This is an update on my new (July 2015) Whirlpool '4 door' French door
fridge. I previously reported that while on a 1 week vacation in April
2016, the unit powered down and spoiled all the food. The ice also
melted and warped the laminate flooring in front of the unit. I
explained to WP that there was some kind of a power glitch because the
WP oven flashed the PF (power fail) icon, although it didn't fully loose
the time as it was just off by about 5 minutes. The WP microwave
totally lost the time and was blank. There was NO indication on the
fridge itself. If there was, my friend that came into the house while
we were away, probably would have noticed it. Pushing and holding the 2
buttons that turn on and off the cooling, eventually flashed the
“cooling is off” icon. Duh, it was already off, just not showing. But
now it was showing. After doing it again, the panel briefly read
“cooling is on” and the compressor and fans all started. Everything was
normal with the exception of the water dispenser. The fridge cooled down
and worked normally. After calling WP they took the “it worked as it
should have” attitude. I asked WP if it was in the sales information
that it was supposed to shut down and spoil all the contents? All they
could repeat is that it “worked as it should have”. The water dispenser
was stuck in measure fill mode where it provides 16 ounces and then
shuts off, nice if you put an 8oz glass under it. I couldn't get it
back to the normal mode of providing water only while the paddle is
being pushed. I did NOT try a full power down (unplugging). The WP
tech said there's nothing wrong, however, he reset the controller board
by unplugging it and then re-plugging it. After that, the water
dispenser worked normal. The controller was obviously stuck in some bad
states and required a “reboot”.
I was going to send an email to the WP CEO, however, on their website,
it gave an email for the corporate problem solver. So I did that at 2AM
and got a phone call from WP at 9AM … pretty good, I thought. After I
complained that a fridge should recover after a power outage and should
run 24/7/365 WP offered me $150 (I facetiously call it hush money).
Plus they wanted to send out a 'senior tech' to check it out. The
senior tech turned out to be the same tech that came out the first time
(WP's authorized repair company). I explained to him that Corporate had
summoned him, not me. He called the WP tech line (only for technicians)
and after talking to them, he said that I probably found something that
WP didn't or couldn't find. We tried turning the circuit breaker off
and on both fast and slow and couldn't reproduce the problem. WP seems
to think that there is some kind of icon or light that tells of a power
failure. Attention WHIRLPOOL … THERE ISN'T!
Later I called the guy at Corporate and told him nothing was done by the
'senior tech'. He now jumped on the “it worked at it should have”
bandwagon. I told him their product was crap and it should be fixed. I
told him there might actually be something wrong with the controller, so
they should replace it. He said he can't tell the tech what to do. He
eventually offered to buy back the unit for what I paid for it.
Yesterday, I went to the appliance store (not a big box store) and the
guy there told me that he's seen this problem in several different
brands, even some of the ultra high end $5K stuff. He also informed me
that my French door fridge with an extra refrigerator drawer (so called
4 door refrigerator), was not actually made in the USA but started life
in Korea. Apparently, Samsung owns the patent on the 4 door fridge, so
WP buy them and puts their own badge on it. Nice, I wanted to buy US
and WP secretly sold me something from Korea. To get around the patent
thing, one company now builds a 5 door unit that basically breaks the
fridge drawer into 2 drawers.
After working in the industry with high end fault tolerant systems for
some 25 years, I realize now that WP and the rest of the industry
doesn't know the meaning of fault tolerance and recovery. Apparently,
this industry is just now learning stuff about electronic micro
controllers. Stuff that I and my former company learned many years ago.
So taking the WP buyback wouldn't accomplish anything.
My first though was, when away from home for several days, I would build
a unit to a timed power failure to the fridge each day for say, 5
minutes, thus allowing the controllers to reset. However, I discovered
that if the unit was in the “cooling is off” state, after the reset, it
remembered that and came back in the “cooling is off” state. So, I
would actually have to design something to press buttons and interpret
the results … way to complicated. Bummer! I found data loggers on the
market that will log periodic temperature readings to the cloud and then
notify me via email or text when it falls outside my preset limits.
They seem to fall within the $150 'hush money' amount. At this point I
think that is the best option.
Sorry for being so verbose but I just thought people would like to know.
Unfortunately, testing for all the possible failure modes for electronic eq
uipment/appliances is an art that few companies seem to understand. Whenev
er I buy anything, I look for the simplest possible unit. Plain old motori
zed controllers are clunky and not in fashion, buy they are a whole lot mor
e reliable if you don't actually have your own electric power distribution
system. Until batteries and photocells and wind-powered generation are com
mon, we will just have to do the best we can. That may include deliberatel
y trying various failure modes when we first get new stuff, so that if we f
ind a problem it is covered by the manufacturers warranty.
