Modern Appliance Tech = Computer Tech + Appliance Mechanic

What a change we’ve seen in appliances over the past couple of decades! The skills required for modern appliance techs are about double of what they were back in the days of non-computer controlled appliances.

Before computers were widely used in appliances, mechanical skills were primary and simple electrical skills (measuring volts and ohms) were secondary. Not so today! The introduction of computers into appliances changed the control architecture of appliances from the older distributed, independently-acting controls to centralized control. Today, instead of independently-acting controls (switches) controlling loads throughout the machine, the computer makes software decisions on which loads to power when based on inputs from other parts of the machine.

This has left many techs, both rookies and Old Skool techs who were primarily appliance mechanics, baffled and scratching their heads. The manufacturers have not done much to help appliance techs understand this evolution in our occupation. To make matters worse, almost all of the modern technical literature (service manuals and tech sheets) still use “dummy directions” for their troubleshooting instructions. Dummy directions are things like “ohm this” or “ohm that.” A tech reading only the manufacturer’s technical literature is misdirected to believe that troubleshooting always comes down to some kind of ohms test. As a result, many techs end up replacing the wrong part(s) multiple times before finally getting lucky (or not!).

Here’s an example. The video below is an excerpt from a Live Dojo workshop where we were talking about a problem with an E66 error code (heater relay problem) in an Electrolux washing machine, a topic posted by a fellow tech in the repair forums at Appliantology. The service manual gave only dummy directions to ohm out various components. Following the dummy directions in the service manual, the tech replaced the control board (a single-board computer) and, no surprise, this did not fix the problem. In this excerpt from the workshop, we talked about the troubleshooting mindset the tech should have had when he approached this problem. It’s also a good illustration of how we as modern appliance techs must be both computer technicians AND appliance mechanics in order to do our job effectively.

You can watch the entire workshop video in this post. The video covers four real-world case studies on computer-controlled appliances, including this one.

Would you like to learn how to troubleshoot today’s computer-controlled appliances? Enroll today in the Master Samurai Tech Core Appliance Repair Training course and begin your journey to modern appliance repair mastery.