Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wireless Troubleshooting

Wireless TroubleshootingWhenever troubleshooting Wireless Connectivity or a customer is complaining about dropped connection issues always remember these items...

1. Change the Channel (Auto is not your friend when troubleshooting)
For 802.11n routers we like to use channels 1,3,6,9
This one is very important, but often overlooked, one of the first things that should be done if a customer is complaining about dropped signal or intermittent wireless connectivity will be to set a static channel.

2. If connecting 3rd party devices that are not computers, use a WPA key that does not include special characters to ensure compatibility. While all devices should be able to figure out those fun &(*&*$#@( characters sometimes they cannot so go with Alpha Numeric and Upper Case / Lower Case for max interoperability.

3. If you want to achieve 802.11n speeds you NEED to use WPA2-AES also known as WPA2 Personal on our new routers. WPA2 and WPA2 Personal are the only security types that can support 802.11n speeds
Many customers that call us and complain about Slow Internet call because they have an old security being used on their network that is actually slowing down their Broadband. Quick and simple math says if a customer is paying for 20 megabits of bandwidth, but they are using WEP they are not going to be happy. Remember always try to use WPA2 Personal with 802.11n routers, if they have devices that are older recommend an upgrade to their adapter if you can (LTR, LTR, LTR) and if not inform them about the drawbacks of using older security.

Also by default remember most routers are setup to do WPA/WPA2 mixed mode to ensure maximum compatibility. While compatibility is nice it is not a friend of speed. Don't be afraid to change to a pure WPA2 configuration if the customer is using newer equipment in their network.

4. If a customer is complaining about intermittent connection or has one device that is having problems connecting to the network... Make sure that the customer has the latest drivers for their adapter. Agents love to blame the router and update the firmware... But the adapter software is equally important, and often overlooked (Remember Atheros?? Not our issue, but caused by BAD DRIVERS for the adapter ).
Also since on our newest routers you cannot manually update the firmware anymore it is even more important to properly troubleshoot the issue and focus on all possible areas of concern.

5. Make sure that the router is in the open not buried under a desk or under a pile of laundry in your basement. Wireless uses radio waves to communicate, and your router is like the radio antenna. So the higher up your antenna is the better your signal and range will be. Also a key thing to remember here most customers will put their nice new router right near an exterior wall in their home. So half of their super powerful signal is being lost out in their yard or even worse to their neighbor's house. It is always good to suggest that a customer place the router as close to the center of their home as possible. This is not going to be possible, but as a technician it is good to educate the customer about the importance of placement.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

How to Troubleshoot Your Electric Dyer - Part 1

How to Troubleshoot Your Electric Dyer - Part 1If your dryer does not work at all, here are some things to check: the power from the house, door switch, thermal fuse, and the wiring. First, check to see if there is power going into the dryer. Is it even plugged in? Try plugging something else, like a lamp, into the socket. Does it work? Of it doesn't check for a tripped circuit or a blown fuse. Next, you can check the door switch. The switch is inside the dryer housing near the frame of the door. You might have to open the top or front of your dryer to get to the switch. If it is defective you should replace it. You should also check the thermal fuse. On many dryers there is a thermal fuse. This fuse is meant to blows if the dryer overheats. It is mounted to the exhaust duct, often inside the back panel. If the fuse is blown, it won't have continuity. You cannot reset a thermal fuse, and if it has blown you will need to replace it. Next, you can check the wiring connections. Sometimes the wiring connection from the house at the dryer burns and the connection breaks. If this is why your dryer isn't working you will need to replace the power cord and also the terminal block inside of the dryer.

Now, here is how to troubleshoot an electric dryer that has no heat. First, check the power outlet like how I explained in the above paragraph. You can also check the heating element. If a heating element burns out, often times it doesn't trip a circuit or blow a fuse. The heating element can be tested for continuity with an ohm meter. If it has no continuity it means the element is bad and you will need to replace it since a heating element from an electric dryer cannot be repaired. You can also check the thermal fuse and the wiring just like I explained above.

Okay, so here is how to troubleshoot an electric dryer that won't tumble. You will need to check the belt, motor, and door switch. In a dryer, the belt turns the drum. If your belt breaks, the drum will stop turning. You will have to replace the belt, and while you are there you should also replace the pulley - they tend to wear out at the same time. If your dryer motor hums when you push the start button, your motor may be burned out. I'll explain how to test the motor. First remove the belt, then check the blower fan housing for any blockages or obstructions, then try to manually rotate the shaft of the motor. If you cannot rotate the motor, or if it is stiff, and there is no obtrusion in the fan, then you will need to replace the motor. However, if the motor does spin freely, run the motor with the belt removed. If the motor runs okay without the belt, there could be a problem with your idler pulley or drum. Try rotating the drum by hand. If it is hard to move, correct any problems with the rollers or pulley. Then reassemble the dryer and try it once more. If your motor hums but it does not move on its own, even if the belt is removed, but you can turn it by hand, you need to replace the motor. If your door switch is bad then your dryer won't operate. This switch is located inside the main dryer housing near the frame of the door. If it is defective, replace it.

