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DIY Appliance Repair: Electric Stoves – How they Work

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Welcome to our latest edition of the DIY Appliance Repair: Getting Started Series – Electric Stoves intended to provide our readers with a refresher about their kitchen appliances. To avoid confusion, I use interchangeably the term “stoves with the modern term “ranges”.

Why are we doing this? The answer comes from necessity because although most people are accustomed to using an electric stove, we found many don’t understand what happens inside these marvels of the kitchen. Also, we understand knowing how they work doesn’t make you a better cook (practice makes perfect) but knowing how each function works might make you a more efficient cook!

As you already know, Tin Lizzee exists to help our readers understand how to use their appliances safely and efficiently. Our commitment to you extends far beyond showing you how to make owning your appliances easier. Repair and maintenance is a big issue with appliances, and rather than put you through the hassle of calling a tech to come into your home and upset your routine, we’re only a website click away!

DIY (do it yourself) appliance repair is taking the online appliance repair space by storm, and Tin Lizzee is leading the way. We use modern technology to help diagnose or repair your appliance easily and inexpensively compared to in-home service rates!

Starting with the Basics

Conventional Five Burner Electric StoveElectric stoves in 2019 still do what they say, but changes in how they heat food might surprise you. I won’t go into all the changes, but I’ll give you some highlights.

The coil element (eyes, as some call them) is still used, but had to make room for new, instant-on, self-regulating surface elements. That’s technology at work! You won’t see modern surface elements exposed. They’re used under glass cooktops.

On conventional stoves, elements or coils connect to switches called infinite switches, and get their power directly from power entering the stove from the back through the harness. The switches are dials used to turn elements on and off.

Modern glass cooktops use a variation of the above, or a touch control where temps are adjusted by simple touches of the glass surface. Bake and broil differ in that most times ovens have their own settings on the stove control because they use relays to send power to the bake and broil elements, and some have touch controls on the glass cooktop, too.

Pretty cool stuff and getting more advanced every year!

Convection Cooking

Oven with convection baking optionCustomers often tell me they don’t use convection because they don’t understand how it works and why it’s useful. I think most people don’t use it because it’s hardly mentioned in recipes. Those who use convection love it, but not for all baking.

Generally speaking, food cooks about 20 percent faster at approximately 25 degrees less than normal. The secret of convection is a fan mounted on the back wall of the oven circulating heated air inside the oven cavity, cooking food evenly from all directions.

My wife uses convection as often as possible and I can tell you from experience, it’s a great way to cook! Chicken, meats, and vegetables cook evenly and leaves the juices. Just remember to check your food at about the three-quarter timing mark.

Safety Devices on Modern Ranges

Fortunately, ranges do have safeties built in to prevent fires from overheating. In the ahem, old days, stoves didn’t use high-temperature cutoffs to stop power from the elements in case of problems. Modern ranges have high-limit thermostats that instantly cut power to bake and broil elements if internal temperatures reach a preset limit.

If your range stops heating from all sources, suspect one of these safety devices. This is true especially if you just performed a high-temperature self-clean of the oven. In case of a blown high limit after a self-clean in a built-in oven, removal is necessary to replace the switch located on the outside back wall of the oven.

A slide-in range uses a similar device, but much easier to access on the back wall of the oven. The switches are not resettable and replacing them is the only way to get cooking again.

Over the years, safety devices vastly improved and now that technology has taken hold inside kitchens, it was only a matter of time when ranges and wall ovens would have their turn! Below are two such inventions I think you’ll like.

  • https://www.cookstop.com/ Prevents fires from unattended kitchen ranges. It uses motion sensors to detect activity in the kitchen. If it doesn’t sense movement, a countdown timer starts and shuts off the range when time expires but resets the timer again once it senses motion.
  • https://www.pioneeringtech.com/product/smart-burner/ SmartBurner prevents stovetop fires from happening with their device replacing existing coil elements. SmartBurner elements won’t exceed temperatures above that which ignites standard cooking oils and other household items.

Also, Whirlpool recently included in their ranges a variation of exposed electric elements designed to limit their temperature just below the point when they turn red. Elements have built-in current limiters preventing elements from glowing red.

