The Spousal Unit just came up from the basement and announced that our twenty-year-old Kenmore has expired. Since much of our at-home menu relies upon pre-cooked meals, and our kitchen frig/freezer is an undersized ‘apartment’ model (crappy 1950s kitchen configuration), we need to get a new one delivered ASAP. Any advice on what to look for — and what to avoid — greatly appreciated!
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I generally rely on Consumer Reports, but I’m Midwestern that way. We ordered a new fridge for our new apartment, but it ended up on back order and now we won’t get it until mid-November. ?
Our current fridge is one I bought used from a friend in 1993, so I’m hoping it holds out until the new one arrives. You can tell it’s 20+ years old because it was made in the USA.
Find someone to rebuild your Kenmore. Everything is crap. K-cars lasted longer than anything built in the last 10 years.
John Cole +0
There’s a Sarah Palin joke in here somewhere.
Bought my last one at Lowes. There really aren’t as many models as one might assume, mostly just added on extras to get you to spend your first born child or some sum that might be close to what you’d take for the first born.
Take a real look at what features you need and the Star rating for energy usage. I didn’t listen to them run and wish I had, if your kitchen is far away from the bedroom then noise/lack of is probably unimportant. I remember spending around $400 for a reasonable size that was noticeably more energy efficient than the one it replaced which was about 20 yrs old. But it was pretty plain inside, no ice maker, etc.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): I’m very curious about this providing your own fridge in a place you rent. Is this common in California? Every place I’ve ever rented, the fridge has been provided.
The last fridge/freezer I bought was from a Sears Outlet, where I got about 50% off on a new unit with a slight scratch on one side. If there’s one near you (list of locations by state) it’s worth checking out.
AL–it sounds like you’re looking for a freezer-only model? The only advice I have is that having one that defrosts itself is worth the money. I got a free small freezer from a friend when she moved. It didn’t defrost. Every so often we’d have to empty the contents, take it outside, let all the ice melt, then bring it back in and set it up again. Just a big pain.
I recently looked at chest freezers and it cost a bit more to get the defrosting model but based on my experience I think it would be worth it.
It must be a California thing. I think we only looked at one place where the building provided the fridge. It’s usually a luxury thing — higher-end rentals have built-ins, but most don’t.
(Or really low-end rentals — the bachelor unit I lived in fresh out of college provided a microwave and fridge in lieu of a kitchen.)
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): Wow, that is really interesting. I have never seen a rental that didn’t provide a fridge. Including renting houses. I always figured appliances were included–the big ones. Things like microwave ovens might or might not be included. If they’re built in you get one, otherwise you bring your own. But stove, oven, fridge–those would be standard. Washer/dryer would depend on the level of place you’re renting.
You sure you cant go with a top opening model? They seem much more energy efficient. the cold air does not flood out when you open the door.
That has been my experience, too (Alabama, Georgia, NoVA). There was one house I rented that didn’t have a refrigerator, but even the landlord admitted it was slightly odd and he might have adjusted the rent a little.
Out here, it’s not common at all. We looked at a nice house for rent in a nice part of Pasadena, and no fridge. They always come with a stove, and usually a dishwasher, but no fridge.
Anne – I gather it has to be an upright due to space considerations? We’ve got an Amana Deepfreeze chest freezer that we bought back around 1997, and it’s still doing great.
We’ve done very well with Amana appliances generally – our kitchen refrigerator is an Amana which we bought in the spring of 1994, and it’s running fine. And when our Amana dishwasher died a few years ago after 12 good years, we replaced it with a Kenmore, and we’re still sorry we did.
I don’t know if Amana makes an upright freezer, but if they do, give it a look.
@Ruckus: Anne said her freezer is in the basement, so noise probably isn’t a big issue.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): I don’t know…I’ve lived in CA my whole life, rented a bunch of places, and have NEVER seen a place without a fridge. Maybe houses?? Because I’ve only rented apartments, but even looking at rental houses on Craigslist, they’ve always seemed to have fridges.
What part of CA are you in?
