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Selecting, Purchasing,

and Installing Major

Home Appliances and

Air Conditioners

Both the technician and the consumer will appreciate this chapter because it addresses some of the problems of selecting, acquiring, and installing major home appliances and air conditioners. It is also pertinent that technicians familiarize themselves with the features and functions of the appliances and air conditioners, which are also stated in every new appliance and air conditioner use and care manual. This will be essential when diagnosing problems with the diverse types of appliances and air conditioners.

This information will provide proper planning techniques and a better understanding of

major home appliances and air conditioners, including appliance and air conditioner (A/C)

warranties and where to get help when it is needed.

In today’s market, major home appliances and air conditioners are manufactured to meet

the needs of the average person. Remember that price should not be the most influential factor

when choosing an appliance or air conditioner. Physical and mental limitations should also be

considered when selecting the product that will be juxtaposed with the consumer’s needs.

Electric and Gas Ranges, Cooktops, and Ovens

The domestic range was designed as a multipurpose cooking appliance. It consists of a

surface area with heating elements on the top to cook the food. The oven cavity is used for

baking food at a set temperature. Within the same oven cavity, the broiling of food is also


Domestic ranges are available in either electric or gas, in sizes ranging from 20 inches to

48 inches in width, and with a wide selection of configurations and colors. The following

sections describe a few of the common configurations available to the consumer.

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Freestanding Ranges

The freestanding range stands between two base cabinets, or sometimes at the end of a

cabinet line. The consumer has a choice of gas or electric. These ranges are available in 20- ,

24- , 30- , 36- , 40- , and 48-inch widths (Figure 1-1). Some 40- and 48-inch models have two

ovens. Designs include gas burners and gas ovens, or standard electric heating elements

with electric ovens, and a glass cooktop with concealed electric elements underneath. Also

available is a combination of electric and gas cooking. The controls might be located on the

rear console or across the front.

Oven cleaning systems include self cleaning,1 continuous cleaning,2 and standard manual

cleaning. Freestanding ranges have the following advantages and disadvantages:


Freestanding ranges are generally less expensive than other types. Prices vary with


Freestanding ranges can be moved when the family moves.

Most models have some center space for placing utensils.

Front controls can be reached easily from a seated position.

Bottom drawer adds to kitchen storage space.


Rear console controls are virtually impossible for a seated person to reach.

Low broiler in gas ranges is less accessible from a seated position than the oven

broiler in electric ranges.

Slide-in ranges and drop-in ranges might not always be available in all sizes: 30-inch width

is the most common (Figure 1-2). However, drop-in ranges are also available in a 27-inch

width. Designs include gas burners, standard electric heating elements, and a glass cooktop

with concealed electric elements underneath. The oven and cooktop controls are usually

located across the front of the range; however, some models have the cooktop controls along

the side. They are an excellent choice for an island or peninsula-shaped counter because they

are flush with the surrounding counter. These ranges can also be installed overlapping the

adjacent countertop edges, thereby eliminating dirt-catching gaps. A drop-in range either

hangs from a countertop or sits on a low cabinet base; a slide-in range sits on the floor.

Slide-in ranges and drop-in ranges (Figure 1-3) have the following advantages and



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Can be installed a few inches higher or lower than a freestanding range.

Controls can be reached by most cooks.


Built into kitchen and generally cannot be moved when the family relocates.

Requires installation by a carpenter and an electrician.

Built-In Cooktops

Built-in cooktops are set into a countertop and are made in various sizes, from 15 to 48 inches

wide. Built-in cooktop designs include gas burners, standard electric heating elements, and a

glass cooktop with concealed electric elements underneath (Figures 1-4 and 1-5). They might

have side or front controls and might be of modular design. Special plug-in cooking accessories

are also available. Built-in cooktops have the following advantages and disadvantages:


Can be installed at the most convenient height for the cook.

Side or front controls are easily reached by most cooks.

Counter installation provides open space below the cooktop.

The slide-in range with a 30-inch width is available in a variety of colors.


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Built into kitchen and generally cannot be moved when the family relocates.

Requires installation by a carpenter and an electrician.

Built-In Ovens

Built-in ovens usually have one oven cavity, but models with two oven cavities are also

available. In the double oven cavity model, the second oven might be a conventional oven,

a microwave oven, or a combination of both (Figure 1-6). Built-in ovens are available in 24- ,

27- , and 30-inch widths. Their height varies, depending upon whether they are single- or

double-oven units. Oven cleaning systems available include self-cleaning, continuous

cleaning, and standard manual cleaning. Two-oven models also offer conventional ovens

with two different cleaning systems. Built-in ovens with the microwave feature are available

with either solid-state microcomputer or electromechanical controls.

Built-in ovens have the following advantages and disadvantages:


Can be installed at the most convenient height for the user, putting controls within

reach for a standing or a seated cook.

Automatic cleaning systems virtually eliminate the task of cleaning the oven manually.


Built into the kitchen and generally cannot be moved when the family relocates.

Installation might involve structural and wiring changes, requiring a carpenter and

an electrician.

Two-oven combinations with microwave ovens often require learning some new

cooking techniques.


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Microwave Ovens

Do not go out and purchase a microwave oven until you do your homework. Brand, type,

size, power, features, warranty, and location are just some of the features you need to

consider. You can also go on the Internet and conduct research.

