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Appliance Repair Glossary
air shutterAn adjustable shutter attached to the primary air openings of a burner used to
control the amount of primary air entering the burner.
aldehydeA class of compounds that can be produced from incomplete combustion of
allen wrenchAn L-shaped tool that is used to remove hex screws.
alternating current (AC)Electrical current that flows in one direction and then reverses itself
and flows in the opposite direction. In 60-cycle current, the direction of flow reverses every 120th second.
ambient temperatureTemperature of air that surrounds an object on all sides.
ammeterA test instrument used to measure current.
ampereThe number of electrons passing a given point in one second.
armatureThe section of a motor that turns.
automatic defrost timerA device connected in an electrical circuit that shuts off the
refrigeration cycle and turns on the electric heaters to melt the ice off the evaporator coil.
bake elementLower heating element in an oven used for baking foods.
beltA band of flexible material used to transfer mechanical power from one pulley
bimetal (strip or thermostat)Two dissimilar metals joined together to form one unit with
a differential expansion rating. It will bend if there is a temperature change.
blower wheelA device attached to the indoor side of the fan motor shaft used to circulate
air across the evaporator coil.
bracketA hardened structure used to support a component.
broil elementUpper heating element in an oven used for broiling foods.
BTU(British Thermal Unit) The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one
pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.
burnerA device in which an air and gas mixture has entered into the combustion zone
to be expelled and burned off.
burner headThe portion of the burner past the outlet mixing tube that contains the
cabinetThe outer wrapper of an appliance.
camA rotating surface with rises and falls that open and close the switches in a timer.
capacitorA device that stores electricity; used to start and/or run circuits on many large
electric motors. The capacitor reduces line current and steadies the voltage supply while
greatly improving the torque characteristics of the fan motor or compressor.
capillary tubeA metering device used to control the flow of refrigerant in a sealed system.
It usually consists of several feet of tubing with a small inside diameter.
CelsiusThe metric system for measuring temperature. The interval between the freezing
point and the boiling point of water is divided into 100 degrees. This is also called the
circuitA path for electrical current to flow from the power source to the point of use and
back to the power source.
circuit breakerA safety device used to open a circuit if that circuit is overloaded.
closed (circuit)An electrical circuit in which electrons are flowing.
combustionThe rapid chemical reaction of a gas with oxygen to produce heat and light.
componentAn individual mechanical or electrical part of an appliance.
compressorAn apparatus similar to a pump that is used to increase the pressure of
refrigerant that is to be circulated within a closed system.
condenser coilA component of the refrigeration system that transfers the heat that comes
from within a closed compartment to the outside surrounding area.
condenser fanA fan motor and fan blades used to cool the condenser coil.
contact pointsTwo movable objects, or contacts, that come together to complete a circuit or
that separate and break a circuit. These contact points are usually made of silver.
continuityThe ability of a completed circuit to conduct electricity.
controlA device, either automatic or manual, that is used to start, stop, or regulate the flow
of liquid, gas, or electricity.
currentThe flow of electrons from a negative to a positive potential.
cycleA series of events that repeat themselves in the same order.
defectiveRefers to a component that does not function properly.
defrost cycleThat part of the refrigeration cycle in which the ice is melted off the
defrost thermostat (heat pump AC models)A dual-purpose control that acts as an outdoor
thermostat and defrost control.
defrost timerA device used in an electrical circuit to turn off the refrigeration long enough
to permit the ice to be melted off the evaporator coil.
diagnosisThe act of identifying a problem based on its signs and symptoms.
direct current (DC)Electric current that flows in one direction in a circuit.
end bellThe end plates that hold a motor together.
energizeTo supply electrical current for operation of an electrical component.
evaporator coilA component of the refrigeration system that removes the heat from within
a closed compartment.
evaporator fanA motor and fan blades used to circulate the cold air.
FahrenheitThe standard system for measuring temperature. The freezing point of water is
32 degrees Fahrenheit, and the boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
flashbackAlso known as extinction pop. Where the burner flames enter back into the
burner head and continue to burn after the gas supply has been turned off.
fuseA safety device used to open a circuit if that circuit is overloaded.
gasketA flexible material (either airtight or watertight) used to seal components together.
groundA connection to earth or to another conducting body that transmits current to earth.
ground wireAn electrical wire that will safely conduct electricity from a structure to earth.
heat anticipatorUsed to provide better thermostat and room air temperature control.