Can’t help with fridges, but for those in sore need of distractions for sanity’s sake, here’s a slightly off the usual cookie trail one: Two episodes of an ITV sketch series starring comedy legends John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Marty Feldman and Graham Chapman have been found after 47 years
We got quite a few bells and whistles with our upcoming fridge — I wanted to be super-fashionable and get one of those French door/bottom freezer models, but G said no. We compromised on a side-by-side, got a good price at Home Depot that was well within our budget, and will even get a $150 rebate from the city of Burbank when we trade in the old one. So a win-win all around, except for the wait.
@Steeplejack: My experience in the Southeast (SC, GA, downstate VA) has been that rental apartments come with a fridge, but houses (for sale or rent) usually don’t. Seems that down there, the norm is that the fridge stays with the person, not the house. I remember in Florence, SC, my wife and I passed up on renting a house for that reason. (Or maybe it was Statesboro, GA – these things blur together 20+ years later.)
So when we sold our house in downstate VA to move to Maryland, we wound up with an extra refrigerator, because up here in Maryland, the refrigerator stays with the house, and we’d brought our fridge with us from downstate VA, because down there, you take your fridge with you when you move out.
No, we need easy access. We’re in there at least a couple times every day, and the “leakage” time spent digging for one particular meal box at the bottom of the chest would rapidly negate any energy saving from opening & shutting a front door.
Kind of interesting to discover these regional differences in things you take for granted.
@low-tech cyclist: Ugh. Moving an enormous appliance around with you sounds like a right pain in the ass.
@Anne Laurie: If you can find one that fits, get one with sliding shelves that make it easier to pull out one shelf to look. Self defrosting is a good idea too.
I cannot help on the fridge question, unfortunately. I’m using what came with the apartment.
OT, after seeing the likes of Clive Bundy’s motley crew and other open-carry derp-yahoos in this country, the photo of the Canadian Parliament’s Sergent-at-Arms in this tweet, bearing his handgun shortly after killing the homicidal intruder, is rather impressive.
Of course, you can tell the yahoo Merkins in the replies: see thar, a good guy with a gun takin’ out a bad guy with a gun. Weeee-doggy!
The Canadian respondents were generally more thoughtful and subdued:
(Those last observations actually appear to have come from a sensible Alaskan; fortunately we do have a few such folks in the country, even if they aren’t the ones making all the noise).
Google is your friend.
Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): Whirlpool is Made in USA again. You can’t get all the parts made here any more, especially circuit boards, but they are substantially domestic manufacture. We’ve been very pleased with our new single door bottom freezer model.
@NotMax: I wonder how this compares to Consumer Reports?
Our Amana chest freezer has three 10″ x 20″ baskets (about 9″ deep) that slide back and forth on a rail just under the lid. First thing is, they hold a lot of stuff, so that’s where we put most stuff we don’t want to have to dig for. Second, they greatly reduce the amount of stuff that’s actually piled up on the bottom, so getting to that stuff doesn’t require digging usually, just sliding the baskets out of the way and leaning in to reach what you’re after.
I’d recommend at least looking at a chest freezer. You may still want a stand-up model, but unless it’s crammed to the gills (in which case digging is inevitable), a chest freezer is pretty easy to get stuff out of.
And again, give Amana a look. I’ve never regretted buying anything they’ve made.
No argument, just the info that Amana home appliances have been manufactured by Whirlpool for some time now.
Me no know.
BTW, answered your query about the rain in the earlier MARC thread.
@Violet: Sounds like A.L. uses it regularly. If so don’t get a chest. Freezers are pretty basic, it might be repairable. I don’t know how to easily defrost a chest freezer, but for an upright don’t lug it outside. Use towels and a hairdryer or heat gun. Be careful with a heat gun; they can get above 500°f.
If the “DOA” unit has self defrost it’s quite possible the defrost timer has stopped advancing while stuck in the defrost cycle (which disables the compressor). If so, that’s a simple fix – and usually one can advance the timer with a screwdriver. Doing so is a quick check to see if the clock mechanism has died.
Look up the model on http://www.searspartsdirect.com/ – you should be able to find exploded drawings of the freezer and locate the defrost timer.