When comparing microwaves (Figure 1-7), fill out the following checklist. Check all

that apply.

Measure the area available for the microwave oven:




Before purchasing, read the installation instructions for the built-in or over-the-range

model you are considering. These instructions will provide you with information such as

cutout dimensions, venting, voltage, location, and more.

What is the voltage?

120 volts 240 volts

What type of microwave?

Countertop Over the range

Combination (range and microwave) Convection

Under the counter Built-in

Other (list the features)

How much room do I need to fit the microwave oven on the countertop?

Large: 22 to 27 inches wide by 13 to16 inches high by 15 to 21 inches deep

Medium: 20 to 24 inches wide by 16 to 16 inches high by 13 to 18 inches deep

Small: 18 to 20 inches wide by 10 to 12 inches high by 11 to 12 inches deep

Touchpad controls:

Are the numbers large and easy to read?

Is the oven easy to program?

Does the model display prompters that will guide you as you set the controls?

Mechanical controls:

Does the mechanical timer have a wide time range setting?

Seconds? Minutes? Hours?

Is there an on/off switch to operate the oven after setting the time function?

Does the timer knob turn on the oven after setting the time function?

How many watts of cooking?

400 to 700 watts 600 to 800 watts

800 to 1000 watts 1000 to 1600 watts

What additional features do you want?

Auto defrost

Pre-programmed cooking

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Does the oven have a light inside the cavity?

yes no

Is there a window in the door?

yes no

Does the oven have a rack?

yes no

Do you want a turntable for the food to rotate on?

yes no

Does the model have multi-stage cooking?

yes no

Temperature probe

Cooking sensors

Will my plates fit the oven cavity?

yes no

Other (list here)

Additional information on warranties, safety, recalls, and maintenance must be taken

into account when purchasing a microwave oven. Ask the salesperson for a demonstration

of the microwave you are considering.

Checklist for Cooking Products

Prior to selecting and purchasing an appliance, read this section. Fill out the following

checklist. Check all that apply.

Measure the area available for the range:




These measurements are the cut-out measurements, not the range measurements. Also,

be sure that the range can fit through the doorways of the house.

The type of range desired:

Freestanding with one oven Double oven

Built-in Drop-in

Slide-in Electric


LP Natural Dual fuel (gas and electric)

Type of oven needed:

Single Double

Conventional Microwave

Combination oven Convection oven


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Location desired:

Below cooktop One over, one under

Separate built-in oven(s)

Oven controls:

On back console On range front console

On hood Dial type

Touch pads Automatic oven clock/timer

Cleaning system:

Self-cleaning (pyrolytic) Continuous


Broiler type:

Top of oven Low broiler

Variable heat

Cooktop style:

Conventional Glass-ceramic

Grill/griddle convertible Induction

Cooktop controls:

Thermostatic control Eye-level controls

Eye-level controls on hood Controls on backsplash

Controls at front of cooktop Controls at side of cooktop


Rotisserie Roast temperature probe


Venting system:

Separate hood Built-in down draft

Vent-microwave oven combination Hood attached to upper oven

Vent over regular cooktop Vent over grill/griddle cooktop

The preferred color of the range ________________________________

Who will use the range? ___________________________________

How many people are being cooked for? ___________________________

Is the range design convenient for all family members? yes no

Price range: $________________

Warranty and service information:___________________________

Refrigerators and Freezers

As with other kitchen appliances, refrigerators and freezers come in a wide variety of styles,

sizes, and colors (Figure 1-8). Some designs might meet the needs of a family member who

has a physical or mental limitation better than others.

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FIGURE 1-8 Refrigerators and freezers are available in a wide variety of sizes and colors. (continued)


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Some questions to consider when choosing a refrigerator are:

Does it have a true no-frost system to do away with manual defrosting?

Does it have an automatic ice maker, which produces ice without trays to fill

or empty?

Does it have in-the-door dispensers to deliver ice and cold water without opening

the door?

Does it have shelves, bins, and drawers that pull out to make reachable those foods

stored in the back?

Five basic types of refrigerators are on the market today:

Compacts or portables: 1.2 to 6 cubic feet (12 inches to 24 inches wide)

Single-door models: 9 to 14 cubic feet (23 inches to 30 inches wide)

Top-mount refrigerator-freezer combination: 10 to 23 cubic feet (24 inches to

33 inches wide)

Bottom-mount refrigerator-freezer: 18 to 20 cubic feet (32 to 36 inches wide)

Side-by-side refrigerator-freezer: 17 to 30 cubic feet (30 to 48 inches wide)

Excluding compacts and portables, refrigerators range in height from 56 to 84 inches

and in depth from 24 to 31 inches.

When selecting the capacity of a refrigerator, the following guidelines should be


Allow a minimum of 12 cubic feet for the first two persons in the household.

Add 2 cubic feet for each additional member. The most popular size for an average

family is 18 cubic feet.

Subtract from this rule if many meals are eaten away from home, using the number

of meals eaten outside the household as a basis.

Add to the rule if the customer entertains often, if the family is expanding, if there is

a vegetable garden growing, or if cooking is enjoyable.

