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Dave's Appliance Service Blog

Should I Repair or Replace My Broken Stove or Oven?

April 8th, 2021

Stoves and ovens are a little tricky, because they are a little dangerous to use under the best of circumstances, so when in doubt call in expert help. You can check out our DIY guide on gas stoves here, and our DIY guide on electric stoves here, but if you are at all uncomfortable performing your own repairs, skip those and call the helpful, knowledgeable folks at Dave’s Appliance now.

If your oven or stove isn’t working the way it used to, if it’s taking a long time to heat up, or (in the case of gas) not igniting properly, or heating unevenly, or not performing well in any other way, you have to decide whether to repair or replace.

As a general rule, we are inclined to repair when we can. You can expect most stoves or ovens to give good service for at least 15 years. As with any other kind of appliance, some are better quality than others, made with better parts and generally more durable. Some have parts that are harder to replace, or are otherwise not as well supplied with replacement parts by manufacturers. Some are simply made to be more disposable than others. People who have more money to spend, more room, and who are more serious about their cooking are more likely to shell out for better quality stoves and ovens, and some are serious enough to want commercial quality cooking gear, which will last significantly longer than most home appliances.

The 50% Rule

In general terms, though, as with other appliances, the 50% Rule applies: if your appliance is over 50% of its expected lifespan of 15 years, and it costs more than 50% of its replacement cost to repair it, it may be time to think about replacement. Obviously, that calculation also changes if you are remodelling and want something that’s a better fit either in style or dimension, or if (in the case of an electric oven, particularly) you want something more efficient than what you’ve been using.

Cooking with Gas . . . Maybe Now’s the Time To Buy

It seems likely that under new fossil fuel policies, natural gas prices may rise considerably, though obviously the quantities used in cooking are much less than in home heating. Some people simply prefer to cook with gas, though, and this is a good time to consider whether it might be best to purchase a new gas stove now, before any governmental agencies decide to make it harder or impossible to get them. Chances are such devices will have to be grandfathered in for a couple of decades, anyway.

Warranty Issues

Although consumer surveys indicate that on average people are happier with repairs performed by local repair services over factory repairs, you’ll want to call on your warranty if it’s still in force. If it’s not, the experienced repairmen at Dave’s Appliance can help. A telephone consultation is free.

Installation Fees

Don’t forget that installation costs can be significant for major appliances. Those are included in any quotes that Dave’s Appliance give you, so you’re not going to be unpleasantly surprised: No Hidden Costs, Ever.

What To Keep In Mind When Purchasing a New Oven or Stove

1) Don’t buy anything with bells and whistles that you’re unlikely to use. Those are things that are also likely to break.

2) When purchasing for the elderly, try not to buy anything with advanced electronics they might find hard to use.

3) If you’re going with gas, make sure your home is set up for it. Otherwise, you may shell out significant money getting that set up.

4) Go with a quality brand with a good warranty, and buy an extended warranty if the peace of mind seems worth the cost to you, but do some research to make sure the insurer isn’t fly-by-night.

5) Make sure the dimensions are right for your space. Measure and check, and check and measure again, making sure to leave enough room for hookups.

If your stove or oven can be safely and cost-effectively repaired, Dave’s Appliance will get it done for you. And if not, they’ll let you know and help you find something new. Give them a call.

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Dave's Appliance Service Blog

Should I Repair or Replace My Broken Refrigerator?

April 8th, 2021

When considering whether to repair or replace a malfunctioning or broken refrigerator, it’s best to have a little guidance. If the refrigerator has a history of breakage or poor performance, or if it’s quite old and inefficient, or if you’re just plain tired of what you have for any number of reasons not having necessarily to do with performance, such as capacity or layout or features, that may make your decision easier. You might also decide to replace your refrigerator because you are moving or remodelling, and it doesn’t fit a particular space or decor. That said, this article is for those who want to have some clarity as to whether it’s better to repair a refrigerator that you’d rather not replace if you don’t have to.

Replacing a refrigerator is a somewhat expensive proposition, if quality and features are factors, and most buyers will invest considerable time and effort into scoping out the alternatives. Luckily, refrigerators are pretty low-maintenance as major appliances go, and those manufactured by quality brands are liable to have reasonably long warranty coverage, which can be extended, usually by an insurance company associated with the sellers for added peace of mind. Generally speaking, you should expect for a new refrigerator to last from 10 to 20 years.

