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Appliance Repair Glossary

AERATOR

A device used to infuse air into a liquid. An example is the aerator on the tip of a water faucet.

AGITATOR

A device used to stir or shake contents, typically used to move clothing in water containing detergent.

BAKE/BROIL VALVE

An electrically operated valve, that opens and closes by means of a bimetal, used to control the flow of gas to a gas oven burner.

BAKE ELEMENT

The lower heating element in an oven, used for baking foods.

BIMETAL

A device that is composed of two dissimilar metals bonded together to form a single metal strip. Each metal will expand differently to a change in temperature causing the single metal strip to bend when heated or cooled. This movement can act as an actuator in various types of switches.

BRITISH THERMAL UNIT (BTU)

The amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.

BROIL ELEMENT

The upper heating element in an oven, used for broiling foods.

CAM

A rotating surface with rises and falls that opens and closes switches in timers.

CAPILLARY TUBE

A metering device used to control the flow of refrigerant in a sealed system, usually consisting of several feet of tubing with a small inside diameter.

CHILL PLATE

The evaporator in the refrigerator compartment which defrosts each time the thermostat cycles off.

COLD CONTROL (THERMOSTAT)

Switch that controls an electric current in response to changing temperature.

COMPRESSOR

An electro-mechanical device used to circulate refrigerant through a refrigeration system for the purpose of transferring heat.

CONDENSER FAN

An electro-mechanical device used to force air through a condenser to aid in the transfer of heat.

CONDENSER

The part of a refrigeration system where high pressure, heat latent gas is condensed into a liquid by means of heat transfer to the surrounding air.

CYCLE-DEFROST REFRIGERATOR

A style of refrigeration appliance where a portion of the evaporator, usually the chill-plate, defrosts whenever the thermostat switches off.

DEFROST TERMINATION THERMOSTAT

A bimetal switch used to open the electric circuit to the defrost heater once a set temperature is reached. The defrost cycle will continue until the timer advances into the cooling cycle, however the heater will no longer be energized. This thermostat will reset to a closed position once a set colder temperature is again reached.

DEFROST TIMER

An electro-mechanical clock device that periodically switches from cooling to defrost to remove the buildup of frost from the evaporator.

DEHUMIDIFIER

An appliance designed to extract moisture from the ambient air by means of a refrigeration system. Warm moist air is drawn by a fan across the cold evaporator which causes the water vapor to condense onto the coil and drop into a container. The cooled air is then passed over the condenser where it is warmed before being passed back into the surrounding area.

DOOR SEAL (GASKET)

A resilient or flexible material used between mating surfaces to provide a leak-proof seal.

DRAIN PAN

A pan-shaped panel used to collect condensate from the evaporator during a defrost cycle. It is usually located above a condenser coil or atop the compressor.

DRAIN THROUGH

A trough-shaped panel used to funnel defrost condensate, from the evaporator coil, to the drain tube leading eventually to the drain pipe.

DRIP PAN/TRAY

A pan-shaped panel used to collect drips, spillage or condensate.

ELECTRO-MECHANICAL

A term used to describe any device that turns electrical power into mechanical work or vice versa.

ENERGY SAVER SWITCH

Refrigerator- A switch that when activated opens a circuit to an electric cabinet perimeter heater, to turn it off, to save electricity Air Conditioner- A switch that when activated allows the thermostat to cycle the fan motor on and off at the same time as it cycles the compressor.

EVAPORATOR

That part of the refrigeration system in which the refrigerant evaporates, absorbing heat from the surrounding area.

FAUCET ADAPTOR

A male connector that attachers to a water faucet allowing a female connector, (such as a dishwasher uni-couple) to attach to it.

FILL VALVE (WATER VALVE)

An electro-mechanical device that opens a valve to allow water to flow. The electric current causes a magnetic field to develop in the solenoid coil which in turn then moves a metallic plunger. The plunger is attached to a diaphragm which opens the valve.

FILTER DRYER

A device containing screen and absorbent material through which refrigerant gas is passed in order to remove moisture that would be detrimental to other components and the functioning of a refrigeration system.

FILTER

A device containing a porous material or a material itself, through which a liquid or gas is passed in order to separate suspended particulate matter. Common filter materials are activated charcoal, polypropylene and HEPA (high efficiency particulate air [filter]).

FREON

Trade name for a family of synthetic chemical refrigerants manufactured by DuPont.

FROST-FREE REFRIGERATOR

A type of appliance that automatically defrosts by means of a timing device.

FSP®

An abbreviation for Factory Specification Parts. Used by Whirlpool to differentiate genuine factory replacement parts from those of After Market or universal replacement parts.

GASKET (SEAL)

A resilient or flexible material used between mating surfaces to provide a leak-proof seal.

IDLER PULLEY

An unpowered pulley used to put tension on the belt of a dryer or washing machine.

IGNITOR

A solid state semiconductor, usually made of Carborundum that produces heat when a current is applied. Typically used to ignite natural gas or propane in heating appliances, such as ranges, dryers and water heaters.

