Friday, May 24, 2013

What Happened to American Appliances.....Specifically Refrigerators ?

   
My parents refrigerator lasted seventeen years that I know of, possibly more. It needed occasional defrosting, and never once saw a repair man, or had maintenance done, other than my mother's vacuuming behind it and dusting it's rear grill when she did Spring cleaning.



    When I was a child , I remember that my parents bought a Frigidaire refrigerator at the Sears Scratch and Dent, which often sold completely new merchandise, when there was simply one left of something. This was the case with our large Frigidaire.  My parents bought it when I must have been about eight, and the classic solid refrigerator was still there functioning perfectly, when they sold the house, and I was by that time, grown, married and in my own house, at twenty five, with two tiny children.  I think it sold with the house and I am not sure how long the new owners kept it.
               It's funny how subtle things that happened in your childhood impact your attitudes, even when you don't realize that they do.  I held the foolish notion that I would buy a refrigerator, and that I too might enjoy a refrigerator until my own kids were grown.  Well that was disordered thinking indeed !
My first house came with a frij, and it was still there functioning when we moved, and sold it with the house. My second house came with one, which lasted about five years. Our third house had one that lasted five years.  We built our fourth home, a farm, and when I selected a new refrigerator, I thought, "Now we are starting new. This will be that longstanding frij for us".  It was pretty expensive, and it should have been.  But just like the Circuit City store it came from, its compressor was gone in five years.  For goodness sake, microwaves were holding up better than refrigerators !   About six years ago, we built this final house, the final farm.  We were obligated to spend everything we had received from the sale of the last farm or we would have to pay capital gains tax on the remainder.  For this reason, we arranged with the builder to buy upscale appliances.  Since our kids have some special food needs, and we don't eat out, it made sense to have really good appliances.  My husband selected a gorgeous professional chef's Thermador stove, complete with a griddle, and an exhaust vent system which could suck a cat through to the roof.   It was my turn to select a matching refrigerator which would be in keeping with the kitchen, and since I always decorate with an idea to being able to sell quickly and easily in the future, I wanted a solid looking stainless one.   I went to several upscale kitchen companies.  They had refrigerators for ten thousand dollars !  I finally found one that had originally been about $8,100 which not only matched the Thermador, but was extremely roomy, reliable, and had all the features I wanted. It was a top of the line Electrolux.  It was discounted by half as it had been lent for two weeks to one of their clients when their original one had not worked properly and required work within warranty.  Finally I thought, I have the refrigerator that will last as long as I will need one.
                  This was not to be.  This week, it was my husband who first noticed that the temperature read out for the refrigerator was right at forty degrees, but the one for the freezer was drifting up. At first we thought we needed to make an adjustment to the dials for the hot weather, and so we did. It made no difference. Then we moved all of the items in the freezer to our large deep freezer in another room and resolved to find a repair company that would come all the way out here (where they don't actually deliver mail.)
                  I finally found a brave and reputable soul who made the long trip. At one point he called me asking if he had missed the exit, and I told him he had another twenty minutes on the interstate to go, before finding ours.
                  He hooked a machine up to the refrigerator to do a diagnostic, and then fed the data to Electrolux who told us both that the compressor, the evaporator, and a third system I had never heard of, would require replacement.  This will be pricey.    The repair man discussed my simply buying a new frij.
I got on the internet to check prices and I found that the new Electrolux no longer has a five year warranty, only a one year variety.  I could buy another brand for several thousand dollars and then need one in five years again.   I am seriously considering simply having the work done.
                   What ever happened to a refrigerator which lasts your entire marriage, or at least as long as you have your children in your home ?   Why are the new appliances thinly made, cheap looking, and with logic boards that blow with the first outage.   It may not be the brightest thing to do, but intuitively, I think I will pay what I need to, to place a new compressor in a sealed system for a solid looking Electrolux.  Wish me luck, perhaps I should be asking for prayers.
                  There is one more consideration here. Here I am with back up systems for power outages, yet only a large working freezer for long term food.  My primary refrigerator is failing.  This is a big preparedness concern.  (Fortunately, animal vaccines and medications are stored in a small devoted frij elsewhere.)


They no longer have a picture of the one I have. Mine has an ice machine for several different types of ice and cold water on the door. Nice features, but I just need it to keep food cold.


UPDATE:   Two weeks later, we still have no refrigerator.  The man who originally came out from Richmond who said it needed a new compressor and would call to confirm installing it all day last Wednesday never called again, and didn't return our calls.  This morning a new appliance company certified in Electrolux, is scheduled to come out between noon and three, but only to do diagnostics. They will have to order whatever it needs.   Meanwhile, we limp by with a freezer in another part of the house and lettuce, ham, yogurt and everything else have to be consumed within a day. This is an expensive proposition with all the stores being so far away.