Many of you might be familiar with this one. It’s the anti-tip device for stoves. It prevents the stove from tipping over when the oven door is open and something (or someone) pushes down on the open door, causing the stove to tip forward, spilling hot pans and scalding hot food! If your range is missing this device, call the manufacturer to receive a new one, and have a handyman install it. Remember: Safety First!

Wooden Blocks Spell Final Thoughts

I hope this first article in the DIY Appliance Repair: Getting Started Series is informative and answered questions about your electric stove. Tin Lizzee believes in educating its customers about their appliances, aside from occasional repairs.

If you found anything missing that might help others, please let us know in the comment section below. We love hearing from you!

 

Dryer Preventative Maintenance

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Dryer maintenance is easy! Clean the lint screen before each load. Says so on a lot of dryer filters nowadays. The dryer vent tube and household dryer duct should be cleaned once every year or two. Keeping the vent duct clear helps maintain a strong airflow and decreases the rate at which dryer lint can collect within the machine cabinet. Lint building up in the machine cabinet decreases its efficiency but it also increases the potential fire hazard of the dryer. Lint collecting in the dryer cabinet or even the household duct work can lead to blown thermostats and thermal fuses. Dryer lint will clog the moving components like the drum rollers and idler pulley and the machine will begin and squeak and squeal. Run a dryer that way for too long and larger problems will surface.

Dryers with restricted air passages need longer run times for the same effective dryness. Many “long dry time” complaints are traced back to a restricted dryer vent duct. Sometimes the restriction is just in the dryer vent tube found behind the unit; however, I’ve found restrictions from the machine blower wheel to the screen on the very end of the household dryer duct. Clean the lint screen regularly before your dryer builds up an excess of lint. It is for this reason I recommend using just one dryer sheet per dry cycle. If you prefer, you can eliminate the use of dryer sheets all together and use Dryer Lint Balls instead. Lint Balls can be found at most department stores. Dryer sheets can be sucked into the machine air duct during operation and clog the air blower wheel and using multiple dryer sheets in any one cycle makes it easier for the sheets to escape the dryer drum into the blower housing. When the blower wheel becomes obstructed the dryer makes a very loud humming and vibration noise. A stuck dryer sheet can produce this noise as can a buildup of lint on the blower wheel assembly, lint that builds up because it cannot exist the machine effectively.

Air flow is really the most important factor in the operation of a dryer. A dryer with no heat production can still dry clothes so long as there is sufficient air flow to remove the moist air from the system. Running a dryer without a heating element is inefficient and the dryer will need a long time to complete the task, but it will dry.

Another tip to keep your dryer working great for longer, don’t overload the dryer. Overloading a dryer contributes to long dry times due to the restricted amount of airflow within the dryer drum. Because the dryer drum’s volume is taken to capacity, the clothing items don’t have enough room to move about the drum and the air within the drum has a harder time escaping the dryer via the machine air duct. Overloading the dryer can also put greater stress on the dryer drum rollers, flattening them down and causing a very loud thumbing noise during machine operation, kind of like the sound a flat tire makes. Allowed to persist the drum rollers can eventually break and the roller bearing can warp, greatly increasing the cost of a repair.

They don’t make any appliances the way they use to. A fellow technician named Dave (a 28-year Pro and my Primary Trainer) had a customer with a 12-year-old Kenmore dryer that stopped heating. Dave discovered the heating element and thermostat had blown. The heating element broke because of increased heat stress from operating the dryer with virtually 0% air flow. Dave’s customer had not cleaned the machine lint filter since they bought the machine nearly 12 years prior. They had no idea it was there and that they were suppose to remove and clean it after every cycle, no one ever told them as much. I asked Dave, “did you tell them to get the air duct cleaned out?” Laughing Dave said, “Uhhh yeah!” Nowadays many modern dryers have sensors that measure the rate of air flow through the machine. If the air flow reading drops below an optimum level the machine is designed to shutdown heat production. In some models, all motor movement will cease in the event of a restricted air flow fault! Another tip, a dryer vent duct should rise no more than 8 feet above the machine and should run no more than 15 feet to the outside of the home and the duct should not have more than one 90 degree turn. I’ve seen long air ducts cause an air flow error even though the air duct was perfectly clear.

