November 30, 2015

appliance graveyard

The clock on our current microwave stopped displaying the digital time over a week before it finally zapped it's last plate.  Initially I thought the kids messed with the panel and accidentally erased the time.  I reprogrammed it.  More than once.  Speaking of time, is there a worse time to lose a microwave/convection than just before hosting 27 for Thanksgiving?  Despite my background with appliances that sputter out just as the one year warranty expires, I still didn't suspect that the hub of energy in our kitchen was going to bid us farewell last week. Certainly not days before I prepared to utilize it for my food preparations.  I'm either dumb, or too trusting.  Never trust an appliance.  Lesson learned.  If I agree that I've finally learned this lesson, am I still dumb?  (That's a rhetorical question).

This top of the line micro we'll call 'Lemon' was added to our kitchen about four short years ago.  Replacing the original built in, above-the-oven microwave was a no brainer.  (Well, our house was built in 1985, so it wasn't the true original, just the appliance that came with the house 7 years ago - so original to us).  After living in the house for less than a year the handle of 'Original' microwave melted.  The home warranty company wasted my time by coming out to explain to me that they wouldn't be replacing the unit because it was installed improperly.  They claimed there was insufficient space between the cabinet the micro was screwed into and the oven.  I would have preferred that they inform me over the phone that there was very little chance that they would fix anything.  Warranty or not.  I assume that this 'improperly installed' loophole was built into their contract, so that they wouldn't actually be expected to make a repair.  For the next 18 months we dealt with 'Original's' misshapen, melted handle.  Eventually the entire handle fell off creating a handle-less, sleek look.  We felt very cutting edge.  Maybe that was just because for the next few years we kept a butter knife positioned on the edge of the counter top.  Every sitter and guest who arrived at our house encountered a brief tutorial on how to utilize the knife to pop open the door of our microwave.  Grabbing the knife prior to heating anything up became second nature, and when 'Original' was eventually replaced I continued to reach for the butter knife out of habit.

Old habits die hard, and 'Original' died ugly.  Handle-less.  Eventually even our 'ole familiar, oh-looks-like-you-forgot-to-put-some-of-your-cutlery-away knife failed to connect with the hidden release buried inside 'Original's' door.  The door opening process was beginning to take so long that the food was room temperature by the time we freed it from the 'hot' box.  When we had finally accepted that probing around inside the door with the butter knife would no longer produce the desired 'open sesame' effect, we discussed our options.  It took some convincing to get Coach to agree to upgrade to a unit that also functioned as a convection oven.  Cooking a dish in the oven while the microwave cooked a side dish promised endless culinary options.  In the end, I think it was his taste buds that caused him to cave.  So Coach and I set out on a date night slash microwave shopping expedition.  On our way to a local Italian place, we selected a GE Profile micro/convection, now referred to un-affectionately as 'Lemon'.

Initially, I was thrilled with our purchase.  It was costly, but I could produce twice as many cookies utilizing the convection function alongside my regular oven.  Main dishes no longer cooled on the stove top wrapped in an unsightly beach towel to conserve heat while waiting for a side dish to cook.  My luck ran out on 'Lemon' in less than a year, which seems to be the average time I can get an appliance to function properly.  (Have you read about my dishwasher disaster?  Ugh, it pains me to think about it).  We spent the next few years repairing it regularly.  At one point a small army of repairman arrived and after a few trips to Home Depot for small parts and additional specialized screws, they rebuilt my newer appliance in my own kitchen.  Somehow I felt like 'Lemon' should have been priced to sell, labeled as a handy-man's special, or donated to science.  The manufacturer would not agree that we had been stuck with a lemon.  The company did agree to give us an extended one year warranty after 'Lemon' was rebuilt.  Exactly a year after the date that the extended warranty expired, 'Lemon' faded.  At first it was the failing clock.  Then I had to really jiggle the handle in order to get it to start cooking.  Finally the power only buzzed when the door was open.  Not many heating type tasks could be performed with the door open.  Once it was closed, the power fizzed out.  No amount of sweet talking or loud cussing would jolt 'Lemon' into function mode.  It was over.

The repairman I have on speed dial encouraged me over the phone to move on.  I wasted no time shopping on line and visiting a few local stores before I selected a new model.  While we waited for the delivery date, the leftovers piled up in the fridge and I prepared my morning oatmeal on the stove top.  The delivery guys arrived and measured from the bottom of the cabinet to the top of the counter and shook their heads.  Apparently the warranty would be void if they installed this appliance in a space less than 30 inches.  Our space measured 29 3/4 inches.  Seriously?  The guy insisted that this quarter inch could have caused 'Lemon' to break down consistently.

Over the past two and a half weeks I've polled a variety of handy men, builders, and appliance gurus with no solutions.  We've become very creative in how we heat up our leftovers.  Crockpots working as hotplates.  Tinfoil packets crowded into the oven for over an hour.  In a pinch, food placed under the broiler heats up with an added crusty texture.  Finally last night our plumber devised a plan that will raise the bottom of the cabinet enough to please the appliance gods.  On Saturday he will return to perform surgery on our cabinet.

In the meantime, the repairman for the new Bosch dishwasher that joined the family in mid May returned for his third visit.  I purchased the Bosch to replace 'Dirty' our Christmas gift dishwasher from my folks a few years ago that only cleaned dishes for a few short months at a time before calling it quits and demanding countless repair jobs.  The Bosch has required a new heating element and electrical board . . . since May.  Still not guaranteed to complete an entire cycle, I called the Sears guy back to see what the issue could be.  After tinkering with it for some time, he called the home office.  The door latch had been recalled.  So relieved to have an answer, because I was starting to feel crazy . . . crazier.  I wondered aloud to Coach if perhaps a new kitchen might lift the appliance graveyard curse we can't break out of.  Fingers crossed.

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