One morning early last October I went to the fridge to get milk for my coffee, and what I poured into the steaming cup emerged as a glop glop glop of milk gone bad. I checked the refrigerator: it was as warm as the room. Same for the freezer. 

While there’s no convenient time for a fridge to conk out, this was a particularly inconvenient time: Catherine was just out of hospital and the household was not operating at peak efficiency.

The fridge’s death was not unanticipated: it was 19 years old, with decaying seals and a noisy gait. So we opted to consider replacement rather than repair.

I made the rounds of the city’s appliance stores: M&M, Leons, The Brick, Best Buy, MacArthur’s, Home Depot. The search was made both easier and harder by the restrictions imposed by Catherine and by the available space: the replacement had to fit within 32” deep, 30” wide and 67” high, and it had to be a fridge with a freezer on the bottom. Put together, that narrowed our choices down to 1 or 2 models.

The search was further frustrated by the lack of stock in city stores: the quickest we could have a fridge in place was 10 days.

Perhaps repair was the only option? We consulted a friend who consulted a friend, and the advice we got back was to empty the fridge and freezer, unplug, wait 12 hours, and then see what happened.

This worked!

Our fridge, if not quite “as good as new” after an overnight rest, was back to cooling things.

I restocked.

At this point the logical follow-on action would have been to order a new fridge, but life interceded with distractions and complications, and, hey, the fridge was working.

And it kept working. And working.

This summer, though, I began to notice additional signs of decay: increased ice buildup in the freezer, condensation in the fridge, and anything put in the “crisper” drawers would freeze solid.

A week ago I went fridge shopping, using the same limitations, and a single model of fridge emerged as the clear choice: a Whirlpool WRB329DFBW. It fit the space. It had a bottom freezer. And there was local inventory: if I ordered last Monday, a new fridge could be delivered in a week.

But I hemmed and hawed: it’s a large investment, even if it will be amortized over the next 20 years. I shopped around. Checked Consumer Reports

It wasn’t until Saturday that I went out to actually make a purchase, from Birt’s Furniture (selected for having a fridge in stock rather than for any preference otherwise). Deal done. Delivery in a week.

On Monday night I went to pour myself a refreshing glass of iced tea, iced tea that had been chilling in the fridge for 5 or 6 hours. It was still hot.

I checked the thermometer in the fridge: 17.5ºC. Damn.

Unable to face the task ahead immediately, I left things as-is and went to bed. Tuesday morning I got up early and cleaned out the fridge (miraculously, the freezer is still working). Truth be told, it was in need of a clean-out: there were still not-very-perishable things, in back of the back, that Catherine had purchased before Christmas.

I called Birt’s to see about moving up the delivery date, and I’m waiting to hear back.

And I’m kicking myself still for my reticence a week ago: had I bought the fridge then, all of this could have been avoided.


Susan White's picture
Susan White on August 5, 2020 - 11:14 Permalink

That's the exact model of fridge we bought three years ago after ours died at the 14 year mark and a repairman was unsuccessful in repairing it. We operated out of a large cooler for 10 days before the new one arrived. I admire your optimism in believing that an appliance built now will last 20 years - I hope you're right because appliance shopping is the worst.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on August 5, 2020 - 15:14 Permalink

Updated: Birt’s has moved our delivery up to this Friday!