Coffee heat rising

The Appliance Jamboree

Welp…since the (radically expensive!) kitchen faucet croaked over, every appliance in the kitchen has decided to do the same. The dishwasher died: when I rolled out of the sack yesterday morning, having turned it on about 9:00 the previous night, the damn thing was still running!

I managed to get the Bosch service folks on the phone, and they arranged to send a repairman over…next Monday! In the meantime, I’ve been cooking and cleaning out of the garage, which mercifully has a work sink. Otherwise, with no kitchen faucet and no dishwasher, the only place I’d be able to prepare food and wash up would’ve been a bathroom.

Also meanwhile…a while ago, the water dispenser on the refrigerator quit working.

Both the dishwasher and the fridge are 16 years old — installed when I moved into this place — and so it’s not surprising that they should be giving up the ghost. At one point, a repairdude remarked to me that modern appliances are engineered to crap out after 7 years. So…what is surprising is that they’ve lasted this long.

Frank the Plumber is due to show up tomorrow to install the new faucet set…sometime…whenever. So I figured if I’m ever going to get a functioning dishwasher in there, I’d better sally out today, in search of a replacement for the Deceased.

At my favorite local vendor, B&B Appliances, the sales dude tried to persuade me that I really didn’t want a Bosch; I really wanted a KitchenAid. B&B sells refurbished used stuff and also dented and returned new appliances, like the Sears Outlet used to do. You can get some exceptionally good buys there, and in addition, the staff is highly knowledgeable, inclined to chat, and honest. He presented me with a Kitchenaid dishwasher: $650;

He didn’t have any Bosch models on hand just then. And more to the point, because I just figured to replace the Deceased with another Bosch, I hadn’t looked up any reviews on the Web or done any product comparisons. So I retreated: back to the Funny Farm to look up the brands.

Googling reviews of Bosch and Kitchenaid dishwashers, I found them both highly recommended, but the Bosch was running just slightly ahead of the Kitchenaid. And there were fewer embittered complaints from whiners about the Bosch than about the Kitchenaid. Hence, it was off to Best Buy, Lowe’s, and HD, there to inspect their offerings.

Conveniently, Best Buy had the Kitchenaid and the Bosch models displayed side-by-side!!! Sooo….it was easy to compare the internal layouts and their control panels.

Fancy that.

It’s hard to beat the Bosch. Even if you’re Kitchenaid. Best Buy will deliver it on Monday. So they say. Home Depot delivers for free. Lowe’s is famed for its delivery rip-offs, so you should never buy anything there that needs to be delivered. Best Buy charges $50 to bring the dishwasher to your house, plug it in, and cart off the old one.

While at BB, I looked at refrigerators. Unimpressed. Tried Lowe’s, which resides right across the parking lot from the Best Buy. Found one that looked like it might be OK, but…. They had exactly zero (that is 0.00) sales staff on the floor. Not. One. Person. And of course you have the problem that Lowe’s is renowned for its haphazard delivery practices and customer service.

Drove down the road to Home Depot, where I found a perfectly fine sales dude but an amazingly unimpressive array of choices.

Or maybe the other way around: so impressive as to be off-putting. Have you looked at refrigerators lately? Forgodsake. They’ve computerized the damn things. No kidding. The guy proudly showed me a couple of models that have annoying computer screens on the door, monitoring not only what is in the fridge (“you need to buy milk!”) but who’s at the freaking front door! Just what I need: a televised refrigerator show.

These contraptions, I decided, are agglomerations of gadgets designed to break. And to make you crazy.

So I started looking at THE most low-tech models I could find.

Mine is an old-fashioned freezer-on-top/nontalking fridge model, with an ice-maker and a cold water dispenser, the latter of which is busted. With some effort, I found old-fashioned freezer-on-top things: $850.

Eventually I found a freezer-on-top Whirlpool that looks very much like my ancient Kenmore, only without the ice-maker or water dispenser. I see I failed to write down the price, but if memory serves, it was about $650, plus $100 to install the ice-maker.

My patience wearing thin, I decided I would think on this and then come back another day to buy…whatEVER.

At any rate, on the way home from the HD, it occurred to me that the plain-vanilla vacation-retreat-cheapo no-frills fridge is all I need. Why do I need an ice-maker, when I have a free-standing freezer in which I can stack scores of ice trays? Why not simply buy the plainest, least gadget-ridden model and call it a day? How hard is it, after all, to buy a bag of Crystal ice and dump it into the ice-cube box that I can steal out of the old fridge? Hm. We used Crystal ice back in the day, when our first refrigerator with an ice-maker made THE most vile-tasting ice you can conceive of. Crystal makes great ice.

And…hmmm… If one were going to end up with a plain top-freezer refrigerator with no water dispenser and no ice-maker…well…why buy one of those when that’s just about what I have? The ice maker still works. My life did not end with the demise of the water dispenser, and for that matter, not having to track down refrigerator filters and wrestle with the damn things trying to get the old one out and the new one in represents a positive improvement in life.

Sooo…why buy a new refrigerator at all, if you’re going to end up with a brand-new version of exactly what you have: a top-freezer fridge with no water dispenser and (soon, no doubt) no ice maker? If the refrigerator compartment works and the freezer compartment works, is there really anything else you need?

