Common Appliance Repair FAQs

 

Ovens and Ranges

1) We commonly get a frantic call from a client stating, “I spilled water on my stove” or “I just cleaned my stove and now it won’t stop clicking”.

First thing to do is to cut power to the unit, unplug it or turn off the circuit breaker. Most likely moisture has gotten down into one of the igniter switches. Provided it did not get completely damaged, leaving the power off for a few days will allow the switch to dry out and then operate properly. If it still clicks when power is restored, you will need a qualified technician to replace the damaged component.

2) Some of the stove top burners don’t always light or never light at all.

If the flame is uneven when it does light, chances are, the burner ring or cap is not properly aligned. This changes the gas flow across the igniter and will cause a delay in the ignition. Turn off the burner and align the pieces properly.

It is extremely important the burner pieces are kept clean. Normal cooking will allow grease and residue to build up creating an insulator. If you have a boil over it is extremely important to thoroughly clean all the burner pieces.

3) Oven Temperature – Things are not cooking in the right amount of time or the turkey was in for several hours and still did not cook.

Regardless of what your owner’s manual says for your oven we, at DeserTech Appliance Service, have found the ovens we service that have been produced in the last 15 to 20 years require at least 30 minutes of preheat. One manufacturer specifically states their oven requires 45 minutes to preheat to 350.

We are often called after Thanksgiving or Christmas with the problem of a turkey not cooking and 90% of the time the temperature is right where it should be. Here are a few reasons for this:

A) It’s natural, there is a lot of pressure to cook the “perfect” turkey for your guests, therefore people are constantly poking, prodding, touching, basting the bird, not realizing each time they do this they open the door for several seconds to several minutes, allowing a lot of the heat to escape and the oven is then trying to constantly recover to the set temperature. If your oven happens to have “hidden” elements the recovery time is even longer.

B) Not allowing the turkey to come to room temperature before placing it in the oven or stuffing it with stuffing that may have just come out of the refrigerator, adds more mass inside the turkey causing the cooking time to be increased.

C) One of our favorite requests: “The oven works great for me, but my friend, sister, or brother-in-law is a fantastic cook/chef and they said there is something wrong with my oven”. Keep in mind all ovens are slightly different in operation and they are just not used to how your oven operates or it is very possible their oven temperature is not correct and they unknowingly have adapted their recipes to the way it cooks.

Of course if you are certain there is something wrong, we are more than happy to come out and check its operation and calibration.

 

Refrigerators/Freezers

1) One of the questions we are asked by our “Snow Bird” clients: What should I do with my refrigerator and freezer when I leave for the season?

We don’t think it is a good idea to turn these units off for long periods of time, especially in our climate, a couple of reasons are:

A) The plastics inside the unit are designed for cold, turning the unit off and exposing them to warm or hot ambient temperatures (+85 degrees) can cause them to expand and discolor and eventually destroy the unit.

B) The components in the refrigeration system are comprised of copper and aluminum with various solder joints or bonding points. Because these are “soft” metals, they can expand & contract with temperature change, this can sometimes damage these joints and cause the refrigerant (freon) to leak out, leading to an expensive repair.

Our answer, here at DeserTech Appliance Service, is to remove all the perishables before you leave, buy some bottles or jugs of water, and place in both compartments and set the temperature control to a warmer setting. Water is somewhat dense, and once cold, it will help hold the cold to reduce the constant cycling on and off of the unit, plus if there is the unfortunate failure of the unit or a power outage while you are away, the water is contained, it doesn’t rot and create an odor, and you can drink the water when you return next season.

2) Another commonly asked question: How often should the condenser coil be vacuumed or cleaned?

Most manufacturers will recommend they be cleaned and vacuumed every 4-6 months. We do not know of many people who actually do this that frequently, but it should definitely be done in the Spring, when it starts to warm up so there is maximum air flow through the Summer months when the machine is working its hardest.

If you find this task difficult, please, give us a call, we are more than happy to schedule an appointment to come out and do the maintenance for you.

Dishwashers

European dishwashers are very energy efficient, they achieve this partly by having a wash pump motor that does not draw a lot of power, which is good, however, just about all dishwasher wash pumps will stick if they sit idle for any length of time. Units that do not have energy efficient motors, have the power to break themselves free.

Therefore, our clients who leave for a period of time and their machines sit idle can return to a unit that does not work. Here are a couple things that can be done to help prevent this and avoid a service call:

A) There are several dishwasher cleaner/conditioners on the market that breakdown residue and detergent left behind from normal use. Some of the ones we have personally found to work: Dishwasher Magic, Miele conditioner, & Finish dishwasher cleaner. We suggest one of these be obtained and cycled in the unit, as directed, within the week prior to leaving for the season. This should be done at least once a year for better performance of your dishwasher.

