The Mystery Of The Clacking Clanking Scraping Sound

Hackers tend to face household problems a little differently than ordinary folk. Where the average person sees a painful repair bill or a replacement appliance, the hacker sees a difficult troubleshooting job and the opportunity to save some cash. [trochilidae] was woken one day by the dreaded Clacking Clanking Scraping Sound, or CCSS, and knew that something had to be done.

[trochilidae] reports that usually, the CCSS is due to the child of the house destroying his lodgings, but in this case, the source was laundry based. The Miele tumble dryer was acting up, and in need of some attention. What follows is a troubleshooting process [AvE] would be proud of – careful disassembly to investigate the source of the problem. Initial efforts found a loose bulb that was unrelated, before landing on a mysterious spring that wouldn’t fit back into place. In the end, that’s because it had no right to be there at all – an underwire had escaped from a bra, before becoming entangled in the dryer’s bearing. With the culprit identified and removed, it was a simple reassembly job with some attention also paid to the condenser and filters to keep things in ship-shape.

It just goes to show – a bad noise, if properly investigated in a prompt manner, doesn’t have to be the end of the world. A bit of investigation goes a long way, and can save you a lot of money and heartache.

We’ve seen appliances giving hackers trouble before – like this aging washing machine that got its mechanical brain replaced with an Arduino.

47 thoughts on “The Mystery Of The Clacking Clanking Scraping Sound

  1. When I worked in appliance repair we had a customer complaint about a noise in a clothes dryer.
    We eventually found a penny had somehow slipped inside one of the hollow tumbling vanes.
    The constant tumbling reshaped the penny almost spherical by mashing its circumference toward its center.
    My partner kept the penny.

  2. Pulled a stove exhaust fan down yesterday due to a complaint of a screeching bearing. Turned out to be the flapper that prevents cold air from running down the exhaust when the fan is off. It had come apart and one side had been riding on the squirrel cage fan.

    That being said if I would have been AVE I would have put it back together wrong and blamed the manufacturer when it didn’t work.

  3. When the shaft seal on my washing machine failed…
    The dirty water ran down the shaft into the bearing for the transmission (planned obsolescence?).

    When I installed the new transmission and shaft seal, I reused the old shaft seal as a bearing shield.
    So (if / when) the replaced shaft seal fails, it won’t take out the transmission again.

        1. Rubberband the assembly. Put it in the freezer. Once it’s cold, spray some water on it. Freeze it more, until the parts are encased in ice. Remove from freezer, assemble appliance. Ice melts, parts are free to move.

  4. It’s awesome being able to find and fix problems.

    I’m trying to think back to all the repairs I’ve done.
    – Replaced washer spider coupling after it left a pile of rubber shavings on the floor
    – Replaced the water inlet valve after it stopped filling cold water
    – Replaced the timer mechanism after if stopped completely
    – Replaced the thermal fuse on the dryer
    – Replaced spray arm on the dishwasher
    – Replaced the oven igniter on in-laws’ oven

    The only time I’ve had to call a service was for the refrigerator leaking water. Turned out to be a simple fix, you just had to know about it. He clipped a slotted rubber grommet to allow the water to drain more freely.

    1. The “sluice?” in our icemaker on our refrigerator often freezes the flow of water to ice cube tray.
      Then the refrigerator needs to be pulled out to get behind it to unblock the sluice.

  5. Decades ago in College with 600 other guys (and 6 women) in Electrical Eng, the parking lot was full of old jalopies, cause we could keep them going almost forever. Outside of the Business and Economics side of the campus, the gender was evenly split and there were newer and more expensive cars. That was a tremendous indicator I should have paid attention to.

  6. There was a story on the Danny Baker radio phone in show a while ago where that week’s subject was ‘Obsolete Professions’. The caller’s uncle had been a TV repairman and in one call-out he discovered a raw sausage sticking out of the back of the set. When questioned, the owner explained that “we found the picture got better when we stuck a finger there”

  7. I fixed so so many secondhand modern washing machines. They all need something replaced every six months or so. Now I have an ancient washing machine that I never have to fix.

    My fridge is more interesting though. It was given to me by an elderly couple as if failed and they simply replaced it.

    It was ancient then. The problem was a heating element that was absorbing moisture and throwing the safety breaker.

    I replaced the the heater and it’s been fine except for one other problem.

    About 3 years after I replace the heater the freezer fan started to rattle – it’s the fan bearings.

    They have been rattling for about 14 years now – I’ll get to it … one day.

  8. I love watching people trying to fix things and failing, Then they hire me and tell me all the things they try and are amazed when the problem was a simple door switch/breaker tripped/dirty coil.

  9. Flat screen TVs and displays, when they fail to turn on or the power seems flaky, are usually an easy fix. Open them up and find the power supply board. It’ll be separate from the rest. Find and replace the bulging capacitor(s). It’ll cost you a dollar or two. I’ve rescued several there were being thrown away.