Compact and Portable Refrigerators

Compact and portable refrigerators are often used as a supplementary model in family rooms,

offices, dorms, vacation homes, campers, and other convenient places. Many fit on or under a

countertop. They might be freestanding or built-in models, and they come in a variety of colors

and finishes.

Compact and portable refrigerators have the following advantages and disadvantages:


Refrigerators of this type have a smaller capacity—less than 6 cubic feet. They can

be installed at any height.

Has a small freezer compartment for ice trays.

Some models have an optional ice maker.


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Frozen food storage is limited to a few days—a week at most—depending on the


A few compact models have automatic defrosting. However, most are manually


Small size provides limited storage capacity.

Single-Door Refrigerators

Single-door refrigerators provide both fresh and frozen food storage. Frozen food compartments

are located on top of the inside of the refrigerator and usually contain ice cube trays.

Single-door refrigerators have the following advantages and disadvantages:


Refrigerators of this type generally have a small capacity—less than 14 cubic feet.

Most shelf areas are within reach of a seated person.

Freezer compartments have side-opening doors, rather than drop-down doors, for

easier accessibility.


Refrigerators of this type usually require manual defrosting, a difficult chore for

disabled persons.

Freezer compartments with drop-down doors are inaccessible from a seated


Limited storage capacity.

Freezer compartment can only be used for short-term storage of commercially

frozen food and for making ice. High-sugar foods, such as ice cream, might not stay


Two-Door Refrigerators

Two-door refrigerators with top freezers provide storage for fresh and frozen food. The

freezer maintains a temperature of 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. These models come with and

without automatic ice makers. Some models have an ice or water dispenser on the outside

of the doors.

Two-door refrigerators with top freezers have the following advantages and disadvantages:


Provide proper storage conditions for both fresh and frozen foods.

Keep ice cream frozen.


Top freezer is not accessible from a seated position.

Foods stored near the rear of deep shelves might be difficult to reach without using

special aids.

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Two-Door Refrigerators with Bottom Freezers

Two-door refrigerators with bottom freezers provide storage for both fresh and frozen

foods. The freezer maintains a temperature of 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Models with and

without automatic ice makers are available.

Two-door refrigerators with bottom freezers have the following advantages and



Freezer shelf and basket slide out for easy accessibility.

Lower shelves of the fresh food storage area are within easy reach from a seated



Although this design might meet the needs of some users with disabilities, the

bottom-freezer refrigerator is generally not convenient for those in wheelchairs. The

low freezer is also inconvenient for users who have trouble stooping or bending.

Side-by-Side Refrigerators

Side-by-side refrigerators have deep, vertical fresh and frozen food compartments. They

require less room for the doors to open than other types.

Side-by-side refrigerators have the following advantages and disadvantages:


Provide universal access to the majority of shelves in both refrigerator and freezer


Models with in-door dispensers give easy access to ice and ice water without

opening the door.

Models with a shallow, third-door compartment have the option of putting frequently

used foods within easy reach without opening the main refrigerator door.

Pull-out shelves, drawers, bins, and baskets provide easier reach for foods stored at

the back.


Special features add to the total cost.

Might require more space than available in existing kitchens due to a wider design.


A compact, upright freezer will best meet the needs of the disabled person. Installing the

freezer on a box or raised platform can help make its contents more easily accessible.

Freezers are conveniences for people who do not frequent the supermarket. They are

especially useful in homes with smaller refrigerators or refrigerators having only an ice

cube tray compartment. Home freezers come in chest and upright models. Two designs of

upright models are available on the market today: manual defrost and automatic defrost.


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Home freezers are available with wire shelves and baskets, and with storage shelves on the

doors in upright models.

Freezers have the following advantages and disadvantages:


Make it possible to keep a supply of all kinds of frozen food on hand.

By stocking up on food at sale prices and storing them for later use, consumers can

easily take advantage of price specials.

Require fewer shopping trips.


Kitchen might not allow space for the freezer.

Checklist for Refrigerator and Freezer Products

Prior to selecting and purchasing a refrigerator or freezer, fill out the following checklist.

Check all that apply.


How large is the space for the freezer?

__________ width __________ depth ____________ height

How much room does the door need to swing open? ___________

Will there be enough room to open the doors completely so as to remove the storage


Direction of door swing: handle on the left side right side

How many people will be using the refrigerator?

One to two people (need at least 14 cubic feet)

Three to four people (need 16 to 18 cubic feet)

More than four people (add 2 cubic feet per additional person). To accommodate

for later expansion needs, plan for additional refrigerator space, especially if the

family is growing larger or to accommodate peak loads.

Is there a regular stock of cold beverages in the refrigerator?

yes no

How often does the customer go food shopping?

two to three times a week

weekly daily

Does the consumer host large holiday dinners?

yes no

Each “yes” answer will add to the refrigerator size requirements, as specified earlier.

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Are there any handicapped or disabled members in the household?

yes no

A side-by-side model allows easy access to both freezer and fresh food compartments

for those who have limited activity requirements.

Choose the model desired:

Side-by-side Top-mount freezer

Bottom-mount freezer Three door

Compact Single door (no long-term freezer


Which features are important?

