Difference Between a 3-Prong Range Cord and a 4-Prong Range Cord

Alex HOven RepairLeave a Comment

What’s the Difference Between a 3-Prong Range Cord and 4-Prong Range Cord?

If you live in a home that was built prior to 1996, the outlet for your kitchen range may still require a 3-prong cord. It is, in fact, considered code-compliant to continue using the 3-prong configuration in pre-1996 homes. Why is this date important? The National Electric Code (NEC) updated their requirements for 240-volt appliances and changed them from 3-wire cords and receptacles to 4-wire cords and receptacles.

The code applies only to homes built after 1996; however, you may have run into an instance where you were faced with trying to hook a 4-prong range cord up to the home’s 3-prong receptacle or vice versa. The difference is that in older appliance installations, the legally-installed 3-wire cord consisted of wiring that was configured with two hot wires and one neutral wire.  The new 4-prong construction provides the 4th grounding conductor that was missing in the 3-wire configuration.

The purpose of the neutral wire on the 3-wire cord and plug setup

  • It is the return path for the 120-volt loads that handle the range’s timer, clock, lighting, etc., and it carries that current back to the 240-volt source.
  • It was connected to both the metal frame and housing of the range so that it would trip the circuit breaker if there was a short to the ground.

The problem with this configuration was that the appliance may not always trip the circuit breaker. An example is if the 3-prong’s neutral wire wasn’t connected to the metal frame and housing of the appliance. If there is no return path for the current to flow back to the source, then the metal housing is energized, and it can deliver a shock to a person who touches it.

The purpose of the 4-wire cord and plug configuration

  • The equipment grounding conductor (the 4th wire) now serves as the conductor that is attached to the metal frame and housing of the range.
  • The 4th wire’s purpose is to return any fault current that’s on the metal in the case of a short to ground situation.
  • The NEC prohibited the neutral wire in the cord from being connected to the metal frame and housing for any new construction in 1996 and later.

By the laws of physics, the moving current of the neutral wire will naturally follow the path of least resistance. Electrical current on the exposed metal could easily make contact with a human being in order to continue its path, which is why the NEC changed the requirements for ground connections on 240-volt appliances.

Steps to replacing a range cord

New ranges are sold without the cord so that you can install the cord that fits the outlet in your wall. If you live in an older home that has a 3-prong outlet, the NEC code allows you to change the cord to match the existing outlet. Conversely, if you move an older appliance that’s outfitted with a 3-prong cord into a newer home, you can also change that cord to one with a 4-prong configuration to match the new outlet.

The process of changing the range cord to meet regulations

Prior to beginning:

  • Make sure the range is off and unplugged.
  • Use a magnetic screwdriver to catch any screws that might fall into the appliance.

Removing the access panel:

  • Open the access panel on the back of the range at the point where the cord enters.
  • Label which color wire attaches to the appropriate terminal using pieces of masking tape.

Removing the old cord:

  • Loosen the screws that hold the wires in place.
  • Disconnect the ground wire.
  • Holding the strain relief bracket in place with a pair of pliers, loosen the bracket screws.
  • Remove the cord.

Attaching the new cord:

  • Attach the cord as follows:
    • 3-prong cord:
      • Attach the ground wire to the center terminal (it’s the middle wire).
      • Attach one of the outer wires to the right terminal.
      • Attach the remaining outer wire to the left terminal.
      • Attach the ground wire that’s on the center terminal to the range case.
    • 4-prong cord:
      • Attach the white wire to the center terminal.
      • Attach the red wire to the right terminal where the red wire is installed.
      • Attach the black wire to the left terminal where the black wire is installed.
      • Attach the green wire to the green grounding screw on the range case.
    • Remove any masking tape.

Reattaching the access panel:

  • Attach the strain relief bracket to the cord access hole by evenly tightening the bracket screws onto the cord.
  • Return the access panel onto the back of the range.

Testing the range:

  • Make sure the power to the range outlet is off.
  • Plug the range into the outlet.
  • Turn the power back on and turn on the range to test it out.

