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Amana resuscitated - Paint It Black
Living the American dream one heartbreaking piece at a time
feren
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Amana resuscitated
The gentleman from A-Elmhurst Refrigerator Repair showed up today at 10 AM (I later found out he was subcontracted from Wheaton Refrigerator Repair, according to the service sticker he put on the fridge before he left). When I called in yesterday I had been told that I could expect "Scott" between 9 and 11 AM today. Curmudgeon and I both figured this would be a case of the "waiting for the cable guy," so when he showed up at 10 on the dot it was a pleasant surprise.

I liked Scott from the start. As I went to answer the door I heard him laughing on the front stoop. I figured he was on the phone or something, but it turns out he just really liked the message printed on our door mat (Curmudgeon bought it earlier this year and it says: We found god, we love our vacuum and we gave at the office. Thank you.). He was very careful to clean his boots once he got inside and, upon seeing Ra, turned to ask me "So, is that an evil cat?" I assured him Ra was very friendly and took Scott back to the kitchen. I showed him the fridge and explained what we'd seen. Pulling out a thermometer he took readings at the top and bottom of the fresh food side and then checked the freezer side. Surprise (not), the fridge was almost warm and the freezer was cooler at the bottom than at the top - and not freezing at all. Scott noted that the fan wasn't running inside the unit and pulled out his cordless drill to start taking the access panel off. While he worked he explained to Curmudgeon and I that without the fan the compressor can make all the cold air it wants, it won't get anywhere and the food will not be chilled. A pretty basic HVAC principle, but it was a good reminder and tutorial that he gave none the less. When he pulled the access panel away I saw the evaporator coil, a bundle of wires and a lot of frost covering everything at the top. "I think I know just what the problem is," he said as he pulled a frost-covered circular thinugs out from the bundle of wires. "Really?" I asked. He nodded and started rubbing frost off the circular control. "This is the defrost terminator limit. It's sort of part relay, part thermometer. Amana puts it in-line with the fan, [Feren: and according to Scott they're the only manufacturer that does that. Thanks, Raytheon!] so if the terminator fails in your Amana, your fan will never come on, the cold air never gets pushed into the freezer and ultimately your freezer and fridge start to thaw out while frost builds up and freezes over the evaporator coil." Makes sense to me.

While Scott was working he did a lot of friendly banter with me and Curmudgeon, but I always stopped to listen to what he was saying so I could learn more about how my appliance worked. He laughed a lot at the things I said, and I laughed a lot at the things he said. Ra seemed to like him because he spent a lot of time rubbing up against the tool bag and staring at the both of us.

Once he'd gotten all the ice and snow off the terminator Scott pulled out a wire stripper, notched the insulation on both wires going into it and put a jumper between them, in essence shorting around the component. Instantly the fan came on and we had our diagnosis -- failed terminator. So by 10:06AM we knew what was wrong and how to fix it He quoted me the price, around $350 between service call, labor and parts. I wasn't real thrilled with the price but before I could start to try bargaining with him he took 50% off, stating that this was going to be a fast job since the evaporator coil was only a little frosted over and he wouldn't have to take the time to defrost it. That brought the price of labor, parts and call down to $175, which I found a lot more reasonable. Since he accepted cash as well as plastic I left him with Curmudgeon and ran over to the credit union to pull some additional yuppie food stamps from the ATM there. By the time I got back twelve or fifteen minutes had passed. While I was gone he'd gone to his truck, gotten a new limit, installed it, put the access panel back together and bantered with Curmudgeon. When I walked back into the house the replacement terminator was installed, the fan was still running, the access panel had been buttoned up, cold air was blowing and he was just putting the last of the racks and shelves back into the freezer.

It turns out that during my absence Curmudgeon had quizzed Scott about how and where to clean the fridge (just do the front, under the fascia), if it had an evaporator/defrost drip tray (it does but it's very small and built into the very bottom of the unit) and a bunch of other things. And, as he was putting the last shelf into the freezer side, she asked him to look over the door seals. Which he obligingly did for free. The fresh food side (fridge) was fine, but he noticed that there was a pull in our freezer side, as well as a tear that left the magnet strip of the seal hanging out. Since he didn't want to leave our newly repaired freezer with a warm air leak he asked me for some duct tape and put in a temporary work around (joking while he did so that You really only need two tools. If something moves and it shouldn't, duct it. If something should move and it doesn't, WD-40!). After he did that he explained to me how I can replace the seal myself. All around Scott was very affable and helpful -- and a quick worker, because by 10:31 AM he was in his truck and backing out of the driveway. I'd say he did four minutes or so of work to troubleshoot the issue, along with a good ten minutes of actual work to replace the faulty unit and put everything back together again. The rest of the time he was here was spent bantering with me and Curmudgeon or showing me how to replace the seal/explaining how the system worked.

So now the saga is over. We're waiting the recommended 4-6 hours before we start putting food back into the freezer and the fridge, but the few times I've checked on it the compartments are noticeably colder. I'm pleased I don't have to go buy a new refrigerator today!

Cold as ice - as cold as ice to me

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Comments
yotogi From: yotogi Date: December 6th, 2008 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
You ought to tell his company about him; sounds like he deserves some praise.
feren From: feren Date: December 6th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Believe me, I will. He brought the awesome, put it on the table and unwrapped it. I'm willing to pay them to fix the seal on the freezer (something I can do myself) if they send him out again.
urocyon From: urocyon Date: December 6th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Replacing a seal isn't hard at all. A temporary holdover I like a bit better than duct tape for a seal split is poly foam caulk saver. Round cross-section urethane foam available in different diameters, just stuff it inside the fridge seal until you can get around to doing the full replacement.
yakko From: yakko Date: December 7th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, the refrigerator. My arch-nemesis.

I had an ice maker water supply tube pop out of mine awhile back. It wet the kitchen a bit. A Shop-Vac and one of The Two Tools (metal duct tape!) later, repairs complete.
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