Automatic defrost

Cycle defrost (requires manual defrosting of freezer)

Manual defrost (requires manual defrosting of both refrigerator and freezer)

Reversible doors

Automatic ice maker:

Factory installed Equipped for later installation

Through-the-door dispenser:

Ice cubes only Cubes/crushed ice

Cubes/crushed ice/chilled water

Storage drawers:

See-through Adjustable temperature

Adjustable humidity Sealed snack pack for lunch meats/cheese

Refrigerator shelves:

Glass Full width only

Wire Half width only

Adjustable Combination full and half width


Door storage:

Egg compartment Removable


Dairy compartment:

Butter only Butter and cheese

Deep enough for liter-size Removable storage/servers

bottles or six packs


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Freezer compartment:

Needed only for one to two days’ storage of frozen food

Needed for storage of ice cream, meats, and other frozen food over longer periods

Freezer shelves:

No shelves needed Nonadjustable shelves acceptable

Need adjustable shelves

Convenience features:

Juice/can dispenser Ice tray shelves

Ice cube bin Wine bottle holder

Price range: $________________

Warranty and service information:___________________________


During the past decades, dishwashers have proven their value and usefulness in reducing

the cleanup tasks in the kitchen. They not only save time, energy, and labor, but they also

deliver dishes cleaner than those washed by hand.

The most common type is the built-in dishwasher. However, other styles are available

for special situations. When selecting a new dishwasher (Figure 1-9), consider the following:

Is it a front-loading undercounter model? Portables are less convenient because they

must be moved into position and hooked up to a faucet every time they are used.

Does it have a self-cleaning filter, rather than one that has to be removed and cleaned?

Does it have dispensers and silverware baskets in an easy-to-reach location?

Are the silverware baskets on the door or in the bottom rack?

Are the racks designed with flexibility for easy loading of tall or bulky dishes?

Built-In Dishwashers

Built-in dishwashers are designed to fit into a 24-inch-wide space between two kitchen

cabinets and under the countertop. Also available are smaller-capacity models that fit into

an 18-inch space. The consumer now has a choice between a drop-down door (standard)

and a single or double slide-out drawer.

Convertible/Portable Dishwashers

Convertible/portable models are essentially the same as built-ins, but they have finished

sides and tops, drain and fill hoses with a faucet connector, and casters for easy rolling to

the sink. These can be installed later as built-ins, if desired.

Undersink Dishwashers

An undersink model is designed to fit under a special six-inch-deep sink in just 24 inches

of space; or under a special double-bowl sink, with a disposer under the second bowl,

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in 36 inches of space. These dishwashers were designed for small kitchens with limited

cabinet space for storage.

Dishwasher-Sink Combination

A dishwasher-sink combination unit is also available. It includes a stainless steel sink with

drainboard, an enameled metal undersink cabinet, and a dishwasher in 48 inches of space.

Some “Pullman-type” combination units include a dishwasher as well as a sink, range,

and/or, in some, a refrigerator—all in one unit. Dishwashers have the following advantages

and disadvantages:


Can save the physical labor of washing dishes.

Provide out-of-the-way storage for dirty or clean dishes.


Require an 18-inch or 24-inch space in the kitchen, so a cabinet might have to be


Are nearly always designed for use with standard 36-inch-high countertops.

This might require a two-level counter if the sink is installed at a 30-inch height for

a wheelchair-bound person.

Checklist for Dishwashers

Before selecting and purchasing a dishwasher, complete the following checklist. Check all

that apply.


Built-in Standard drop-down door

Slide-out drawer Convertible/portable

Dishwasher-sink combination

Loading convenience:

Racks designed to handle Adjustable racks large dishes

Special baskets:_____________

Wash system:

Water temperature booster Two- or three-level spray arms

Rinse aid dispenser Self-cleaning filter

Soft food dispenser

Control panel:

Dials Push buttons

Touch pads Cycle time indicator

Energy level indicator System status

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Normal Rinse only

Economy/water saver Super-heated rinse

No-heat drying Light duty

China and glass Pots and pans

Delay start


Tub ___________________ Racks_____________________

Color panels_____________ Trim kits__________________

Preferred color_______________

Price range: $________________

Warranty and service information:___________________________

Laundry Equipment

Today’s laundry equipment, along with changes in fibers and fashions, has eliminated the need

for hand laundering, clothesline drying, and routine ironing. There features can often be

preprogrammed into the appliance for any type of laundry load. These all give excellent

results. From diapers and jeans, to delicate silks and knits, today’s laundry system is

equipped for all fabric needs.

The typical laundry pair, a standard washer and dryer, will stand side by side in 4-1/2

to 5 feet of wall space, depending on the brand and model (Figure 1-10). Some questions to

consider when choosing laundry appliances are as follows:

Is there enough space available for laundry appliances?

What control location will be best for the principal user? Some models offer front or

rear controls.

What capacity will best satisfy family needs?

Will built-in dispensers for bleach and fabric softener increase the washer’s utility?

Will the dryer need to be vented outside?

Which is preferred (gas or electric) for drying clothes?

How many different washing cycles are needed?

How many different drying cycles are needed?

Automatic Washers

Basically, all automatic washers will wash the clothes in the same manner, but there are some

key differences in design and special features from model to model and manufacturer to



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Top-Loading Automatic Washers

Top-loading models vary in width from about 24 to 30 inches (Figure 1-11). They are available

in a variety of load capacities. Standard-capacity washers are built for the average two- to fourperson

household. However, a large-capacity model reduces the number of loads washed,

saving time. Some models offer front panel controls, and many models have dispensers.