That said, the consequences of a broken or malfunctioning refrigerator can be significant, particularly if you use the freezer to store expensive cuts of meat. If that’s the case, it’s not a bad idea to keep a high-quality cooler on hand, just in case your refrigerator breaks or the power goes out for an extended period of time, or just for when you wish to defrost or deep clean the unit.

As with any other appliance, the more features and conveniences there are, the more there is to break. It’s nice to have an ice and water dispenser on the outside of the fridge, but it’s one of the most breakage-prone parts of an expensive fridge. I know I’m one of the people who just limped along without the water dispenser for awhile every time it stopped functioning the last time I had a refrigerator with one. Some people prefer to have dedicated ice makers and tap-attached water filtration at the sink for just this reason. If something goes wrong, it’s just that smaller appliance that’s affected.

All that said, here are the situations in which you might consider replacing rather than fixing your refrigerator.

Overheating

Your refrigerator compresses and expands gas to absorb and move heat. That’s why you’ll feel heat emitted out of the bottom of your fridge if you place your toes down there. The compressing is done by a motor, and the motor itself may overheat. Relatedly, some compressor motors are louder than others. You can hear them kick in when you leave one of the doors open long enough to trigger the thermostat. That sound may also be accompanied with a beeping to alert you that you should close the door as soon as possible to preserve the temperature.

While it’s normal to feel some heat when you touch the back of your fridge (and there should be sufficient space behind and above to permit the heat to radiate away without building up too much), if your fridge becomes positively hot to the touch such that you have to pull away for fear of burning yourself, there’s either something wrong with the thermostat or the other mechanical elements of the unit. The coils in the back that radiate the heat that’s transferred from inside to outside your refrigerator are insulated, but if it gets hot back there try first to remove any dust or grime that has accumulated on the coils. A paint brush and vacuum attachment work well for this operation. If that doesn’t help, call a repairman to come look. It may be that your refrigerator has leaked some coolant, which can be replaced, but it might be something more significant.

Overfreezing

On the other hand, your freezer unit may be positively freezing over. Obviously, you want your frozen food frozen, but on the other hand you shouldn’t have to see the foods inside turning into a glacier. If it’s starting to look like a new ice age in there, check that the temperature isn’t set to max cooling. Move anything you want to keep into alternate cold storage (such as a large cooler, or, if you live where it gets cold in winter, you can use those temperatures), throw down some old towels to absorb the meltage, and unplug the unit to let it defrost thoroughly before plugging it back in. This would be the ideal time to try cranking the freezer setting back a little to see whether that suffices. Most modern refrigerators have auto-defrost, so this recommendation largely applies to older models.

If the problem persists or gets worse, it’s best to have a pro get a look at your refrigerator to see what the issue may be. The friendly repairmen at Dave’s appliance will probably be able to sort it out pretty quickly.

Leakage or Extreme Condensation

This may be a simple matter of the seal around your refrigerator or freezer door. If heat is escaping, ice may be melting in the freezer and causing leakage. Alternately, moist air from outside might be entering the refrigerator and condensing, then leaking out of a bad seal. Check the stripping all the way around the door. You may be able to reaffix it yourself, or buy new stripping if you’re handy. But leakage near the refrigerator can pose a health hazard, either by slipping or through accidental electrocution, so BE CAREFUL.

Alternately, the drip pan may be broken or out of place, or hoses may be broken or kinked, or a malfunctioning latch or other problem may be preventing a door from closing properly. Often these are the culprits if you find the inside of your refrigerator is wet to the touch and drips.

Your Refrigerator Runs Loud

Some of us are just more sensitive to this kind of noise than others, but if it seems to have gotten louder than you remember, you can pull the plug and then replug it in, and this may take care of any buzzing. If not, give your repairman a call. Your refrigerator could be on its last legs.

Food Spoilage

Obviously, this gets expensive quickly, and it can pose a health hazard. Check to make sure that door latches and stripping are good, and that your setting hasn’t been dialed way back. Check the back of the unit for overheating, as mentioned above.

In Conclusion

If your refrigerator is older, say 12+ years, and/or if it’s needed significant repair one or more times before, or if it’s not efficient, or you’re ready to move on, a new refrigerator may be your best option.

If you’d rather not replace it, and if you’re handy, you can look for online resources to help you take a stab at fixing such problems yourself, but when in doubt, call on the experts at Dave’s Appliance. They’ll fix your refrigerator if that’s the best course of action, or recommend a new one if that’s your better bet given your situation. And Dave’s carries all the best value, top quality brands. Give them a shout if your refrigerator is having troubles. They’ve seen it all. They’ll get it straightened out for you.

