Prepping: Home Appliance School

One of the non-obvious problems of living to a ripe old age (we’re into our 70’s, yeah?) is that you will no doubt begin to outlive most all the crap you have acquired over the years.

How to keep up with the rising expenses when things – especially major appliances – begin to break down can be something of a challenge.  While we have a little dough in the bank,. trading account, and no bills (other than the water bill and usual paid-monthly crap (garbage, power, yada, yada) there’s no point in burning through life savings on things we MAY be able to fix ourselves.

Such was the case a week back when Elaine and I both noticed that the fridge was not keeping things as cold as it should.  An overnight with a temp and humidity meter bore out our worst fears:  The fridge was on the fritz.

I don’t know if you’ve been shopping for a modest (22 Cubic Foot class side-by-side fridge lately, but they ain’t cheap.  In fact, its easy to roll past the $1,000 price tag – if you’re not careful.

So instead, we decided to throw a little money and labor at the problem ourselves.  Not that either of us is accomplished appliance repair persons, but it’s not rocketry.  Here’s where we started:

troubleshooting chart 1

The very first thing – which I didn’t note at the time – was that my filtered water for my tea wasn’t taking as long to heat up in the ‘wave.  Went from 2:30 to 2:12.  I had written that off as “water water in summer already?”  Bad call.

Then the beer got warm.

And so over a week, or three, the dandy fridge grew horns and started to look mighty unfriendly.

The second phase of solving was to hit the web and start researching like hell:

First Pass at Solving

Problem solving like this is usually an iterative process.  You go through all the videos and how-to’s on the web, figure out what is cheap and likely and work up the cost food-chain as needed, adjusting along the way for new-found knowledge.

In this case, Monday was spent pulling out the fridge, re-leveling it, defrosting the blockage on the fridge side and also cleaning out the evaporator drain tube.  It was surprisingly clean…and dry.

This eventually got me to making a short list of “What might be wrong” – and from there we will move forward as parts come in.

The first thing is the freezer is just very damn cold. And since our prepping freezer isn’t as big, we will have to “eat our way” into the problem a bit.  Meals like frozen fresh fish and a some filets, and why not make a nice pot roast.  Why, how bad can this fixing-to-get ready be?

Statistically, the most likely part to be bad is the $18 evaporator heating unit thermostat.  That was is attractive because it would keep everything else from working right…although the next escalation if that isn’t it would be an evaporator fan motor ($65) and an equally pricey heating unit. Fan blades could be broken and stuck, too, but not as likely.

A lot of times we take the modern conveniences of life very much for-granted.

But this encounter was a reminder (to us) that “in the event of an actual emergency” how much of our food will store in a freeze and how much in freeze-dried or cans…so we don’t require refrigeration?

We’ve got frozen veggies, a couple of pizzas, but most of the frozen stuff is meat and fish (high protein sources) and all this has the feel of a wake-up call.

Can we throw a $1,000 bill at it and be done?  Sure, but at some point it became a personal challenge.  Figuring out how to get things back together can be a brain puzzler, too.

Main thing is to be appliance model-number driven in all purchase decisions.  In addition to Amazon, look to sites like (which has great exploded drawings) and which gives you something like Las Vegas odds on whether the part will solve the problem.  In this case, 42% odds the evap heater thermostat will solve it.

One subtlety to the AppliancePartsPros site:  If they have a model page on whatever you went and broke, try hitting all their symptom and troubleshooting links.

That’s because their “fridge too warm” says 42% odds on evaporator thermostat, but since the freezer is also icing up now, that is solved 99% of the time with the thermostat, I couldnb’t go wrong.  (We’ll see about that, lol…)

With odds like that, I’m willing to spend a little boy-girl appliance mechanic time with Elaine and keep $900-bucks in our pocket instead of someone else’s.

We still have ice for our drinks, so we’ll just have to remember to toss beer in the freezer 45-minutes to cocktail hour for a week or two.

Besides:  In Amazonese (management style tip from Jeff Bezos I read recent in a book on mental modeling of decisionmaking) this “let’s try oursevles” is an entirely reversible decision.  We can take “the cheap path” and if it doesn’t work, no one will turn up their nose at our long-green for a new machine.  If it costs $100 in parts, hey!  That’s the cost of what…dinner out?

There’s a momentary “inconvenience” sure, but how much are you willing to suffer fort $900 bucks?

Write when you get rich,

19 thoughts on “Prepping: Home Appliance School”

  1. You didnt mention what you arw going to wear for this “feat” of repair. Dress for success George.

    Like today, im in black Romeo’s, Lee blue jeans, a black belt from ‘Rhino’ and a Black Vader T-shirt and my purple and gold Huskey’s hat with a big “W” on the top.of it.

    Oh and i have black “calvin Kien” drawers on and 2 pairs of black ‘gold toe’ socks on.

    “Dressin the part” is as much about success as having the right tool. ;)

    • Andy…do you get your romeos online and if so where would you suggest to get a good pair reasonable..
      They use to sell them around here then the company closed. I haven’t been able to get a decent pair since..
      The most comfortable slipper around..