Top-loading washers have the following advantages and disadvantages:


Provide a convenient, at-home way to do laundry.

Models installed in a small space, only 24 inches wide, are available.

Models with front controls can be reached and operated easily from a seated position.

Provide a variety of designs and control positions to meet varying user needs.


Models with rear console controls are virtually impossible to operate from a seated


Some designs might require special aids to remove loads, set controls, and clean

filters from a seated position.

Compact models—although they provide the greatest accessibility from a

wheelchair—have a smaller load capacity than other designs.


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Front-Loading Automatic Washers

Front-loading models might have drop-down or side-opening doors (Figures 1-12 and

1-13). In these models, the entire wash basket revolves. As clothes tumble, they are

lifted by vanes on the sides of the basket. Front loaders use less water than top

loaders, and they use high-efficiency detergent, but only certain models will handle

very large loads because they must have empty space in the drum to tumble clothes.

Front-loading washers have the following advantages and disadvantages:


Front controls can be reached and operated easily from a seated position.

Front opening makes loading and unloading easier for users with limitations.

No agitator needed.

Consumer can add the pedestal unit to raise the washer higher by 18 inches.


Drop-down door might create wheelchair barrier.

Door opening might be too low for some wheelchair users or those who

cannot stoop or bend.

Smaller front-load washers are unable to handle large wash loads.


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Compact Automatic Washers

These compact, “apartment-sized” washers range from 24 to 27 inches wide to fit spatial

needs. They are available in two forms: built-in or on casters so that they can be rolled to the

kitchen sink for use. Matching dryers can be

installed next to the washer, stacked on a

special rack, wall-hung, or purchased as a

one-piece unit with the washer (Figure 1-14).

Automatic Dryers

Automatic dryers perform in the same

tumbling manner as front-loading automatic

washing machines. However, there are some

key differences in design and special features

from model to model and manufacturer

to manufacturer.

Dryers are available in electric or gas.

They vary in load capacity. Some models offer


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front or rear controls and side-opening or drop-down doors (Figure 1-15). For optimum

efficiency, an electric dryer should have a minimum rating of 4400 watts. Gas dryers require a

120-volt outlet for such features as the motor, lights, and ignition. The gas heater should have

a rating of at least 20,000 BTU/hour for top performance. Dryers should be installed in an area

that permits proper venting.

Compact dryers are electric (either 120- or 240-volt). The 120-volt dryer takes at least twice

as long to dry clothes as the 240-volt model does. While venting is recommended for all

dryers, some 120-volt models can be used without venting if they are not in an enclosed space.

The 240-volt dryers must be vented to prevent damage from moisture buildup in the home.

Compact dryers can be installed next to the washer, stacked above the washer on a special rack,

wall hung, or purchased as a one-piece unit with the washer.

Automatic dryers have the following advantages and disadvantages:


Eliminate the difficulties inherent in line drying.

Give modern fabrics proper care, practically eliminating the ironing chore.

Designs available to meet the needs of most disabled persons.

FIGURE 1-15 The automatic dryer is available with a drop-down or side-opening door.


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Models with rear controls are virtually impossible to operate from a seated position.

Dryer door might be too low without a raised installation.

As with washers, compact dryers have a smaller load capacity than other designs.

Checklist for Washers and Dryers

Before selecting and purchasing laundry equipment, fill out this checklist on washers and

dryers. Check all that apply.


What size is wanted?

Compact/portable Standard capacity

Large capacity One-piece washer/dryer combination


Front-loading Top-loading

Cycle selections:

Permanent press Delicate

Knits Pre-wash

Soak Extra-clean


Variable water level Water temperature control

Extra rinse cycle Electronic controls

Water saver Small load basket (to reuse wash water)

Bleach dispenser Fabric softener dispenser

Detergent dispenser



Price range: $________________

Warranty and service information:___________________________


Which type is preferred?

Electric Gas

LP or natural

What size is needed?

One-piece washer Standard capacity dryer combination

Large capacity

Cycle selections:

Permanent press/medium heat Delicate/low heat

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No heat Timed cycles

Automatic drying No-heat tumbling at end of the drying cycle

Other options:

Electronic controls End-of-cycle signal

Drying shelf Side-opening door

Drop-down door


Drum (stainless or porcelain)__________________________

Price range: $________________

Warranty and service information:___________________________

Air Conditioners

Room air conditioners are self-contained units that can be installed in a window, through a

wall, or moved around on wheels (Figure 1-16). The smaller air conditioners are designed to

cool the immediate area of a room. However, manufacturers are designing room air

conditioners from 4000 BTU/hour to over 30,000 BTU/hour. These larger-sized units will



C h a p t e r 1 : S e l e c t i n g , P u r c h a s i n g , a n d I n s t a l l i n g 29

cool a larger area or cool multiple rooms in a home or office at one time. The standard

features are manual or electronic controls, straight cool only, electric heat and cooling, or

reverse-cycle air conditioning (heat pump). Air flow circulating from the air conditioners

discharge grill might have fixed, directional, or motorized louvers. Some models are

available with wireless remote control handheld units. The remote control makes it easier to

control the on/off, fan speed, and temperature of the air conditioner from across the

room. Room air conditioners are available in 120 volts or 230 volts. To properly install a

room air conditioner, it is strongly recommended that you follow the manufacturer’s

recommendations. Factors that should be taken into account when purchasing an air

conditioner include the following:


Energy rating

Location of air conditioner within the home or office

Location of the electrical outlet and voltage needed to run the air conditioner

Room air conditioners have the following advantages and disadvantages:


Save money on electric bill by only cooling rooms needed.

