Thursday, February 18, 2010

How to fix a vitamix; shutdown refer to manual error.

The shutdown refer to manual error on Vitamix blenders relates to an electrical problem within the machine.  In most cases this error is generated due to excessive heating and wearing of the unit.  Customers can send the units in for a costly repair, however, many times the units can fixed with replacing simple $20 parts.

A few diagnostic checks can help narrow down some items:
1) Smoking and burning usually is a sign that the motor or circuit board is fried.  If this happens, 90% of the time you will have to send the unit in for service.
2) If the unit sporadically gives this error with the blender working sometimes and not others, a simple magnetic brush replacement will fix the problem.  Keep in mind, though, that other parts may be worn down and could break at any time.

Below is an example of the magnetic brushes on stock Vitamix motors.  The brush on the bottom represents a bran new brush, while the two top brushes represent old and worn brushes.  When the brushes wear down the connection to the armatures on the motor cannot make a proper electric connection resulting in a "shutdown refer to manual" error.  So replacing worn brushes may result in fixing this problem.  Though rare, some older (2005 and earlier) Vitamix machines used third party motors.  These units can only be fixed by replacing the entire motor.  Most VM0116A and XT models, though, use the standard brushes seen below.
(click to enlarge)

As a disclaimer replacing the brushes requires some basic mechanical skills.  Pleasure use proper electrical safety procedures such as unplugging the blender and ensure that it is in the off setting.

Step 1:
Remove the cylindrical housing unit as pictured below by unscrewing the four screwes connecting it to the Vitamix frame.
(click to enlarge)
Step 2:
Once the housing unit is removed, the Vitamix motor will be exposed.  You will see that on the left and right side of the machine are two black brushes connecting to the copper armature.  The brushes will each have one electrical cable plugged into them.  The colors of the cable are usually blue and white, however, this could change based on the model.  You will need to remove the brushes by unplugging each electrical cable and the socket screw.
(click to enlarge)
Step 3:
Removing the brushes (see below) requires unplugging the electrical wiring and unscrewing the socket screw.
Unplug cable using needle nose plyers
The white cable may be a little more tricky because the cable is tightly fitted around the socket screw.  Click to enlarge

(click to enlarge)
Each brush will have a socket screw that news to be unscrewed using either a socket wrench or a small crescent wrench. 

 (click to enlarge)
removed brush

Step 4:
Now all you need to do is reverse the process and replace the old brushes with new brushes.  The motor frame has really tight spacing, so you will need to work with getting fitting in the new brush.

Buying Replacement Parts:
Many Vitamix service companies will not sell the brushes hence it is more profitable to sell a new motor.  The stock Vitamix part number is V764 or "Vitamix Brushes (2 brushes per set).  The cost runs around $17.50 per set.

Special Note:
Proper maintenance of your Vitamix machine is key to ensuring that the unit performs in optimal condition.  This includes running the machines in a well ventilated area, replacing drive sockets when worn, and ensuring that water never enters the housing unit.