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Dave's Appliance Service Blog

Benefits of an Appliance Repair Service

February 11th, 2021

If you’re really handy, and you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves, there are plenty of cases where you can give fixing your own malfunctioning appliance a go. There are plenty of helpful articles and videos online that will give you an idea of how to go about making repairs, and sometimes in this space we give tips and pointers about when you might want to attempt your own repairs, and how difficult that may be. In those articles, we also talk about when it’s best to leave repairs to the pros, and when it’s probably best to go ahead and replace an appliance rather than have it repaired.

That said, there are plenty of reasons to go with an appliance repair service.

Convenience

Obviously, convenience counts for something, or we wouldn’t occasionally pay for bread and milk at the local convenience store when we fill up our gas tank. When you hire a knowledgeable, experienced professional appliance repairer from Dave’s Appliance, the job is likely to get done better and faster than you might be able to do it yourself. That’s not a knock on your abilities, it’s just a measure of how much more experience a pro is liable to have dealing with a particular issue. He’ll usually have a better idea of what to look for in diagnosing a problem. The likelihood is that he’s seen precisely this problem before, and dealt with it. If not, he will be much more likely to have seen something similar, and that will cut down on the trial-and-error time that most of us would spend.

A repairer will also have the right tools available. Sometimes we can make shift with what we have on hand, if we have a not-very-complete set of electrical tools, but other times we are in danger of further damaging an appliance if we are trying to make do. And in many cases a repair person will have whatever parts may be needed with him when he calls to make repairs, anticipating what the problem will be. If you’re in trial-and-error mode, you may end up ordering one part to replace, only to discover that another part is necessary. That can be very frustrating, especially when you’ve got to order by mail and factor in the time-lag.

Peace of Mind

When you have your appliance serviced by someone with knowledge and experience, you can rest easier about the results. It may cost more than performing the fix yourself, but when someone who has seen the insides of thousands of appliances gets a look inside, he sees more than a casual repairer would. The repair specialists at Dave’s can get a look at what needs doing right now, and also diagnose troubles that might be developing with other parts of your appliances, and suggest solutions. That will often mean that developing problems are nipped in the bud, preventing multiple service visits in the long run. They can also give you helpful tips about the long-term maintenance of your appliance. In the long run, it’s possible a service call can save you money over self-repair.

And if something does go wrong because it hasn’t been solved, the repair pros from Dave’s Appliance will return to sort it out quickly, so you can rest assured they’ve got you covered. If the better play is to replace the appliance, they’ll give you their honest opinion on that, and try to get you pointed in the right direction. Whether it’s a kitchen range, a garbage disposal, a hot water heater, a refrigerator, a washer or dryer, Dave’s partners with the best value manufacturers with the most reliable products.

Safety

Most importantly, a skilled repairer will make sure that everything’s the way it should be before you plug the appliance back in and start it up, with no jury-rigging and everything secured in its proper place and properly tested. This helps to extend the life of the appliance, sure, but also to protect your home from hazards caused by a poor attempt at a fix. While we recognized that there are non-professionals who have the skills and tools necessary to do a good job, and that there are some repairs that are much easier than others, people’s abilities vary a lot. While we are not against people learning by giving things a try, we do want to say that if you feel at all queasy about trying to fix something yourself, it’s probably best to give Dave’s Appliance a call. And if you’ve begun a repair and then started having second thoughts, chances are we can still sort it out for you.

We’re here for you.

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Dave's Appliance Service Blog

Appliance Breakdowns Can Be Stressful and Purchasing New Ones Can Be Costly

February 11th, 2021

Under the best of circumstances, having an appliance break down can be stressful. During these CoVid times, it’s liable to be even moreso.

Early on during the pandemic, people thought it might be a good idea to spend some money at home that they might otherwise have spent on travel or entertainment or dining out. That meant that there was a big run on major appliances. Many people suddenly found themselves spending much more time in their homes than they had before, because they were furloughed, or because they were transitioning to working from home, and because they no longer were able to visit the places they liked to go and spend time doing the things they liked to do. Some suddenly had fewer excuses not to get around to those projects they had promised to get around to, or began noticing and being bothered by things that previously they were able successfully to overlook.

All of that meant that there was a run on appliances, even as factories were crippled either by scarcity of parts or labor, or (in early days) even by logistical challenges. Naturally, if large numbers of people were suddenly embarking on home remodeling projects, or getting around to replacing balky appliances, or undertaking general home improvement with an eye to upgrading performance and efficiency. Those demands led to scarcity, and new appliance prices have climbed as availability has decreased.

