appliance repair service

Compact standard microwave on a shelf.

DIY Appliance Repair: Microwaves

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open tabletop microwave oven on a white backgroundWe find microwaves in just about every home we enter for service. To most people, however, they’re a mystery. We put our coffee inside, press one or two buttons, and a few minutes later we have hot coffee! Gotta love this technology!

From a DIY appliance repair perspective, when a novice attempts to repair a “not-heating” problem, half-way into the unit they back off because many components inside stand ready to punish them for trying. But, if they have the right knowledge before starting, chances are they might get the thing running again.

For now, I’ll leave the repair talk out of this and review how microwaves work and why never attempt to repair them on your own without expert help.

That said, welcome to Tin Lizzee’s latest article in our Getting Started Series! Today’s article reaches further into microwave technology. How it heats, when it doesn’t, who invented it and when. Great stuff to know!

What Makes a Microwave Work?

Each time you press “start” on the control panel of your microwave, several events take place to heat your food. The main control receives input from pressing the start button and a safety check of the door switches determines if the microwave can proceed.

After initial checks, house power (120 Vac) feeds to the main control where 120 Vac is fed directly to the high-voltage transformer where it’s doubled by the high voltage diode and capacitor circuit before reaching the magnetron. The magnetron produces microwave energy and cooking begins.

This is a simplified description of the microwave process, but overall it should give you an idea of what happens after you press start on the keypad. Many components come together and operate to produce heat. While failure of any one component would shut off high voltage, most times lights and display work, but food doesn’t cook.

Because of the extremely high working voltage of a microwave (approx. 2200 volts), it’s recommended having a working knowledge of safety and follow every step when disabling high voltage.

Inverter Technology in Microwaves

Standard microwave operation lacks a consistent, even heat in the cavity. To circumvent this, Panasonic and GE use inverter technology in some of their models. An advantage of using an inverter in place of a standard high-voltage transformer is when adjusting a cooking cycle power output to 50% for example, it outputs power at exactly 50% of its full, rated power.

A standard microwave achieves 50% power by turning its magnetron on full for approximately half of the set time in the cycle. Due to heat losses within the unit, the microwave averages 50% output, meaning power fluctuates above and below 50% power.

Inverter technology holds the advantage in cooking food with steady heating, and it can defrost food without burning the edges. However, the cost of microwaves using inverter technology is much higher than standard ones, and repair parts cost more, too.

Convection Microwaves

Tabletop convection microwave with door open showing inside.Sometimes I wonder why convection microwaves haven’t caught on yet. They’ve been around a long time, but few are sold. Perhaps the price scares people away. If I had to guess, I would say it’s because microwave cooking never got people excited enough to try it.

Convection cooking in a microwave is nearly the same as in a standard range with convection. They both use fans to circulate hot air around the cavity and bake food evenly. Wait! Bake in a microwave? Yes, that’s what convection microwaves do! Maybe now we know the reason they’re not popular. Your existing range with convection outperforms the microwave in every way, including cooking space.

One last topic about repair. I couldn’t resist.

Typical Causes of No Heat

A non-heating microwave is a huge disappointment and if you don’t have a clue of the reason, you’re more upset. I know how you feel because I’ve been there, too. Most times, the cause is a simple one, but not as easy to fix. Let me explain.

Standard microwave magnetron.By far, the most common cause of no-heat in a microwave is a failed magnetron pictured here. A simple reason, but a challenge for a novice to fix. Tin Lizzee can guide you through diagnosing this and any other symptom and find out exactly what is causing the issue.

Another common cause of several issues is the door switches. If one or more fail, lights staying on, no heat, not starting, and starting unattended are some of the symptoms you’ll see. As I said earlier, simple reason, but a challenge to fix.

If you go ahead with a repair, we help you through every step, and if needed, our camera sharing app, Virtually There™ shows us in real time exactly what you see. It’s just like being there with you!

Wooden Blocks Spell Final ThoughtsWho Invented the Microwave?

The story about how microwaves got their start is funny! In 1945, a man named Percy Spencer working at Raytheon was working on a radar system and microwaves produced from it started melting a Hershey’s chocolate bar in his pocket!

