Fridge, Hot Water, and Oven Drama

You know the phrase "When it rains, it pours"? Well, that certainly happened with our family recently. We all had a nasty cold (not corona, tested negative for that) and while that was raging in our family, we discovered that our refrigerator wasn't cooling things as it should and things were getting moldy and spoiling quickly in our fridge. This wasn't the first time recently that that happened- just in February the same thing happened and I repaired it, so I realized it was something more complicated than I originally thought, and decided to hire a repairman to fix it. I didn't want to have to keep doing the same fix monthly.

At the same time as our fridge stopped working, the hot water in our house stopped working as well. At first I assumed that it just wasn't sunny enough that day for the solar panels to heat up the water, so then when it was a sunny day and there still was no hot water, we thought that it was the solar water heater that wasn't working, and tried to use the electric hot water heater, but that also didn't work.

So get this. We were sick, our fridge wasn't working, and we had no hot water, so no hot showers to help clear up our congestion. It sucked.

And oh, did I mention that our combined stove/oven was on its last legs? Though it had four burners, one didn't work at all, one turned on to only the tiniest little flame ever, and one frequently made a small fiery explosion when it was turned on or sputtered a lot and sometimes went out. I only had one reliable burner, and for my family and someone that cooks like I do, that definitely wasn't usable. I knew I needed a new oven, but first I knew I needed to see what was with my fridge and the hot water for our house.

I had had a bad experience with two of the local fix-it guys, so I asked for recommendations for other people to fix my fridge. The first person I was recommended was too busy and though he responded to me right away when I asked him about fixing my fridge, he never responded when I asked him when he was available, so an entire 24 hours after I noticed my fridge wasn't working, I called another person who was recommended. However, he wasn't able to come until the next morning. 

So, get this. It was two days after I noticed my fridge wasn't working. The freezer, fortunately, was keeping things cold, so I made sure to use up anything in my fridge that would perish quickly (what was left after the other stuff already spoiled), but at least I had a working freezer. I was trying to think of foods I could make without a working fridge, made with ingredients that didn't need refrigeration, but I was relying on the freezer though.

The repairman came and took apart my freezer and noticed that there was frost inside the freezer and a little ice blocking the vent from the freezer to the fridge, and asked if the freezer door was left open. When I responded negatively, he said that I had the freezer set to too cold, and that was causing any moisture in the air that came in to freeze and that that was the problem. He charged me a negligible amount because he didn't do much fixing, but I wasn't so sure that that was all that was wrong with my freezer. It sounded too simple to be the cause.

Then I realized that my fridge wasn't on. I didn't understand why and realized that the electric breaker in my electric box tripped, and every time I tried to lift it, it tripped again as long as the fridge was plugged in.

I called the repairman and he came back a bit later and he played around with the wiring and he said that it should work, but I told him that I didn't hear it turn on, and he said I should give it half an hour and then it would start working.

It didn't.

And now I not only had no working fridge, my freezer wasn't either working!

Friends had recommended, when they heard my fridge wasn't working, to put bottles of water in the freezer and once frozen use them to keep the food in my fridge cold. So my spare freezer was pretty stuffed. But I took out those bottles and put them in a cooler, and used that as my "fridge", putting milk and any leftovers from meals in there. I then packed as much of my frozen foods into the freezer as possible, then asked a friend if she could store the rest of my frozen goods in her spare freezer until mine was fixed.

The next day the repairman came and took apart my freezer again, and said that it looks like the problem is with the card in it, and he needs to take it to the city to get it repaired. And that because he broke the freezer he'd pay for the repairs himself.

The next day the repairman came back with the card, tried to get it to work, and proclaimed that the fixer didn't actually fix the card, and he'd have to go back to the city to replace the card.

The next day I called the repairman and he said he'd come back the next day with it.

I just want to point out that by this time I was eight days without a working fridge. I kept rotating frozen water bottles to keep the food in the cooler cold, but I was not a happy camper. It is hard to be motivated to cook or eat or anything when your fridge isn't working. At this point I was so fed up and prepared to spend the money on a new fridge, and said that if the repairman couldn't get the fridge to work when he came the next day, that was final- I'd order a replacement right then and there. This was just pushing too much. This is the 21st century; it's not normal to be living with an "icebox" instead of a fridge. But when I called two companies to try to place an order for a fridge, one sent me to their answering service but didn't actually have any information for me, and the other told me that they only had deliveries to my area once every ten days so I probably wouldn't get it for at least a week. So I was hoping that the fridge fix would work- I needed a new oven but couldn't afford a new oven and a new fridge!

Fortunately that last and final time the repairman came with the new card, the freezer started working again and so did the fridge. I was so skeptical that this time it would actually work that I didn't load it up until a good hour after it started working so that I had proof that it actually worked. Though he was willing to absorb all the costs for the second and final repair for the freezer/fridge, I suspect there might have been a problem with the card to begin with, and its not a guarantee that he was the reason it broke, so I offered to go halvesies on the cost of the new card. He appreciated that.


Meanwhile, back to my hot water situation in my house. I found another repairman who is experienced with hot water solar panel systems, and he took a quick look at what the problem was and said that the problem wasn't with either the solar panel system or the hot water system, and it actually was a very easy fix. He said that this was a problem that pretty much everyone in my building development has had. When the builders built the place, they included a system meant to limit how hot the water got in the tank. But because we have hard water, over time the system got more and more clogged until it didn't let any more hot water through. He disabled the system and as soon as he did that voila, hot water again, both via the solar panels and the electric water heater. I was so worried that I'd need to replace part of the solar panels or that it would be an expensive fix, but fortunately, it wasn't...

It just meant a few days without hot water, and over a week with no fridge, but fortunately those were both cheap fixes...

And since I didn't need to replace either of those, it meant that I could actually buy the new stove/oven my family desperately needed... But more on that in another post...

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. If bad things come in threes, you should be golden! It sounds like a real ordeal. I'm glad it ended as well as it sounds like it did.

  2. That sounds exhausting, but I'm glad you finally got it sorted out.

  3. That was very generous and gracious of you to split the cost with him. Says a lot about your character. I don't know if I would've done that. Glad all worked out though!

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