How to Debeep Things

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About: Twitter: @bobparks

These days, lots of household appliances make annoying BEEP sounds.  Their product designers must want you to know the stuff is working for you, right now.  Products beep to show they are finished with a cycle.  They beep to show they are starting a new cycle.  God bless.  

Two examples are our washer and waffle maker. Click on the sound files below of the actual sounds they make.  Washing machines are supposed to make soothing, gurgly sounds to lull a baby to sleep.  Our washing machine sounds like it's making the signal for lights-out in a prison.  Likewise, waffle makers aren't supposed to be obtrusive.  The kids make waffles on Sunday morning, after mom and dad have stayed up laaaaaate on Saturday night.  Our waffle maker sounds like a fire is breaking out at iHop.  After a couple cups of coffee, it's like a 220-volt wire attached to my gut.  

So for GeekDad Day -- a.k.a Father's Day 2012 -- my daughter, 9, and son, 11, went around the house to perform a great service to their over-caffeinated dad.  They performed open heart surgery to remove all the horrible beeps.  It required a little research into the product schematics and a little soldering, but it was worth it.  With a few minutes of work, the house was quiet again.  

Step 1: Find the Source of the Noise

Unfortunately, the waffle maker did not have any online documentation.  So Lucy had to figure out where to start.  She saw a bunch of holes in the housing where it looked like blindingly obnoxious noises were supposed to emanate.  She began taking it apart there.  (All appliances we worked on were unplugged, of course, and also not the type of appliances with big capacitors and reserve power like TVs that could shock you even when unplugged.)  

Step 2: Removing the Buzzer

A-ha. Lucy found a little circuit board under the plastic grille with a component that looked like a little speaker.  We talked a little bit about how piezoelectric buzzers work, about how voltage is applied to little crystals inside the device, and they make two conductors push back and forth on each other.  The results is an hateful, ear-splitting anathema to sleepy parents everywhere.  

We removed the little buzzer with a soldering iron.  We were going to use special desoldering braid, but the component fell off once we touched the tip to the lead.  

Step 3: Testing the Waffle Maker

Post surgery, the waffle maker performed quietly.  To figure out when the device was up to temperature, we had to monitor the lights near the dial instead of listen for the noise.  The control panel illuminated an orange LED when it was heating up and a green one when it was ready to load with batter. 

Step 4: Next Up: the Washing Machine

We had just hacked our dryer to get it up and running, when we realized the washer was too close to the bedrooms.  The sound it made to show the clothes were done woke the kids up.  So Archer took matters into his own hands.  He unplugged the device and began looking under the hood. 

Step 5: Finding and Disabling the Buzzer

Lucky for us, Electrolux has good schematics online, and we mark the document with our own red arrows to show the culprit.  Archer was able to identify PART #14, the "Buzzer", and then he knew where to look in the device.  

He removed the buzzer by pulling off the electrical lead from the component.  These devices are made to slip on and off.  

Step 6: Testing the Washer

We were able to test the new quiet wash cycle with a set of sheets and towels.  Ahhh.  Nothing but water sloshing back and forth.  

Lastly, we went to work on the buzzer in a power supply for the computer.  The device is great in letting you save files just after the power goes out, but it has an alarm that goes off when that happens.  Since power outages often happen after midnight in New England, often during peaceful snowstorms, AND OFTEN WHEN THE DREAMS OF WINGED HORSES COME, horrible alarm noises are never appropriate.  Never EVER. 

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    55 Discussions

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    Azayles

    6 years ago on Introduction

    It's always great to see young players interested in electronics, so big thumbs up to Lucy there!
    I've been taking stuff apart, putting it together again (sometimes!) and modifying things since I was about Lucy's age, and haven't looked back since. I'm now 33 :D

    What I tend to do is put a switch in line with the buzzer or beeper, in case I need to sell the appliance at a later date, I can return it to "factory settings", or if it's not my appliance, say I'm renting a place :P (Shh, don't tell the landlord!)

    Best of luck to Lucy! This is a great 'Ible, and hope both she and your son have this passion for many years :)

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    Clb11

    Question 4 months ago on Step 1

    I am just wondering if I could use something other than a soldering iron to take out the waffle iron beeper... I don’t have one of those.

    2 more answers
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    Jack A LopezClb11

    Answer 4 months ago

    Well, the first thing to do is to actually inspect the circuit board, and the noise maker. The reason why is because for some kinds, the noisemaker is connected by long wires, and for that kind all you have to do is cut the wire.

    In the case where the noisemaker is actually soldered to the board, a soldering iron is likely the best tool for the job.