In more normal times, it might be possible to limp along better with a poorly working appliance, but it has become more difficult, particularly for those who have to isolate due to vulnerability. It’s harder for them to get out to get a good look at what is available. And even if they have something new delivered and installed, viewing something online or in a catalog isn’t quite the same as inspecting it in person.

The upshot of all of these factors is that it has become more desirable to opt to fix appliances than it has been in the past, and the demand for service calls has been steadily increasing. The general rule of thumb was, for major appliances across the board, that if a repair cost half or less of what it would cost to replace an appliance, taking into account installation of the new one and removal of the old one, it probably was a good idea to repair, assuming that the appliance hadn’t had a major repair before and the efficiency and performance would still be relatively similar to something newer. That equation still works to some extent, but consumers find that availability is lower than usual and prices higher than usual, so many are opting to repair, instead.

Whether it’s a refrigerator, a washer or dryer, a water heater, a furnace, or a range, it’s challenging to find the usual range of options for replacement. Studies show that a larger portion of customers are satisfied with repairs performed by an independent appliance repair firm than with factory repairs, though obviously if your appliance is still under warranty, you will want to go that route. You need certified appliance repair technicians who have seen it all, and that’s just what you will find at Dave’s Appliance.

The knowledgeable technicians at Dave’s Appliance will be happy to consult with you and give you their best advice regarding your needs. They take every pandemic precaution on each home visit, and they come prepared. If it turns out to be in your best interest to replace an appliance, despite the challenges of the market, they will let you know, too, and they have the relationships with the best manufacturers to see that you get the best of what is available, should that be necessary.

Give the helpful people at Dave’s Appliance a call.

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Troubleshooting Garbage Disposal Problems

December 1st, 2020

It’s probably not necessary to remind you not to put your fingers down a garbage disposal unit, but here’s a friendly reminder anyway. It’s not going to remove your fingers or make hamburger of your hands, but it can bruise you up pretty well if you switch it on when you’re reaching in there, or if you dislodge something that’s impeding the impeller. The impeller forces materials against the sides of the cylinder, which are designed to present cutting surfaces to reduce what’s put inside into drain-friendly bits that pass through the perforations and down the drain.

1) No Power

If you activate the disposal and don’t hear any hum from the motor, chances are there’s an issue with power getting to the unit. Some of us don’t use the disposal very often, so, taking care to run some water, make sure that you’re hitting the right switch.

If you are certain that you’re hitting the right switch, but still getting no power, make sure that the unit is plugged in. It sounds pretty basic, but appliance servicemen report that this is the most common problem that they encounter.

If it’s properly plugged in, and there’s no power, the next thing will be to see whether the reset has tripped. Generally, this will mean that a small red button on the bottom of the disposal has popped out a small distance. Press it back in to re-engage the mechanism.

If that doesn’t fix the problem, check to see whether the circuit breaker serving the disposal has itself tripped, and reset it if necessary.

If you’ve eliminated those causes, it’s possible that there’s a problem in the switch itself. Make sure that you have switched off the proper circuit breaker before you pull the switch, generally on the wall or under the sink.

Pull the switch out and inspect the wires. It may be that one of them has detached, in which case the fix is simply to reattach it. Or it may be that the contacts have become oxidized, in which case some contact cleaner and a scrub with steel wool should set things right.

Make sure to switch on at the main service panel before testing. If your disposal still doesn’t work, a new switch may fix the problem inexpensively. It’s worth a shot trying.

If your disposal still doesn’t work, it may just be time to get a new one. Naturally, if you are uncomfortable with any of the above steps, it’s best to call in the guys from Dave’s appliance to check things out for you.

2) You Hear the Motor Hum, But the Disposal Doesn’t Grind

Probably the flywheel is jammed, though usually this trips the reset button pretty quickly. You don’t want to have the motor trying to move a stationary flywheel for long, because this can quickly damage the motor.

Almost always, there’s some object stuck in the unit that’s preventing its operation.

For starters, shut off both the wall switch and the circuit breaker. You don’t want to accidentally bump the switch and have it start up when you’re trying to remove something from the grinding chamber.

You should have received a special offset wrench with your unit. If you’ve misplaced it, a large hex wrench may suffice. Insert the wrench and turn it clockwise to release the flywheel/impeller assembly. You should feel it begin to turn freely. If you don’t have a wrench that will work, a local seller of your brand of disposal may be able to get one for you.

You can also try your luck with the wooden handle to one of your kitchen implements. Again, you should feel the flywheel unstick and begin to move freely if you can move the impellers clockwise.