Hertz (Hz)A unit of measurement for frequency. One hertz equals one cycle per second.
hot gas defrostA defrosting system in which hot refrigerant from the condenser coil
is directed to the evaporator coil for a short period of time to melt the ice from the
housingA metal or plastic casing that covers a component.
idler pulleyA device that rests on or presses against a drive belt to maintain a specified
tension on it.
insulationSubstance used to retard or slow down the flow of heat through a substance.
insulatorA material that does not conduct electricity. It is used to isolate current-carrying
wires or components from other metal parts.
ladder diagramA wiring schematic in which all of the components are stacked in the form
of a ladder.
lead (wire)A section of electrical wiring that is attached to a component.
lintFine pieces of cotton fiber that have broken away from a garment.
moduleA self-contained device with a group of interconnecting parts designed to do
a specific job.
nut driverA tool used to remove or reinstall hexagonal-head screws or nuts.
ohmA unit of measurement of electrical resistance.
ohmmeterA test instrument used for measuring resistance.
open (circuit)A break in an electrical circuit that stops the flow of current.
orificeAn opening in a hood cap (orifice spud) through which a gas is discharged and
where the gas is metered.
overload protectorA device that is temperature- , pressure- , or current-operated that is
used to open a circuit to stop the operation of that circuit should dangerous conditions arise.
parallel circuitComponents that are parallel-connected across one voltage source. All of the
branches are supplied with the same amount of voltage.
portAn opening in the burner head where the air and gas mixture is discharged and lit by
an ignition source.
pressure switchA device that is operated by pressure and turns a component on or off.
primary airThe main air supply introduced into the burner which mixes with the gas before
it reaches the burner head.
PTC (positive temperature coefficient)A resistor that increases resistance (ohms) with
pulleyA wheel that is turned by or driven by a belt.
refrigerantA chemical substance used in refrigeration and air conditioning that produces
a cooling effect.
relayA magnetic switch that uses a small amount of current in the control circuit to operate
a component needing a larger amount of current in the operating circuit. A remote switch.
relief valveA safety device that is designed to open before dangerous pressure is reached.
resistanceThe opposition to current flow. The load in an electrical circuit.
run windingElectrical winding of a motor, which has current flowing through it during
normal operation of the motor.
safety thermostatA thermostat that limits the temperature to a safe level.
schematic diagramA line drawing that gives the electrical paths, layout of components,
terminal identification, color codes of wiring, and sometimes the sequence of events of an
series circuitA circuit in which all of the components are sequentially connected in the
same line. If one component fails, all the components fail.
short circuitAn electrical condition in which part of a circuit errantly touches another part of
a circuit and causes part or all of the circuit to fail (and trip the circuit breaker or blow a fuse).
slinger ringA ring attached to the circumference of the condenser fan blade. The slinger
ring is positioned close to the base pan of the air conditioner so water in the base pan is
picked up by the rotating ring and dispersed into the hot condenser air stream where it
solenoidA cylindrical coil of insulated wire that establishes a magnetic field in the presence
start windingA winding in an electric motor used only during brief periods when the
motor is starting.
surface elementThe top cooking element on a range used for cooking foods.
switchA device to turn current on or off in an electrical circuit.
temperatureA measure of heat energy or the relative lack thereof.
terminalA connecting point in a circuit to which a wire would be attached to connect
test lightA light provided with test leads that is used to test electrical circuits.
thermistorA device that exhibits a large change in electrical resistance with a change in
thermometerA device used to measure temperature.
thermostatA device that senses temperature changes and that usually operates a control
thermostat (operating)A thermostat that controls the operating temperature of a component.
transformerA device that raises or lowers the main AC supply voltage.
venturi throatA section of the mixing tube body that narrows down and then flares
voltageThe difference in potential between two points; the difference in static charges
between two points.
voltmeterA test instrument used to measure voltage.
VOM (voltohm-milliammeter)A test instrument used to measure voltage, resistance, and
water column (WC)A unit used for pressure. A one-inch water column equals a pressure
of 0.578 ounces per square inch.
wattA unit to measure electrical power.
wattmeterA test instrument used to measure electrical power.
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