Most people tend to take major appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, washing machines, dryers, etc. for granted. However, we only realize how much we rely on these machines daily when they malfunction or stop working. In most cases, your best bet is to hire a professional appliance repair technician to fix a refrigerator, washing machine, dryer, oven, and other major appliance that has suddenly stopped working.
However, it can be helpful to learn how to repair major appliances, especially when you cannot get hold of a professional appliance repair technician in Ottawa or want to save some money.
In this article, we will discuss a few important tips that you can follow to learn how to safely handle electrical appliances when trying to troubleshoot problems. You will also learn about the common elements that cause major appliances to malfunction or stop working and how to fix those issues so that you can repair almost any major appliance.
Preliminary steps to follow when repairing any major appliance
Large appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, dryers, stoves and refrigerators are complex machines that operate on 120-240 volts. It’s extremely important to be careful when handling these machines since they can prove to be fatal otherwise. And, unlike smaller appliances, large appliances are fairly complex machines that often include a drain pump, timer, dishwasher motor, mechanical/power components, and control devices.
Since there are so many parts that can go wrong, it is just as important to learn how to diagnose and troubleshoot the problem as to learn how to repair them. In most cases, you should start by figuring out whether the malfunction is in the mechanical system or the control system.
Here are a few rules that you must abide by even before you start the repair work:
1. Before diagnosing the problem with any appliance, ensure that the power connection to it is turned off for safety purposes.
2. Never try to disassemble appliances that include parts held together by rivets and welds. Call a professional for help. So, try to disassemble the appliances only if you notice that the parts are attached via screws, plugs, bolts, and other types of take-apart fasteners.
3. Sometimes, it is easier and cheaper to replace a broken or malfunctioning part than trying to fix it. If you have any doubts, you should always consult an appliance repair expert to save time and money.
4. Always refer to the owner’s manual when troubleshooting a malfunction since they include many helpful solutions.
5. Always check for a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker at both the main panel and the separate panel. You must check the fuses embedded in the appliance itself too. A simple reset can be the quickest solution in such cases.
6. Always make sure that the appliance is properly connected to the mains and receiving power. You can use a voltage tester to be sure.
Tips to disassemble major appliances
It’s wise to refer to the owner’s manual whenever you plan to disassemble a major appliance such as a dryer or a washer since you can look at diagrams and instructions that would make the task easier.
Disassemble major appliances:
1. When disassembling any appliance, follow the reverse order of assembling them as listed in the owner’s manual.
2. Take notes, make drawings, and label all terminals and wires to make sure you know how to put them back together.
3. Never try to force-open knobs and dials that are held together by set screws, spring clips, pins, etc. Instead, look for hidden fasteners under the nameplate or company logo.
Note: Always be sure to ground the appliance by plugging it into a grounded outlet or using a special grounded adapter even if they are double-insulated to avoid a shock hazard.
How to replace power cords and plugs
Open the power cord of an appliance that you suspect is at fault to check whether the conductor wires are attached to the plug’s screw terminals properly. Sometimes, simply tightening the screws can solve the problem. If the damage done is more severe, you have to replace it.
Once you learn how to replace power cords and plugs, you can fix problems with power cords and plugs whether it’s on an oven or a washing machine. Here are the steps you can follow to attach a new male plug:
1. Slowly insert the end of the cord through the opening of the plug and pull it through for about 5-6 inches.
2. Carefully strip off about 2 inches of the outer insulation and then use a wire stripper to remove ½ inch of the inner insulation from each end of the conductor wire.
3. Twist the exposed filaments of the wires into a prong and tie a knot with the inner wires. Next, pull down the plug over the knot to allow the exposed ends to stick out. Then, loosen the terminal screws.
4. Loop the wires around each prong toward a screw terminal on a two-wire plug. Tighten the screws after that and ensure that you connect the white wire to the white screw and the black wire to the yellow screw if they are colored. In the case of a three-wire plug, you have to follow the same procedure and connect the green (grounding) wire to the green screw terminal.
5. Slide the cardboard insulator over the blades of the plug once you firmly secure the conductor wires. Clamp it firmly around the cord if it has a clamp-type sleeve.
How to replace a Gasket
Gaskets increase the efficiency of the appliance by preventing water and air leaks. A faulty gasket should be removed as soon as possible. Here is how to do so:
1. To release a flush-mounted gasket, you have to remove the retaining grip, fasteners, or panel. To remove a channel-mounted gasket you just have to carefully pull it out of the channel.
2. Use warm water, liquid detergent, or mineral spirits to thoroughly clean the gasket area.
3. Install the new gasket and smooth it evenly into place. Press it into place using a splining tool if you are installing a channel-mounted gasket. If necessary, you a gasket cement.
4. Replace the panel, retaining strip, or the fasteners carefully. Remove excess gasket cement with mineral spirit.
How to test whether a switch is working properly
Switch failure is a common cause of appliance malfunction. Thus, in many cases, you don’t have to repair your refrigerator, washing machines, dishwashers, or dryers, when you can simply replace a switch if it is at fault. Here is how to check for switch failure:
1. Disassemble the appliance and hook the clip of a continuity tester or VOM set to the RX1 scale to one lead of the switch. Touch the probe to the other.
2. Once you turn on the switch, the continuity tester with light if the switch is working and stop buzzing once you turn the switch off. The VOM will read zero.
3. If neither of these happens, the switch should be defective and you should replace it with a new one of the same type.
How to check whether a thermostat is working properly
Any problem with the heating element or temperature control of an appliance could indicate a faulty thermostat. Here is how to check for a faulty thermostat:
1. Use a continuity tester or a VOM set to the RX1 scale for testing. Initially, the continuity tester should light up or buzz and the VOM should read zero.
2. Turn down the temperature control dial and ensure that the contact points open up. At this point, the continuity tester should stop buzzing or glowing.
3. Anything otherwise could indicate a problem with the thermostat.
How to check whether the motor is working properly
Large appliances such as dryers and washing machines utilize powerful motors to do their work. Universal motors are reliable in the long term but can start to malfunction when the carbon brushes start to wear down with use and time. Here is how to check the condition of the brush:
1. Remove the screws that lock the brush springs and brush to the sides of the commutator and turn the motor over to tap it out.
2. If the brush-ends are worded down instead of curved finely to fit the commutator, they need to be replaced.
3. If the springs behind the brushes are damaged, they should be replaced as well.
The tips and steps mentioned above are not an exhaustive list for repairing major appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, dryers, and ovens. You can also run into problems with the wiring element, heating elements, mechanical timers, pilot lights, thermocouples, and more when diagnosing a faulty appliance. Repairing your household appliance can allow you to save time and money in some cases. However, it is recommended that you call a professional for the major repairs and your safety.
Appliance Technician Ltd. is one of the best appliance repair service providers in Ottawa and we can fix almost all major household appliances such as freezers, refrigerators, ovens, stoves, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and more. Call us today for professional consultation or schedule a service with our appliance technician.