And so, we contemplate a step backward in time. Keep the fridge I’ve got. Opt the 21st-century gadgetry. If and when the 20th-century ice-maker freezes up, simply turn off the water to the thing. And run it until it dies…which is likely to be a pretty long time. Then, when it does die, replace it with the plainest plain-vanilla model on the market.

In fact, it might be worth just buying one of those plain-vanilla models right now, thereby heading off the fiasco that will happen when my refrigerator croaks altogether at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday evening right before a three-day weekend. Which, as you know, is inevitable.

8 thoughts on “The Appliance Jamboree”

  1. Having had many automatic ice makers crap out on me in the past (and leak water all over the floor) and given the fact that all the fancy fridges are over $1000, I stick with the plain vanilla freezer on top models with just a Brita water pitcher inside. Works for me.

    • Yeah, I’ve had the ice makers spring a leak before, too. Infuriating! And yeah, the Brita filter works just fine, here.

      Luckily, this part of town has halfway decent water, so a Brita filter more than suffices to make a decent pot of coffee. In some parts of the Valley, the water is undrinkable — even a Brita wouldn’t help much. But in those areas, you’d probably be best served by a whole-house filter, rather than a little thing in your fridge.

      And really, I”m thinking that with a stand-alone freezer in the house, there’s really no need for an ice-maker.

  2. I think you should hang on to your current fridge for now, especially since you are buying a new dishwasher. Wait until later when you aren’t undergoing an “appliance crisis”, so to speak. Sleep on it.

  3. I am all about the low-tech appliances. That much less to go wrong.

    Also, the controls are more often accessible—dials that can be turned to a detectable position, distinct buttons that are not flush with the surface and indistinguishable from one another, and simple knobs I can mark rather than digital readouts I can’t read. Whoever thought of hiding keypads and other controls beneath a single flat piece of flexible plastic should be flogged. (Luckily, I can fix those with adhesive dots.)

    The last thing I want are appliaances I can control with a smartphone or smart speaker. Wasn’t there a movie in the early 80s about a woman whose smart home got jealous and tried to do her in? That may not have been the exact reason; I’m a little fuzzy on the details.

    • Yeah, I don’t at all care for the controls that are on the top of the door and slide under the counter when the door is closed: nuisance. And any day I’d rather have knobs than electronic controls. The Bosch — at least, the one still sitting in my kitchen — has flat buttons but you can feel them with your fingers. To start it, you have to push two buttons: the one on the far left first and then the one on the far right. This would be pretty easy if you were vision-impaired. In between those two there are eight buttons, which you also can feel with your fingertips; I’ve never used any of them. And there are a few lights that can come on, the only one of which that has any significance to me is the one reminding you to add rinse aid.

      One of the things I love about the Speed Queen clothes washer is that the controls are all mechanical.

  4. The only reason to buy a new fridge is to cut on energy usage, especially if your current fridge is an energy hog. Fun fact–bottom freezer refrigerators are actually more energy efficient, although just slightly so. But since heat rises, it makes sense to have the freezer on the bottom.

    With regard to dishwashers, before you buy one, make sure you have a plugin, not hard-wired dishwasher. Most big-box stores do not install hard-wired dishwashers, you must hire your own guy. We have a hard-wired dishwasher, but have a basement and bought some wire to hook to the junction box (just below dishwasher in basement) so it was long enough and my husband and I succeeded on the install ourselves. It did require two people and about half a day, however, since we had to rewire and it was tight getting it all correct in the junction box between two floor joists.

    We have an ice maker on our fridge and love it. The only reason there we had an issue in the beginning (leaking into the tray) was a recall and it’s been fine ever since our appliance guy switched it out. It even makes more ice than before, so it must have been a serious fault. If you’re not a big ice consumer, it’s really not that necessary, but if you’re someone like my mom who needs ice cold beverages constantly, it’s a worthy investment. I wanted the filtered water spigot, so thats why we opted for the fridge with water. I would recommend getting a “not-smart” refrigerator, but getting a warranty with it. Costco is a great place to get a refrigerator with a warranty for cheap, plus free delivery, install, and haul-away.

    Oh, and another reason not to use Lowe’s… their fine print for refrigerator installs states they don’t install refrigerators without water shut-off on the same floor. When you have a home with a basement, the water shut-off is probably directly below the refrigerator… which is dumb. So we went with HD when we got a new fridge. But we got my mom a new washer/dryer through Costco and I highly recommend that route.

    • Well, this is weird… Just wrote a reply, posted it, and POOF! Disappeared! Now what?

      Oh well… That’s quite a story about the dishwasher wiring saga. Just checked: yes, mine IS a plug-in connection,. Thank goodness! Interesting about Lowe’s weird water shut-off stricture. In some parts of the country, that would have to disqualify about a third of homeowners from buying their fridges, right?

      The water spigot (which is presently on the fritz in mine), I can do without. In this part of town, the tap-water’s quality is just fine. If you want filtered water for your coffee and whatnot, a Brita pitcher does the job.

      \But I am pretty fond of that ice-maker. In this climate, you really do need ice for your drinks and for various other purposes. And of course, in my house a bourbon and water without ice is unthinkable.

      I’d love to buy from Costco and would prefer to do so, but the last time I looked, all they offered in the appliances was Samsung. I will never own another Samsung product as long as I live! And besides, this Whirlpool fridge, which I think is made by Frigidaire, is doing just fine except for the (unnecessary) water doodad.

      And yep: I’m with you on the Basic Model for these kinds of appliances. Spare me the electronic doodads!

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