Fred’s Appliance Service

If you’re not comfortable with replacing the cord yourself, the technicians at Fred’s Appliance Service are available to install a new 3-prong or 4-prong cord onto your range. We offer a very quick turnaround on parts delivery for over 90% of our service calls, which means we are able to provide fast service for your repair needs. Our family-owned business prides itself on providing top-quality service to our neighbors in Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula, Portage, Lorain, and Cuyahoga Counties of Ohio. It’s what we’ve done since starting the business in 1996.Fred’s services all major household appliances. We are available to assist you with your range’s cord replacement or for any other appliance service. Our goal is to help keep your life running smoother with our knowledge of the appliance industry and our dedication to customer service. The reviews of some of our clients serve as a testament to our work.

Contact Fred’s Appliance Service with any questions. If you require repair, we’ll send a factory-trained technician to your home to assist you. Our professionals are skilled in working on every make and model of appliance and from all of the leading manufacturers.

How to Properly Clean and Maintain Your Whirlpool Dishwasher

Alex HDishwasher RepairLeave a Comment

A well-maintained appliance equals a properly functioning appliance; especially, when it comes to your  Whirlpool dishwasher model WDF130PAHW. From cleaning the interior to adjusting your home’s water temperature, your dishwasher deserves and needs a little TLC from time to time. If you’re looking for easy but effective ways to care for your appliance, the tips provided below will help you maintain your dishwasher and keep it running efficiently for years to come.

Clean the Fine Filter

You may not realize it, but your dishwasher has a fine filter that sits at the bottom of your appliance. As you’ve probably guessed, the filter collects bits and pieces of food as they fall off your dishes during a wash cycle. Without a filter, debris would clog your drain or recirculate inside the dishwasher tub. Unfortunately, the same thing can happen if the fine filter is not cleaned on a regular basis. Problems draining and grit left on your dishes after a wash cycle can indicate the filter in your dishwasher is caked with leftover debris. Luckily, a quick soak in warm soapy water and a gentle scrub with a sponge will clean your filter right up. According to the Whirlpool owner’s manual, if you use your dishwasher at least 4 times a week you need to inspect and clean the filter once every two months, and if you use it less than that, the filter needs cleaning twice per year.

Inspect the Door Gasket

The door gasket runs along the inside of your dishwasher door. It creates an airtight seal that stops water from escaping your appliance. Food particles can get stuck on the gasket, causing gaps in the seal, meaning leaks from around your dishwasher door can occur. Wiping down the gasket with a soapy sponge or rag at least once a month will remove any obstructions. While you’re cleaning the gasket, you should also examine the rubber for any damage, such as small rips. If you find a tear, you’ll need to replace the gasket.

Examine the Spray Arms

Bits of food and mineral deposits can clog the small holes in your dishwasher spray arms. Every few months, it’s wise to clean the spray arms by removing them and using either a sewing needle or a piece of wire to dislodge food particles stuck in the small holes. After you’ve cleared the holes, soak the arms in warm soapy water and wipe them down with a rag.

Repair the Dish Racks

The plastic coating that covers the dish racks in your dishwasher can chip away, meaning the metal underneath can corrode. If left in disrepair, slivers of rust can fall off the dish racks and end up in the dishwasher pump, which can cause serious damage and lead to expensive repairs. Inspect your dish rack for areas of exposed metal, and if any spots are found, touch-up the location with dish rack coating paint.

Deodorize and Clean Your Dishwasher Interior

Even if your dishwasher isn’t emitting a sour smell or the inside of the tub doesn’t look dirty, cleaning the interior is a preventive measure everyone should take. Luckily, the process is quite simple, and only requires two cups of white distilled vinegar, warm soapy water, and a clean rag. First, place the vinegar in the center of the bottom dish rack. Second, close the dishwasher door and start a short wash cycle. Once the wash cycle is finished, start the third and final step by opening the dishwasher door and wiping down the walls of the appliance. Then, using the rag, clean the bottom inside edge of the door. This area is notorious for mold growth due to food collecting in between the door and the tub edge, so make sure you clean the spot thoroughly.

