hot water heater not so hot? turn it up!

Posted in house tech with tags on January 8, 2017 by marksun

D been complaining that we doesn’t have enough hot water – runs out for during a long shower.  She says it is a recent behavior in the past couple of months.    I have noticed at times that a shower is just fine but I sometimes have to set to the maximum  hot setting on the shower valve.  I take shorter showers.  This has been long-standing I believe.  Also note that it is winter now and it is about 10 degrees colder in the house than summer.

Kenmore Power Miser 6
Installed: 1/4/2006
Source: Sears

I have been wondering if we should replace the heater even as a pre-emptive measure.  Friend Cowboy who is a contractor thinks it should be good to go for 15 or 20 years.  For now, we’ll play with it.  Couldn’t hurt to drain it one day either and see if there is corrosion.

Today I made thermostat changes.  Turned off power to heater, adjusted, power back on around 1125.  The two thermostats look different ( i.e. bottom is just a screw, bottom has pointer and A B C markings ).  Both adjust with a flathead screwdriver.

1/8/17:  made an incremental adjustment to increase temp to top and bottom thermostats:

  1. Top element, moved set dial from 4 o’clock to 6 o’clock with flathead
  2. Bottom element, moved dial from full left to “A” position.

Asus Q200E laptop wifi issues with Windows 10 – and driver fix

Posted in Uncategorized on December 20, 2016 by marksun

Some time after Windows 10 loaded itself on to the Asus Q200E notebook, we noticed wifi connection issues.  Websites would stop functioning and indicated loss of the Internet connection.

Because the Wifi is working on other computers on my network, this is not a home network or home router problem.  The problem is in the Asus laptop and the prime suspect is the wifi device driver.

Device Manager: The driver can be determined from the “Device Manager” > Network adapters
Qualcomm Atheros AR9485 Wireless Network Adapter
Old driver: AR9485 Wireless Driver 3.0.2.201

Hint: Microsoft actually had useful help and I used it to navigate the Windows Start Menu and to access the Device Manager.  

We needed to locate the device driver from the manufacturer.  Luckily Google gets there quickly with this search string : qualcom atheros ar9485.  You want the atheros web site.

https://www.atheros-drivers.com/download-driver-nr-309-for-atheros-AR9485-and-Windows10.html

I downloaded AR9485 Wireless Driver 10.0.0.341   here:

https://www.atheros-drivers.com/download-driver-nr-309-for-atheros-AR9485-and-Windows10.html

The atheros website isn’t easy to use because they support so many products- but the driver is there.

 

Circline Fluorescent Kitchen Ceiling Light Replacement

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2016 by marksun

December 10 2016 – the kitchen light stopped working.   This is a 20″ square fixture to replace the original which featured two “circline” fluorescent tubes, 16″ 40W (2500 lumens) and 12″ 32W (1600 lumens) and VEB82234 solid state ballast.

LED’s … looked into a Costco 14″ LED fixture at $27 but it produces 1400 lumens at 21 W-  would need three of them to light up the kitchen.

These things seem to last a few years but this is the second such unit to fail over the years -not sure how old this unit is.  Because the third time is a charm, I got a replacement from City Mill for $55.  I’m not sure exactly which component ( tube, ballast) failed but I suspect the ballast.  Searching you tube and the web, the power transistors seem to be the weak point – they get hot and burn out.  Why now?   I put the old unit on the bench and powered it up but no light.  If the fixture was in good shape I would consider a repair, replace the ballast ($20) and tubes ($20) but you can see already this $40 worth of parts, but the fixture has four broken plastic clips that hold the 20″ x 20″ plastic diffuser cover.  I’d have to find or make replacements, then start by replacing the fluorescent tubes.  Planned obsolescence? So $55 seemed to be the better bet with a brand new, returnable full replacement.

Check the transistors for shorts or opens – might as well find out.

In the failed unit, the entire fixture is down – neither tube works and both are black near the terminals, BUT they did flash a few times while I was messing with them in the ceiling – so most likely the ballast “blew out”, whatever that means – which component?  Transistors seem to be the week point.  Lets take a closer look.

A youtube video talked about the fact that certain power transistors cannot be obtained on the market — e.g. PHE13007 transistors – neither Mouser or Digikey carries them.  So they are hard to get – maybe a trade secret limited production, which is dumb … costs everyone money.

