It is not always possible to repair an appliance or a gadget. When it is time for it to go, there is not much that can be done. In that case I take all the usable parts out of it and recycle the rest.
Here is the list of repairs that I attempted, most successful, some not so successful.
GE Profile Stove / Oven Model No J SP39WQY1WW
This is an electric range that has worked for almost 20 years without any problems.
Although the oven was working fine, it was getting harder to read the vacuum fluorescent display (VFD). Actually the left side of the display (green) is used as a clock and a timer and that part worked just fine. The right side of the display (red) showed the target temperature while setting, and the current temperature during operation.
The right side of the display segments seemed to be on or off randomly and it was getting harder to recognize the numbers on it. We knew that each press of the up or down arrow increased or decreased the target temperature by 5 degrees, but the target temperature was pretty much a guess. Well, one day when the pizza came out really dark, the shit hit the fan and a big fight ensued.
I called the GE parts department the next day to get a new circuit board, but it was not available any more.
Here is some pictures while dismantling the range to get to the display unit.
GE Profile Range front side
GE Profile Range back side
Finally the display unit
Display unit on the bench
I took the display unit out to test it on the bench. I powered it up, and it came on, but only temporarily. As soon as I pressed up or down arrow to set the temperature, it sounded the alarm complaining that the oven door was open. Oven door??? None of the sensors were connected, which explained the error.
What I did is that I resoldered most of the connections, but I don’t think that is what fixed the problem. Over the years lots of oil and dirt collected over the back of the circuit board to activate the segments even when they were supposed to be off. So cleaned the circuit board with pencil eraser. Perhaps any other method of cleaning (the solder side) would also have worked fine.
Display unit on the bench
Display unit on the bench
Display unit on the bench
So far the oven display is working fine without any problems.
GE Washer (Heavy Duty)
I bought this washer (together with GE Dryer) in September of 1987. It is remarkable that
both has worked without any problems so far. They sure don’t make like them anymore. The
model number for the GE washer is WWA8320GALAD.
In September 2010, Lisa noticed a puddle of water underneath the washer every time
she did the laundry. As weeks went by, the puddle was becoming bigger and at some
point I was assigned to fix the problem or else.
First, I asked her to change the load size to small and the spin cycle to gentle, but settings
did not seem to make any difference. I thought maybe the water was coming from the
overflow pipe, but that was not the case either. Note that the machine was washing the
clothes just fine. The only problem was the puddle on the floor.
When I googled the problem, most of the solutions did not seem to apply to my case except
possibly one. It is easier to show the solution in pictures than words so here are some pictures.
What I did was raise the drain pipe about 16 inches higher. I added 1 1/2″ OD hose to
the drain pipe and suspended the whole thing underneath the cabinet with a bracket.
This minor modification definitely fixed the problem.
I never had much luck repairing DVD players. Mostly skipping problems. If it were a record player, you could slap it or tap the table, and the song would continue. But no such luck in DVD players.
There are three motors in DVD players: one to open/close the door, one to drive the reading laser head, and the main motor to spin the DVD itself. Some of the cheaper brands use a very low quality brushed DC motor to spin the DVD. When this motor fails, although every other part on the DVD player maybe perfectly functional, you have to scrap the whole thing. What a waste! I don’t know why the manufacturers put in a little better motor to prevent waste. Maybe they make more money this way, I don’t know.
TV – Quasar Model SX3151HE
I bought this 31″ TV from Fred Meyer in October 1993 for about $1000.00. It worked without any problems for many years. It started to act up at the end of November 2004 after about 11 years. Of course this happened just before Christmas when everybody in the house was in a buying mood, the mood being buying a flat screen TV. The problem with our TV was that there was a black region of about 2″ at the top, and the picture was wrapped on itself with a bright line at the top.
Repairing a TV requires specialized equipment like pattern generator, etc. I did not have that kind of equipment nor experience. So I called TV repair shops to get an estimate, but the estimates I got was so high that I thought I could buy a brand new TV if added little more to the repair cost.