Adjust the Water Temperature

Using water that’s too cold in your dishwasher will leave your dishes spotted with dried on food, and water that’s too hot will waste energy and money. The Whirlpool installation guide states, the water running to your dishwasher should be at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit, but should not exceed 150 degrees Fahrenheit. If you would like to test your dishwasher’s water temperature, simply place a glass and a meat thermometer underneath your kitchen faucet and turn on the hot water. Let the water run for one minute before checking the thermometer. If the results are less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit or more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll need to adjust your home’s hot water heater.

Choose the Right Type of Detergent

Detergent really does matter when it comes to maintaining your dishwasher. For one, you should only use detergents made specifically for dishwashers. Dish soap used to wash dishes in your sink is not a substitute. If you do use dish soap you risk over-sudsing, which can lead to water and soap all over your kitchen floor. You should also avoid cheap detergents. Unfortunately, some of the ingredients in less expensive powders can end up damaging your dishes and cause unnecessary wear and tear to the components in your appliance. It’s also wise to remember powdered detergent has an expiration date, meaning buying a large box isn’t always the best choice. If you do purchase your detergent in bulk, discontinue using it as soon as it gets lumpy.

Check to See if Your Dishwasher is Level

A non-level dishwasher can cause your appliance to leak. Every so often, you should check whether you need to adjust the legs of your appliance by using a level. If the small bubble in the level isn’t in the middle, you’ll need to elongate or shorten the legs on your dishwasher to properly balance the appliance.

Don’t Ignore Warning Signs

If you want your dishwasher to last, you need to pay close attention to how it’s performing. Catching small malfunctions early can save you from a larger and more expensive issue down the line. Never ignore leaks, draining problems, or odd sounds coming from your dishwasher. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned, it’s wise to contact an appliance repair technician.

Consistently maintaining your dishwasher is the best way to ensure your appliance is performing properly and efficiently. If you have more questions about caring for your dishwasher or one of your appliances is malfunctioning, please contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you.

Convection Bake vs. Regular Bake – What is the Difference?

Alex HOven RepairLeave a Comment

If you buy a new oven, chances are you will sooner or later come across the question of whether or not you need an option for convection. And even if you’ve purchased an oven within the last 20 years or so, you might have a convection option on it that you’ve probably never used. Should you start to use it?

That question, in essence, comes down to the differences between convection and regular baking. Even though the former is newer, it is not by default better. Instead, these represent two distinct baking styles, each with their own advantages and disadvantages that make them good for various recipes.

The Basics: How a Regular Oven Works

You’re probably at least somewhat familiar with how most non-convection ovens work. They have a heating element installed at the bottom, which heats the interior up to the desired temperature. The core concept here is that heat rises: the hot air comes from the bottom of the interior, then rises up to fill all of the enclosed space.

How Convection Baking Different From a Regular Bake?

With the basics of baking in mind, let’s take a moment to discuss where convection baking differs. Put simply, it’s the process of circulating the air more evenly through your oven. That’s accomplished through heating elements at the top and bottom of the appliance, plus a fan at the back that continually pushes the air through.

Think about it like your home’s air conditioning system. Sure, you could have a cooling element in the house. But you also need a fan that pushes the cool air from the source throughout the home. Otherwise, you’ll have spots that are cold, spots that are not, and probably not a lot of comforts. That, on a much smaller scale, is the reason behind convection ovens.

Of course, not every convection oven is created equal. Instead, there are several different types you should be aware of as you shop for appliances or try to better understand your own kitchen. These are the basics:

  • Regular convection, which is exactly as described above – a top and bottom heating element, plus a fan (without any heating attached to it) to circulate the air more evenly.
  • True convection, in which – in addition to the top and bottom heating elements – the heat actually comes from an attachment to the fan itself. Think of it like a third element that turns the fan from a simple air circulator to an additional source of hot air itself.
  • Twin convection, which features two fans that spin either simultaneous or alternating. Depending on the model, these two fans may offer even more even heat or faster cooking times.
  • Speed convection, which combines the principles of convection and microwave cooking. These ovens are typically smaller than average and can cut the baking time in half for some recipes.