On 7/9/2016 10:30 AM, email@example.com wrote:
That may not always be possible. Certain capabilities are just impractical to
implement WITHOUT a microcontroller. Imagine a "set back" thermostat with
HALF the capabilities of an inexpensive digital unit -- implemented
with bimetal springs, motors, gears, etc.
When shopping for SWMBO's new vehicle, we dismissed Nissan and Kia products
as we encountered problems with the electronics in vehicles "sitting under
the watchful gaze of the dealers" -- i.e., if THEY can't keep BRAND NEW
vehicles operating perfectly, *we* don't want to be wasting trips to
the dealership to repair/replace those things, even if "at no cost"
(our TIME and INCONVENIENCE is worth something to us, even if not to
Granted, its a small sample size -- and, could be "flukes". But, lots
of car manufacturers and lots of different models to choose from; why
pick ones that have demonstrated themselves to have faults?
On Saturday, July 9, 2016 at 11:46:15 AM UTC-4, Art Todesco wrote:
Given that you can't reproduce it by cycling power on and off,
I would think that should give you some confidence that it may
have been a rare occurrence that lead to it being in some weird
state, like the power sequenced through some intermediate state,
where it had lower voltage, etc. If it's a typical power fail,
it sounds like it would be OK, but it could get into that locked
up state again. So I guess you either live with it or let them
buy it back, which is generous. Another aspect is how often
there would be a power fail where it could wind up in that state
and nobody would be around to spot it. Here given the reliable
power and the fact that even if it got into that locked up mode,
it would be very low probability of that happening without someone
around to notice it before it could defrost.
?? Through-the-door ice dispenser? (i.e., gravity fed with ice so melting
ice feeds *water*?
It depends on what causes the "PF" icon to illuminate. E.g., one way
of "detecting" a power outage is to simply report an outage every time
you power up! (think about it :> ). I.e., require some form of
acknowledgement with each power-up event on the assumption that the
only "NON-power fail" instances would be those where the user is
initially INSTALLING the refrigerator (once it is plugged in, it
remains plugged in "forever").
Do the installation instructions tell you to "reset the PF indicator"
after plugging in the unit?
If this is the case, then the actual outage could have happened in an
unceremonious manner. I.e., no telling how piss-poor the software (and
hardware) handled that event! The unit may not have NOTICED the outage
as it was happening but, rather, reported it as "reapplication of power"
when the power was restored.
There is a subtle but important difference: if the unit was not
designed to handle the outage as it was happening, then there is
no telling HOW it would misbehave as a consequence. If it was
designed to NOTICE the outage and take measures to ensure "what it
was doing" was preserved (i.e., was cooling on? or off?) so that it
could be RESTORED when the outage was over, then failing to do so
(in your case) would be evidence of a bug in that process.
OTOH, if it just uses the PF icon as a means of saying "I've just been
turned on and I don't know what I should be doing...", then the
software (and hardware) may, in fact, be performing exactly as intended!
[Note that a more prudent set of assumptions -- assuming you can preserve
the desired temperature setting -- is to idle for 2-5 minutes on the
reapplication of power (resetting this timer on EACH reapplication of
power in case the power is flickering on and off, repeatedly) for the
pressure in the compressor to equalize. Then, resume the temperature
I've never quite understood why microwaves loose time so quickly!
It seems like even the most momentary glitch causes them to lose
I know there is a lot of cost pressure on their design (35 years
ago the electronics for a microwave oven cost < $15; so even
a $0.10 component gets a lot of scrutiny!). But, I can't see
why their "hang time" would be so bad...
How do you know that this "pushing and holding" didn't turn it off?
(i.e., does the first "push and hold" illuminate the indicator while
the second actually toggles the setting?)
years ago. It has the ability to play the "back" side of the tape
without flipping it (*or* flipping the playback head -- it uses a
6 channel playback head so the "active" part of the head is present
over the front AND back tracks simultaneously). But, there is
a set of events that can confuse the mechanism into running backwards
but *thinking* it is going forwards (!).
I.e., normally, the tape counter starts at 0000, increases to some maximum
value reached at the end of "side 1", then starts counting DOWN as it plays
"side 2" effectively rewinding the tape in slow motion. But, in certain
cases, the tape will play "side 2" (i.e., moving BACKWARDS) while continuing
to count *upwards*.
[This makes absolutely no sense in any set of operating conditions!]
I have *two* of these decks so I was able to verify that it is a
"feature" that both have.
When I reported this to the manufacturer, they claimed it was the way
it was *designed* to operate. I was speechless: "Yes, that is very
obviously the way the actual design was *implemented* (as that is
how it actually WORKS); but that can't possibly be the way it was
INTENTIONALLY designed to operate?!"
Very likely. Computers have memory. How that memory is used is up to the
developer. There is an art to designing "reliable" software that doesn't
allow memory failures/glitches to alter the operation of the "program".
