Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cen Tech (Harbor Freight Brand) Inspection Camera 2.4 inch Review.

Since inspection camera with the LCD screen came out, this writer has wanted one. When I worked for Aire Serv, I had The Inspector infrared camera on my truck that cost my former boss about $3000 and was exclusively for looking for cracks in heat exchangers. Even with this tool, customers can and did refute the evidence and I found myself wiping the tire tracks from the bus of my back. The other drawback was that the camera head was about one inch and the whole package tipped the scales at 30 to 40 pounds and was about a cubic foot for the unit not counting the three and a half foot tube for the business end of the camera. It was a PITA to carry down a customer's basement, much less out of my ten year old van.

As an appliance tech, I decided I needed eyes where I couldn't stick my head into take a look. The main use of this is going to be to find leaks and pinpoint them so I can order the parts I need without taking the appliance apart. I've had issues with seeing leaks in a clothes or a dishwasher, but no idea where they originate from unless I happen to stumble upon the leak in progress or take a guess. Cameras of this nature are still about $200, which isn't all bad, but for $89 at Harbor Freight I cut my teeth on the 2.4 inch inspection camera, which is about $150 full price. The screen resolution is decent, and the picture more than adequate to pinpoint problems. The nice thing is that the picture is in color and the whole package weighs less than a pound and fits under a seat or on a shelf.

I've used it to read model numbers where it was hard to get my camera phone in, verified a repair job on a washer, and inspected the pump housing at the back of a dishwasher thus far, and the camera has worked great. The only problem was an o ring that decided to let go from the camera head, but this hasn't affected the operation. The camera head has a light that you can dim, but there is no focusing available.

If you want to see if one of these cameras will help you be more productive on the job, with less guess work, this might be a good opportunity to try one out before committing more money on a more expensive model. Mirrors are great for close in jobs, but my eyesight isn't getting better as I get older, and this camera makes for a much better, high-tech alternative at minimal cost. Maranatha!


Sunday, December 21, 2014

I'm Still Alive

My posts have been slowing down significantly over these past few months and this is no accident. Time has been at a premium, I've fewer things noteworthy lately and because I've started working on appliances (white goods) rather than furnaces, it's not an area I'm fully ready to teach too much yet. I do have some tool reviews coming (sorry, no more new guns) pretty quick, including a tool bag, a spotlight (every redneck, prepper, and service tech should have one), wrenches, socket set, snap ring pliers and an inspection camera. I've also picked up some tools from Tekton, Craftsman (still my favorite) as well as Husky, (very well made), Dewalt, (not what you'd think) as well as Stanley and others.

I bought these to answer and address some issues I'm having at work. Each tool address a specific problem with a specific job, or several. Time will tell if these help at all or need to relegated to the scrap heap. Hopefully, these will be helpful to those wanting to start in the trade or are already in the trade and want to do things better.

My philosophy in working is that is if something is too hard, there's a way to make it easier. Appliances are much easier to fix than yesteryear, but not as easy to diagnose. These next few articles may be old hat to a lot of you, or even a bit ridiculous. However, for those trying to figure out a better way with a minimum of fuss, or even trying to deal with visual or physical limitations, may help. That is my hope. Maranatha!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Expensive Lesson.

From time to time, I've been called out for the unfortunate task of having to reveal to a landlord that the tenants have damaged an appliance. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen and when it does, the important thing is to document EVERYTHING and take pictures if something is suspicious.

Thursday, I got a call on a cooktop that was smoking and not working, plus an oven that wasn't working either.

The first thing I found was that the breaker was off, So I reset it, went upstairs and noticed that there was smoke wisping from the controls on the cooktop. Then I shut it back off.

Notice the fryer next to where the knobs are.

This was the drawer underneath the cooktop.

This is what I found underneath the knobs, The one with the know off was the
one that was smoking, The one with the know is already burned up. 

This was inside the cooktop, All that stuff dripping through is cooking oil from that fryer.
The switch above is burned as a result and there are two more soaked in oil.

The grease had dripped down so far that the pans stored underneath were soaked. 

When I told the tenant about this, she denied anything and when confronted with the landlord she tried to say that I had probably dumped oil down into the burners. Needless to say this story didn't fly and she may be on the hook for a new cooktop. The lesson here is if you have a nice glass cooktop, keep the fryer away from it, and be careful not to let water boil over into the switches. With care, these will last a long time. Maranatha! 


Be Careful What You Wash in a Front Load Washer.

First of all, my apologies to my customer, who was as sweet and kind as could be. She has dealt with a washer she has had to replace the bellows several times in a few short years. I own the exact same one and in the three years we've owned it, it has never had this problem and it is only due to dumb luck because I've done the exact same thing.

Last week, I was called out to check out a water leak on a Whirlpool Duet washer. Since this model has a front panel under the main one, I removed it and ran a rinse and spin cycle. Sometimes, these have a nasty habit of clipping the drain hose under a shock absorber, but this one was intact. The customer indicated to me that it poured a good six gallons of water from underneath the machine, but it filled up with no problems; until the water touched the bellows and a quart or two of water started to leak from underneath. I turned off the machine, set it to drain and spin and sopped up the water. Looked underneath and sure enough there was a hole in the bellows.

Fast forward to today. I removed the old boot with a tool for the outer clamp and with some finagling, a phillips #2 screwdriver through the bottom panel for the inner; for about 5 minutes of work. There were no less than 8 cuts in the bellows. Some were on the bottom and more were on the top, but these were not clean cuts. I asked the customer if she had washed keys, or anything else sharp, but the answer was no and the condition of the bellows bore this out. The answer was that her husband washed shoes and these caught on the bellows, ripping them up. Maranatha!