Appliance Repair Techniques
The Maytag repairman is the loneliest for a reason, modern appliances don’t break down often. They do their job for years and years, and take almost no maintenance. Eventually though, they sometimes let us down.
Most appliances are very easy to repair, and will have common failure modes. Typical items that break are the moving parts, belts, valves and motors. Belts wear over time, valves fail, and motors have various failures.
If there isn’t smoke coming out, it may be difficult to determine which specific part has failed. If water isn’t going in or out, it is probably a valve. If things aren’t turning it could be the motor, or a belt. If it is making a loud buzz and nothing is happening, it could be a valve or a motor.
Getting the appliance apart can sometimes be a challenge. Having big obvious screws is asthetically unacceptable. The screws are mostly hidden, on the inside or on the back. Knowing which screws are holding on the important parts is sometimes a challenge to determine. Think the people putting these together are probably bored, so they need to be simple to assemble.
Most of the screws and bolts are standard sizes. A #2 Phillips and a 1/4″ socket set will be adequate for most appliances. Occasionally a torx will be needed. The screws will have plenty of taper, owing to the automated assembly techniques. When putting self tapping screws in plastic, it is important to reuse the same threads, so the hole isn’t threaded into one giant hole.
Other tools can include a volt meter with a way to measure amps. If the motor isn’t turning or the water isn’t flowing, using the meter can help locate the trouble. AC motors have starting capacitors, that will go bad. Knowing the current the motor is drawing will help point to the capacitor or the motor as the culprit. Same with valves, if there is no current then it may be a controller board, if there is current, it may be the valve.
Usually the parts that need to be replaced are easily accessible. The common valve that needs replacing is in the front, on the bottom, with easily accessible screws. The dryer belt only has about 8 screws that need loosening in the front, and one access panel in the back. The cords and hoses are flexible, so getting the the appliance is easy and safe, as long as the power is removed, and the water turned off.
Look carefully for the cause of the failure. Most of the parts are simple wear items, but sometimes, something will have fallen where it shouldn’t have, and that will cause things to go wrong. Also, sometimes idlers were have higher friction, causing motors or belts to
wear quick. Repair the cause, otherwise the repairing only the symptom will quickly fail.
There are many resources available. Online, using your favorite search engine (IE google) enter the specific symptoms, and model, the results will probably show parts diagrams and access instructions. If any error codes appear on the appliance, enter that also.
Once the specific problem is identified, and the parts are determined, the next challenge may be getting the part. Most major cities have appliance parts warehouses, and distributors. They cater mostly to appliance repair people, and are only open Monday through Friday 8 to 5. Not always convenient for the DIYer or handy people.
Mail order is another option. Various parts suppliers will offer parts ordered on line, delivered to your door. The challenge with mail order is the time it takes to get the part, sometimes up to a week. If you can live without the appliance for that time, it might be an acceptable option, since the parts can be less costly.
With the appliance apart, it is a good time to clean things. There will probably be lots of dust, and other dirt, collecting on the insides. A quick vacuum and swipe with a rag will get most of the loose dirt. If the appliance was moved out, clean under things also. This
may help the appliance last longer.
Once the part is installed, then assembly will be mostly the opposite of the disas
sembly. Use the proper screws in the proper position. Remember to put the wires back where they were removed. Tighten things back to where they were when the screws where loosened. You may want to give things a quick run once it is mostly assembled, just to see if it is better.
Occasionally, the appliance will need replacing. Sometimes the cost often the specific problem will make the failure terminal. It may be acceptable to put a little money in to keep the appliance running for a while, with the plan to replace it as soon as practical. There is a careful balance that only you can make.
Taking care of your appliances can help save a great deal of money. Understanding how the appliances work, can help use them more efficiently also.