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Website owner: 
Dave Harnish
CEO: Sadie
Dave's Repair Service
1911 Heath Hill Rd
New Albany, PA 18833

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The DRS News
March 2003

In this issue:

1)  The ‘No Heat’ Electric Oven
2)  Every Refrigerator’s Built-in System Diagnostics Tool
3)  Thoughts While Shoveling Snow

1) Thought I’d run through a fast diagnosis procedure on an electric oven that’s not heating. This is a pretty common problem, and if you’re reasonably handy, not all that tough to figure out.

First, as always, verify that you have power available. Turn on a surface burner and ensure it heats to a nice red glow, and you’ll know you have the necessary 240V.

Be aware that it’s possible for one side of the 240V supply to ‘drop out’, allowing the surface burners to heat slightly and other components to look normal. But if yours get red hot, you know you have 240V.

Next, and I may be dating myself here, but, if your range uses an analog clock, be sure this is set to ‘manual’. There are several different ‘manual’ and ‘time-bake’ arrangements, but the instructions are usually found on or around the clock face.

I've corrected this many, many times over the years and saved running a service call by asking about this on the phone when receiving a ‘no heat’ call.  With some ranges it’s really easy to turn the oven off without realizing it, even while cleaning the range, so be sure and check for this if your clock is analog. If your range uses a red light that indicates the oven’s on - and you’re sure it’s been working - you’ll be able to tell when you get the clock set back to ‘MAN’, because this indicator will come on (and you’ll be a hero!)

If your range uses one of the newer electronic controls and it’s not displaying any ‘error codes’, you’ll need to progress further.

First, power the range down and run your hand over the bake element, looking for any rough areas. If the unit is electrically open, you’ll *usually* feel and see a burnt area, and often this will be obvious. In some cases the element will actually be blown apart, and if that describes yours, the element is definitely bad! These aren’t expensive; most cost between $20 and $30.

But if there’s no obvious damage to the element surface, we’ll continue.

The fastest way to proceed is identical to what we discussed on the ‘no heat’ dryer, and the same 240V test bulb is again put to good use.  If you’re not comfortable dealing with 240V, though, all the usual disclaimers apply - call a technician!

Power down the range and pull the bake element partway out of the oven cavity, usually by removing 2 screws. Connect your 240V bulb to the element terminals, being sure they aren’t touching the cabinet, and power back up. Turn the oven to ‘bake’ and watch that bulb. Light/no heat = open bake element. No light = control or wiring problems.

If there’s no voltage to the bake element, you might want to power down and remove the range back panel, looking for burnt wires. If there doesn’t seem to be any wiring damage, you’re advised to call a pro.

In most cases, you’ll find either a burnt terminal (use only high temp nickel plated ones) or an open element, and either of these are well within the capabilities of a handy homeowner.

2)  Here in the Northeast, we’ve been somewhat fixated on snow this winter, and since ‘snow’ happens to be the handiest tool for refrigeration sealed system diagnosis, I’d like to talk about that a bit.

If a refrigerator is ‘running but not cooling’, or is 'cooling poorly’, and everything seems to be clean and running (clean condenser, fans and compressor running), our attention turns to the sealed system.

So many times over the years I’ve looked at a refrig that a previous servicer has checked, and found an access valve clamped to the suction line (and very often leaking).

When questioned, the owner usually says something like, ‘yes, he had to attach a set of gauges to check the system’, and I always find it hard not to groan out loud.  Folks, it’s just not necessary to poke a hole into a refrigerator to find out what’s going on inside it. If a tech knows his business and is at all interested in being efficient, he’ll know this.

If the above conditions describe your refrig or freezer, do this: leave it running if you can, and remove whatever covers are over the evaporator (cold) coil.  If you see a nice, EVEN frost pattern covering the entire coil, even if it’s 1” thick, you do NOT have a system problem. It’s just that easy!

If only part of the coil is frosted and the rest is bare or only wet, you DO have a system problem - leak, restricted, or compressor - and these days I usually recommend replacing the refrig or freezer.

Wasn’t that easy?!

3)  Speaking of snow (it’s the main topic around here lately!), I noticed something very interesting about it last month. Forgive me, this is not related to appliances, but if you’re the curious type like me, you’ll find it food for thought.

On February 18 our forecast called for rain/freezing rain. With our nearly flat back porch roof already bearing about 2 feet of heavy, crusted snow, this forecast worried me a bit. So up the ladder I went and spent a leisurely hour shoveling it off.

I found it intriguing that there were 5 very distinct layers of snow with dark lines separating them, and the lower layers generally thinner than the upper ones.  The 5 storms that laid down these layers had all visited us within the previous 6 weeks, and we had snow up to our windowsills for a while!

I can hear you saying ‘Wow, now THAT’S really, um, interesting, Dave, but you need to get down off the mountain more often’ - and you’re right, I do <grin>.  But please bear with me, I really do have a point...

The reason this so intrigues me involves memories of my high school science classes (yes, dear, I CAN remember that far back!).  And textbooks still have articles about drilling ice-cores, primarily in Antarctica, and they all describe counting tens of thousands of light/dark ‘ANNUAL’ rings seen in these cores.

This is where I said ‘wait a minute’; if these 5 distinct layers on my roof were laid down in 6 weeks, maybe those layers in ice cores aren’t annual, after all!  And maybe it DIDN’T take 40,000 years for that Antarctic ice to form…

Then I remembered a news item about ‘The Lost Squadron’ of WWII.  The short version: in 1942, a squadron of 6 P-38F Fighters and 2 B-17 bombers was forced to land in an isolated area of Greenland. Vintage WWII Aircraft, and if recovered, they'd be worth a fortune today, and a great legacy to those who flew them!

Trouble was, several expeditions spread over some dozen years couldn’t locate them. They were finally found in 1992 using radar and steam probes, buried under 268 feet (!) of solid ICE - in only 50 years! I emailed TLS webmaster Greg Werner recently and asked about the appearance of this ice, and he was kind enough to email a response on March 4.

He spoke to expedition manager Bob Cardin about this, who replied that, from memory he'd estimate there were at least 100-150 very obvious layers in the ice as they melted their way down and finally retrieved one of the P-38’s, now restored and flying (!) Here's a picture of one of the bore-holes in the ice, showing some of the many ‘rings’:

Ice Rings in Greenland

The reason I wanted to pursue this is because the Author of the Bible has gone to great lengths to make the point that our planet is NOT billions, nor even millions, of years old, but ‘only’ about 6,000 years of age!

And if you’ve ever wondered, as I have, about whether these ‘annual’ ice-core rings refute that idea, then my sincere hope is that this only strengthens your faith in the Author of the world’s only 100% trustworthy Book, the King James Bible. (It's possible to prove the Bible is true and that its source is outside our time domain! But I digress...)

But please, do what I did. I didn’t take anyone’s word on ice-cores, and I hope you don’t either - check it our for yourself. Oh, and Happy Shoveling!

Additional resource:
Book, "The Lost Squadron", 1994, by David Hayes, available on Amazon

PS – I just read that a program on this recovered P-38, ‘Glacier Girl’,  was scheduled to air on The History Channel March 3rd. We don’t get the HC, but maybe some of you saw it.  

God bless you all,

Dave Harnish

‘Thy Word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever.’  -- Psalm 119:160


"Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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