Easy installation.

No ductwork needed.

You can have different temperature settings for each room air conditioner in a home

or office.


Room air conditioners are a little noisier than central air conditioning.

Window air conditioners are drafty in winter time and most likely have to be


Sizing Room Air Conditioners

To properly size an air conditioner that is needed for a particular room, you must determine

the square footage of that room. If the room is rectangular or square (Figure 1-17), multiply

the length by the width. This will provide you with the square footage of the area to be

cooled. Some rooms may be oddly shaped, consisting of both a rectangular or square area

and a triangular area (Figure 1-18). First determine the square footage of a triangle—measure

the base of the triangle and the height of the triangle in feet. Now multiply both amounts,

and divide that figure by two. The result will be the square footage of that triangle. Then

determine the square footage of the rectangle or square as described previously. When you

have determined the square footage of the area to be cooled, see Table 1-1 to find out what air

conditioner capacity is needed.


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Once you have determined what size air conditioner is needed for the room, there are

other circumstances that have to be taken into account before you purchase an air


Most air conditioners are designed to cool a room based on two occupants. For

every additional person in the room, you will have to add 600 BTUs to the basic

cooling capacity.

If the room to be cooled is not insulated, you will have to add 15 percent to the basic

cooling capacity.

You will have to add to the basic cooling capacity by 10 percent if the room has

a west and/or southwest exposure.

If the room to be cooled is facing north or northeast or is heavily shaded, the cooling

capacity will be reduced by 10 percent.

If you are only going to use this air conditioner at night, deduct 30 percent from the

basic cooling capacity.

If you have high ceilings, or if the ceilings are not insulated, increase the basic

cooling capacity by 10 percent.

Figures are based on sizing an air conditioner in a moderate climate around 75 to 80 degrees

Fahrenheit with an average humidity of 50 percent. If the climate is warmer and the humidity

is higher, you might have to increase the basic cooling capacity by 10 to 20 percent.

Area to Be Cooled (square feet) Capacity Needed (BTUs per hour)

100 to 150 5000

150 to 250 6000

250 to 300 7000

300 to 350 8000

350 to 400 9000

400 to 450 10,000

450 to 550 12,000

550 to 700 14,000

700 to 1000 18,000

1000 to 1200 21,000

1200 to 1400 23,000

1400 to 1500 24,000

1500 to 2000 30,000

2000 to 2500 34,000

TABLE 1-1 Room Air Conditioner Sizing Chart

32 P a r t I : F u n d a m e n t a l s o f S e r v i c e

How to Purchase the Best Air Conditioner or Appliance Value

Using the EnergyGuide Label

Proper planning and evaluation before buying can save time, trouble, and money each step

of the way. Take the time to determine the air conditioner or appliance’s annual cost of


Remember, while some energy-efficient products have higher purchase prices than less

efficient ones, they will cost less in the long run because they require less electricity to

operate. Calculate and evaluate the product’s annual cost of operation and carefully read

the EnergyGuide label, which appears on most appliances and air conditioners sold today,

to get the best buy.

The EnergyGuide label (Figure 1-19) is required by the U.S. government on many home

appliances and air conditioners, and gives information to help customers select and save.



C h a p t e r 1 : S e l e c t i n g , P u r c h a s i n g , a n d I n s t a l l i n g 33

The information gained from the EnergyGuide label is important because is helps determine

the following:

It will help you compare the estimated annual operating costs of one model versus


It will give information about the size range of the models being compared.

It will tell how each model compares in terms of its energy costs to other models in

the same size range.

To read the EnergyGuide label, first look for the estimated annual energy cost in the

center. To either side are energy costs of lower-rated and higher-rated models. These costs

are derived from national average electricity rates, so knowledge of the local rate for

electricity is helpful.

Major Appliance Consumer Action Panel (MACAP)

The Major Appliance Consumer Action Panel, or MACAP, was an independent, complaintmediation

group made up of professionals with expertise in textiles, equipment, consumer

law, and engineering who volunteered their time. Unfortunately, MACAP went out of

business in the last few years, but the information printed in this book is still valuable and

worth reading for guidance. Panelists cannot be connected with the appliance industry.

They received no financial remuneration other than the reimbursement of their travel and

living expenses while attending meetings. MACAP received comments and complaints from

appliance owners; excessive charges, delays in parts and service, and alleged unnecessary

repairs are frequently mentioned. Other complaints are related to product performance,

such as operating noise, temperature, maintenance, and running time. Nonresponsiveness

of dealers and manufacturers, warranty coverage, food loss claims, imperfect finishes,

improper installation, and purchasing dissatisfaction are also alleged.