Get a flashlight and get a good look into the chamber, if you can. Remove any foreign objects or debris with a needle nose pliers or similar implement.

Switch power back on at the mains, hit the reset button, run some water and hit the wall or under-sink switch. Anything left should be easily disposed of by the unit.

If it’s still not working, it’s time to call Dave’s appliance.

Leaks

Leakage at the Flange

The most common leak issue develops at the flange, because the vibration of the disposal motor loosens the seal.

Turn off the power at the mains before anything else.

You should see a mounting ring. Turn the disposal counter-clockwise from the bottom to loosen it and detach it from the ring.

This should expose 3 bolts that secure the flange to the sink. Tighten them.

If the bolts don’t seem loose, it could be that the plumbers putty that helps make the seal has deteriorated or come loose. Loosen the bolts and push the flange a little ways above the sink to provide room to bead on some new putty (it’s best to remove what you can of the old). Retighten the bolts and wipe away any excess with a rag.

Reinstall the disposal unit on the mounting ring, switch on at the service panel.

Run some water and check for any leaks.

Leakage at the Dishwasher Connection

Often dishwasher wastewater is discharged into the garbage disposal. Check to see whether the clamp has loosened up and tighten it down. If it’s not the clamp, it’s probably time to replace the hose.

Leakage at the Discharge Drainpipe

A rigid plastic pipe discharges water from the disposal to the sink drain trap. The issue may be with the gasket, and the treatment is the same as with the flange. Attempt to tighten the bolts, and if that doesn’t suffice to replace the plumber’s putty in the same way.

If the Disposal Drains Slowly

There’s probably some clogging. Disassemble the drain pipe and the trap, and remove any materials that may be impeding the flow of water and disposal debris. If you can’t find any, the problem is likely further along and needs snaking out with an auger.

A handy guide to what not to put down your disposal:

Bones are not generally a good idea.
Potato peels, pasta, or other starchy foods.
Grease.
Fruit pits.
Celery or other very fibrous materials.
Coffee grounds.
Egg shells.

As always, if you have any questions or need help, the friendly and knowledgeable folks at Dave’s Appliance are happy to help!

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Dave's Appliance Service Blog

How To Deal With the Most Common Dishwasher Problems

December 1st, 2020

There are lots of helpful videos out on the internet that can help with specific issues for specific models of appliances. Generally speaking, you should be able to get 10 years of use or so out of a good dishwasher before it’s time to replace it. That said, here are some of the most common easy-to-fix issues.

My Dishwasher Stinks!

It’s probably the filter. The filter sits at the base of the inside of the dishwasher, and traps large food particles that might otherwise get into the mechanisms and gum up the works. It’s designed to be easily clipped in and out, and who among us (ahem) actually read the manual and kept to the suggestion of washing the filter out on a weekly basis?

If this little item of maintenance has somehow slipped your mind, scrubbing it up and replacing it will probably remove the odor. If it’s been damaged, it’s probably replaceable.

Not Cleaning So Well

Might be time to unclog the spray arms! These are the longish, flattish plastic arms that spray and rinse the dishes and other items you put in the dishwasher as they spin about. They are designed to be unclipped, cleaned, and reinstalled. Don’t forget to clean the mounting while you’re at it.

Occasionally cleaning the spray arms can significantly improve the performance of your dishwasher.

Wobbly Rolling Basket at the Bottom

Replace the wheels. They are designed to snap on and off, and it’s certainly worth avoiding the hair-pulling frustration of trying to coax the thing in and out if it’s bothering you.

Detergent Dispenser Broken

Another item that’s generally easily replaced, if your unit isn’t too old, is the detergent dispenser. This is going to be a more involved fix, because the front panel of your dishwasher is going to have to be unmounted, electrical connections undone, and everything replaced. This is one of those situations where you may want to view an online video, especially if it treats your specific model, and to have all the tools you need immediately on hand. Naturally, if you have qualms, it may be best to call the experts at Dave’s.

Replace the Hoses

The fill hose brings water into your dishwasher, and the drain hose removes the wastewater. In time, these can corrode, degrade, or get clogged, reducing the performance of your dishwasher. It’s usually possible to get replacements and not hard to install them yourself.

Dang Thing Leaks

Likely this is due either to faulty door hinges or door seals. Or it may have to do with the hoses, which we mentioned above.

If the door seems to drop heavily or seems misaligned, it could well be a hinge. You’ll need to remove the side panels to get a good look, and it’s a good idea to watch a video on replacing the mechanism. Also, it’s probably a good idea to replace both at the same time.