Initial tests were popcorn and yes, an egg. We all know what happened to the egg, right? It exploded!

From there, Spencer fabricated a sealed metal box and tested his discovery with food inside. He verified temperatures in food rose rapidly but didn’t burn the outside. Raytheon filed for a U.S. patent on October 8, 1945. The rest as they say, is history!

If you have any comments to add from your experience with microwaves, please feel free to add them below. Or, if you liked what you read here today, please let us know. As always, we love to hear from our readers!

Single built-in wall oven in a white kitchen

DIY Appliance Repair: Wall Oven Installation Tips

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Modern kitchen with a built-in wall ovenMost of us think a wall oven works the same way as a conventional slide-in range. In many ways, it’s true. But there are differences you should know about before installing your new oven. I know they’re beautiful pieces of technology, and it’s worthwhile learning a few tips now instead of finding out the hard way!

For years, I’ve seen great installations and some very reckless and dangerous ones, too. After an installation, most customers have no idea what’s behind or around their oven. The assumption is as long as it works, all is good. Please, read on…

Self-Clean Misfortune

Wall ovens require specific minimum distances around the unit providing ample room for air flow. The open space around the oven allows it to cool properly without tripping its internal temperature sensors and stopping operation.

I won’t give specifics here because each unit has its own specifications. My point is, make sure your installers follow the specifications. They’re too important to ignore. I’ve seen too many ovens installed in spaces clearly not designed for them. That said, lack of airflow clearances creates an immediate problem.

A majority of my customers love keeping their ovens clean using the self-clean function. Aside from the steam option, a regular high-heat option remains the common choice. However, in a case of a bad installation, it’s risky to allow ovens to reach high temperatures (750-900°) for extended periods, such as during a self-clean unless proper ventilation allows sufficient airflow.

I should say all ovens I’ve seen with optional self-clean have been tested for high temps, but problems occur when insufficient airflow around the unit prevents proper cooling, tripping high-limit thermostats. This leads to a complete shutdown of the oven, or at least the bake and broil elements.

Electrical Pigtail Too Short

A potentially dangerous and novice-like installation is apparent when electrical installers don’t follow instructions and leave enough slack in the electrical pigtail connecting power to the unit. It’s too late when your wall oven gets removed for repair.

Cartoon electrician with toolboxEnough length in the power cord (pigtail) is essential to allow someone to remove the unit from the wall with enough room to maneuver around the unit while it’s sitting on an oven cart. A pigtail too short makes it impossible to remove the unit without disconnecting the pigtail from the unit, which is awkward, hard to reach, and potentially dangerous.

I should note here most units come pre-wired with a five-foot pigtail attached, but that’s not guaranteed. Please, watch carefully during the installation and insist they add enough length to the pigtail to avoid a disaster whenever the unit needs repair and must be removed from the wall!

Using Shims to Raise or Level the Unit

If an installer uses a block of wood under the unit to raise it high enough to close up gaps at the top of the opening, don’t allow it. Instead, have them use a solid piece of wood with the same footprint as the oven directly under the unit to accomplish this.

Shims shift and crush built-in exhaust vents. They’re not designed to withstand the oven’s weight, which is why they’re recessed underneath. A shim will slip during installation and end up directly below a vent, crushing it when the oven comes to rest.

Confirm Unit is Level

Before the installers leave and ask you to sign off, open the oven and check the slide-out racks. Do they slide out when you open the oven door? If yes, your unit is not level and will create major problems for you.

Hopefully, your installer won’t attempt to use shims mentioned earlier to level the unit. A basic step in a wall oven installation is to make sure the opening is correct according to spec, and level. It’s the installer’s responsibility to correct any problems before attempting installation.

Wooden Blocks Spell Final ThoughtsWe know how frustrating a bad home appliance installation can be. All Tin Lizzee techs have seen their share; that you can be sure of! I hope the tips I’ve shared with you help make your new wall oven installation a glowing success! I’ve included a link to another article about home appliance installations you might find helpful.