Cheryl from Maryland
Ditto on the Amana. My Amana fridge is close to 20 years old, never needed a repair. And since it fits the cabinet “hole” in my tiny kitchen, I don’t know what I will do when it expires. Probably pay gobs of money to resuscitate it.
We have two upright freezers in our basement and one died almost a year ago. We found an Energy Star Frigidaire at Lowes. It’s 20.5 cu ft with temp control panel on front door which is a nice feature. We weren’t planning to go that fancy or quite as large but it was on sale, marked down to $549 from $699 which turned out to be cheaper than the other models they stocked at the time. We have room for two freezers and a fridge so space wasn’t an issue. We still managed to fill it up.
Our Hoover wind tunnel canister vacuum cleaner is still working but how much longer is in doubt. It’s been a good vacuum with 2 dogs/2 cats and not expensive when purchased. We don’t want an upright, not with 99% hardwood or tile floors. The canister style is so much easier to use in our house. It doesn’t make sense to me that as people moved from carpeting everywhere in a home to wood floors, the availability of canister vacuum cleaners dropped and now uprights dominate. I’ve done some research but I am frustrated so far with not finding a good substitute for our good old Hoover.
@Ruckus: Very good advice on the Energy Star numbers and the noise. My father has tinnitus and noises from refrigerators drive him nuts. He even went as far as to install an external power switch for the outlet for his old fridge so that he could turn it off while having dinner. When they got a new fridge, the main concern was the noise. He ended up finding that an LG was the quietest available, but finding the noise ratings themselves was difficult. I think they’ve been happy with it, and it is amazingly quiet, though there was one repair that was needed shortly after purchase (something to do with the water dispenser, IIRC). That wouldn’t be an issue with a freezer, of course.
Old fridges and freezers could last for 30 years but took as much power to run as a small city. New ones are much, much better efficiency-wise.
Good luck AL!
Our freezer broke a couple of years ago. I was in a hurry(didn’t want a mess at the house), did next to no research. We had a nice Tappan frost free one. I got a Kenmore from Sears Outlet from a salesperson who didn’t know or care about the products. Came down to two which were the same price the one we got was slightly bigger – asked her what the difference was between the two and she said none – just get what you like. So like a fool, I ended up getting a Kenmore manual frost w/o realizing it. I frankly had no idea they still made the non-frost free. So, bottom line make sure you get a frost free. Also too, I would reiterate the fixing the old one first. I gave our old one to my sister. The repair on our old one ended up being something really minor and still runs. If you get a Kenmore I would suggest sticking to a Kenmore Elite. We’ve bought replacement appliances in the past few years and they’ve all been crappier quality than the original ones we bought. Just bought a Bosch dishwasher that has good reviews everywhere. Not impressed at all. Our old Kenmore Elite felt sturdier and cleaned better and was not fixable after 20 yrs.
@low-tech cyclist: Our Amana stove that I paid big $$$ is a POS. Completely turned me off Amana forever. I sometimes think people just have different experiences with different brands.
Frigidaire still makes the best consumer freezers. Their other appliances are garbage, but you cannot go wrong with their freezers.
Couldn’t tell you anything about freezers, but I do know that Costco’s very generous return policy applies to appliances. I bought a dishwasher from them a few months ago, and the delivery, install and hauling away of the old one was baked in to the price.
As long as we’re talking appliances, I’m looking for recommendations for a range with an electric oven and ceramic cooktop. Standard size (30" wide), cheaper is better. This is for my rented apartment. The plan would be when I leave to see if the landlord wants to buy it as an upgrade or to sell it on CraigsList—or take it with me, I guess. I have been cooking a lot lately, and the current electric-coil range is driving me nuts. (The oven part is fine.) I have seen likely units for around $500, but I have no clue on current brands. Haven’t hit Consumer Reports yet, as this is still something of a blue-sky project.
This is fairly common now, I think, at least at the places I have been looking—Home Depot, Sears, Lowe’s, etc.
@Steeplejack: I bought a GE ceramic top range + oven + microwave some years ago and it’s still going strong. Not exactly cheap (around $1500 including installation) but I’m happy with it.
GHayduke (formerly lojasmo)
@Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:
I am with SRGoWH. Whirlpool, being American made, is what you ought to get.
