Tuesday, February 27, 2018


For the past several days we've been having fits with our fridge.

The fridge when it was new. in 2011.

I guess most people have problems with their refrigerator from time to time, but when ours starts giving us trouble, it means a lot of head scratching and trying different since because most repair people wouldn't have a clue how to fix it. Because it's a gas refrigerator, running on natural (wellhead) gas.

When we put in the free gas that was part of the deal for allowing a gas well on our property, we decided to convert as many appliances to gas as possible. So stove, dryer, hot water, heat and the fridge are now gas, and most of the time it's just lovely.

But there are those times.

Like when the gas suddenly goes off for no apparent reason--usually when it's dead cold. Most of the time it's an easy fix--just push down the plunger thingie on the regulator and then re-light all the pilots.

And like when the fridge acts up. Wellhead gas is not as clean as the gas you get through the pipelines, and it can cause some issues. Especially, apparently, with the refrigerator's heating element. It might sound odd that there is heat in a fridge, but the flame heats the gas that moves through some convoluted pipes and chills down. That's about as good as I can explain the process. It usually works like a dream and we love it that our fridge works when the electricity goes off.

But when it goes out or suddenly doesn't cool like it should, then we don't like it so much. Sometimes it's as easy as cleaning out the flue (yes, there's a flue on the fridge, weird I know). Other times it means moving the whole thing out and cleaning the condenser coils and whatever else is back there. Then there is cleaning the gas orifice itself.

And when all that fails, we found yet one more trick: laying the fridge on its side and then standing it back up again. Because sometimes a bubble can form in the condensed gas and block it from cooling as it should.

This time we ended up doing all of the above. None of it worked.

Getting by without refrigeration in winter isn't too difficult. A cooler on the porch will usually handle most of the important things.This past week we had quite a few days, though, when the temperatures stayed above 50. So that meant Plan B: freeze jugs of the emergency water we have stored away and using that in the cooler and the fridge.

The fridge is working again, kind of. With the jugs of ice it's down to about 47f in the bottom and it's freezing things in the top freezer compartment as it should. But it's not back to normal yet because the flame isn't acting as it should--going up and down when the thermostat is adjusted. It stays exactly the same no matter when temperature we set it at.

So Monday I called the number we had for repairs. A young-sounding man answered and listened to my tale of woe. He had Larry check a few things, then promised to call back.

Several hours later he was back on the phone. Our refrigerator is not a model he was familiar with so he had to do some calling and checking around himself. He came to the same conclusion we had: the thermostat is bad.

I was all ready with a credit card to pay for the part, but he said no, he'll mail the part and after we put it on and it's working correctly he'll send an invoice and we can mail a check. How old school is that? So kudos to this company for some really good customer service. I'll have to add their name here when I am sure what it is because they'd changed names since I last called four years ago).

We're managing fine with the ice jugs routine in the meantime. But it does make us wonder if this refrigerator is worth the savings in electricity. Maybe it's time to throw in the towel and go back to easy.

We like being independent but it's an awful lot of work and aggravation. And because we're not well off we can't just call repair people to come and fix stuff. Today, Larry's outside tracking down and repairing a leak in the water line from the well to the house. Fortunately it's sunny and not too cold. But we're getting a little old for things like lifting refrigerators. And lifting refrigerators and other such jobs is getting old too.

Maybe it's just plain orneriness that makes us cling to this lifestyle. Or maybe it's just plain being dumb. When all is fixed and running smoothly again, we'll have to look back and evaluate.

Right now, it just feels like aggravation.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Joy@aVintageGreen said...

Aggravation, especially after you both tried everything that worked before. Hope the thermostat works (when it arrives). The company you are dealing with certainly has a rather unique in these days good customer service. I would lean toward letting in break down again and maybe switching to electricity - after checking out all the stuff that goes wrong with various electric models (ours has a 'plugged' pipe in the bottom freezer which allows ice to build up to 1" or more depth on the bottom (inside) and starts to leak out of the edges until we take everything out and using a metal non-bendable spatula we crack the ice and drag it out. Doesn't take more the 5 minutes but the angle is annoying and the unload, load and cleanup is also annoying.


Michelle said...

Glad you were able to work out this problem. When you are mostly self sufficient, getting repairs done is a problem.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I know you're a storyteller, but really........a gas fridge???
If you'll excuse me I need to put another shovel of coal into the firebox of my washing machine. :)

Jenny said...

This is the way I grew up...my dad could fix anything!

My husband & I have mostly lived this way as well. Though he is not as capable as my dad was he is very patient & willing to figure things out. You fridge isn't that old so I would be frustrated as well.

We have a gas-head well that we used for heat when we moved here in the 80's but it became so unreliable that we plugged it up & stopped using it. I didn't know you could run your whole house on one! We've used gas for almost 30 yrs for some things but I am still terrified of it. When something kicks on & I hear that flame I used to jump up & look for a fire!

Granny Sue said...

Hey John, it's nice most of the time. Very quiet, runs when the power goes off, and costs nothing to operate.

They make gas-operated washing machines too :)

And we could get a whole-house generator and unhook from the grid completely if we wanted. But those things make noise, need batteries and would be more effort than I want to put into it.


Brig said...

We had a gas refrig when we lived on one of the back of beyond ranches. It was made in Sweden, and never gave us any trouble.

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