of the appliance. The most recent was a dishwasher that quit Christmas Day, when my wife and I were hosting 15 people for dinner. Arghhh! Next day, I found the schematic hidden in the kick panel. Turned out to be a line capacitor on the control board that died, taking the board's power supply with it. Fortunately, we have a local appliance parts store that is very helpful. In 2 days, I had a replacement board (cheaper and faster than getting the part on-line) and had it working again. The old board was irreparable, due to burned traces, etc., but it went back to be re-manufactured. (there was a $30 core charge for the old board) The dishwasher was a 10 year old Maytag, but the replacement (remanufactured) board had a Whirlpool part number.
When my son's washing machine began overflowing on the fill cycle, I found the schematic hidden behind the control board. Again, very helpful. Turned out that a hose to a pressure switch (sensing how full the tub was) had slipped off. It was a simple fix to replace the hose, and tie it down with a clamp.
I prefer to keep the information with the appliance. That way it never gets "lost." As a backup, I often scan it and store the PDF.
Our friend called me with a strange problem which was that "the washer would not drain". So I grabbed a few tools and went to look at it. Sure enough, after the end of the spin cycle it was filled with dirty water. In order to properly diagnose the problem, I started a new cycle to wash the clothes that had gotten dirty again. At the end of the wash cycle it pumped out into the laundry tub, and started filling for the rinse. Then I watched in amazement as it also pumped the dirty water back out of the washtub into the machine. Suddenly the source of the problem was clear: The wash tub drain was plugged! I cleaned the drain, which was covered by lint, and the water drained out. Then I could see that the washer's drain tube had an extension that reached to the bottom of the tub, to reduce the splashing from the pump-out discharge. There was no shutoff valve in the drain line, just a simple direction reverser valve, so that the flow was in the opposite direction when it was not supposed to be draining. The result was that when the washtub failed to empty after the rinse cycle, the dirty water pumped back in during the spin cycle.
So clearing the drain was the simple fix, and figuring it out made me look good to our friend.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
With major product releases coming from big names like Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung, and big investments by companies like Facebook, 2015 could be the year that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) finally pop. Here's take a look back at some of the technologies that got us here (for better and worse).
Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.