That’s what we did when we recently replaced our stove and refrigerator.
have a small amana upright chest freezer i got back in brooklyn since we had such a small fridge. moved with it across the country twice, still solid.
i’ll second sears outlet. they even do online sales. although if i had to do it again i’d go see it in person so i could see the extent of scratches beforehand. and also because ours was delivered with a price sticker that showed it was being sold in the store for a couple of hundred less than what we paid online – and online was already very good, half of normal price. we also got a good second fridge on craigslist for very cheap, but that had no warranty.
I suppose all you hipsters have heard if Hooray for the Riff Raff?
@lurker dean: I’ll “third” the Sears Outlet.
There were only a makers of refrigerators when we bought ours years ago, but by looking at the interiors we could tell who was behind the actual label, and bought accordingly, by the “fewest repairs” bar charts of CR.
I’d also like to throw in an uncompensated plug for the Sears-attached information site “ManageMyLife”. It has helped me repair a non-automatically-defrosting fridge and a lawnmower, and had parts and advice for an electric chainsaw so old it practically has tailfins.
(Now if only the rest of Sears were run like that they might have a future, eh?)
+1 to fix.
Anne, Not to dis the SU but have you had a pro look at it? Freezers are very lo-tech machines which are designed for ease of repair. Unless it’s rusted out because of a basement flood or very old and energy inefficient (like my 1980’s vintage Sub-zero), it’s probably worth fixing.
@LarryB: I’ve fixed a lot of appliances using Samurai Appliance Repair.
“I love the lovely Aimi McDonald.”
That was a great show. Trust Frost to have squirreled episodes away.
I just sold my house here in Mass. in September and left all of the appliances behind for the buyers, and moved into a rental (side by side duplex) that didn’t come with a fridge. That’s really not typical here – in fact, it’s so NOT typical that three potential renters didn’t rent because they’d have to buy a fridge and were freaked out about it, according to the other tenant. That worked in my favor because I loved the apartment, and decided to take the opportunity to buy a Whirlpool french door with the freezer drawer on the bottom – a real splurge, but, I’m saving so much money on heat, electricity and commuting expense it will pay for itself in about 4 months. The thing is totally awesome – it fits in the opening perfectly and it’s sleek and beautiful, and I didn’t know that you could feel about an appliance “that way”.
AL: there’s a scratch and dent appliance store that carries all the newest models for quite a bit of savings on Rt. 9 in Shrewsbury. Forget the name of it, but I’m sure teh google will help you. I think they deliver.
Outside echoing the self-defrosting comment, Whirlpool/Amana, Frigidaire and Haier are all in that market making decent-or-better appliances. Kenmore is too – and for a freezer you could do a lot worse. BTW Kenmore is essentially rebadged product these days, so you’re likely buying Whilrpool or Electrolux anyway and just not paying the premium for the branding.
@Cervantes: I am so going to have to find more of these: the mere scraps of the house-broken chartered accountants in here demand it. And Gallstone-Jangling Drama?!
Funny, we are addressing this very issue, too. Our house came with a side-by-side fridge/freezer, and the freezer just sucks. Not performance-wise; utility-wise. It’s too narrow and it fills up quickly and we really need a freezer in the garage because we like to make big batches of things (chicken stock, bolognese, meatballs, etc.) and have them on hand.
The debate Mrs. Bubblegum Tate and I are now stuck in is she wants a fridge-freezer, and I think we just need a freezer. We barely ever even come close to fully filling up the fridge, so I feel like if we bought a fridge-freezer, the fridge would be empty almost all the time and even when it ws getting used, it wouldn’t be for much more than maybe a couple six-packs if we’re having a bunch of people over. I have no idea how fridge-freezers compare to straight-up freezers in terms of energy usage, but I’m assuming if we got just a smallish freezer that meets our needs, it would be more energy efficient than getting a fridge-freezer in which we’re keeping a fridge cold for no real reason.