I knew the problem was with the vertical scan circuitry. This part of the TV generates a sawtooth shaped waveform. It seemed to me like the peak voltage was lower than it should be, and it was not linear (which would explain the wraparound of the picture). I also talked to my friend who lived in Florida. He also is into electronics and likes to repair old radios and TVs. We both agreed that the problem was either a blown capacitor or a cold solder joint.
When I opened up the TV, I did not see any capacitor or any other part charred. The other possibility was a cold solder joint. This happens when one of the leads from parts gets oxidized over time and does not conduct electricity as it should. To repair it, one has to resolder it with a soldering iron. I started re-soldering connections from every part on the circuit board. The problem was that there were too many parts on more than one circuit board. I needed to find the vertical scanning circuitry to focus only on that area. Maybe somebody else would find it by just looking at it, I could not.
So I called the company Quasar to order the service manual and the schematic. They charged me $12 plus shipping, which I thought was well worth it.
After I received the service manual, I could see exactly where the vertical scanning circuitry was. I carefully re-soldered every connection from every part surrounding that area. And you know what, when I turned the TV on the problem was gone. I was very lucky that day because the problem was fixed.
As of today the TV is still working, but with one problem. Intermittently, when the power is turned off, the faint picture is still visible. We have to unplug the TV to clear this problem. But this does not happen always. Everybody is still anxiously waiting for this TV to die so we can buy a new flat screen TV.
This was a very very unusual case, so unusual that it was the only time that I have seen such a thing happen in my lifetime.
Our microwave GE Spacemaker Model J VM230WV failed in November of 2003 after close to 8 years. Little research revealed that the problem was with the magnetron. I called the GE parts department to order it. After I gave the model number and various other info, he told me that the unit was still under warranty, but the warranty was about to expire in just about a month.
As you know, manufacturers do extensive statistical analysis to figure out the warranty expiration time so that almost 99% of the units will fail after the warranty expiration date. That is why it was totally unexpected for me to hear that our microwave was still under warranty and he could theoretically send me a new magnetron absolutely free.
I said theoretically because when he asked me if I was an authorized repair center, the answer was no. For obvious liability reasons, he did not want to send me the magnetron. I had to talk to him for a very long time explaining that I was qualified to replace the magnetron. I don’t remember how many times I had to promise to him that I would follow the safety/installation instruction that it will come with to the letter. I also told him about the engineering degrees, my electronics hobby, and all the other repairs I did around the house. And finally he did agree to send me the darn magnetron.
It was trivial to install the new magnetron, it took me less than half an hour. It has been working without any problems since. This reminds me of winning a prize in a lottery. Thank you GE for giving us a free microwave!
Garbage disposal failed on July 20th, 2003 after little over seven years. I called GE Support and ordered a new one GE Disposall GFC 525F. It was pretty painless to install the new one. As of today it is working just fine without any problems.
This is an interesting and funny story that happened towards the end of the year 2000.
Our furnace Rheem Criterion II stopped working. I tried to figure out the problem, but I was stumped. I could not see any part obviously burnt or failed on the circuit board. I was not sure how to proceed.
Just about that time I had applied for a home equity line of credit from Bank of America. In those days bankers were more careful, Ninja loans had not been invented yet. The Bank of America banker told me that he wanted to come over to see my house before he signed off on the credit line. I had no issues with that idea and we set up a time late in the afternoon.
When he came over to see the house, we were in the garage and we were talking about the house and the line of credit. I mentioned to him that the furnace was not working. It is an amazing coincidence that about a week earlier he had the exact same problem with the exact same furnace. When he called the furnace repair man he was watching how he repaired it and the banker from Bank of America told me the exact procedure to repair my furnace.
After he left the house, I followed the procedure he explained to me and the furnace was fixed. Unfortunately I do not remember the steps to follow now, since this happened a while ago. Life is weird sometimes, who would think that your banker would help repair your gas furnace? Well, it did happen in my case. By the way, he did sign off on my line of credit on the house!
Our dishwasher GE model Postscrubber 780 failed in 1999 june, after about three and a half years later (we moved into our house in 1995 December). The problem was with the pump or the motor that was driving it. I called the GE parts department and it turns out the whole thing is a single assembly. It cost me $149 including shipping.
The package came with the instructions explaining how to install it. I followed the instructions and the problem was fixed. As of today, our dishwasher is still working without any problems.