Some "thing" in memory obviously effectively was acting as a gatekeeper
to the "change water dispense mode" setting. Perhaps one part of the
code *thought* it was in ICE dispensing mode and, as a result, ignored
any of the choices available in water dispensing mode...
That's a dodge. You stumbled on something that is "less likely" to be
encountered. But, that doesn't make it impossible to verify! Give me
a few hours with the schematic and source code listings and I'll tell
you how your "bug" can happen!
What typically happens is the testing happens in typical environments.
Open door: does light go on? Check!
Close door: does light go off? Check!
Set temperature. Wait. Is interior cool? Check!
Lower temperature. Does compressor start within 20 seconds? Check!
Wait. Is interior COOLER? Check!
I.e., does the unit operate the way we THINK folks will be using it?
This is very different from "does the unit operate the way it SHOULD,
regardless of the combination of unforeseen events that might occur?"
When I test other folks' implementations, I *always* can find something
that doesn't work right. Usually, because they never anticipated anyone
doing what I've just done (e.g., pressing ON and OFF at the same time).
The conversation ALWAYS follows the form:
<gasp> "What did you just do???"
"I did ...."
"But you're not supposed to *do* that!"
"Then DON'T LET ME!!"
That's a foolish approach to the problem.
Imagine driving down the road and having a piece of luggage fall out of
an aircraft flying overhead, landing on the hood of your car.
Would you keep driving down the road, repeatedly, hoping to REPRODUCE the
event (even when there are no aircraft in the sky)?
You have to, instead, ASSUME that what you saw (or heard reported)
actually *did* happen -- and then figure out how it COULD HAVE!
Typically, the attitude is taken that "it was a fluke" and it
is dismissed (because its too hard to chase down!)
ThankYouVeryMuch -- WhereDoISign??
The replacement controller would most probably have the exact same flaw.
It may NEVER bother you -- but that would be because the airplane never flew
overhead, again! :>
Sort of like two and three blade "razors"...
This is actually a valid way around patents! Identify the "independant
claims", then AVOID them by any technicality possible. I.e., if the claim
references a screw, use a nail.
The goal of the patent examiner is to restrict the scope of your claims;
the goal of your *lawyer* is to broaden them!
Sure it will -- it gets rid of the WP problem.
Of course, it then leaves you with a "refrigerator (lack thereof) problem!"
The problem comes from introducing a new technology to an industry that
isn't accustomed to thinking in that context. And, the folks that
have "earned" the ability to make the decisions ("experience"), are the
most clueless of that technology -- as all of their "valuable" experience
was gained in a different world!
AND, they are the LEAST willing to admit how ignorant they are! "The God
has clay feet..."
How often do you *really* expect to encounter these types of failures?
If "often", then invite the WP folks to come out and see it the NEXT time it
happens (i.e., if they can witness it twice, then it's obviously not
an "isolated incidence").
If faced with your problem (with MY skillset), I'd look at the actual
controller design and make educated guesses as to whether/how it was
detecting power failures. Many microcontrollers have brown-out detection
hardware built-in. I'd then *assume* it was being used but that the
power conditioning circuitry was presenting problems for it (in whatever
sort of mains problems you were encountering -- borrowing a power line
monitor could help you see if you were encountering frequent, brief outages;
long, sustained outages; frequent transients; etc.).
You might be able to play games with the power feeding the controller
to make it's (faulty?) algorithm more resilient (e.g., adding bulk
filtering to give the controller more "up time" as power fails -- but
doing it in a way that doesn't interfere with the power failure detection
*WE* appreciate the heads up as we'll be in that market, soon.
Always nice to learn from other folks' experiences -- instead of
being on the bleeding edge, yourself!
As I stated to them, there is no pf icon in this thing. There is one in
my WP wall oven, but not the fridge.
Well, I'm sure it turned off something in the controller. The fridge
compressor and fans were obviously not on as it was warm in both the
fridge a freezer. When I pushed and held the 2 buttons for the required
3 seconds, the icon lit that said "cooling is off".
I have a 24-year-old WP side-by-side that will likely pass away any day now. Hope they still make a model with a simple reliable old-fashioned thermostat.
Why does a refrigerator need an on-board computer to control the temperature? Seems silly.
"George in SC" wrote in message
On 07/09/2016 09:46 AM, Art Todesco wrote:
I have a 24-year-old WP side-by-side that will likely pass away any day now.
Hope they still make a model with a simple reliable old-fashioned
Why does a refrigerator need an on-board computer to control the
temperature? Seems silly.
Cheap-er to manufacture and looks better
OMG! U mean they're putting cameras on refrigerators now? So I can take a selfie @ 3am in my pajamas? Will it automatically upload to FaceBuck?
Or does it just document my gluttonous appetite and notify the corporate health coach?
I think there are actually some that photograph the *contents* of the
frig and make that available for display. I.e. peer inside the frig without
opening the doors (I guess insulated GLASS hasn't crossed their minds...)
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.