In this issue:
How to Test your Microwave Oven’s Wattage
The ‘No-Heat’ Dryer
The ‘Busyness Demon’ (longer article, good paradigm
1) Ever wonder if
your ‘700 watt’ microwave’s actually cooking
anywhere near its rating? Does
it seem slower these days
than when you bought it?
Here’s a quick & easy way to find out what’s taking place in there:
Fill a microwave-safe container with one carefully measured liter of water, preferably at 70F or higher, and measure its temperature (Fahrenheit) as accurately as possible. Write that temp. down, and place the container in the MW. Set
the timer for 2:03, and hit start.
Carefully measure the ‘end’ temperature and multiply the difference by 19.4. The result is the approximate energy gain in watts.
(I know you’re wondering about those 3 seconds - it takes about that long for the magnetron tube’s filament to heat and start to ‘fire’, and we want exactly 2 minutes of heating)
Keep in mind that it’s normal for a microwave to produce less energy as it ages (hmmm… sounds familiar somehow!), but your results should be within about 50-75 watts of the rating.
2) Here’s a complaint
I hear nearly every day this time of year: ‘My dryer runs, but doesn’t heat.’ So
I thought I’d share a few quick tips on the most common reasons for this. To
keep it brief, I’ll deal only with electric dryers here, though some of this can be applied to your gas machine as well.
First, in many cases, the dryer actually IS heating, but there’s just not enough airflow out the vent to take advantage of it, so the end result’s the same as ‘no heat’. So
first determine that there’s a full flow of air out the vent. I can’t stress this
enough - low airflow’s the no. 1 cause of dryer problems, not to mention dryer fires. Then check if there’s any heat in the drum when running empty.
Note: there's finally a simple,
inexpensive tool to test airflow in Whirlpool-built dryers!
If there doesn’t seem to be any heat at all, first check for 240V present at
the dryer. I can tell you that many hours have been wasted over the years by not *doing this first*! Neglecting
this is probably THE most common mistake of the novice appliance tech (and some pros who should know better!
If you have a voltmeter or 240V test
bulb, just check for 240V at the dryer
terminal block, and you will save some aggravation
and possibly a service call.
you have no way to test this, or you are at all uneasy about messing
with 240V, just go to your breaker box and throw the dryer breaker off/on several times. (If your dryer is connected with fuses, replace both of them and try it again.) Sometimes - just sometimes - resetting the breaker will restore
in damp basements.
(On the handiest tool list: a 240V/10W bulb with leads/alligator clips, carried
in your pocket - a real timesaver, and far superior to neon testers)
How you proceed from here depends on your abilities, and I’m not able to get too involved in this short article. I’d
probably suggest calling a pro if you’ve proven 240V to the machine, there definitely is no heat, and there’s plenty of air out the vent. A pro sees this
problem every day, and can diagnose it in 10 minutes.
will say to those of you who are ‘handy’ - start at the heat source and
work *backwards*. If there’s
nothing obvious (burnt wiring, etc) attach
that 240V bulb to the element leads, and fire the dryer up.
= open element.
No light = other problems (thermal fuse, t'stat, etc).
Keep it simple. This
one usually is.
I don’t know if you’re dealing with the today's ‘hurried and harried’ malady I call the ‘Busyness Demon’, but if you find
yourself rebelling against it like I am, read on.
‘Perhaps you’ve run across the
following story of a father and son who took two different views toward
the proper use of time. They
had the same last name and some similar physical characteristics, but
other than that they were as different as the night is from the day.
They farmed a little piece of land, and a couple times a year they would
set out with their wagon filled with vegetables for the market in a nearby
city. The father set a modest
pace leading the ox as the son sat fidgeting on the seat.
‘Dad, we need to hurry so we can make it to town by tonight.
We’ve got to set up early enough to get the best prices.’
‘Don’t worry; son, we’ll get there soon enough.’ After an hour and
a half of watching his father casually walking beside the beast, the
younger man insisted on taking his turn at leading. The father laid down
on the sear to rake a nap as the son started poking the ox with a stick
and harassing him to pick up his gait. The father peered out from under
his hat at his impatient boy.
‘Take your time son. You’ll last longer.’
The determined boy just shook his head in disgust. He swatted the ox’s
back with a vengeance.
Several hours later the father sat up and stretched.
‘Look son, my brother’s house. Pull in so I can visit him. We live so
close but see each other so little.’
‘Father, we don’t have the time!’
‘What do you mean? All we have is time. That’s why I want to use some
of it talking to him.’
The two men visited and laughed while the son paced. After an hour the
father and son were back on the road. The father was leading when they
came to a fork in the road. He nudged the ox to the right.
‘The path to the left is quicker!’
‘But this way is prettier.’
‘Have you no respect for time?’
‘I certainly do. That’s why I like to spend it looking at beautiful
The young man pulled his hat down over his eyes, crossed his arms, sat
back in the seat, and tapped his nervous foot against the harness. He was
so busy fuming inside that he failed to see the beautiful garden of
flowers that blanketed both sides of the path.
Toward dark the father pulled over the wagon and started to unharness the
ox for the night. The son didn’t hide his anger.
‘This is the last time I make this trip with you! If we had followed my
plan we would have been there by now. We could have been set up for
tomorrow’s buyers and been sold out by noon. You’re more interested in
flowers than in making money!’
‘Why, that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me!’
With that statement the father found a comfortable spot to lie down and
was quickly asleep.
At dawn the son had the ox harnessed and his
sleepy father in the seat. After an hour or so they came upon a man whose wagon was stuck in a ditch.
‘Let’s help him, son.’
‘And lose more time!’
‘Nonsense. You may be in a ditch someday.’
They helped the man out, and then started back on the path. It was about eight o’clock. Up ahead a flash of lightning crossed the sky; the thunder rolled off in the distance, and the skies turned black.
‘Looks like the city is getting quite a storm.’
‘If we had been there, we would have had enough of our produce sold by now to not have to worry about the storm.’
‘Take your time, you’ll last longer.’
It wasn’t until late in the afternoon that they reached the bluff overlooking the city. They both stared down at it for a long time without speaking. Finally the son looked at the father.
‘I see what you mean, Dad.’
And they turned their cart around and walked away from what had once been the city of Hiroshima.
- excerpted from Little House on the Freeway, by Tim Kimmel
God bless you and yours,
‘When I try, I fail. When I Trust, He Succeeds.’