If you’ve read this column over the past few years, you might have noted that I vent my frustration with episodes of having to replace every household appliance in the nearly 30 years since we built this house.
It’s easy to forget that actuarials estimate the replacement of household goods to occur roughly every eight or ten years. By that standard, we should be grateful we haven’t had to replace them more often.
The refrigerator is the most expensive indoor appliance in our house (the roof, also changed out a couple of years ago, is outdoors) and don’tcha know, this is the third fridge we’ve had to buy.
The appliance repair guys came from Senoia within about 20 minutes of our call, on a Friday. They manhandled the unit out of its snug space between the cabinets and diagnosed a failed cooling fan.
Back in its little space, motor purring happily, the fridge started making ice again. All is well with the world.
Or so we believed. When we got up the next morning, the condenser was running almost nonstop and making the same funny sound we noted 24 hours earlier.
Dare we call the Fischer brothers on a Saturday morning? We dared, and in 15 minutes they were here and I was finding new places to stash the contents of that box. We have another freezer out on the screened porch, but before I could stack stuff from the kitchen fridge into it, we had to decide what to save and what to toss.
Where did this stuff come from? Mostly bags of flour, seeds, and nuts from my bread-making days. It was the only sure way to keep ahead of the occasional invasion of food moths.
Then there were plastic containers of turkey corn soup, bags of flour, surplus beans – some dating from 2002 – and they looked really, really bad. I was brought up to believe that once something is frozen, it will keep indefinitely. No, it won’t, but it’s more a matter of appearance than of spoiling.
I figured we wouldn’t get sick if we brought food to a full boil before using it. For once I was right. The beans in that plastic container looked awful, but thawed and brought to a boil, made a very tasty chili. And neither of us became ill during this exchange of foodstuff.
Which came first, the failure of the fan or the breakdown of the motherboard? One of the brothers made a quick run to Newnan where they knew they could find the needed parts. This time the bill was substantial. And fruitless.
I was spoiled by the quick response of the Fischer Bros. There was no use in kidding ourselves that we could repair the old fridge for as much as a new one would cost because of the electronics, so we decided – reluctantly – to go shopping.
After we spent most of Saturday comparison shopping, the young lady at Home Depot sold us on a fridge to our specifications: bottom freezer-drawer, French doors, and an ice and water dispenser on the outside of the box. And it was on sale.
Even so, we worried about the dimensions. The width of the space was 33”, narrow for a modern fridge. We gave no thought to the height. This model even had the color I wanted, black with a shiny skin.
What it didn’t have was a short delivery time. It would not deliver until Thursday.
So we did a little more digging into the porch freezer, reducing the sheer volume of food packed away “out of sight, out of mind.” Did a lot of eating out that week too. The new fridge arrived within 15 minutes of when promised, and I’ll give them points for installing it and hooking up the water line.
(Did I mention that the Brothers Fischer handed Dave the two checks he had written them, told him to tear them up and write another for substantially less money. “We didn’t fix your problem,” said one, and they charged only for their time and gas expenses.)
The team from the Home Depot was cheerful and quick after just one scare: The new unit was taller than our old one and cleared the overhead cabinet by a scant quarter inch.
The team leader was preparing to be deployed to Afghanistan by week’s end. He’s a Marine, and this is his third deployment. We shook hands all around, silently praying for a safe return to his wife and 17-year-old daughter.