MACAP also studied industry practices and advised industries of ways to improve their

services to consumers. It recommended how to educate consumers on proper appliance

purchase, use, and care. The panel developed and distributed educational publications and

periodic news releases when its review of individual consumer complaints pinpointed

information that would be useful to consumers. The panel was sponsored by the Association

of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

The types of appliances represented include:



Microwave ovens

Refrigerators and freezers

Room air conditioners

Laundry equipment




34 P a r t I : F u n d a m e n t a l s o f S e r v i c e

After a complaint reached MACAP, the staff screened it to ascertain whether the consumer

has already requested assistance from the local dealer and brand-name owner’s headquarters

office. If this had been done, the complaint was sent to the sponsoring association and thus

entered MACAP’s communications phase. This phase comprised the following actions:

Copies of the consumer’s correspondence or a summary of telephone comments

were sent to the brand-name owner involved, requesting a report on proposed

action within two weeks.

A letter was sent to the consumer acknowledging receipt of the complaint, reporting

action taken, and asking for any additional information, if necessary.

When an answer was received from the brand-name owner, the staff wrote a letter

to the consumer confirming any company action or information. The consumer was

asked to return a card verifying this action.

The file was then resolved, unless the consumer otherwise advised MACAP.

If the complaint reached an impasse, the file moved to the study phase.

In the study phase, the panel discussed the file at a meeting. Preparation for this review

included the gathering of an exact and detailed background of the complaint from the

consumer and from the brand-name owner, if such information was not already on file. If

conflicting reports were received, the panel could ask for an independent, on-site evaluation

by a utility, extension, university home economist, or an engineer.

All information is included in a confidential summary prepared by the staff and discussed

by MACAP. The panel might have made a recommendation to the company and/or consumer,

have asked for additional information, or closed the file on the basis of the information


If you are experiencing any problems with your product or service company, contact

your local Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Purchasing Decisions

The purchase of a major appliance is one of the most important investments made for the

home. MACAP’s experience in handling consumer appliance complaints has shown that

poor purchasing decisions lead to unhappy appliance owners.

Pointers from MACAP to help consumers make wise decisions include the following:

Ask the dealer for specification sheets from several manufacturers of the appliance

types you plan to purchase. Study them carefully and note the different features,

designs, and capacities.

Ask the dealer to see the warranty before purchasing the appliance. Does the

warranty cover the entire product? Only certain parts? Is labor included? How long

is the warranty coverage?

Ask the dealer for the use and care manual. Read it carefully before you purchase

the appliance. The dealer should have manuals available from the floor models on

display. These manuals will help in asking pertinent questions, and they will

explain how the product operates and what special care it needs.

Decide what special features are essential. Consider the possibility of adding on

features at a later date, such as an ice maker for a refrigerator.


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Check the space available for the appliance. Will it fit where it is planned? Is there

adequate clearance space in the hallways and doors through which the appliance

will have to pass before installation?

Check the product design carefully prior to purchase. Compare the designs of

different brands. If a combination microwave oven/range is being purchased, check

the space between the units to be sure that everything will fit.

Clearly establish the cost of delivery and installation. Are these costs included, or

are they extra?

Ask the dealer if he services the appliances he sells. If not, ask him where to go for

authorized factory service.

Compare price in relation to convenience and service. Both vary according to the

model. As more features and conveniences are included, the price increases.

Be sure the house has adequate electrical service for the appliance in order to avoid

overloading circuits. Also, be sure it has adequately grounded three-hole receptacles.3

Appliance Warranties

MACAP urges consumers to compare warranties of different brands the way you would

compare price, size, and features—it’s a basic consumer responsibility! Yet the panel’s

experience in working with consumer appliance problems indicates that many consumers

are not aware of the importance of warranty buymanship.

Warranty inspection is a legislated consumer right. A federal law, the Magnuson-Moss

Warranty/Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act of 1975, requires warranty

information to be available at the point of purchase for products costing $15 or more. The

law does not, however, require manufacturers to provide warranties on their products.

The store must provide this information in one of the following ways:

Displayed near the appliance.

Shown on the package displayed with the appliance.

In an indexed and updated binder that is prominently displayed, containing all

warranties for products sold in the department.

If ordering the appliance through a catalog, the catalog must include the warranty

text or offer it upon request.4

Full vs. Limited Warranties

The full warranty offers more protection. Under a full warranty, at a minimum, the warrantor

must remedy the problem within a reasonable time and without charge for as long as the

warranty is in effect. In addition, the manufacturer might not limit the duration of any

implied warranty. Any limitation (or exclusion) of consequential damages (for example, food

loss or floor damage) must appear conspicuously on the warranty. If a reasonable number of

attempts to correct an in-warranty problem fails, the consumer must be given the choice of a

replacement or a refund.

Under a limited warranty, the protection is limited to what is outlined in the terms of

the warranty. For example, the warranty might require that the consumer pay for diagnostic

costs, labor costs, or other costs of that kind. Also, any implied warranty might be limited to

36 P a r t I : F u n d a m e n t a l s o f S e r v i c e

the duration of the written warranty. A limited warranty should be studied carefully to

determine exactly what the warrantor will provide and what costs the consumer must pay.4

Warranty Time Limitations

Some major appliances are hardly used over a year’s time. The window air conditioner in

Minnesota, the refrigerator at the lake cabin in Michigan, the range in a Florida vacation

condominium—all of these have only seasonal use.

