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Dave Harnish
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Dave's Repair Service
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New Albany, PA 18833
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Dave's Dictionary of Appliance Terms
The 'C' page

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Calibration 1) oven – The procedure used to adjust an oven’s bake temperature. A remote thermometer’s thermocouple is placed in the center of an empty oven, and the controls set to a specific operating temperature, commonly 350F. Several heating/cooling cycles are allowed to take place, after which the ‘on’ and ‘off’ temperatures are recorded, and the oven control adjusted to match the average. Ex: at 350F, it’s common for the ‘on’ temp to be around 325F, with the oven cycling off around 375F.  2) thermometers can be calibrated, or at least tested for accuracy, by immersing them in ice water (32F)

Calrod – trade name for the material used in bake and broil elements, to distinguish them from earlier Nichrome wire coil type elements.

Capacitor – energy storage device, used widely in motor starting applications, microwave oven voltage doubling circuits, power supply filtering, and more.

Capillary or ‘cap’ tube 1) a tiny tube, usually of copper, that provides an engineered amount of resistance to fluid passing through it. Used as a restriction device in smaller home refrigeration systems – refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, etc 2) small tube attached to a ‘hydraulic’ thermostat; charged with a liquid whose expansion and contraction can be made to operate switch contacts via a bellows on one end – widely used in ‘remote’ thermostats, in ovens, air conditioners, electric heating, etc

Cavity size (cu ft) – Not a dental term, but a common size rating on microwave ovens; simply the volume of the cavity (inside of oven) in cubic feet.

Centering tool (DW) – a handy little device for ensuring that a motor shaft is perfectly centered in a dishwasher pump’s rotary seal to help prevent leaks and premature seal wear. Used whenever a pump and motor are separated, this is simply a piece of properly sized round plastic, and varies with brand.

Ceran – the trade name for today’s smooth-top range glass; usually black in color, but paint can be applied in almost any shade or pattern

Charging stub - Short length of tubing, usually attached to a refrigeration system's compressor, through which the refrigerant system is accessed to evacuate and add refrigerant, both in manufacturing and in field service. In the factory, the original refrigerant charge is added through this 'stub', then it's pinched shut, and brazed or ultrasonically sealed..

Chilled water tank – a small plastic tank or coil of plastic tubing, located in a refrigerator and connected to the chilled water dispenser. This dispenser is most commonly mounted to the freezer door, and water is fed from the fill valve on the back of the refrigerator, through the tank, where it is chilled, and then up through the freezer door, usually through the hollow bottom door hinge, to the dispenser.

Choke, door – A ferrous material built into microwave oven doors, and sometimes doorframes, to absorb any stray microwave energy in this area and prevent its leaking into the room.

Clutch – (remember when your car had one of these?) Some brands of clothes washers still use one of these, but many have gone to a specially treated ‘slip’ belt instead. Much cheaper to manufacture. In washers, this is usually a slip clutch, which is just a drum with shoes inside that are designed to slip while the tub comes up to speed in spin.
Cold control – another name for a refrigerator thermostat. Responsible for sensing inside temperature and cycling the cooling system on and off as needed.

Cold control ballast – a chunk of metal, often aluminum, that the cold control sensing cap tube wraps around. This acts as a heat sink, dampening thermostat response time, which keeps a refrigerator from turning on and off every couple of minutes. 

Compressor – a motor and an air pump, usually hermetically sealed into one container, that compresses a gas, using either a piston or rotor. Most often used in refrigeration systems, this is a system’s ‘heart’, providing the energy to change the state of the refrigerant, moving heat in the process. Unlike a pump, which is most often designed to move liquid, a compressor is designed only to pump gas. Liquids can’t be compressed, and if a compressor attempts to pump liquid, it will ‘slug’, and valve damage will result.

Compressor oil – sealed into a refrigeration system’s compressor and tubing, along with the necessary quantity of refrigerant, is the oil the compressor needs for the lubrication of its bearings.

Condensate – water that is a product of condensation, as from an air conditioning or dehumidifier evaporator coil.

Condenser – the ‘high side’ coil in a refrigeration system. Here the high pressure refrigerant vapor is cooled, causing it to condense (aha!) back into a liquid, releasing the heat that it picked up inside the cabinet, that ‘boiled’ it into a gas. 

Condenser fan motor – most condenser coils are cooled by forcing air over them, and this motor’s fan blade does just that. Traditionally mounted next to the compressor, it also provides compressor cooling.

Control thermostat – pretty much a clothes dryer term, this is the ‘cycling’ thermostat, as opposed to the ‘safety’, which normally doesn’t cycle on and off during use. Regulates the temperature inside a dryer drum. Most use a calibrated piece of bimetal to ‘read’ temperature, and are very reliable.

Controller – right about here, all the ladies are thinking of a particular guy they’ve known over the years, and they half expect to see his name here! But actually, we have in mind the microprocessor and circuit board that’s the ‘brain’ in many of our appliances today.

Conversion (Any pastors reading this? <grin>) – These days, we’re mostly referring to the analog to digital conversion that takes place inside the microprocessors of appliance electronic controls. The analog value measured by the processor, most often the resistance of a temperature sensor, is internally converted to a digital value that is then used to determine its course of action or sent to a digital display.

Cooling fan – I guess this one’s pretty self-explanatory; fans are used in built-in ovens, microwaves, and computers, to circulate air through them and cool their components.

Coupler – Whirlpool-made top load washers no longer use a drive belt, but a ‘direct drive’ coupler to transfer motor power to the gearcase. Fast and easy to replace when they fail, and inexpensive, here’s the latest version.

Crisper cover – refrigerator hydrator/crisper cover/shelf; early ones were heavy glass; most are plastic today.

Cycle defrost – Also referred to as manual defrost, this refrigerator system has a freezer that requires manual defrosting (sit a pan of hot water inside – don’t  scrape this frost or you’ll risk putting a hole in the aluminum, causing a leak!). The fresh food compartment cooling plate is designed to quickly defrost during each of the thermostat's 'off' cycles.

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