As always, if you like this article, please write a comment below. We love to hear from our readers. Need to suggest something? Please, feel free. We’re here to help!


Woman inspecting a motherboard component

DIY Appliance Repair: Getting Started Series

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A multimeter checking resistance of washing machine heater.Tin Lizzee wants nothing more than to help anyone interested save money on their home appliance repairs! We take your problem appliance and tell you what’s wrong and how to fix it right.

This article is the first in a series beginning with getting started with DIY appliance repair, then subsequent ones will review basic operation of common kitchen appliances. From our experience, we see many customers struggle with basic operation and we feel it’s important to have this knowledge before attempting repair or diagnosis.

Troubleshooting an appliance without knowledge of its process confuses people and discourages them from trying to tackle a simple repair. Our articles will help you gain confidence in your ability and teach you do-it-yourself repair is fun!

Leave your lack of confidence at our online doorstep because you will discover repairing your appliance is easier and cheaper than you ever thought possible. If we assume correctly, you’re new at DIY appliance repair and apprehensive about your ability?

Let us put your fears to rest because you’ll be in the hands of professionals with one thing in mind. Customer satisfaction is our goal, and we guarantee our work from start to finish.

Troubleshoot with Pros

Word cloud with keyword Troubleshooting.To start any repair, we need you comfortable and relaxed. Also, remove any distractions and leave yourself room to move around the machine while you’re working.

With every repair, we’ll need to assess the problem with your help. We trust your input because you’re the operator of the machine and you know its normal sounds and capabilities. We can quickly pinpoint trouble areas with your input and observations.

I think one of the most important questions is what you see wrong with the machine. Many times, problems are simple and easily fixed. Others may require more in-depth troubleshooting. Our professional technicians guide you to the problem and solution.

Checklist Before We Start

Nobody is more important to us than you. We want to make sure you’re safe throughout our time together, so if we seem overly safe, please excuse us. We’re trying to make sure you don’t get hurt. We ask you to follow strict rules when working with or around electricity. Please take our suggestions and follow them closely. It’s ok, we have the time.

  • Make sure all power to the machine is off. Please confirm by double checking your machine’s circuit breaker and make sure it’s off. Instruct anyone nearby to keep that circuit turned off until we tell you to turn it on. Further, try to turn the unit on. If it comes on, it’s still powered up and must be disabled.
  • If you have a multimeter and know how to use it safely, great! We can dig deeper if needed. But if you don’t, no worries. We can work around it!
  • Have a pair of thin, tight-fitting gloves handy. We prefer cut-proof type gloves with rubber grips, but any other quality glove works. If we have you remove panels, sometimes the edges are very sharp!
  • Basic hand tools including slip-joint pliers, large and small straight-tip and Phillips head screwdrivers, a set of metric and SAE sockets (1/4” or 3/8” drive), a small hammer, Vise-Grip pliers, and a putty knife round out the minimum tools needed to start a repair. A good flashlight or a good source of light is optional but recommended.

Repair Easy!

One of the most amazing things about DIY appliance repair is the “aha” moment you’ll experience when you find the problem and fix it yourself! Tin Lizzee takes what seems like hard, frustrating work out of appliance repair and guides you directly to the solution.

Once you discover the easy and inexpensive Tin Lizzee way, we hope you’ll come back with all your DIY appliance repair needs!

Wooden Blocks Spell Final ThoughtsAs we go through the repair and discover more is needed, you can decide to keep going or stop. You’re always in control and we won’t charge more money if the repair gets excessive. Like we always say, “Repair Easy!”

Tin Lizzee takes DIY appliance repair to the next level with our exclusive camera sharing app called Virtually There™. It’s an awesome tool allowing us to share screens so we can see exactly what you see in real time! No more guesswork and we make sure you get the job done quickly and safely.

As always, if you liked what you read here, please feel free to leave a comment below. We appreciate hearing from you!

A picture containing a wringer washer, ice box, and television.

The Evolution of Appliance Repair Service

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Thirty-five years ago, on-site appliance repair service was the only game in town except for toasters, irons, and miscellaneous household appliances people brought to the shop for repair. Almost every small town had at least one “repair shop” specializing in well, everything.