Vacuum the dryer cabinet and blower wheel housing. The condition of the dryer cabinet is a good indication of the air flow. A dryer with thick layers of dust within the machine cabinet and no obvious machine duct break is having a serious airflow problem. The wet dusty air is being returned back into the machine. Removing the dust buildup also helps maintain the machine moving parts like the motor, idler pulley and rollers which can be restricted with the lint dust adding friction to the system which will eventually break the affected components.

Visit Tin Lizzee.com for guidance in troubleshooting your dryer’s heating problems and online assistance in conducting your own preventative maintenance procedures. Check back often for more articles on the Importance of General Maintenance and Preventative Maintenance Tips which can be found on the TinLizzee.com blog page.  There you can find not only this article but also interesting information about most aspects of appliances, from how to keep them looking their best to which ones NOT to buy.  Thanks for reading, and give us feedback, we love hearing from you!

Maytag’s are My Favorite

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As an in-home appliance repair technician, you develop preferences for certain brands over others. My preferences are based on the general difficulty level of repairs in my experience. The success rate of those repairs and the typical repair costs are contributing factors. Also, there is the potential for increased longevity of the machine due to the repair. Last but most important of all are my customer’s reviews. Customer reviews are important to me.  They are the biggest contributing factor in my opinion of the Maytag product line.  People generally love their Maytag machines and recommend them highly. Maytag owners buy appliance repairs, and many will gladly buy expensive, major, overhaul type repairs if it means they’ll get to keep their beloved Maytag appliance for another five years or so.

Property of Maytag

In my opinion as an appliance technician the Maytag product line is one of the best you can buy for your buck, meaning Maytag’s are strong valve buys. I think Maytag appliances give their owners some of the best value for the money. There are residential refrigerators on the market that can cost as much as $15,000. Some of the high-end appliances can be very well built with good engineering concepts and tons of ingenious features. They can operate efficiently for 15 years and leave their customers feeling satisfied with the overall life span and performance of the machine. The only problem being the $15,000 cost.

Maytag products are typically very well-built machines. The designs are sturdy and the parts are solid. Once, I disassembled an in-warranty Frigidaire laundry center according to procedure. After removing the top panel screws, I watched as the sheet metal casing crumbled and fell in on itself due to the pressure of its own weight. My customer, who was in the room with me at the time asked “is it supposed to do that?” I answered simply “nope.” I don’t see that kind of thing with Maytag products. When I disassemble and repair a Maytag product, I can see and feel the craftsmanship that went into the manufacturing of the product. Because of Maytag’s engineering, repair procedures for their appliances are more intuitive for a qualified technician, making repairs relatively simple, quick, and cost effective compared to some other brands.

Maytag makes good solid parts and engineers its appliance products with standard SAE sized components like nuts and bolts. Standardization lends itself to more commonalities across different types and models of appliance machines making it possible to repair Maytag’s with cheaper generic replacement parts.  There are manufacturers in the market that will make a component like a mounting bolt for a motor specific to that brand and model!  When I’m repairing a Maytag product and a mistake happens at the parts warehouse, some essential components like the nuts and bolts are left out of the parts package. I don’t worry because everything I need to make a successful repair happen is probably in my spare parts bag. If I should come up short, no worries, I’ll just fly over to the nearest corner hardware store and get a pack of 5/16 Hexagonal screws and finish the job same day. I’ve run into these kinds of problems with brands like Miele, LG or Bosch and had to reorder something like one cap, one screw or one bolt. I had to order this one thing specifically and directly from the manufacturer and wait for delivery.  One manufacturer gave me an indefinite ETA for a plastic dryer screen part.  A simple enough component should have been generic and readily available, at least at an appliance parts distributor.  I asked tem “what does indefinite ETA really mean?”  Their reply was “I’ve seen this kind of order take up to six months to fulfill.”  Imagine that, a six-month waiting period to complete a 5-minute job!

Maytag has some of the best engineering in terms of keeping the technician in mind.  Mechanical systems breakdown eventually, it inevitable. Maytag’s seem to be built with this understanding. Critical system components, which require more frequent servicing, are made easily accessible.  Maytag’s tend to have more screws, clamps, and panels so that an experienced technician can make several critical repairs without a total disassembly of the machine or having to pull a machine from the wall to get in through the back.  This can allow homeowners, with the assistance of a Tin Lizzee technician, to perform many repairs themselves.

