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

Psalm 118:8




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The DRS News
December 2002 
(Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!)

In this issue:

1) Electric & gas range burner tune-up tips
2) Feed your baby, fix your icemaker (huh?)

1) I've been doing a lot of work on electric range surface units the last few weeks, and thought it might be a good idea to share a few tips to ensure that your holiday feasts go without a hitch. It probably wouldn't hurt to mention a couple of DIY helps for gas burners as well, so let's dive right in:

Most of the conventional-burner (coil type) ranges we see these days use plug-in surface units, and that makes it handy for cleaning. But it's also a weakness, because it introduces one more set of connections that can fail. You'll have problems most often with the large, 8 in. units. This is because they're operating at nearly the full rated capacity of their wiring, and everything has to be right or the sparks will fly (briefly). (If your units are hard-wired and non-removable, or you have a Ceran smooth-top, you can ignore this section)

A little Preventive Maintenance in this area will go a long way toward never having to call one of us service guys, and, hey, that's not always a bad thing! I've been a firm believer in PM for a long time.

Pull the units out, one at a time, and take a look at the 'blade' ends. If they're not clean and shiny (in many cases your 8" units' blades will be charred black), they'll need to be sanded. One of the best tools for this is a 'Dremel MotoTool' with a sanding drum or fine stone attached. Just bend the blades apart slightly and make 'em shine (Guys, this'd be a great time to mention this tool to the Lovely who fills your stocking), or use sandpaper, even though it's boring (and a lot slower, Dear, hint, hint…)

If they're in poor condition, you'll also see charred contacts in the receptacle, and these must be replaced. Trust me on this, if you don't, you'll be redoing this job, and more than just once. (not to mention the stocking won't be nearly as heavy as it could've been). The most common replacement these days is Electrolux # 5303935058, a 'universal' kit with 2 different mounting brackets, ceramic wire nuts, and wire 'tails' included. Here's a picture of one:

'Universal' Surface Receptacle Kit

It's best to take one of your originals to your area appliance parts store (If you can still find one!) to ensure you end up with the correct receptacle kits. Or contact me with your model number, and I'll look them up for you. And you may not have to replace all of them. As we've said, it's usually only the large units that'll have this problem. But take a critical look at the smaller ones, especially the front one - you know, the one that everyone uses constantly. And even though there's no power to the surface unit wires when they're turned off, unplug the range first anyway. (well, um, no, I don't take this advice, but hey, I don't want to lose any of you!)

If you have an old GE range w/removable units, keep in mind that the individual, internal contacts can be replaced if the ceramic portion of the receptacle is OK. 

They're getting harder to find, but are still available as of this writing. Part numbers: CB105 or GE #WB5X100. If you're handy, this is definitely the cheapest way to go. These fit the complete porcelain receptacle #WB17X5051, although it's easier to just replace the whole block assy.  Note: you'll need 3/16 and 5/16 nut drivers or sockets to replace the contacts.

On gas models, about the only problems you'll see regularly relate to clogged and dirty ports. Even the newer, sealed burners will need cleaned on occasion. If yours are the type with non-removable caps, just use a pin or small nail to clean the ports to even up the flame on each burner, and you're all set.

The sealed burners whose caps lift off are about as easy. Just remove the caps and clean both the underside of the caps and the burners themselves with a wire brush (or a Dremel with a wire brush wheel – hint, hint). Flames should be even all around the burner, and nearly all blue, with very little yellow-tipping. 

Also, most gas units have a simmer adjustment screw inside the valve shaft. If your 'simmer' flame is too high, just light the burner, set to simmer, pull the knob and adjust down with a small screwdriver. We have mostly LP here in the wilds, and this adjustment is the one that's most commonly missed by installers.

2) Anybody know what babies and icemakers have in common? Well, OK, maybe not much, but they do share one very handy item. 80% of all the icemaker problems I see can be corrected using a baby bottle!

Icemakers are set to fill for X seconds regardless of actual water flow, and the volume of water required is specified in cc's. It just happens that a baby bottle's a really handy icemaker repair tool, because it is graduated in cc's! And it's compact enough to fit into those cramped freezer spaces where icemakers reside. Not to mention it's always good for a few questioning looks (techs: Just for fun, leave the nipple on and carry it in plain view in your tool bag next to the pantyhose used for checking washer tanks and see what happens!)

But I digress. If your icemaker is producing small cubes, hollow cubes, huge cubes, or a solid slab of ice, one of the first things you want to check is the fill level. And it's not as difficult as you might think. (Hey, the hard part's wrenching that bottle out of Pookie's little fingers!) Unplug the refrig, pull the icemaker - usually one screw underneath, either 2 more or hooks above the cube mold - and unplug it. Take it to your sink and melt out any cubes with hot water. Then plug it and the refrig back in, leaving it unattached from the freezer wall. 

Manually start a 'harvest cycle' (see below) and hold Pookie's bottle under the fill tube. You'll have to wait a few minutes, because the water enters near the end of one complete rotation of the cube ejector, which constitutes a 'harvest cycle'. Regardless your type of icemaker, you're looking for 130-150 cc's, with most working best around 145cc's, but anywhere in this range should work OK.

Manually starting a 'harvest' cycle:

Two basic designs of domestic, analog icemakers are most common. (Electronic models come & go from time to time - shudder - but we aren't seeing them in great numbers - yet)

Pop the front cover off yours and check the large gear front & center. If the front plate is metal, and you see a Phillips screw in the center of this gear, that's great - you own a 'microswitch' design. This is one of the most reliable units ever made! Here's what it looks like with the front cover off:

Microswitch type icemaker front

To manually start a cycle, either grasp the ejector and rotate upward (CW fr. front), or use a screwdriver to turn the smaller gear (CCW) if yours has a slot for this. Once you turn it a short distance, you'll hear a little 'click and the unit will start to run. Make sure the ice-sensing bail has clearance to raise & lower during this test cycle.

If there's no screw, that's OK too, you own a 'modular' unit, and even though I, um, make more income from these <grin>, they're still pretty decent (far better than today's 'offshore' designs). Here's what a modular looks like with the front cover off:

Modular type icemaker front

To start a cycle with this one, don't attempt to turn the gears manually - you'll break it! You'll need a short piece of insulated solid copper wire, 12-14 gauge. (Just strip a 4 in. piece out of some 12-2 'Romex' used in house wiring.) Strip the ends back about ¾ in. and bend it into a 'U' shape. This wire is inserted into the holes marked 'T' and 'H' in the front of the icemaker to bypass the tstat and run a cycle. (don't insert it into any holes except 'T' & 'H' !) Remove the jumper after a few seconds (or the heater will stay on), and let it run, waiting for the fill at the end. Again, make sure the ice-sensing bail has clearance to raise & lower during your test cycle.

Note: I stress this jumper wire needs to be insulated, because you're briefly jumping 120V here. The usual precautions apply (see the disclaimer page).

Both icemaker styles have a small screw to adjust water levels. The modular type has very little adjustment available, though, which means the other components in the water supply have to be prefect (saddle valve installed properly - not to bottom of pipe, etc - clean fill valve screen, etc.) Just rerun a test cycle after each adjustment. And be sure to wash & return Pookie's bottle when finished with the test.

Wishing You and Yours the Merriest Christmas ever!

Dave Harnish

'For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.'
Isaiah 9:6, 7

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