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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Web Tools Wednesday: Frequent Part Research Frustrations

It isn't as easy as it looks
Researching an appliance part seems like it should be an easy thing. Somethings it can be surprisingly tricky. There are a number of reasons for that. Over the years literature has changed with times. Some of the older models research materials started out as paper booklets, then they were scanned to microfilm cards, then they were digitized for computer access, along the way mistakes can get made, engineering art can get blurry, and some formats that were used just don't translate well at all. Among the many things we do here to make your parts department supply chain easy and convenient, we also can help when the parts research gets tricky. A lot of folks like to do their own research. If you are one of those people, here are a few things that can slow you down, confuse you or maybe even get you the wrong part. It is our hope that this list helps you increase the accuracy of your do-it-yourself research.

O's or Zero's?

A lot of model numbers contain an O or a zero. It can be hard to know what you have.More often than not, if is the last digit of the model number it will be a zero. In fact, I would guess that most of the time even it is in the middle of the model number, it is probably a zero. A common occurrence is mistaking a D as a O. 6's and 8's can also be troublesome on some worn model number plates. Sometimes it can help to try one of those alternates if the model doesn't show up on your first attempt. To confuse matters, a lot of GE model number will include a zero in the middle of them. It assumed that you will know that that zero drops off when reviewing a list of models. An example of this would be found on model number JCSP38B0K3BB. GE assumes that you will know to remove the zero from the number so you end with: JCSP38BK3BB. Often the confusion can be eliminated by typing a partial model number into your research program. Most programs will give you a list of models that start with what you entered. From there it is often easy to pick the correct model to search.

I's or One's?

Another hard to decipher model number issue is when the number includes a one or an I. As was the case with zeroes, more often than not, when the choice is between an I or a one, you are usually dealing with a one. A notable exception involves Maytag refrigerators. They have a popular line who uses MFI as the prefix for the model number.

Z's and 2's, 5's and S

Just a few more examples of letters and numbers that can easily be confused for each other.

Sound Alike Letters

It never hurts to make sure you are hearing correctly
Many times the person doing the parts research is having a model number read to them over the phone. There are a lot of letters that sound very similar such as X, S, and F or  A,J, K, or M and N or B,C,D,E,G,P and V. To avoid confusion we strongly recommended that you review the letters phonetically. You can do this by using the military Alpha, Bravo, Charlie phonetic alphabet, or you can make up you own words. The important thing is verifying that you are hearing what you think you are.

Serial numbers, Manufacturing Numbers, BM and P Numbers

Another thing that hangs up a lot of people when they are trying to do their own research is how to deal with Maytag machines where the serial number affects the part needed. Before Whirlpool acquired Maytag, Maytag was unique in that they would make component changes to a machine and rather than issuing a new model number, like most manufacturers, they would make a note on the research material referring to series number. A lot of people have trouble wrapping their brain around what to use as a series number. The series number is simply the first two numbers of the serial number. Sometimes they will also identify the series number as a revision number. Often the number referenced on the part list doesn't match the series number on the machine. What to do then? You want to use the closest number on the parts list that is over the number on the machine. Sort of like the casino game of Blackjack, you want to get as close as you can without going over. As an example to sum up, suppose the serial number on the machine was 11658481JF. The parts list shows different control boards for series 10, 14, and 20. Which one do you use? If I am making sense and you have been following along you will know that the correct answer is the part from series 14.

Beware of the Word Search Feature

The search tool-Use it with caution!
I get it, we are all busy. Consumers want the answer ready before they have even asked the question. It is tempting to type what you are looking for into the search field of the research program and then quote the number that comes up. Our recommendation is to take things just one step further and actually pull up the picture to verify that you have the right part. Some descriptions can lead you astray. Also, in some instances the serial number can affect the part used, but for some reason the search option doesn't show all the series options until you pull up the illustrations parts list.

Missing Descriptions and Parts Lists

To add a few more wrinkles to the mix, some parts lists lack descriptions of the item pictured. GE is notorious for this. They will use "Unknown" as the description for every part on the list.. In those cases, you need to know what item in the picture to reference. Also, on some older models from Whirlpool there wont be a parts list in the usual place. On these models you will frequently find that the page after the illustration in the breakdown will be tiled "section" and it will have a scan of the paper books part list rather than the digital parts list most models show.

As you can tell, sometimes this research stuff can be clear as mud. Luckily for you, we have over 200 years worth of accumulated parts researching experience at your disposal. If you are having trouble tracking something down, or just want us to give you a hand, give us a call or send us a fax or email and we will do everything in our power to find that part for you. We want to see you be successful, and we want to help make that happen. Happy researching and happier servicing!

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