UPDATE:   June,  2014

I am happy to say that the replacement of multiple key systems of the Electrolux refrigerator occurred in late May of 2013.    The unit has behaved perfectly ever since.  The inside door readout indicates that the refrigerator is 40 degrees F and that the freezer is holding at 0.      Lets hope it will be long lived !



28 comments:

Mamma Bear said...

Our old appliances lasted much longer as well. My Grandmother had a refrigerator in her kitchen with a handle that you pulled to unlock the door. It was still there when my uncle bought the house from the estate and continued to be used.

When we remodeled the kitchen I wanted the stainless appliances. I hate them. They require polishing all the time or the entire kitchen looks dirty. I know these won't last long so I will be going back to a basic color when they need replacing. I love those big models like yours but I would have to enlarge the kitchen or remove some cabinets to have one. I keep overflow in the refrigerator we moved to the shed when we remodeled. It is about 18 years old and still going. I even bought appliance paint once and painted it. It looked brand new again.

Don't even get me started on washers and dryers...grrrrrr

K said...

Planned obsolescence, it drives the debt bubble and consumer spending. I suggest Consumer Reports for any major purchases, or Amazon ratings for individuals rankings as a starting point. I'll send out prayers regardless....

JaneofVirginia said...

I think I will have this one repaired. The prayers are always appreciated !

JaneofVirginia said...

I think the large models are nice when you have four plus children at home, many of them boys. It makes shopping at Sam's Club easier because you frij fits their larger packages, like a 48 pack of Activia yogurt. However, when the kids start to go to college and then move away, there is a lot to clean, and refrigerate.
I have been lucky with washer dryers. With my first house I went to a laundry. (It was half my life !) With the second house and thereafter I had the same set of Maytag for many years. When we sold the last suburban house, we sold them with the house. With this house I bought a GE washer and dryer and it has been running continuously for six years. However, no matter what I pay, I can't get a toaster to last longer than a year.

DFW said...

When we remodeled, we went with high end as well, or so we thought. GE Profile. Bad decision, while almost everything is working now we've had to have the cooktop, refrigerator & ovens worked on. Right now the lower oven heating element went out. Husband ordered new one which he could have easily replaced. But when he took it out he didn't remove the knobs & of course I turns the oven on & a wire was touching the side & it blew the circuit out (jeesh) which he can't easily fix. Anyway, we called GE & their technician refused to work on it because WE had 'taken it apart' & they can't guarantee the work they do on it. Now we are on the look for a reputable independent repair person.

JaneofVirginia said...

I am sorry to hear of your challenges. Just so you know, the reputable repair contractor who came out yesterday felt that "Electrolux was just an expensive end of Frigidaire" and that GE was the best and most reliable in actual practice. I thought I had bought restaurant grade, but apparently there's planned obsolescence there too.

Linda said...

When we married, we bought a refrigerator and washer at Sears Employees Store in Memphis. It is the same type place that at one time was only for employees. Fortunately for us it was then open to the public. Both those and the dryer we bought a year later lasted 30 years. When I bought a new washer and mentioned this to the salesman, he laughed and said, "I hope you aren't expecting this washer to last 30 years!" So, I am on my second set of washer, dryer, and refrigerator since 1966.I am on my second microwave and second toaster. Since most of the stoves were built in, it is hard to say how long they last. We would buy a stove and the next place had a built-in. I replaced the element in the last built-in and lived to tell about it and did not burn the house down.

I got rid of the first refrigerator, the one that lasted 30 years because the freezer would not defrost. A repairman later told me that would have cost $30 to fix. But, I would have been repairing an avocado refrigerator. I went with white for all replacements after that. I even lived with avocado and white appliances in my kitchen as each thing wore out. The dishwasher only lasted about 20 years. Bummer.

I do buy GE or Kenmore and not the top of the line model. Kenmore made the appliances that lasted 30 years.

$8000 is too much money for that appliance not to last forever. I would have it repaired. And, have a priest come in and bless it. jk

Can you see how the name "Practical Parsimony" came about?

Linda said...

I read this comment of yours after I replied. My friends can afford expensive appliances. They pity me because I can "only" afford GE or Kenmore or Whirlpool appliances. For some reason, I bought an Amana washer when I replaced the washer. ??? must have been features or low price.

