Two months ago I noticed that the strip between the doors on my side-by-side refrigerator was hot.  Also that when I opened the freezer, there was a red light blinking on the panel with the on/off switch for the ice maker.  So I called the KitchenAid help line listed in my product manual.  The clueless woman (in India?) who answered said that the ice storage bin was too full and that I should occasionally turn the ice maker off, which I did.

Two days before I was to drive to San Diego my refrigerator died.  I came home, opened the freezer, and a cascade of water gushed out.  Took a few items over to neighbor’s second refrigerator (which was already packed) in their garage, but the ice cream was already a liquid.  Figured cheeses, frozen egg whites and so on could hold off.

The repairman came the next morning with a fan which he thought it needed, but after doing the diagnostics said that no, it was an inverter (#36 on the left in the diagram).  And when he called his parts department, they said that part had been back-ordered since January.  So instead of a $290 part (plus installation), I was told I needed to buy a new refrigerator ($2300 + tax to replace the counter-depth one I have).

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Getting ready to go down to the showroom to purchase the replacement refrigerator, I thought that I should check online for the part.  Oh my, PartSelect had it for only $218.25!  I called the appliance store back.  The parts guy called the repair guy (who had just left) and it turned out he had checked out the wrong part number.  Low and behold, their supplier had the correct part, if only one left.

So the repair guy juggled his schedule and showed up the next morning to replace that part, with no guarantee that the compressor won’t go next, so this may go on.

Ankle bone connected to the shin bone
Shin bone connected to the knee bone
Knee bone connected to the thigh bone

Do you believe that it was just an error, checking out a wrong part number?  Am I cynical/ paranoid to think they were scamming me?  This is the top appliance place in town.

Left for San Diego just after lunch, relieved that the fridge broke before I left, rather than after I left, leaving a problem for my house-sitter.

Over a month later, noted that the strip between the doors is still hot.  This time I cleverly resorted to the internet:

A failed condenser fan or extremely dirty condenser coils could cause the mullion to be warmer than normal. You can clean the condenser coils by unplugging the refrigerator and removing the bottom front grill. Clean any dust off of the grill. Clean the front of the condenser with a soft brush and a vacuum cleaner. Replace the grill when you are finished. Plug the refrigerator back in.

You can check the condenser fan by removing the bottom service panel on the outside back panel of the refrigerator. If the fan is not running then this will definitely cause a hot mullion. This type of problem will normally need to be repaired by a service technician.1

Emailed that to the appliance store with the question of what to do, as I assumed that the repairman had cleaned the coils and he said that I didn’t need the fan. The store rep called back, had spoken with the repairman, who did not remember me mentioning the heat, but we were both rushing on that morning, so he had not cleaned the coils.  Anyway, he said that I needed to open the doors, take off the bottom panel, and clean the condenser coils with the official condenser coils brush, which is long to get to the back.   I bought an overpriced one at Ace, as it’s close, and took off the panel…

Yes!  The coils were covered in dust, maybe half an inch thick.  They’re clean now, so everything should be copacetic.

Regarding the blinking LED light, seems it flashes with a code:

To initiate an optics check, perform the following steps:

1. Open the freezer door.
2. View the status LED. It should flash twice,pause for 1 second, and repeat the cycle for as long as the door is open.

4. Close the flapper door on the emitter module so that the infrared beam has a clear path to the receiver board.
5. Make sure that the door switch is not pushed in, and view the status LED. With the flapper door on the emitter module held closed, and the ice maker not in the 5 minute “harvest” mode, the status LED should be on steady. This indicates that the optics circuits are operating properly. If the status LED continues to flash, refer to the “Troubleshooting Chart” on page 5-9.2

Check that out: got both the double flash and with the emitter module held closed, a steady light.  So that’s OK.

Hot Water Heater

Since the house is 10 years old, and since I had to replace an AC unit and part of my refrigerator so far (my next-door-neighbor did mention that her last refrigerator, back in New Jersey, lasted for 30 years), figured that I ought to worry about my water heater.  Turns out you’re supposed to drain them every 6 months and I’ve never done it.  Scared, but resourceful, having my pal, the internet.


Draining and Flushing
It is recommended that the tank be drained and flushed every 6 months to remove sediment which may build up during operation.  To drain the tank, perform the following steps:
1. Disconnect the electrical power to the water heater.
2. Open a nearby hot water faucet until the water is no longer hot.
3. Close the cold water inlet valve.
4. Connect a hose to the drain valve and terminate it to an adequate drain or external to the building.
5. Open the water heater drain valve and allow all of the water to drain from the tank. Flush the tank with water as needed to remove sediment.
6. Close the drain valve, refill the tank, and restart the water heater as directed in this manual.
CAUTION: Do not turn on power to the water heater unless it is completely filled with water. To ensure that the tank is full, open a hot water faucet and allow the water to run until the air is purged and the water flows uninterrupted from the faucet.