Next, I will explain how to troubleshoot an electric dryer that seems to run forever. Usually this is caused by a clog in the venting, or a clog in the duct. If your dryer has an automatic cycle that turns the dryer off when the clothes are dry, it does that using a special type of thermostat or a moisture sensing system. I'll explain what happens during your dryer's automatic cycle. The thermostat tells your dryer to heat up until the inside of the dryer reaches a certain temperature. Once the dryer reaches that temperature, the thermostat tells the timer to start advancing. The timer advances until the inside of the dryer cools down. Then the thermostat tells the timer to stop and tells the dryer to start heating up again. This cycle will continue until your clothes are dry. However, if your vent is clogged the dryer might never reach that specific temperature, so the timer does not get the signal, and the dryer will run forever. Even if the clothes are dry. To fix it: clean out the venting, and also clean the inside ductwork.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How to Troubleshoot a Gas Dryer - Part One

How to Troubleshoot a Gas Dryer - Part OneIf your gas dryer does not work at all you can check the power coming from your house, the door switch, timer, and thermal fuse. To check if there is power, first see if your dryer is plugged in. (Yes, it might sound stupid, but it happens more often than you'd think!) Does the power outlet where the dryer is plugged in work? To test that, plug a lamp or something else in the outlet and see if it works. Also, check the circuit breaker and see if something has tripped a circuit or blown a fuse. If your door switch is faulty, then that could be a reason why your gas dryer doesn't work at all. Your door switch is located inside the dryer main housing next to the door frame. If the part tests out bad, then you should replace it. Next, you can check the timer to see if that is the problem, basically if there are open contacts in the timer it won't work. Lastly, you can check the thermal fuse. The fuse is actually a safety precaution measure in the dryer; it will blow if your dryer overheats. This fuse is located on the exhaust duct inside the back cover panel. If your fuse has blown, and you test it with ah ohm meter, it won't have continuity. If this is what is causing your dryer to not work at all, you will need to replace the fuse because it cannot be reset.

If your dryer is not heating, you can check the igniter, gas valve coils, and the thermal fuse. Most gas dryers use an electronic type of igniter to ignite the gas coming in from the gas valve. If it glows a bright orange, it is working properly. When your igniter burns out, the dryer will still tumble your clothes, but there won't be heat because the gas cannot ignite. If your igniter is burned out you will need to replace it. The igniter is located inside the dryer housing, near the front and towards the bottom. The igniter is usually in a metal cone shaped tube. It's mounted to the far end of the burner tube and it should have some wires attached to it, or to the tension bracket. The next thing you can test are the gas valve coils. The first thing to watch for is the igniter, if it glows orange and then shuts off without igniting the gas, then there may be some faulty coils on your gas valve. When these coils get energized, they open the gas valve. If they are faulty then the valve won't open and the gas can't ignite. If this is the case with your dryer, it's best to replace all of the coils at the same time. To check the thermal fuse, you can follow the exact instructions I stated in the previous paragraph.

If your dryer takes too long to dry your clothes you can check the vent, the flame sensor/gas valve, internal ductwork, and the cycling thermostat. Most of the time there is some sort of clog inside the venting that goes from your dryer to outside of the house. For a dryer to heat up, the duct has to be clear of any sort of clog or lint. To clean this out, you can use a vacuum. Also, vent cleaning should be done at least once a year, if you do laundry often. Next, you can check the flame sensor/gas valve. The flame sensor is next to the igniter. The gas may shut off before the cycle is finished if the flame sensor is defective. Sometimes one of the electrical coils on the gas valve fails. If this happens, the flame will shut off before your thermostat can send a signal, which will make the drying time a lot longer. If the sensor or the coils are the problem, replace them. If your dryer's internal ductwork gets clogged, it won't be able to run correctly. Most of the time you will need to disassemble your dryer to reach the ductwork, to clean out the clog. You can check this quickly by sliding out your lint filter, and use a flashlight to look inside the duct. If you see a buildup of lint, you should clean it out with a vacuum. However, if you can't remove the clog with a vacuum, you might call a serviceman to do that for you. The cycling thermostat is not a common reason why your dryer would take a long time to dry clothes, however it does happen sometimes. If this thermostat breaks, it can cause your dryer to heat improperly. You should replace it if it is faulty.

In summary, if this guide did not help you fix your problem, you should contact an appliance technician to repair it. However, I hope this article was handy in giving you some information on how to troubleshoot your gas dryer in the future. In my next article I will help troubleshoot some more common gas dryer problems.
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