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Dave's Dictionary of Appliance Terms
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11-volt control – older ranges used this system to control oven temperatures and sensor – type surface units. Employed an 11 volt step-down transformer and hot-wire, 11 volt relays. GE’s ‘P7’ system was one was the most widely used, but Frigidaire also built this system. It was supposed to provide more accurate temp control, but in actual practice, oven temperatures were about as accurate as those using a common hydraulic thermostat. Not seen today, due primarily to advances in IC circuitry and cost. Fun systems to service, and I miss them. 

3-phase motor – used widely in front-load washers today, these motors are efficient, and provide variable speed with the proper electronic controller.

ABS – the tough plastic used in refrigerator liners (and football helmets!)

Adaptive Defrost Control (ADC) – as opposed to a ‘clock’ type refrigerator defrost timer, this defrost system uses a microprocessor on a small circuit board to control how often a frost-free refrigerator goes into its defrost cycle. Adjusts defrost frequency over time, based on several factors: time since last defrost, door openings, duration of previous defrost cycles, etc. More efficient, but also more prone to problems than a simple timer.


Agitator – The part of a top-load washer that does the work of washing laundry. Uses vanes, paddles, and augers to provide the necessary water turbulence to remove soil and suspend it in the wash water/detergent solution. These days, most agitation is done with oscillation, but years ago, Frigidaire manufactured a highly efficient wash agitation system using vertical agitation. Their agitator was made up of several cones, mounted above one another, that provided extreme turbulence and water ‘turnover’, resulting in reduced wash times and very good results. This was an expensive system to produce, however, and is no longer available in the US to my knowledge.  (see also ‘nutator’) Here's a typical agitator, shown in 'exploded' view:  DA agitator


Agitator dogs – Several manufacturers use a ‘dual action’ washer agitator, with a top ‘auger’ section that rotates independently from the bottom. This helps ‘pull’ laundry down into the water, and provide better ‘turnover’ in large loads. The top section is ratcheted in continually one direction as the bottom portion oscillates back and forth, and the small pawls that engage the ratchet teeth are called ‘dogs’. The most popular system uses a set of four of these, made of soft plastic. and they provide extra turbulence in the top half of the load when washing large loads. The most common ones look like this: 

Agitator post – Again, speaking of top-loaders here, this is simply the post to which the agitator is mounted, and through which its drive shaft passes.

Agitator seal – a rotary seal pressed into the top of the agitate post, to prevent water from leaking down the shaft into the transmission.

Agitator Vane – one of the blades of an agitator, primarily on the bottom section, that acts as a paddle to provide the necessary water turbulence. 

Air damper – used in refrigerators, to control the amount of airflow, usually between freezer and refrigerator compartments
Air gap – 1) dishwasher device in the water fill line that prevents backflow of soiled dishwasher water into the potable supply 2) a device used in dishwasher drain lines, mounted to and protruding above the sink, to prevent sink gray water from migrating back into the dishwasher.

Air temperature – in refrigeration, especially air conditioning, this is an important thing to measure. When working with refrigerators and freezers, we’re more interested in package temperatures, because they don’t fluctuate so widely or so quickly as air temperature.

Auger – 1) upper portion of a top-load washer’s dual action agitator (see agitator) 2) the large ‘screw’ that forces ice to the front of a refrigerator’s ice dispenser bin, and out the dispenser door.        

Auto dry – clothes dryer cycle that responds to moisture left in laundry, as opposed to the timed cycle, which runs for x minutes regardless of moisture level or laundry load.

Auto leveler – here I’m referring to the rear feet on most clothes washers, which use a simple mechanism to ‘firm’ themselves to the floor when the washer’s installed. With most brands, the washer’s front feet are leveled left to right, then the machine is tipped forward slightly and dropped back down, which ‘sets’ the rear feet.

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