No clue.  No obvious signs of burning or leaking in the ballast – I checked diodes, inspected the caps.  I will bench check the new unit so at that time I can test the tubes.  I think the thing works with one tube down – we’ll find out.

This is a good intro to how ballasts work : http://www.homemade-circuits.com/2011/12/make-efficient-electronic-40-watt-tube.html.  There is a black art to fluorescent circuits with tradeoffs on tube life, brightness and the electronics and a lack of good information. Interesting.

One of the trade-0ffs with fluorescent tubes is that they blacken at the ends and put out less light.  This is certainly the case here – but I think the tubes are OK since they showed no sign of flicker or dimming, except now, this sudden complete failure.

 

Patio sliding door and screen – fix

Posted in home repairs, Uncategorized with tags , on November 28, 2016 by marksun

These sliding patio doors have been difficult over time and the glass door has gradually required more and more muscle to close until now, it’s ridiculous.  Construction is aluminum, heavy aluminum in the case of the glass and surprisingly seems to be of good quality stuff – it has held up over 30 years.

Removal of the screen, repair of rollers is doable and I’ve done it for the screen. The frame though has serious corrosion and replacement is the only way – procurement is a different problem.

Glass door removal looks difficult for lack of clearance.  Some internet articles are available and I looked at them.  The door is heavy – four arm job I think, and there is risk of trying an “adjustment” but it could be a “brokanic” action as well and I see risk. Maybe it isn’t necessary until I get some help?

Lubrication:

I used a birthday candle to lubricate the aluminum rail the door rollers ride on. Now the door slides easily. It’s too easy, I’m suspicious.  Sooner or later the rollers will have to be replaced I’m sure but for now we have a fix.  I also tried a stiff waxy grease used in  radio control car transmission gearboxes. It didn’t work well for me in a gearbox but this is a good application,  especially on the top slide channel of the glass door.

Amazon Fire Remote Stops Working

Posted in house tech, household appliances with tags , , , on November 9, 2016 by marksun

The Amazon Fire started complaining about low batteries in the remote one day.  After a while I got tired of that so I replaced the batteries with new Duracell alkalines.  Then the remote stopped working altogether.  Lucky I have an Android app for fire TV which works. In the meantime- after a few tries to reseat the batteries, it started working again.

Couple days later, the remote is intermittent.  It turns on the device, we watch something, try to pause, the remote is not working.

This time, I tried Corrosion Block with a qtip, reinsert batteries.  Remote doesn’t work at first, then starts working.

Two possible things going on.   1) clean contacts may be necessary.   2) blue tooth or wi fi pairing may have to occur

A YouTube video demos  Amazon advice to hold the home button for five to ten seconds. This apparently starts the blue-tooth ( or possibly wi-fi direct) pairing process.  Once started, pairing completion can be immediate or longer – maybe many seconds, who knows.  My experience sounds like pairing lag and suggests that this time can vary. Wireless networking auto-connect is one of those voodoo processes that are hard to second guess.   When it works well great, but sometimes it take a while before it starts to work (or break, again).

Somehow I bet that it is the blue-tooth all along and the playing with the remote got the pairing started.  But I’m not sure about this.   Whatever, remotes working now.

Good luck – hope this helps.

Frigidaire washer repairs in the rental: this time, the drain hose

Posted in Uncategorized on October 6, 2016 by marksun

Here’s the latest worn out item in the round house… the drain hose.

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Frigidaire 131461200 Drain Hose

Sugar loving Ants

Posted in ants, house tech with tags on October 6, 2016 by marksun

6 Oct 16 Sugar loving ants have become a pest in the kitchen.  I found the little bottle of prepared borax based ant killer (Terro  Ant Killer) and put out some feeding stations.

In an hour or so, the ants found it and eagerly mopped up what must appear to them to be a mountain of sweet syrup.  They got more to what is about 1cc or ml, total.  I also followed them around and soon traced them to a gap in the lanai wall.  Soon there will not be a gap there but first lets see if the poison works.

Jan 27 2017 – the ants are now potato chip loving ants.  Wierd.  They are still around.  It has been very dry all of January.