Right now, I really want a refrigerator that has freezer on the bottom and double door refrigerator on the top. My first refrigerator was configured like that. My back just does not like bending to the floor for fruits and vegetables in the crispers.

lotta joy said...

I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for repairmen to find your house! I remember mom chopping at the metal ice cube trays to get them lose from the frost, then having to defrost. When I sold my home, it was full of high energy efficient appliances that were so expensive, they came with lifetime guarantees. After landing in the new home, every appliance (water heater, heat pump, ac, washer, dryer, fridge and range) died. And I mean, within the first month.

This time, I replaced everything with cheaper models and only one year warranties. MY warranty will probably expire before they need replaced.

I remember my mom, at age 69, buying 25 year extended warranties and I wondered "why?" It all depends on your age, darlin.

JaneofVirginia said...

He is the only repairman ever to come here. Nothing else has ever needed anything since the builder completed it. We do have the gas logs serviced every one or two years.
There just doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason to why things fail. We had a good brand microwave fail within the first year. Other things that might not have been expensive, go on and on.

JaneofVirginia said...

Yes, normally WE wouldn't have bought upscale appliances. We only did so when we learned that unless we put some expensive things in our farm, that we would be paying capital gains on the sale of the last one. We were under budget and needed to spend a bit more. We had already put all oak floors in, so that was off the table.

JaneofVirginia said...

My college roommate always bought Kenmore everything, and her washer dryer ran continuously for 25 years ! (Eight kids) I think the freezer on the bottom works well for many people. I don't have that, but my aunt did, and she loved it.

Gorges Smythe said...

You might want to consider one (or more) of the gas refrigerators carried by Lehman Hardware. I think they can be set up for propane to make them usable anywhere.

JaneofVirginia said...

I thought about that this week but I wanted to talk to our Amish friends and ask a few questions. I will have to save for one, but even if the original is fixed, I may get one of these as a back up.
As always Gorges, thanks for your post !

Dani said...

The manufacturers won't make money if a fridge lasts too long. They depend on your replacing the appliance as soon as possible. A very sad state of affairs.

I mhave even heard that there is a toothpaste whihc has been developed in Australia, which is 100% effective against tooth decay, but the powers that be are blocking it, because the dentist will be without work if it's freely available.

JaneofVirginia said...

My parents frij lasted so long, and I can't get one to last more than five years !
If there is such a toothpaste, how sad that so much of the world loses their teeth, suffers dietary disruption which eventually contributes to their deaths. There would always be a need for dentists for oral health issues, malocclusion, broken teeth, even if dental caries were severely curtailed. I hope such a thing exists and is made available.

Praveen Pandey said...

Thanx for ur post and ur information,but one thing u dont know about, sargam electronics in delhi has 22 big showrooms, it is the biggest retail chain in electronics in delhi/ncr, deals with big brands and provides best and cheapest Refrigerator in Delhi/NCR. Home Delivery, C.O.D and EMI's facilities available.

JaneofVirginia said...

Praveen, Thank you for your information and I think our readers in India would be interested, however in the US it would be supremely cost prohibitive to have an appliance sent from India COD. Thanks for your post, though.

john smith said...

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JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks for your comment, John. Readers can click on your coupons if interested.

Vivek Singh said...

Ya the old appliances last for longer period of time. But still numerous brands in the market that offer better durability. I am using Frost Free
refrigerator
and it is best in terms of durability and long life.

JaneofVirginia said...

Glad you found one that is working well for you. Mine has been repaired and is doing well just now. Thanks for posting.

Arshdeep Sidhu said...

had an great experience with this refrigerator and fabulous refrigerator its very time saving machine it consume very less time to cool

JaneofVirginia said...

It looks like a nice one. I don't really mind if the unit takes time to cool initially during set up. I am most interesting in it maintaining it's cool in the long term, and not needing a run a great deal to do so ! Thanks for your post.

Kushal Pandit said...

nice post and ur huge full infromation about washing machine. i just hear about sargam. its is the biggest retail chain in electronics, has 22 big shpwrooms in delhi/ncr till oct. 2013 and now going to launch 6 new stores in this area. sargam provides best & cheapest electronics products like tv, ac, refrigerator, washing machine, laptop, mobiles, home & kitchen appliances etc at very affordable prices. free shipping, c.o.d or emi's available.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks for posting. Sargam is a company that provides the items you mentioned in India. In the US, another provider would be cheaper. We do have readers from India here.

Ramiz Raza said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JaneofVirginia said...

Post removed as although the item was complimentary to this blog, it contained a link to advertising information which was not authorized by blog owner, and is therefore not permitted under our Advertising and Commentary page above.