If you’re not that handy, it may be time to call in the skilled repairs folks at Dave’s Appliance.

Check the upper door seal, which goes from one side, around the top, and down the other side of the door. Usually a new seal costs $30 or so, and it’s not a hard job to replace it. The lower seals is another matter, since it involves disassembling the entire door, and is best left to the professionals.

Again, that would be one you’d want to call Dave’s Appliance about.

The Dishwasher Isn’t Draining Well

It’s probably the drain pump, located at the bottom of the appliance, that pushes wastewater out of the dishwasher and into the adjacent sink drain. Bits of food, chips of dishes, slivers of glass, and other material can get caught in the pump and prevent it from working efficiently. It’s not a hard job to disassemble and clean the pump, but it does involve tilting the dishwasher on its back and removing the baseplate.

The biggest challenge here may be in reversing the process of disassembly while reassembling the dishwasher. Documenting the process with cell phone pictures might help. Or, if it seems not in your wheelhouse, the experts at Dave’s will be happy to help.

More Advanced Problems

Water’s Not Heating Up

Could be the heating element has burned out. You’re going to need a multimeter for this one.

Lay the unit on its back. Remove the baseplate and anything else that might be blocking the element. Remove the wires to isolate it. Check it with your multimeter by touching to the terminals.

If a fault is indicated, replacing the heating element ought to do the trick.

Dang Thing’s Not Filling Up

Pretty much the same as above for the heating element, but this time you’re checking the water valve, located behind the back plate, near to the fill hose. Remove the wires, check with a multimeter, and replace if faulty.

Bleeping Thing Won’t Start

Disqualify the obvious first. Check to make sure it’s properly plugged in and that the circuit breaker isn’t tripped.

If you know your way around a multimeter, you may be able to track down the problem on your own and fix it. There are some useful videos available online that bring you through the troubleshooting process in a reasonable sequence. Otherwise, it’s time to call Dave’s Appliance.

And remember, a dishwasher that’s served you for 10 years has lasted pretty well. It may just be time to get a new one. The experts at Dave’s will advise you well.

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Dave's Appliance Service Blog

How To Test Microwave Ovens

October 5th, 2020

Microwave ovens are like any other electrical appliance, in that it will gradually wear out. This is due principally to gradual degradation of the magnetron tube that generates the energy that heats the materials that you put into it. If you’re interested in how a magnetron tube converts high-voltage electricity into microwaves, there’s a Wikipedia entry here. For most of us, though, it’s enough to know that over time, the tube will wear down and produce less microwave energy, requiring more time to bring things to the desired heat. In higher power-rated microwaves, the degradation may be less noticeable for a time, but for lower powered units, a fall-off may mean that the device is no longer very useful.

If you’ve thought that your microwave no longer cooks as quickly or as thoroughly as it used to, you may be correct. One common sign is that you hit a preset power and time setting, such as to pop microwave popcorn or heat a coffee mug of water, and it doesn’t quite do the job. Of course, the speed at which it cooks when it is new depends on the power rating. Higher powered microwaves are often rated at around 1200 Watts, and some even higher. Low power models are typically 700 Watts rated. Anything under 700 Watts is probably not very good for cooking food. You can see how to convert power ratings and times required here.

Down and Dirty Test #1
So, how can you test? Well, the most obvious way is to find out what your microwave’s power rating is (often noted on the back of the appliance, and certainly in the owner’s manual), and use the time for specified power instructions on some microwave friendly food’s preparation instructions. If you don’t want to waste food, a packet of microwave popcorn might be a good place to start. Presumably, if your microwave isn’t heating to what the power rating and time of preparation expectations are, it isn’t performing to specifications, although this assumes that the preparation instructions are accurate.

Down and Dirty Test #2
Another down-and-dirty way of testing is to fill a coffee mug with water and boil it on high (the microwave’s default setting) for 1 minute. The water should in most cases have begun to boil by then. Again, though, this is just presumptive proof that it’s not operating to specification. What it means, more than anything, is that our expectations have been raised to the point where we think that is a reasonable time in which water ought to boil in a microwave.