Went to the circuit box outside, scooted away the wolf spider, and shut off the breaker. Ran the water in a tub until cold, closed the valve, connected the hose and opened the water heater drain valve, and…  Had no idea how long it would take to empty.  Worried that by closing off the cold water inlet, and emptying the tank, that it would create a vacuum and implode.  Actually, it kept the water draining very slowly.  No sediment or anything.  Tried flushing a bit of cold water into it.  Just got it running faster.  It had gone to a trickle, so close the drain valve, refilled the tank, and restarted the water heater.

Temperature and Pressure
Relief Valve

relief valveManually operate the temperature and pressure relief valve at least once a year to make sure it is working properly.  To prevent water damage, the valve must be properly connected to a discharge line which terminates at an adequate drain.  Standing clear of the outlet (discharged water may be hot), slowly lift and release the lever handle on the temperature and pressure relief valve to allow the valve to operate freely and return to its closed position. If the valve fails to completely reset and continues to release water, immediately disconnect the electrical power, close the cold water inlet valve and call a qualified person.3

Couldn’t get the handle to lift.  Called the 800 number on the water heater.  The man who answered said it could be hard to do if it  hadn’t been done in years, and maybe I wasn’t strong enough.  So asked my neighbor to lend his male strength.  Done.  But even though the valve reset, there is still a drip drip drip outside from the discharge line outside.  Called the 800 number back  and the recording said to call during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 7am until 7pm.  That’s weird.  The guy had answered today (Saturday).  Darn.  Have to turn the circuit breaker back off.  No hot water until Monday.  (I can’t imagine that a drip drip drip could result in death or explosion, but what do I know.)

I also had read about the Anode Rod (#11 on the diagram below), of which I had no prior knowledge.

hot water

anodeAnode Rod
Each water heater contains at least one anode rod, which will slowly deplete while protecting the glass-lined tank from corrosion and prolonging the life of the water heater.
Once the anode is depleted, the tank will start to corrode, eventually developing a leak. Certain water conditions will cause a reaction between this rod and the water. The most common complaint associated with the anode rod is a “rotten egg smell” produced from the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas dissolved in the water.
The anode rod should be inspected after a maximum of three years and annually thereafter until the condition of the anode rod dictates its replacement.

When I had the 800 guy on the line, asked him about this, as there was a round space in the top of the water heater, filled with Styrofoam, where the anode rod was supposed to be.  He said I’d have to get a qualified professional to take out the anode rod.  So forget that.

But then I asked him how long my water heater was warranted.  He asked for the serial number, then said six years.  Great.  It was put in ten years ago when I built the house.  Do I gamble that nothing will happen until after I sell the house, or bite the bullet and buy a replacement?  Amazon has the same one for $376.33 + $82.79 shipping, but then I still need to have a licensed plumber take out the old one and put in the new, no doubt for hundreds more.

These are more fun:

Flash Mob


doughMy brother convinced me to get on Facebook just to see my daughter’s postings of my grandkids – I don’t post myself, having this blog – but I do have to pass on some posts, this and Flash Mob, above.


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7 Responses to “Appliances”

  1. Lynn Shore Says:

    Wow! you are my hero!

  2. Mitch Says:

    YOu are my hero too… THAT is why the strip is hot on MY fridge!!

  3. Jim Says:

    We use a different approach: when any appliance stops operating, beyond the expected lifetime, we immediately replace it with a new one. In the case of our electric hot water heater, which invariably breaks-down before the warrantee expires and we immediately get a free replacement.

    • notesfromthewest Says:

      But the water heater was working fine; I just got it in my head to drain it. The guy who replaced the pressure relief valve said it looks like new and I shouldn’t have to worry until the bottom starts looking rusty. (The warranty was for 6 years, and the water heater was put in 10 years ago.)

  4. Jim Says:

    As I recall, I drained a little water from one of my Whirlpool electric water tanks several years ago, to see what sediments might be causing the problem; and saw nothing different from the water out of tap.
    When it dripped, after I tightly turned plastic valve off, I examined the valve and noticed this odd slot at the center. It looked like a slot for screwdriver. So inserted a large screwdriver into the slot and turned it slightly, and again tightened the valve by hand. It stopped the drip.

  5. Jim Says:

    I put the pressure relief valve drain into the washing machine drain – not outdoors. I have never had to replace a pressure relief valve; it always operates perfectly.

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