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Hissing Fridge Is Telling You Something


QUESTION: My Sears Coldspot frost-free refrigerator and freezer whistles, wheezes and hisses. Sometimes it sounds almost alive, even human-like. What do these strange sounds indicate? Is the refrigerator about to break down?

ANSWER: Your refrigerator's strange noises are probably coming from the evaporator fan motor on the back wall of the freezer compartment. Usually before the evaporator's motor bearings give out, they will make chirping sounds. As the bearings continue to wear, the motor will produce strange noises similar to the ones you describe. Usually this means the fan motor is about due for replacement. A new fan motor kit can be purchased from any Sears parts store. Your local appliance center may also have a fan motor that would fit.

Wall Tiles Need Not Prevent Drilling Work Q: How do you drill in bathroom wall tiles? I would like to put rails in the shower area.

A: One method is to place a finish nail on the tile and tap it with a hammer to score the glazing. Bore on the scored mark with a masonry bit.

The second method is to simply buy a carbide or diamond-tipped drill to bore the hole. Using these bits eliminates the need to score the glazing. The diamond-tipped drill is more expensive but preferable to the carbide-tipped bit.

Both bits are available at hardware stores and industrial suppliers. Use a variable-speed drill when using these bits so that you can drill at a slow speed.

Deflated Bicycle Tire Can Dislodge Agitator Q: I would like to replace some worn parts in my washing machine, but the agitator is just about impossible to remove. I don't want to force and possibly break anything, so do you know a way to get out the agitator?

A: To remove a tightly fitted agitator or one that has become firmly glued in place by soap residue, first unplug the washer and remove the agitator cap. Then, if there is room between the bottom edge of the agitator and the tub bottom, work a completely deflated bicycle tire inner tube in underneath the agitator. Distribute the tube as uniformly around the agitator as possible. Leave the valve stem sticking out and attach a hand pump or mini-air compressor to it.

Gradually pump up the tube. It shouldn't take much pressure because the agitator's surface area is large. The agitator will let go with a pop. This method won't harm the agitator since the force is not concentrated and is fairly evenly distributed around its circumference. This method can also be used to separate other stuck parts on appliances if applied carefully; it is far less apt to damage parts than attempting to pry them apart.


To submit questions, write to Popular Mechanics, Reader Service Bureau, 224 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019. The most interesting questions will be answered in future columns.

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