More Scientific Test: The JIS Microwave Power Method

You can find this method outlined at Celtek Electronics. You need:℃

2 identical 500 mL beakers (or other microwavable containers)
An accurate thermometer
A stirrer (wooden is good, like a popsicle stick/tongue depressor/coffee stirrer)

1) Stir and divide 1000 mL of water that’s 20℃ plus or minus 5℃ into the two containers, to ensure that they are both of the same temperature.
2) Measure the temperatures of both, add those temperatures and divide by two to average the results.
3) Position both containers near the center of the microwave’s turntable. At full power, switch the microwave on for 60 seconds.
4) Remove both containers immediately, stir, and measure the temperatures the same way: note each and add together, then divide by two to average.
5) Now subtract the starting temperature average from the ending temperature average (for example, 40 minus 20 equals 20). Now take that number, and multiply by 70 to give the estimated wattage. In this case, 20 times 70 equals approximately 1400 Watts.

Compare that to the manufacturer’s specified power. If it’s not near the mark, it may be time to get a new microwave oven. Even if it’s close, it may be that your life circumstances have changed, and you find you need a larger capacity or a higher power rating for a growing family, or maybe you’re doing more food preparation than you used to, or you just want a change.

Whatever is causing your dissatisfaction with your microwave, Dave’s Appliance has the experience and the selection to get you the unit that will suit you best. They are happy to put their experience at your service. Give them a call.

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Dave's Appliance Service Blog

How To Fix a Microwave That Won’t Turn On

October 5th, 2020

It could be a simple fix, or not. If it is, you are going to have to be a little handy, and it helps to have a multimeter and to know how to use one. When in doubt, call a professional or replace the unit.

The first thing is to check that it is properly plugged in, and to check the circuit breaker. You might want to try testing the outlet with another appliance before making a trip to the circuit box.

If all of that seems fine, the first thing to check will be the door latch. Has it been sticky? Has it been loose or not closing properly the first time? If the safety interlock on the door isn’t making proper contact, this will prevent the microwave from turning on. The reason is that the door must be properly closed in order to prevent stray microwaves from endangering your health. It is a safety feature.

Testing the Interlock Switch

1) Unplug the microwave.
2) Check the hooks that are on the door to make sure that they are not deformed. If they are, this can prevent the interlock switch from permitting the microwave to be turned on. You can think of the door hooks as being a kind of key that activates the interlock switch.
3) If the door hooks seem to be fine, and lining up properly with the interlock switch, you can remove the interlock switch by unscrewing it from the microwave.
4) Now set your multimeter to Rx1, turn it on, and touch the probes to the terminals. You should see a reading of “0” [zero], indicating that the circuit is continuous.
5) If your switch is not continuous, you can try spraying it with contact cleaner, thought that is likely a temporary solution. If it is not, you will want to get a replacement switch.

If you feel uncomfortable with any of these steps, you are probably best off contacting Dave’s Appliance instead of fixing it yourself.

Checking the Ceramic Fuse

If your microwave won’t start, and you can’t get a reading on the display, it could be that the ceramic fuse has blown. This fuse is there to protect the electrical components of your microwave from damage in case of power fluctuations. If the fuse is blown, nothing on your microwave will work until it is replaced.

1) Unplug the microwave.
2) Locate the fuse near the power cord. This may entail removing the microwave from its cabinet. Remove it.
3) As with testing the interlock switch, set your multimeter to Rx1, activate it, press the probes to both ends of the fuse. It should read “0” [zero]. If you don’t have a multimeter, and you happen to have a replacement fuse, though that is unlikely, you can try replacing it, but be very careful to make sure you have the proper replacement. You can also bring your fuse to a local electrical supply shop, and have them test it for you and get a replacement, if that is the problem.

Again, if any of the above makes you uncomfortable, it is best to seek professional help. The folks at Dave’s Appliance have seen these problems thousands of times, and can give you the advice you need.

For all other potential problems involving microwaves, you are best leaving things to the pros, unless you really have some good electrical problem-solving chops. Check to see whether your unit is still under warranty. Or maybe it’s just time to replace your microwave, although in many cases owners have become so accustomed to how a particular microwave works that they are reluctant to part with it. Or perhaps the microwave you have is part of a kitchen appliance ensemble that matches, and you don’t want to disrupt the way it hangs together.

At any rate, the helpful professionals at Dave’s Appliance are happy to advise you in the way that best suits your needs. Give them a call.

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Dave's Appliance Service Blog

Does Room Temperature Affect My Refrigerator?

August 4th, 2020

You may be considering putting a second refrigerator out in your unheated garage. Or you might worry about your refrigerator’s efficiency in the hot, humid Wisconsin summers. Whatever your situation, it’s important to know whether room temperature affects your refrigerator.