I’ve had representatives from other manufacturers tell me they’ve changed their designs, going against the repair advice of hundreds of technicians over several years in favor for a more streamlined look. “But Mr. Rep, how will we replace those troublesome fan motors in the back of the appliance, or the pumps in the far bottom right corner?” Rep says, “We’re confident these machines won’t fail.” Won’t fail ever??? Good luck with that one, I say.  Not only are Maytag’s engineered with repairs in mind, they’re just as slick and streamlined as any other product in the market, and they look just as good as any other medium and even high-end priced product.

Maytag products have longevity. My customers report problems starting with their Maytag’s toward the end of a standard life expectancy. In the field, you do not really have to sell Maytag repairs because they sell themselves.  Maytag customers want their appliances fixed. I’ve repaired lots of 25-year-old Maytag appliances against my own advice! “Are you sure you want to fix this thing. I mean It’s 25-years-old and I’m charging you $400 to repair it. For $400 you can get a new machine of almost any brand you want!” These customers reply, “It has really been a great machine, forget about the money, if it’s worth fixing in your opinion as a repairman then I’d rather put the $400 into my Maytag.” “You got it!” I’ll say. I’ve worked on and fixed 30 Maytag washers, I’ve had two customers that had working 40 to 50-year-old Maytag appliances in their homes. These customers are keeping their Maytag’s as collectors’ items and all they ever seem to need is a little maintenance from time to time. I’ve never met any Frigidaire or Samsung collectors.  I’m just saying.

I hope you enjoyed this article, be certain to check out Tin Lizzee’s blog page for more articles like this one!

Clean, dry clothes inside a dryer.

There is a Right Way to Dry Clothes!

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I’m sure the first thing you thought was, “What!?” Please, hear me out. Drying clothes is a basic function of laundry day, but what if I were to offer a few tips that would save money and provide better results, as in less wrinkles and shorter dry times?

I think we can agree drying clothes in a dryer gives the best results over line drying, but saving money is on your list, too, right? I’ve provided several tips about getting the best drying results. I realize you may already use some of them, and some might be new to you.  

Today’s dryers use electronic moisture detection circuits to cut dry times to a minimum. Due to difficulties detecting different types and weights of fabric, precise detection sometimes triggers your dryer to stop before clothes are dry.   

Restricted air flow is a main reason for unreliable moisture detection. Blocked vents have their own symptoms such as low heat or warm, moist heat. In either situation, clothes will not dry properly in these conditions. The picture is an example of a blocked outside vent. No air gets through, causing long dry times and faulty moisture detection.

Proven Tips for Better Drying and Fewer Wrinkles

#1 – If the dryer vent is blocked or has restricted airflow caused by excessive lint buildup, bent, crushed, or long vents, air cannot flow and causes long dry times. In fact, continued use leads to moisture buildup and defeats the purpose of moisture detection for efficient drying.

As you run the dryer with poor ventilation, the cost of running it skyrockets due to multiple drying cycles. It wastes energy and your time!

#2 – Check the clothes as they come out of the washer. Do they seem wetter than normal? Clothes too wet won’t dry well and take much longer to dry. The washer may not spin clothes properly, leaving excess water in them, leading to drying problems.

Your washer might be the culprit without you knowing it. If you have a question about your washer and its performance, the techs at Tin Lizzee will diagnose the exact cause and guide you to a quick solution.

#3 – Try shaking out your clothes before drying them. This helps minimize wrinkles and allows clothes to breathe easier while tumbling. You’ll notice shorter dry times, too.

#4 – Keep dryer and washer loads reasonable. Clothes need room to move for better and faster drying with less wrinkles. The washer basket size doesn’t give you permission to fill it to the top. Halfway is the new rule for HE washers. As with dryers, washer loads need room to tumble for best results. Also, dry full loads for best efficiency.  

#5 – I know it’s tempting to quickly add something to the dryer, but opening the door after it’s running and heating changes the moisture detection process and will likely change the estimated dry time.