During the 1980s I noticed manufacturers paid more attention to their field training and insisted techs were better trained. Yes, I’ve been doing this a while! Up to this point, good training, aside from what was available at the dealer level, was lacking.

The 1990s ushered in advancements in electronics and the appliance industry saw many changes. Microelectronics meant better efficiency, more features, and better looks to boot. The changes required knowledgeable technicians and a new era of technicians emerged.

Manufacturers trained their techs better and demanded a high level of expertise for certification, or permission, to work on their products. For consumers, the training helped convince them to trust technicians working on their now expensive appliances.

Rise of Repair Costs

Customer looking concerned while reading appliance repair service invoice.With the new, fancy appliances came higher price tags and even higher repair costs. The appliance repair service industry changed from groups of inexperienced technicians into larger groups of intelligent and specially trained techs.

The new group of techs have advanced troubleshooting skills and specialized knowledge of appliances. With this knowledge comes a higher price, however. The higher price is justified by the level of knowledge and experience of technicians, and the higher cost of parts, especially electronic PC boards.

I think it’s a good thing most techs have advanced skills, great training, and plenty of work. But, as a consumer, does the fact techs have these new skills benefit you? I think the answer is yes, with a few exceptions.

All of us who own appliances know from experience nothing lasts forever (anymore, that is). When the time comes for that dreaded repair, would you rather be inconvenienced with having to take time off work at least once, or maybe twice to have the repair done, or would a simple online chat be a good place to start?

The Advantage of Online Appliance Repair Help

The charge for a typical repair visit in your home includes the trip charge, diagnosis, and repair. If the tech has the part on his truck which is becoming increasingly rare, you’ll have the repair done in one visit. You’re faced with the usual part order, and the return trip is another inconvenience and a hit to your daily routine.

Appliance repair service doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, it should be the exception and not the rule. It’s a pain as we all know. Tin Lizzee relieves you of the hassle of waiting and wondering when your appliance will work again.

Check out the video for a cool, but a kind of geeky explanation of what we do!

For a much-reduced cost, we can determine what’s wrong and either recommend a fix or guide you through the repair in a matter of minutes instead of days. Read more about when DIY repair is a better option for you in this article.

I think the best part is you always chat with experienced, certified techs who see problems just like yours every day. Efficiency and getting answers for you is our goal, and we like to think we’re pretty good at that.

Sometimes a repair is out of the question because cost becomes the deciding factor about repairing or replacing an appliance.

We get that, and it’s why we’re always willing to discuss the hard questions with you. Appliances aren’t cheap but we know the best brands with the least repairs.

Our vast appliance repair service experience qualifies our techs as experts in their field, who possess an intimate knowledge of all types of appliances, willing to share their knowledge to help customers.

Less Cost and Better Results

Chalkboard with three ingredients of efficiencyOn average, a normal in-home service call begins with a $75.00 trip charge including perhaps a minor diagnosis. From here, costs add up quickly. Many times, a problem requires more than one part for a good repair, and labor adds more to the total.

For most in-home repair calls, a final bill over $300 is not uncommon for basic repairs. Two basic repairs in one year add up fast. I know from experience most repairs are not difficult or dangerous and a capable person can perform them and save hundreds of dollars each time!

There’s an old saying you may know. It goes like this: “If you want something done right, you do it yourself.” I think most DIY’ers would agree. Not only is the price right, the work is, too.

Wooden Blocks Spell Final ThoughtsIt’s my hope you leave with a better understanding of how appliance repair service evolved over the years. New appliance technology makes them more efficient loaded with features no one dreamed of only 10 years ago.

I talk to customers daily who tell me they wish they had their old appliance back! Why? Many tell me all they want the darn thing to do is wash or dry their clothes. They don’t need all the extra features. Sometimes, I have to agree!

Tons of cool features make us want them, but if you’re looking for better results, chat with a Tin Lizzee Technician and we’ll give you the truth you’re looking for!

If you loved reading this post as much as we loved writing it for you, please feel free to add your comments below. We always enjoy hearing from our readers!