B) It is recommended your dishwasher(s) be cycled at least once or twice a week to help prevent the pump from sticking. I know to some people this may sound a bit excessive but the manufacturers have said they designed the unit to be used, not just sit around.

C) If you are having cleaning and poor performance from your dishwasher, click here for problem solving

 

 

Icemakers

The question always comes up: Should I just turn the icemaker off when we leave for the Summer or leave it running?

This is one of those darned if you do or darned if you don’t type of decisions but no matter what you decide, it is always best to make sure the icemaker has had the recommended cleaning and service before you leave for the season. Here are some of the pros & cons:

If you decide to leave the icemaker running during the Summer:

A) Most “clear cube” icemakers are not designed to work in temperatures over 100 degrees but as you approach that temperature (85 degrees and over) the icemaker is going to run pretty much 24/7 adding a lot of hard wear & tear to the icemaker.

B) When they are in full production mode, some icemakers will pass more than 15 gallons of water down the drain in a 24 hour period, therefore, if something should go wrong with the house drain or drain pump, you could have a nice flood that could continue until someone eventually finds this and turns the unit off.

If you decide to turn the icemaker off for the Summer:

A) Components such as circulation pumps, drain pumps, or fill valves that have been exposed to water can have a tendency to corrode, become locked, or develop problems once they are put back in to operation, leading to a repair.

B)As with refrigerators, the components in the icemaker’s refrigeration system are comprised of copper and aluminum with various solder joints or bonding points and because these are “soft” metals, they can expand & contract, this can sometimes damage these joints and cause the refrigerant to leak, leading to an expensive repair or having to replace the entire machine.

Unfortunately we are not able to make a recommendation for this question, we can only give you information to help you decide what you are more comfortable doing.

 

Wine Storage

A comment we frequently hear regarding wine storage units: My wine refrigerator does not get cold enough.

This is true, wine “storage” units are designed to keep wine at storing and aging temperatures, not refrigerated temperatures. Therefore it will not achieve a temperature as cold as your kitchen refrigerator. Typically storing and aging temperatures range from 45 to 65 degrees, the proper way to check the temperature is to obtain the liquid temperature, not air temperature. Place some bottles of water in the unit, allow them to remain in the unit at least 48 hours and then check the temperature of the water itself using a thermometer designed for this.

Another question we are frequently asked: What temperature should my wine be kept?

We have asked people we have come across that are considered knowledgeable in this field and the best we can tell you is:

Red Wines 55 – 65 Degrees

White Wines 45 – 55 Degrees

Sparkling Wines 38 – 50 Degrees

 

Dryers

European washers & dryers operate quite differently than U.S. units. Some of our clients will tell us that their European dryer either takes a long time to dry or never does dry the clothes.

A) Of course the very first tip is that the lint screen be cleaned after EVERY load. It has been explained that dryers do not dry the clothes, they remove moisture from the clothes and therefore the clothes end up dry. The moisture is exhausted out the vent, if the lint screen is blocked with lint, the moisture can not be exhausted out of the dryer and the clothes won’t dry.

B) Many people like to use the fabric softening sheets in their dryers, these should NOT be used in the Miele and Asko dryers, the lint screens on these units are extremely fine and the residues the sheets use to soften the clothes actually block air flow, these manufacturers specifically state in the owner’s manual, DO NOT use these products.

C) An important thing to keep in mind is that the bulk of the drying is done during the spin cycle of the washer, therefore, if the washer is set to a low speed spin and depending on the heaviness of the clothes, they may be too wet when they are put in the dryer. With heavier clothes, a higher speed spin in the washer is required for the dryer to be able to properly dry the clothes in a timely fashion.

D) Dryers are also not designed to vent vertically, although many homes are built with the laundry room situated where the only direction for the dryer to vent is through the roof. This can cause the house ducting to build up with lint, restricting the exhaust flow as well as the dryer not being able to push the heavy, humid air up through the roof, causing the moisture from the clothes to remain in the dryer.

 

Washers

Are you fighting an odor in your Miele or Asko front load washing machine?

Here are a few things you can do to help conquer this problem:

A) If the washer is not used every day or is not going to be used for an extended period of time, it is recommended the detergent drawer be left slightly ajar and do not latch the main door closed, leave it also ajar to allow air to enter the unit. Also, if the washer is not used every day, the door seal and tub boot should be dried with a towel.

B) If the cycles normally used call for cold or warm water only, the machine should be cycled periodically with nothing in it on a hot cycle to clean out the washer, washing machine cleaners can be obtained that will aid in cleaning the unit.

C) Most causes of odors from the washing machine are due to over sudsing, using too much detergent or the wrong type of detergent (you must use only high efficiency, “he”, detergent), soapy water will sit and build a residue.  The odor is from bacteria trying to breakdown the soap. Run the washer on a “Sanitize” cycle or the hottest cycle, if foam starts to appear, this would indicate that there was still soap in the machine.