#6 – Line-drying is still popular and several customers of mine have old dryers that look new! They won’t use the dryer unless it’s raining or some clothes won’t hang-dry well. You can’t beat the fresh smell of clothes just off the clothes line! Remember to shake out the clothes to decrease wrinkles before line-drying.

We hope these drying tips help you out. If you have more ideas, please let us know in the comments section below. We’ll add them in a future article with a shout out to you (with your permission, of course)! We’re all about DIY and ways to save money for our loyal readers. As always, contact us with your DIY appliance repair questions anytime. We’d love to hear from you!  

Why HE Soap Matters for Great Wash Results

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The transition from traditional washers to high-efficiency (HE) meant soap had to change, too. Fortunately, millions of people got the message and used HE detergent instead of conventional detergent in their new washers. Before I explain why HE soap matters, I’ll point out the differences between HE and conventional washers.

Traditional vs HE

Traditional Top Load Washer with SudsMany of us grew up with traditional washers without worry about load size, soap, or water. More seemed better because, well, it was. Standard machines easily washed large loads, and they did a good job for years. However, with the introduction of HE washers, much changed.

The old workhorse washers made way for new, cheaper, and energy efficient washers. Here, less is better, according to the manufacturers. HE washers use modern technology designed to reduce water consumption and lower energy costs.

The goal is a reduction of up to 80% less water and less energy consumption than traditional washers. Further, manufacturers touted more capacity and faster wash times. The reality is while the capacity is greater, the wash results haven’t met their goals. This is partly due to misinformation about amount and quality of soaps.

Overloading HE washers is common and contributes to complaints clothes aren’t getting clean. Too much weight and wrong type and amount of soap leads to a majority of washability complaints I hear often. The solution is smaller loads and correct type and amount of soap.

HE soap is a different soap and must be used correctly. Often, it is isn’t, which leads to over soaping and clothes not getting clean or rinsed well. In my experience, those who follow recommendations experience great wash results and softer clothes.

Less soap usage and lower water levels requires soap to work harder to clean. That said, a quality HE soap becomes important to produce great wash results. HE soap is a non-sudsing soap and helps prevent suds alarms many front-load HE washers show if it detects excessive suds.

The result is longer wash cycles due to increased rinsing. A suds alarm indicates over soaping or a mechanical problem with the washer. The easy solution is use less soap to eliminate it as a cause. Sometimes, the problem is internal to the washer. Tin Lizzee stands ready to help you whenever situations like this arise and you need a quick answer or do-it-yourself appliance repair solution.

The True Effect of Too Many Suds

Top Load HE Washer

Instead of grinding clothes around an agitator as in conventional washers, the HE process gently moves clothes around and against each other to assist the cleaning process. Much of the wash cycle is soaking and gently rubbing which gets your clothes their cleanest.

HE soap is non-sudsing and prevents the effects of too many suds. If suds appear in the wash water, it’s an indication of too much soap (yes, HE soap will produce some suds if too much is used). Suds cradle the clothes and prevent them from contacting each other, reducing cleaning.

Whenever excessive suds are present, your washer likely extends the rinse, or adds another full rinse cycle to cancel the suds affect. If suds remain due to excessive soap, the spin cycle can’t remove all the soap from the clothes and end up not getting clean and might smell, too.

What Can You Do About Suds?

Front Load Washer with Too Many SudsAlways use less than the recommended amount printed on the label. After trial and error, I found approximately a tablespoon of quality HE soap is sufficient for most normal loads. The exception is an extra half-tablespoon for extremely soiled clothes.

I know it doesn’t seem enough for an average load, but remember you’re using HE soap which is different from traditional detergent. If you use the right amount, suds won’t be a problem and you’ll experience clean and soft clothes.

If you’re using a water softener, you may experience suds in the wash water. Experiment with amounts of soap until the suds subside and your clothes are clean. Always remember to use quality HE soap at all times.  

In Closing…

Today’s HE washers do a fine job washing clothes, and soap and load size determine the results you will see. Quality HE soap in the right amount with an average load size should give the outcome you’re expecting every time. If you’re experiencing difficulty with any of your home appliances, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help you, anytime or anywhere! If you like what you’ve learned here today, please drop us a comment below. We would love to hear from you!