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Friday, August 20, 2010

I've Got 99 Problems and A Fridge Is One

I hate my fridge. Let me say that again, I HATE MY FRIDGE. I shouldn’t complain, but I will and you will listen to my ranting, or at least go look at something else on the Internet until I'm done. The reason I shouldn’t complain is because the refrigerator came with the house. It’s an old Hotpoint fridge/ice box and it is, without a doubt, a design fail, in my opinion.  Here comes the airing of grievances. 

First off, the coolant piping runs along the ceiling of the fridge at an angle with about a four inch gap in between the left and right side set of pipes. These pipes slant upwards from the back of the top shelf. This means that in order to fit everything on that shelf you need to put the short stuff in the back and the tall stuff, like milk or juice, in the front. This prevents you from being able to see that jar of pickles in the back that is older than your kids. I am constantly opening or buying a new bottle of something because I didn’t know there was an already open one in the back of the fridge. Believe me, I went through three jars of strawberry jam before I figured this out.

Now, the fridge has managed to operate correctly the last six years I’ve lived in the house but last year it began having an identity crisis and will probably need replaced. What I’m saying is that the fridge thinks it’s the freezer. Early in 2009, I began to notice a small amount of ice on the pipes in the back of the fridge and then as time went on, the amount of ice grew until it enveloped all of the piping on the right hand side. I have only seen one other instance of this kind of ice growth. While my Mother-in-law was in UPMC’s Shadyside ER a couple of days, last year after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, I noticed one of those huge O2 tanks outside in the parking lot. One side of the tank was completely covered with ice that stood out almost half the diameter of the actual tank. The ice growth in my fridge was nearing those proportions. By September, I decided to get in there and try to fix the problem.

I grabbed one of the greatest inventions known to homeowners, a Scunci Steamer. My wife got this for Christmas, one year, and I’ve found more use for it than her. Truly, this is a wonderful thing and I highly recommend getting one. I’ve used it to clean paint off the hardwood floors in my daughter’s room. I should clarify that she did not do it, I did when I painted the room prior to her birth. Nail polish on the hardwood floor, comforter, dust ruffle, and herself was all her doing and unfortunately, I couldn’t use the steamer on her. I’ve also used it to clean the bathroom and it works great on blowing any mold out of the recessed joint between the bathtub and shower wraparound piece.

After waiting for water to boil, which is pretty much what I was doing, I got to work. I removed the contents of the fridge and began blasting the ice block with hot liquid magma, er… water vapor. The fridge threw a huge cloud of steam back at me as if I was putting Han Solo into carbon freeze. After an hour of clearing away ice and water I stood back and gave a “Hell yeah, fridge! You can suck it!” cry of accomplishment which had my wife doing a huge eye roll and muttering the word “dork” under her breath. I loaded everything back into the fridge and beat my chest in manliness. Then I burnt myself on the lid to the steamer and cried like a little girl.

The next day, I looked in on my fridge, prepared to gloat at my victory. But once again, there was a small layer of frost around the piping and a yellowed tint on the inside of the back wall behind the piping. I would have thought that the growth would have stopped there but it continued. Apparently, I had somehow developed a small leak in the pipe. This was going to continue to be a problem. I eventually just ignored it and dealt with having this issue. Once again, though, the ice block was removed, but not by my hands. Remember that little thing called Snowmageddon we had back in February? My power was off for two days over Super Bowl weekend and most of the ice melted away. Once the power came back on it came back with a vengeance, until this past weekend.
Because of the huge block of ice that had formed from February through August, I had less room in my fridge and things were being shoved into small places that should not have been. It was like one big booby trap ready to explode in my face and while reaching for something on the shelf I managed to push things around causing a can of pop to fall off the shelf. On its way to the floor it decided to pick up a hitchhiker in the form of the little button that controls the light. You know, the one that you push in with your finger so you can see what it’s like to be inside the fridge with the light out. Well, since it pulled the button clean off, the light would not turn off when I closed the door. I tried to fix it but was having no luck and just said, “’Eff it. The light stays on, now.” However, the next morning I noticed that the top shelf of the fridge was now wet. The light had begun to melt the ice. I had figured that I was going to have to eventually get back in there and clean it out but I didn’t realize I’d be doing it this weekend.
This shouldn’t be a problem because I have my Scunci steamer handy. It’s down in the laundry room, right? The red room? The back porch? Where the ‘Eff is it? Great, now I had to do this with a hair dryer. That takes forever.

I eventually got the ice removed and decided I might as well take care of the freezer while I was at it. I found a couple of wooly mammoths and the missing link when I defrosted it. I hadn’t defrosted it in probably two years and it managed to stay pretty well frozen during the power outage. Once again, I was lamenting the missing steamer which would have made short work of the glacier inside my icebox.

I’m thinking it may just be time to get rid of the fridge. Unfortunately, there are a lot of important factors to deal with in choosing a new one. The space is limited since the fridge is wedged into a hole between the kitchen wall and the stove. There is also limited space above it due to a set of cabinets attached to the bulkhead.  I don’t think there will be enough room for a side by side model because of the space and I have make sure I get one with the door opening to the right. The doorway to the kitchen sits right next to the fridge and it you open the fridge, you can’t enter the kitchen.  Not that any of use can get into the kitchen while you are in the fridge, but I’m thinking of my kid and my cats who might tear off down the hallway and try to make that turn, only to find themselves in Wylie Coyote mode, running into the door.

As for look, my wife wants stainless stell but I've been told they are a bitch to clean.  Black is also nice but will probably show off every little smudge, too.   Another thing to consider is that I am getting standing orders from my wife that we should by the fridge and the oven together to match the styles.   Um, come on Powerball.   Maybe I can hold off until Christmas to find one or both.  Hell, maybe I'll check the scratch and dent centers.   My only issue with those is beyond having a possible cosmetic defect, which doesn't bother me, I wonder if in getting that defect was the internal components of the fridge damaged.   I don't want to be standing there with a nice brand new fridge using a scunci steamer in three months because I wanted to save a few bucks.  I'm cheap but not that cheap.


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