INFINITE HEAT SWITCH

A switch that controls the amount of heat generated by an electric range surface burner. It accomplishes this by quickly cycling the voltage on and off to achieve an intermediate range (e.g. at medium it may supply 100% voltage for only 50% of the time it is switched on). It does not act like a rheostat and reduce the voltage, to lessen the heat generated.

LATENT HEAT

The heat energy absorbed in the process of changing the sate of a substance (e.g. from solid to liquid to gas, or vice versa) without changing the temperature or pressure.

LIMIT SWITCH (DISC)

A bimetal switch used to open the electric circuit once a set temperature is reached. This thermostat will usually reset to a closed position once a set colder temperature is again reached.

MANUAL DEFROST REFRIGERATOR

A type of refrigerator that does not have a mechanical defrosting system and must be defrosted manually. This type of appliance usually has one main outer door with a small door inside, covering the evaporator box.

MICROWAVE OVEN

An appliance that uses microwaves (radio waves in the microwave spectrum) to create friction at the molecular level, to generate heat in food.

MOULDING

A piece of plastic used to cover the joint between the inner and outer cabinet of a refrigerator or freezer.

MULLION HEATER

An electric heater mounted inside the mullion to prevent moisture from forming in humid weather.

MULLION

The stationary part of a structure between two doors.

OEM

An abbreviation for Original Equipment Manufacturer. Usually used to differentiate replacement parts supplied by the appliance manufacturer and those of after market or universal replacement parts (e.g. FSP® is used to denote genuine Whirlpool OEM replacement parts).

OVERLOAD PROTECTOR

An electric switch that senses temperature or current (amperage) to stop operation of a unit if a dangerous condition arises.

PRESSURE SWITCH

An electric switch activated by air pressure. This device detects air pressure exerted on it through a flexible tube connecting it to part of a water tub. When activated, this switch then opens an electrical circuit stopping further filling of the machine. May also be called a Water Pressure Switch or Water Level Control.

PUMP

A machine or device used for moving or compressing fluids or gases.

REFRIGERANT TYPES

R12 (dichlorodifluoromethane) - is typically used in household refrigerators, freezers and older car air conditioners. R22 (monochlorodifluaromethane) - is used in window air conditioners. R134a (tetrafluoroethane) - is now used in many domestic refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers and car air conditioners.

REFRIGERANT

A substance used in a refrigeration system to absorb heat in the evaporator coil, by means of a change of state from liquid to a gas, an to release its heat in the condenser as the substance returns from the gaseous state back into a liquid.

REFRIGERATOR

An appliance designed to transfer heat from the interior of the cabinet to the exterior.

RELAY

An electro-mechanical switch that diverts the current when the flow is changed or when an external current is applied.

SILFOSS

A silver-alloy solder containing 5-15% silver. Is is used to weld copper to copper joints in refrigeration systems and is able to withstand high pressures.

SILVER SOLDER

A silver-alloy solder with 35% or higher silver content. Used to withstand high refrigerant pressures in joints made between copper and steel tubing.

SOLENOID

An electro-mechanical device that produces a magnetic field, to move an internal metallic plunger, when power is supplied. When power to the electromagnet is discontinued, the plunger is free again to move by other forces. This plunger can be attached to other devices (levers, seals, etc.) to do mechanical work.

TAP ADAPTOR

A male connector that attaches to a water faucet to allow a female connector (dishwasher unicouple) to attach to it. This device sometimes includes an aerator and is more properly called a dishwasher Faucet Adaptor.

Therm-O-Disc, Inc.

Therm-O-Disc is a manufacturer of temperature sensors, temperature controls and electrical switches for the appliance, HVAC, automotive and commercial industries and is a subsidiary of Emerson Electric Co. Probably most notably associated with their bimetal disc thermostats.

THERMODISC

A mechanical electric switch that is responsive to changing temperature by means of a bimetal actuator.

THERMOSTAT

A switch that controls an electric current or the flow of a liquid or gas in response to changing temperature.

TIMER

A mechanism used to control the on and off times of an electric circuit.

TRIAC

An electronic relay that diverts the current when the flow is changed or when an external current is applied.

UNICOUPLE

Device used to attach the fill and drain hose of a portable dishwasher or washing machine to a faucet adaptor mounted on a sink faucet.

WATER LEVEL CONTROL

An electric switch activated by air pressure. This device detects air pressure exerted on it through a flexible tube connecting it to part of a water tub. When activated, this switch then opens an electrical circuit stopping further filling of the machine.

WATER VALVE

An electro-mechanical device that opens a valve to allow water to flow. The electric current causes a magnetic field to develop, in the solenoid coil, which then moves a metallic plunger. The plunger in turn opens the valve.

YODER HEATER

A heater (either electric or part of a refrigeration system's condenser tubing) typically mounted around the front perimeter of a refrigerator cabinet to keep it warm and prevent condensation from forming.

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