Extreme Temperatures Can Damage Fridge

The temperature of the room that a refrigerator is in should be between 60ºF and 95ºF. That’s a really wide range, and you might think there’s no way your refrigerator could be in a situation where the ambient temperature is either that high or that low. But you live in Wisconsin. Extreme temperatures can damage the compressor or sealed system. Below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the oil could become thick and not circulate properly. Above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, the oil could overheat and break down.

Refrigerator Function in Cold Temperatures

Having a refrigerator in a partially heated space might seem like a good compromise. While the unit may not actually break down, you might reconsider that choice. Refrigeration systems rely on the boiling of refrigerant under pressure and heat. When the ambient temperature is below 60ºF, it takes more energy to make the refrigerant boil and change into a vapor. And the energy consumption increases with the decreasing temperature until at 32ºF, there’s no cooling capacity at all.

Refrigerator Function in Hot Temperatures

If the refrigerator is located in a room where the temperature is over 90ºF and it is opened frequently, then the efficiency will decrease significantly. When the outside temperature is so warm, it can cause other problems, too. The consistency of the cooled temperature inside the unit may vary widely and your food may spoil more quickly.

Other Considerations

Remember that the room temperature can be quite different from the outside temperature. Your well insulated garage can be 10 – 20 degrees colder or hotter than outdoors. If you do decide to have your refrigerator in a place that isn’t ideal, take steps to mitigate the loss of efficiency. Your refrigerator placement can help with that. Your fridge shouldn’t be pushed against the wall. It needs a little space behind it so that air can circulate freely and the heat from the condenser can dissipate. Keeping the grill clean and the door seals tight ensures that it’s working at peak efficiency too.

If you’re wondering whether room temperature affects your refrigerator, the answer is yes. You probably don’t have it in a space where the extreme temperatures will cause a breakdown, but you should be aware that its efficiency will be affected by the ambient temperature. If you have any continuing concerns, call the experts at Dave’s Appliance; we’ll be glad to help.

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Dave's Appliance Service Blog

Freezer Not Working, But Fridge is Fine?

August 4th, 2020

When you have a refrigerator/freezer unit and the freezer doesn’t seem to be working right, but the fridge is fine, it can be more than a little annoying. There are a number of issues that could be causing this problem. Some of them you can deal with yourself; for the others, you can call in the experts at Dave’s Appliance. For some of them, you must call in the experts due to federal regulations.

Invisible Ice

You’re probably aware that your fridge can’t be pushed right up against a wall, because there needs to be space around the condenser. What many people don’t know is that there also needs to be space in your refrigerator between the refrigeration and freezing sections to allow air to circulate. Sometimes ice can accumulate in places between the two, and it doesn’t get noticed until it’s really created a problem. This is especially true if the door hasn’t been shut properly and humidity causes an ice build up. To fix this problem, search for the hidden ice and remove. Alternatively, you can defrost the whole fridge.

Ice Maker Issue

If your freezer has an ice maker installed and you’re not using it, it needs to be disconnected. If it’s not turned off, the icemaker will continue to run through its cycles even though there’s no water. Problems arise because it goes through its cycles really quickly and every time it does, the heater under the ice maker tray is activated. So anything that is close to the ice maker will thaw. This also causes a buzzing sound, when it’s trying to get water. This is water valve noise, not to be confused with the buzzing from the compressor. If this is your issue, the solution is simple: disconnect the ice maker, and make sure it stays switched off.

Compressor Problem

Your compressor should hum along happily, but sometimes it goes in fits and starts. When your compressor doesn’t run long enough, it can mean that the freezer never gets cold enough. Some reasons for intermittent compressor function include: overheating, bad relays, or broken motor. You can determine whether the issue is the compressor by feel. If it’s really hot or makes an odd noise (like clicking or buzzing), then it’s probably the culprit. Knowing that doesn’t get to the fix the problem, though. This would be the time to call in the experts at Dave’s Appliance. We can figure out the cause and fix it.

Low Freon

A low freon charge can cause the evaporator to be cool but not cold enough to freeze. That would lead to the evaporator inside the freezer not frosting over completely. You can check if this might be the issue by removing the back panel inside your freezer to see what the coils look like. If only a portion of the coils are frosted, or if you see a large clump of ice in one of the corners, then you have a freon problem. You could have a leak, or may simply need a recharge. In any event, this isn’t a repair you can do. You need to call the professionals at Dave’s Appliance. We have the EPA licensing required to deal with the issue.

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Helpful Hints

Things to check before you call:

  • CHECK for a blown fuse
  • CHECK that the appliance is plugged in
  • CHECK that the dryer vent is clean
  • CHECK that refrigerator controls are at the proper setting