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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 DRSNews
September/October 2005

By Subscription Only
© 2005 Dave’s Repair Service, All Rights Reserved


In this issue:

1) A Ground Fault Interrupt (GFI) Can Save Your Dishwasher 
    - An Old Codger Has a Change of Heart (Sort of)
2) Yet Another Use (#16?) For that Trusty Old Shop-Vac 
    - 'Evacuating' Nuisance Bees!

1)  I confess to never being a fan of GFI receptacles. Like nearly everything else we form opinions about, it goes back to my upbringing. Please allow me a few lines to explain. 

I grew up (OK, I know, some of you would argue that point!) spending as much time as possible in my Dad's motor repair shop, and have never been afraid of electricity (respect and fear differ <grin>). 

One of my earliest memories of the shop was 'arc-drawing' pictures on Dad's big old bench vise. 

We did this by plugging a patch cord into his 'test board' and attaching one side of the 120 volts to the vise mounting bolt with one alligator clip, and drawing pictures with the other. 

It was great fun and looked pretty dramatic to a little kid, with sparks flying all over (not to mention the cool static it caused on my sister's radio <g>). I can still smell the ozone that came from this game, and there wasn't a 'bare' spot on that entire, tortured old vise!

120V Test boardBy the way, one of those test boards is a very  handy tool if you do much electrical testing on your bench. Just a board with two porcelain pull-chain sockets and a receptacle attached, hung on the wall above the bench. Here's mine:

The sockets are wired in series with the 'hot' side of the receptacle, allowing different sized bulbs and higher wattage 'cone' heaters to be quickly connected in series with a load under test. I use mine all the time, and it's extremely handy. Faster than an ohmmeter, and it loads a circuit heavily when required.

My electrician brother and I used to see what wattage bulb we could screw into that test board and still 'hang on' to (He always won - might explain that twitch...)

Anyway, getting back to GFI's, when these devices came on the scene, my whole family snickered. I mean, why would anyone need such high tech protection from just 120 volts? What wimps!

Throughout my career as an appliance technician, I've dealt with far too many 'nuisance trips' of GFI's. Especially memorable are those dead food freezers whose contents spoiled several days before anyone knew the blasted GFI had tripped off. Those experiences further 'soured' my opinion of this 'unnecessary complication'. 

But I say all that to say this (thank goodness - he DOES have a point!): There's a place for these devices, and it's in an application I never used to recommend: connected to an appliance with a motor. 

The 'fatal' dishwasher failure I see most often, at least on the most common vertical shaft models, is motor failure due to water leaks through the pump seal, located  just above the motor on this design.  Here's one that wasn't caught nearly early enough to save: 


                          Water-damaged Whirlpool dishwasher motor

Yikes! Trouble is, the leak often develops so slowly, by the time it's noticed the motor's been damaged beyond repair. The secret to preventing this damage is discovering that slow leak as early as possible. 

I've a colleague out West who's invented a clever little tray to mount under dishwashers. It's designed to divert any water leaks out the front, where they're quickly noticed. That's a great idea.

But another 'ounce of prevention' is to wire the dishwasher to a GFI circuit. This is done in many newer homes but out here in the boonies I seldom see it.

In the past 6 months, I've been able to 'save' two really nice dishwashers from the usually fatal leak, due to GFI's. In the same time period, though, I've also 'DOA'd' and scrapped  3 or 4 with water-ruined motors in machines that no one knew had been leaking. 

So I've begun recommending that dishwashers be connected to a GFI circuit whenever possible. I'm pretty sure that's already required in many parts of the US, but evidently it's not here in our area yet. 

The reason this works so well is simple. When a failed pump seal allows water to find its way into the motor windings, the resultant electrical leakage to ground trips the DW's GFI circuit breaker or GFI receptacle, the machine goes dead, and I get a call. 

After replacing the seal kit, the machine's back up and running in under an hour, and well under half the price of a new one.

So maybe I'm getting 'soft' as I age, but I guess GFI's do have their place. (How about it, brother? 100 watts, no GFI? [twitch])

2)  Way back in the August/September 2002 issue of this little ramble, we talked about that most awesome of handy tools, the mighty wet-vac. I believe we came up with some 15 uses for the critter back then, plus a few we couldn't mention in such a high-class publication as this <grin>. 

Well, I found another use for one this summer, and thought I'd pass it along. 

We had a really hot and dry summer here, one of the hottest on record. Yellow Jackets, the one species of bee I truly despise, apparently loved this weather, because they've had a very, very good year, and it seems they're everywhere. 

Anyway, by the time we noticed the buzzing inside our house wall, their numbers had grown huge (kind of like a gradual dishwasher seal leak <grin>). 

I tried everything I could think of to get spray up into that nest, short of tearing the wall apart, with no success at all. When a friend mentioned that he watched a local beekeeper use a type of low volume (?) vacuum cleaner type device to harvest a renegade Honeybee swarm, the lights went on! 

I promptly duct-taped a piece of downspout to a 2-1/2'' vac hose and drug out one of the many vacs around here. Plugged it into a timer (through a GFI <grin>) to come on at daybreak and run for a couple of hours. After it ran a while and I enjoyed watching the miserable critters disappear into the hose, I sprayed just a bit of wasp/hornet spray into the business end with the vac still running, then shut it down. 

Wow! Thousands were collected that first run. After repeating this little exercise several times and collecting an estimated thousand or more each run, all is quiet, and I can recommend this as yet another 'official' use for old Clyde, the wet-vac, and have added it to the list, located here

I know this isn't a permanent fix for this problem, but until I can seal the hole in the old house foundation, it'll do nicely. (Update: a few years later I used this again; this time they were in the garage foundation!)

If you've found any especially handy and/or unusual uses for your wet-vac, please send them on in and we'll add them to 'the list'. 

As always, if you have any topics you’d like to see
discussed  here or covered in an online article, let me know and I’ll do my best to oblige. 

And don't forget those testimonials! Many thanks if you've already sent yours in! I'm posting them just as fast as I can!

God bless,

Dave Harnish
Dave’s Repair Service


Amos 4:13


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