  10. @ Donald The Dinosaur – Yes, and there’s another common failure mode – individual backlight LEDs failing – as they are commonly wired in series, one goes out – they all go out – like old-school Xmas tree lights – one technique I have seen is to wire up a 3V battery (e.g. CR2032) to a couple of needles & probe each LED through the solder mask on the PCB & then order any required replacements off Ebay etc with make/model number off the back of the TV e.g ‘Samsung XXYYZZ-123 backlight LEDs’ – have raised a few TVs back from the Dumpster for 10$ worth of LEDs

    1. Last year my “umbrella style” clothes line broke a support pole when a tree branch fell on it.
      I bought a 10′ length of metal electrical conduit, cut it to length, drilled holes in it, and used it to replace the broken pole.
      To dispose of the broken pole I took it to my scrap metal pile, there I noticed the clothes line I’d replaced 10 or so years earlier, with just the right pole I could have used…

  11. While we’re here, have to confess to (unwittingly) flooding my old girlfriend’s kitchen after she chucked a pair of my Levis into her washing-machine & my guitar plectrum seemingly came out in the wash from that (“Lil’ Mini-Pocket it *Always Lives In*;..”.) and blocked the pipe …


  12. I flew to New Mexico from California to get a free van. It had spent 2 months at a mechanical shop and was never fixed. Problem seemed to be cluster related. Did some poking around and found the problem. No voltage at 12v line. Checked at computer and had a signal. Ran a new wire using some wire in the yard. Drove it 1000 miles home and only had to change a tire in Cochilla at 110°f (the reason I wanted the van was ac.). Some small other repairs and it is now the backup van.

  13. I picked up a free front loaded washer, “pump errors” on the panel. Through gobs of fabric slimer goo the pump yielded two haves of the magnet core. Some super glue fix and I was ready to test it on a dry floor. Dripping and letdown. Took the top off and I see an pencil thick hose at the drain to the chamber on top, a vent. Mice had eaten the end off. Snip and reconnect. High and dry.

    When the pump goes it’s $25. Some of those big rubber boot accordion pleated water duct things are pricey! It’s a wonder mice didn’t nibble on them. They got a good cleaning and inspection. Micey must go, besides there is the hantavirus that comes with them now. There was a lot of dog food and hair along the rodent mess in the bottom of case. Something to tell customers.

    1. The heater fan in my Suzuki Sidekick stopped working, just a Winter was developing.
      Inside the fan I found a mouse nest, but the fan cage had been blocked by a dog treat.
      Now I keep the dog treats in a metal can.

  14. biggest mistake ive mase in rescent times was shying way from repairing my washers transmission… hate the new washer… oops…
    now my dryer on the other hand- she’ll be passed on to the children through my will.

  15. Excellent fix, but guy missed out on the awesomeness of a Miele repairman. I had a Miele dishwasher go weird (it turned out to be a circuit board, or a sensor, I can’t remember) but having the guy show up on time, dressed up in a suit, and a real pro at his job was worth every penny it could have cost me (but it was a free repair.)

    1. Not to mention the Miele guys usually replace anything that seems old and worn, meaning you have less chance of anything else breaking any time soon. My parents at some point needed a repair on the main control board and also got replacement detergent tray, motor, drum, drum bearings, seals, door hinge and drive belt (yes thats pretty much anything that wears. They got a like new machine out of a free warranty repair on a machine near the end of it’s warranty. AND the repair extends that warranty further)

      Miele is hella expensive but they do provide good service.

      1. Thats true. But if its outside warranty the cost of factory service is absolutely outrageous. My neighbour’s dishwasher broke (and I was not around to fix it for some crates of beer) and the Miele-serviceman was called. He changed the drain-hose (because the old one was obstructed by a blob of fatty goop; one of the most common problems) and my neighbor was charged way over 300 Euros for that repair. The stupid hose with mounting material alone was over 150 bucks. Aftermarket it costs one tenth of that. Its not needed anyway because you just have to run one gallon of boiling water through it and its good as new.
        I absolutely love Miele-appliances (although their cheap made-in-turkey line of consumer stuff is total crap in my opinion) but as a household-user I would NEVER call their service.
        They are really competent, though and even clean up after they finish their work.

    2. When I was in High School, (it was fashionable at the time to wear an onion on your belt), an IBM repairman
      came to fix one of the Selectric typewriters. I was surprised to see a “repairman” wearing a suit, and using a business valise for his tools.

      1. I had some people from IBM come to my university trying to recruit graduates. They have an interesting take on induction to the company, they want graduates to enter a two year program one third of which would be spent in each of development, support, and management. That approach didn’t appeal to me, but it strikes me that it might train their staff to ‘dress for success’.

  16. The door of the fridge refused to open, the magnets are strong, and the fancy lever type handle wasn’t working anymore, inside it, a spring was broken, I made a new one with some 1 mm steel piano string, it has a weird shape but I could replace it, and it worked perfectly. I had to make another one a few years after that first fix and it works fine now.
    I’m very proud every time a spring is involved in something I make :o).

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