Solve appliance problems with fault codes
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Electric devices often flash a fault code to signal a problem.
Do you have an appliance flashing
some weird cryptic message on its digital
display? Is your oven saying F3, or
your dishwasher announcing that C5?
These short repeating messages are
actually fault codes—your appliance
telling you what's wrong with it—and
they're found on many newer appliances.
For instance, F3 on a Maytag
oven display means the oven temperature
sensor needs to be replaced. A GE
dishwasher that says C5 has low water
pressure and probably needs a new
water inlet valve.
When you see a code number flashing,
look it up in the owner’s manual or
at the manufacturer’s Web site, or check
the online appliance repair sites below. You can also usually find a list somewhere in or on the appliance (see below).
Armed with a diagnosis and a make and
model number, you can purchase the
right part from a supplier and make the
fix yourself. Or at least save some time
on the service call by letting the repair
service know what they’ll need to bring
along to make the fix.
Appliance repair site: repairclinic.com/0078.asp
Locating fault code instructions for a computerized appliance
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Find the model number and the fault code sheet on a refrigerator
Here are the typical locations on refrigerators. The following diagrams show where to look on different appliances. (You may need to remove a cover panel to find them.)
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Codes for an oven may be in back.
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Front-loading washer locations
Look around the bottom for codes for a front-loading washer.
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Front-loading dryer locations
Look around the bottom for codes for a front-loading dryer.
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Top-loading washer locations
Look behind the front panel for codes for a top-loading washer.
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Conventional dryer locations
Fault codes in conventional dryers may be in back or under the front panel.
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Fault codes for dishwashers may be behind the bottom panel.
Many newer appliances include computerized touch pads and control
boards. You may think they’re too complicated to repair yourself.
Wrong. They’re actually easier to work on because the computer does
all the diagnostic work for you. Once the computer detects a problem,
it stores a fault code in memory. All you have to do is put the computer
into readout mode and consult the fault code chart to discover which
part failed. Fortunately, most manufacturers pack the code retrieval
procedure and code translation information right inside the machine.
The trick is to find them. The diagrams here show typical locations.
Remove the cover panel and look for the fault code instructions in a
plastic bag. Follow the instructions to put the computer into code
retrieval mode, then count the blinks or read the fault code from the
display. Once you learn which part failed, copy the model and serial
number off the tag and buy a replacement part.