  2. Yeah… I had the same issue.. a couple of years ago.. having it fixed would cost more than buying a new one to.. that year was a tough one all the appliances went one right after another.. the good thing is I can… I vacuum pack and do retort canning.. and I freeze dry.. ( the bad part about doing half gallon ice cream.. once it is freeze dried.. you blend it to a powder.. then to reconstitute it.. you add the water till it reaches half gallon.. then put it in an old hand crank ice cream maker freeze it slow.. that way it will come out with the creamy texture it went in as) steaks.. I love freeze dried hamburger.. we buy a cow every year what is left when we get it go’s into canning or freeze drying..then vacuum pack with an oxygen absorber or in jars with an oxygen absorber.. if you don’t have oxygen absorbers.. then get iron dust and salt put it in a tea bag or small container like a tea strainer or jar with holes in the top or a coffee filter etc.. .. same thing.. the corrosion of the iron eats up the oxygen.. retort that is easy.. vacuum pack the frozen food then pressure can it.. ( I still havn’t figured out the right mix for pasta) to can in can’s that to is easy.. you need a can seamer.. this company is the one I buy from.. has everything) but canning is ok.. put in can till a half inch from top then put the cans in a pan of water heat until the product reaches 180 degrees. seam the top then pressure can the recommended time for that product..
    if you do carp.. carp boned and cut out the muddy portion… pack it in olive oil.. will taste just like tuna..)
    an oil extractor is good to have to.. crank out some cooking oil.. keeps the kids busy..

    • Like you we raise and can everything we eat, from jams to meat and everything in between,never used any metal cans, simply glass with different enclosures.The only problem we run into was the cheap junk they call appliance’s,bought a new GE stove and in less then five years holes had rust thru the oven by one burner,replaced all the burner wires at least three time and some of the burners twice,and you can just imagine what the burners looked like when you sit an 18 qt. caner or even the 9 qt. caner on top of one,found an old 1956 Frigidaire range on Craig’s list for a hundred bucks and problem solved,ah for the good days when America knew what quality was, but then again greed has a habit of turning a saint into the devil.!!!

  3. Why the Vader shirt? Cause the bad guys fear Him the most. When “they” be ‘remote viewing’ in on me, i want them to see what I want them to see. Did you know that Darth Vader actually translates in several languaged to mean “Father” and that “Darth Vader” was born by ‘the force’ and didnt actually have a biological Daddy? Also, it was the very first character George Lucas came up with. The whole “star wars” series was actually based around him. Eh? The more ya know.

    On to grab that Big Check! Thank my lucky stars, its a good day

    Have a good day old dude.

  4. As long as you’re into the evaporator unit, might as well replace the temp sensor while you’re in there. Only another $15 and then you know that the 2nd leading cause of your problem is also resolved.

  5. Yo Looking OTB – after U cut out the “muddy portion” of the carp, what is left? I am intrigued by ANY recipe pro porting to make carp edible.Used to observe Russian fisherman keeping the carp they caught – said they put it in gelatin type salad – cold like. I cant even eat hatchery raised trout cause of that “muddy taste” – smoked rainbow/brown trout is pretty good eats. Main concern with bottom feeder type fish – carp/catfish is they eat crap off the bottom ie U is what U eatz..therefore I feel like I will be eating CRAP, not Carp.

    As for appliance repair – will be interesting to watch for cascade of failures as our Intrepid Appliance Repairman replaces one POS part with brand new POS part..too much fun.

    Wheres the Bitcoin FUD/Fakenewz red herrings? no non sequiturs?, false dilemmas…grid down? or ad hominem mobs bwahahaha or media fav Card Stacking ?

    Cmon George – at least the Fungability idea is worthy of “chewing on” ..a lil bit.

    Bitcoins can indeed be exchanged for other Cyrptos or physical FRN’s with or without power via paperwallets/phonewallets – reducto circulalus – that dog does not hunt.

    Grid Down Extended – Treasury Direct Accounts, Bank Accounts, Brokerage Accounts will ALL be usless and worth zero to a cold, and hungry human being.
    Why even precious metals will be of very limited value in SHTF scenarios. Food/coffee, Alcohol,Smokes, Guns&Bullets, they will be fungible.

    BTFD! with Sell Stop to limit lose if wrong. Time and Probability we can determine – determining Price in future is impossible..therefore Probability suggests higher from here..until We Work and Uber IPO’s have been sold – then Tech Wreak can commence anew – imho.

  6. Fixing appliances is definitely valuable if you can do it quickly or if you’re spending quality time doing it with the wife. If something gets expensive – like a new compressor, then my go-to is Craigslist. I have two spare refrigerators at the moment in good condition and as many washers and dryers. I didn’t buy them directly – they were byproducts of other deals. When you have extra dry storage for them, it makes sense. I have some old and crappy appliances that will go to the scrapyard when I have a good reason to drive the truck or van to town. Until then, they stay here out of sight.

    My next unwanted job needs to be changing a leaky injector pump on my truck. Not fun, but the engine is worth it.

    • When I run low on cash I just rub one out at the sperm bank and viola my appliances are fixed with $200

  7. I have the appliance blues as well, George. We rent our place so you might think it’s “not my problem” except our landlady doesn’t have the bucks for huge appliance repair costs so I try to help her out (and keep our rent from increasing) by lending a hand.
    Both hinges on our wall mount double gas over have gone kaput. It’s a Frigidaire (made by Electrolux) and parts are no longer available, so digging through the ‘net I found a dude who on eBay who has both hinges (NOS) but wants $399! I offered him $200 but he says he’s holding out for the full amount.
    If anyone knows of a supplier specializing in out-of-date parts, please point me in the right direction.
    In the meantime we’re considering buying a new convection toaster oven big enuff for most of what we might cook. This one is big enough for a frozen pizza or small turkey.

    • There are dozens of people on the Web who restore old appliances. Many of them either sell parts, or list sites on their links pages which do. At worst, you’ll find there’s no replacement and someone’s come up with a nifty (cheap) idea for a working substitution.

      Don’t search for your part, search for restoration websites. Read. Don’t be afraid to drop the site owner a line. Some of them are in it for the money, but most of them just like and appreciate the build and quality of old appliances, and will help if they can…

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