Both parents worked for GE. My basement GE 11cu.ft. upright freezer 1973. Basement beer/vodka GE 8.5cu.ft. fridge w/1.5 freezer 1958. Main fridge GE 12c.f. 1966, only repair was freezer fan (frost free unit). Main stove GE 30in. 1958 only repairs have been burner elements and lightbulbs. I do have some energy star appliances, but I’m now invested in seeing if these beasts can outlive me (I’m a 1959 model). To delay needing to defrost older models try adhesive foam insulating tape around the gaskets. As the gaskets age they allow moist outside air in. Block the air, slow down ice accumulation.
About 3 years ago, we replaced our (then twenty-year-old) Kenmore with a Whirlpool. Best “feature” on the new one is that it has a temperature display on the outside, so we can tell at a glance if there is or has been a problem (power outage or door not closed tight, for example). So far it has operated flawlessly. You’ll have to wait until 2031 to ask me if it matches the Kenmore for longevity.
@Steeplejack: Bosch. I’ve had two, and loved both of them. Very efficient, lots of cooking options, really easy to clean.
Probably true, but the new ones are probably much more efficient. Enough so as to save money by replacing. (I am not sure about that, but would not be surprised.)
I, too, have probably kept appliances (really only refridgerators. Stoves and ovens are probably not much more efficient now.) longer than I should have, because they kept running.
JR in WV
We got a Kenmore Elite refrigerator with the “French doors” and bottom freezer. It sucks, as the freezer door sometimes leaves a gap allowing outside air in, which shows up as frost on items near the opening. Also, the Fr doors must be shut carefully and firmly or the interlacing gaskets between the two doors won’t seal properly.
There is supposedly an alarm in the door is left ajar, but that only really works if it is standing open while you load newly purchased groceries into the Ref. If there’s a crack opening left, no alarm, warm stuff inside.
There is a temp setting display on the outside of the door, which you might think was helpful. It is the Temperature SETTING, not the actual interior temp shown, so not helpful in knowing if the Ref is working right.
Wishing I had bought a regular Bosch. Same with the dishwasher – went to get a Bosch, salesguy showed us a very similar looking Kenmore “Elite” that was $75 cheaper, it seems OK but after the Refigerator problems I’m not trusting that it will last as long as the Asko we bought when the house was completed in 1994.
We did get a small plain hi-efficiency refrigerator at Sears Outlet for a very good price a couple of years ago, and it seems to work well for very little electric.
@Ken T: OOPS! I meant Frigidaire, not Whirlpool.
mai naem mobile
@Steeplejack: I dont know where you live but if you live in a bigger metro area I would buy it off craigslist. Youll be surprised at the number of people who sell perfectly decent newish stoves because they switch to stainless steel or a house flipper doing the same thing.
Death Panel Truck
@raven: I see the words “Samurai Appliance Repair” and I picture John Belushi with a sword.
@mai naem mobile:
That’s a good idea. My brother used to be a serial renovator, and he was always raving about the stuff he found on CraigsList just because someone didn’t like the color or finish.
You may be right.
I may be lazy.
Or, rather, being the father of a 7 year old eats up enough of my time that home projects really need to get done, for them to get done.
@bemused: Might try looking at Dyson. My daughter got the upright a couple of years ago on black Friday. Her friend got the canister because she lives in a townhouse apartment and wanted to vacuum the stairs. They both have pets and swear it is the best thing for getting up pet hair and dirt.
@JR in WV: I hate my french door refrigerator with a passion that cannot be described. 90% of the time when you close one door the other one pops open. Repair man said “yep, that’s what happens.” Sometimes the sound alert works, sometimes it doesn’t. Every holiday or big event where I start to fill it with large dishes it starts to melt down. We close the door and pray that the food survives. I paid more than I care to admit for that thing and cannot wait to toss it.
@MochaDem: My daughter and SIL bought a GE french door freezer on bottom in 2007. It died in 2012 one month before the 5 year warranty ran out. My SIL was on the phone with them constantly until they agreed to replace it (after sending out their factory tech to repair it. The tech said no can do.) They still hate GE with a passion. The dogs like the ice out of the ice maker in the bottom. They are afraid that one of them may eventually figure out how to open it and get her own ice cube toy, leaving the freezer open for exploring.
Can’t beat getting a replacement free on Craigslist!