Generally, true convection is more effective than regular convection, and twin convection makes sense especially for large ovens. Speed convection is relevant for anyone not having a lot of time to bake and intending to bake only in small quantities.

The Advantages of Convection vs. Regular Bake

Compared to regular baking ovens, all convection types have relatively similar advantages that are worth examining further. Of course, and as mentioned above, they are not inherently better than the alternative. Just as you should know about the advantages of convection baking, the potential disadvantages are just as relevant as you make your decision.

3 Advantages of Convection Baking

First, convection baking typically takes less time than a regular bake with a lower heating element. That’s because the fan makes the whole appliance more efficient, allowing you to cook both at lower temperatures and up to 20% less time. As a result, these types of ovens also tend to be more energy-efficient than their alternatives.

Second, convection baking tends to cook food more evenly. Anyone who has cooked with a conventional oven knows the plight of seeing a crispy bread crust or casserole dish top, only to find that the inside is still raw. You might even be familiar with flipping meatballs midway through the bake to make sure they’re done evenly. Convection takes care of that process for you, by circulating air to get to all parts of the food evenly.

Finally, you can bake multiple items together much more easily. Three pans of cookies, or two pizzas on separate oven racks, will still get done at the same time. Again, the reason is the air, which makes sure the heat circulates to all parts of the interior space. No more switching pans or taking turns.

3 Advantages of Regular Bakes

As mentioned above, of course, convection ovens come with some disadvantages as well. First, they’re typically more expensive, up to twice as much initially. They will also likely cost you more in maintenance over time, as the fan is the most fragile piece of the appliance and might break down.

Second, most recipes are written for regular ovens, and convection ovens complicate the bake. As mentioned above, convection can speed up the process and alter the ideal temperature. You really need to have a good feeling for when something is done and fully baked.

Finally, you might need new dishes for baking. Convection works best when the air circulates through the entire oven evenly. Most cookie sheets and roasting pans are not built that way. You also need at least two inches from the edge of the pan to the side of the oven, which might mean new dishes depending on your existing kitchenware. 

What Types of Food Work for What Type of Oven?

Finally, a crucial part of the decision process should be what types of food you want to bake. For cookies and roasts, convection is perfect. For other foods, it might not be.

Bread, for example, does not rise well in convection. Another example would be quick bread or casseroles with open sauce, which might splash around because of the wind caused by the convection. Finally, cakes also tend to be flatter when baked and are easy to miss-time on a convection setting.

The Benefits of a Reliable Convection Repair Expert

Whether or not you choose to go with a convection-enabled oven, you need to make sure that you’re prepared if or when a part breaks down. As mentioned above, the fan tends to be especially fragile, even though it’s crucial to the entire baking process. When possible, work with a repair company that has expertise in this exact type of appliance. Contact us today to learn more about convection ovens, which makes them unique, and how you can get one repaired when needed.

6 Unforgettable Kids Birthday Party Packages in Cleveland

Alex HClevelandLeave a Comment

You don’t have to spend a fortune on your child’s birthday party to make it unforgettable. It’s the thought that counts, especially when you pick something that you know your sons and daughters will love. Here’s our list of some of the best party planning services in Cleveland for throwing a special birthday celebration and creating memories that you and your child will cherish forever.