    Unless you can clearly see the printed trace on the circuit board, the specific one that carries current to the noisemaker. If you can identify that trace, maybe you can scratch a break, an open place, into it, using a sharp knife. But the trick to doing that is you have leave all the other traces whole

    By the way, a soldering iron is not an expensive tool. At the time of my writing this, I can point to a price of about 4 USD, for a cheap, but usable, soldering iron, here:

    https://www.harborfreight.com/30-watt-lightweight-...


    But if you want an improvised version, maybe you could use a candle flame, or cigarette lighter, to heat piece of steel coat hanger wire, or other kind of wire, or nail or something, until it is hot enough to melt solder.

    It might also be a good idea to wrap a piece of cloth, or something, around the end of the wire that you hold between your fingers. That's because the whole piece of wire will tend to get hot, as heat conducts from one side to the other.

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    sdoolan

    1 year ago

    we have the exact same waffle maker! i can't believe i found your ible for exactly what i was looking for! thankyou thankyou thankyou!!

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    DanielT283

    1 year ago

    you just inspired me to de-beep our bread maker! i was nervous but went for it and now i am so happy! fresh bread and no crazy BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP at random times in the morning. thank you!

    Great to see your kids taking things apart! And thanks for a great article. After reading it and being sure what a piezoelectric buzzer looked like, I carefully filled mine with silicone sealant on both sides. Brought the buzzer down to a low roar rather than shaking the walls! I'd rather have no sound but a demur buzz is acceptable. Let the silicone cure before you plug it in. Often, the appliance begins with a beep that might disturb your settling silocone. To heck with the NSA. Maybe we need to learn how to disable all kinds of things.

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    nevadagalen

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Just wanted to thank the author of this post and everyone who commented. I searched all over google all night to find this answer(s), and just finished de-beeping my girlfriend's flat iron. Or at least muffling it with glue and tape, which tunes it down to a level which doesn't send our Miniature Pinscher into hysterics. You guys rock!

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    SheilaK7nevadagalen

    Reply 3 years ago

    we too have a dog who FREAKS from anything that beeps. Any advice on how to stop a dishwasher from beeping any time the door is closed? I found in the instructions how to disable the end of cycle signal, but not the door beep.

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    Hi! As long as the dishwater is past warranty and you're at all handy, I would say got for it -- take apart that appliance and find the beeper. Cut off power in the house, since dishwashers are hardwired in, and then open the top control panel. Finding the buzzer should be pretty easy and your pouch will thank you! Bob

    I just tried to do the above to a bosh dishwasher she68r55uc/69. Took the front off, could NOT find anything that looked like a beeper. It might be buried in the big black plastic box housing the control switches, or the big white box housing the LED display. But they did not open easily, and I did not want to hack on them, because I still need THOSE parts to work. i.e. I could not find the dang thing to unsolder it!

    If I could just be alone in a room for 5 minutes with the idiot engineers who designed this stuff! The manual says there is a programming way to disable the alarm, but OF COURSE it does not work (after like 100 tries)

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    gilla1Thrunabulax10.

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    It's not the engineer. It's the idiot marketing department. I've got a new Whirlpool washer that is nearly unusable near bedrooms because of the multiple beeps the damn thing makes. I'm thinking of returning it.

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    fantapop

    3 years ago on Step 2

    Hi, Do you need to replace the buzzer component with a resistor?

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    wbsbadboy

    6 years ago on Step 5

    A word of caution here.
    I work on line as an appliance repair consultant and have had my share of people asking how they can disable their appliances buzzer. For the most part they are easy to kill, but there are some models that if you disable the buzzer you disable the control board(s). The manufacturer in its infinite wisdom includes the buzzers into the safety circuitry. If removed the resistance of the circuit changes and the system reads it as a fault in the safety features. Of course the makers don't want any law suits because of failed safety features so it disables the whole unit with an error code flashing on one of the indicator lights, or showing on the readout. As the makers don't think that someone would deliberately disable the buzzer the error code isn't listed in the tech manuals, and I have no way of telling the customer what it means. That in turn makes me look pretty 5to0piD.
    Please folks, don't make me, or my fellow appliance techs look stupid. Check with the manufacturer before you disable the buzzers on your appliance.
    Thank you!!

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    HungryTradiewbsbadboy

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, I had heard of "id TEN t" id10t error, but not the "five 2 zero pi D" another code for the tech's out in customer land...

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    pastorboy0wbsbadboy

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You could always figure out the impedance of the buzzer and replace it with an equivalent resistor, too, so as not to disrupt anything.