When problems with these appliances arise, some owners feel that four years of seasonal

usage should constitute less than one year’s worth of warranty coverage. The manufacturers,

however, think differently. MACAP knows it is necessary for consumers to be aware of the

contents of their appliance warranties, and also of the period covered. The coverage is stated

for a specific period of time, not for how often the appliance is used.

The coverage period might vary with the product’s components. For example, a

window air conditioner warranty might provide free repairs of any part that breaks down

in the first year, but only partially cover repair expenses of the sealed system components

(compressor, evaporator, etc.) for an extra four years. Manufacturers can offer almost any

type of warranty as long as the provisions are clearly stated and the warranty is available

for review before buying.

Although seasonal usage might result in less wear and tear on the appliance, MACAP

believes that there are at least two valid reasons for not basing warranties on usage:

Basing a warranty on usage (rather than on appliance age) is unrealistic because it’s

impossible for a manufacturer to monitor actual consumer usage.

Some appliances actually suffer more from extended periods of non-use than from

continuous daily operation.

For example, refrigerator and air conditioner sealed systems stay vacuum-tight

(generally for many years) if the refrigerant gas and oil they contain are kept moving. This

way, the various seals are kept lubricated and soft. They might dry out if the mechanisms

involved don’t move for long periods. The dishwasher provides another example. Many

consumers don’t realize that the seals in the pump area of the dishwasher are meant to be

immersed in water at all times. Water keeps the seal soft and pliable, which is necessary for

proper operation.

MACAP urges consumers to carefully read the warranty that comes with each major

appliance and use the appliance enough during the warranty period so that any defects

have time to surface. It is important to use every feature and control on the new appliance

soon after it is installed.5

Appliance Installation Instructions

The manufacturer supplies the installation instructions with every new appliance or air

conditioner that is purchased. These instructions will help the installer to plan, locate,

install, and secure the product for safe and proper operation.

Appliance Use and Care Manual

This manual contains information and suggestions to help customers get the best results

from their appliances. The manual will disclose to the customer how to start the appliance,


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maintain it, and use all the features that come with it. Also included in the use and care

manual are the following:

Safety precautions

What to do before using the appliance

Maintenance instructions

Vacation and moving care

Warranty information

Parts and features

How to use the appliance

Common problems and solutions


Where to Get Help

Keep careful records. Always put complaints in writing, and keep copies of all correspondence

and service receipts. Be sure to ask for service receipts, even for no-charge, in-warranty

calls. Note details: when the problem was first noticed, when it was reported, and the

servicing history (who serviced the appliance or air conditioner, when, what was done, and

how often service was required).

If there are complaints about the appliance or air conditioner, there are three steps

to follow:

Read the use and care manual that comes with the product. Also check the plug, as

well as fuses, pilots, and controls.

Call the service company authorized to fix the brand. They have the training and

equipment to deal with appliance or air conditioner service problems.

If not satisfied, contact the manufacturer’s main customer relations office. The address

and phone number are located in the use and care manual.

Product Recalls and the Internet

There are times when a product might have an electrical, gas, or mechanical issue that

might be hazardous to the consumer. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

(CPSC) was created to protect the consumer from serious injuries, unreasonable risks, death,

and property damage.

The CPSC’s website ( includes information on appliance, air

conditioner, and other product recalls. It also includes other information beneficial to

the consumer. In addition, Table 1-2 provides a listing of websites for major appliance and air

conditioner manufacturers. You can also look in the use and care manual that comes with the

product for the manufacturer’s website. Remember, safety and education must be considered

at all times when operating or repairing any major appliance or air conditioner.

38 P a r t I : F u n d a m e n t a l s o f S e r v i c e

TABLE 1-2 Major Appliance and Room Air Conditioner Manufacturers

National Appliance Service Technicians Certification (NASTeC)

The roots of NASTeC go back to the Certified Appliance Technician (CAT) certification issued

by ISCET (International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians) in the mid-1970s, when

the bulk of appliance servicing was done by retail appliance dealers, who serviced the

products they sold. In many instances, these same dealers sold items such as televisions,

recorders of various types, stereos, radios, etc. Since ISCET was already in contact with these



dealers with respect to the other electrical appliances, it was natural that the major appliances

known as “white goods” should be served as well.

The North American Retail Dealers Association (NARDA) attracted dealers and thus

servicers to join their efforts at promoting the retail dealers’ interests through their trade

organization. This put NARDA in a position to better offer its members an appliance

technician certification. NASTeC was then born as a separate entity from ISCET, but as

a partner with equity in NASTeC.

As the “white goods” dealers became more separated from the televisions, recorders,

etc., the servicing of these products became independent operations. This diminished the

ability of NARDA to offer appliance certifications.

In 2002, ISCET secured the interests of NARDA in the NASTeC venture and began

developing the NASTeC certifications to once again actively work with the appliance-servicing

organizations to establish both certification and education in the appliance-servicing segment

of the “white goods” industry.

Certification is offered in basic skills, laundry equipment, cooking equipment, and

refrigeration equipment. Once a technician acquires all four certificates, he is considered

a “universal technician” and is awarded that certificate. Each step is signified by a shoulder

patch that identifies a person as a certified appliance technician. These technicians are known

for their abilities and professional approach to both the customers and their work.6 For more

information, visit the NASTeC website (


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