Jungle Terry’s Traveling Zoo:

If there’s one thing most kids love, it’s petting animals. That’s one reason why Jungle Terry and his animals have been entertaining and educating local families for over 30 years. You’ll be glad to know he’s licensed by the United States Food and Drug Administration and the state of Ohio. Your kids may just like his safari costume and being able to pet the animals, reptiles, and birds he brings with him. Most shows are about 45 minutes to 1 hour with 12 to 15 different species. In addition to birthday parties, Terry performs at schools, baseball parks, and other venues. He loves to do intergenerational gatherings too. (Available 7 days a week year-round, $175 to $194 depending on the event and travel time)

Ohio Station Outlets:

For the child who can’t get enough of trains, don’t miss this unique opportunity for your child to play engineer for a day at this exurban shopping center just about an hour drive from Cleveland. All you have to do is call Guest Services to arrange a day during the birthday week for kids ages 3 to 12. Due to Ohio weather conditions, they can only offer this experience from April through October, but kids with off-season birthdays can come in once a year too during these same months. The trains are special too. They’re called Sophie and Victoria, both from England. Sophie’s the traditional type, and Victoria is a newer electric and more eco-conscious model. Of course, the whole family can also enjoy shopping for bargains at all the national and Ohio based retailers while you’re there. Check the Ohio Station Outlets online calendar too for the many special events they host throughout the year. (Burbank, April through October, free)

School of Rock:

Any child who grows up in the city that’s home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame might want to play the guitar for their birthday. The School of Rock makes it easy for you to give them what they want with 3 locations in the Cleveland area. Plus, School of Rock has been named a top location for children’s birthday parties by Parents.com. Partygoers learn about songwriting and instrument playing through age-appropriate lessons and games courtesy of their professional teaching staff. Costs include instruction, a private party room, pizza, drinks, and more. Your child might be inspired to continue taking more music classes, and you might find out that you both love some of the same oldies. (Cleveland West, Strongsville, Highland Heights; $300 and up depending on location)

Bricks 4 Kidz:

Granted, LEGO parties aren’t exactly a new idea. However, kids love them, and they’re highly educational so let’s just be happy that they keep appealing to one generation after another. Bricks 4 Kidz will customize your birthday party however you like so you can choose from creative LEGO-based games and other related activities. They’ll even provide the party invitations and thank you notes to make your workload easier. Oh, and did we mention that Bricks 4 Kidz was recently awarded Number One Children’s Enrichment Program by Entrepreneur Magazine? All of their units are designed to teach an aspect of STEM learning so kids have fun while strengthening their science, technology, engineering, and math skills. If you want to continue the experience, you can also bring your kids back for camps, preschool classes, and much more. (Cleveland West, Avon, Lakewood; call for prices)

Cuts N Curls:

Do you wish you could make haircuts less stressful for your child? Cuts N Curls is a unique salon that will turn your next appointment into a piece of cake, birthday cake that is. They offer a fun environment for routine visits, field trips, and parties for children and adults. The children’s birthday packages give you the choice of 3 options. The Princess Spa Party and The Royal Treatment include facial tattoos, a red carpet fashion show, and a tiara for the birthday girl. If you’re hosting both boys and girls, you may prefer The Build a Stuffed Animal Party where guests can wear superhero capes or spa robes and bring home their own craft masterpieces. You can add a pizza lunch into all of the party packages, and you will need to bring your own cake. (Solon, price varies by package, $30 to $40 per child)

Cafe O’Play:

Have your child’s birthday party at Northeast Ohio’s premier indoor play cafe. If you’re a parent who appreciates healthy food options and physically active play, this may be the kind of community you’ve been looking for. Cafe O’Play is designed for children under 10 and their parents/caregivers. You’ll find a coffee house area and a huge indoor playground that includes the 2 private party rooms. You can choose from 3 packages consisting of a mini party, super party or private party. You can also opt to make it on the go, and they’ll bring everything you need to mingle in your backyard or any venue of your choice. All packages include a trained staff member who’ll be your Party Hero taking care of all the logistics and keeping the kids engaged with customized games and creative play. There’s lots of fun stuff like a climbing structure, a Glow Dance room, a Sports Court, a Gaga Ball Court (it’s a gentler form of dodge ball), and an interactive game floor. (Stow, $199 and up)Contact us at Fred’s Appliance Service to keep your home appliances in top shape for special occasions and everyday life. We take great pride in offering the best possible service in the Cleveland area, including all of Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula, Portage, Lorain, and Cuyahoga counties.