The Saga of the Malfunctioning Refrigerator

First world problem: Even when you have a sub-zero balcony, food is not that accessible

Ours wasn’t THIS bad Photo credit: Anh Tuan To on Unsplash

Right around Christmas time, with various food and meal preparations happening, our fridge started leaking water from the freezer into the drawers and bottom of the main storage area.

At first, my attitude was “Who cares?” My grocery-buyer spouse disagreed. She was right, as usual, since the meat packages and cheese slices were, along with everything in the vegetable drawer, floating in pools of water.

In the “old days” I would have attacked the problem like Tim in an old comedy series. Fortunately, as a retired elder, I have an apartment staff at my beck and call, which saves me from the self-destruction of my pleasant aging-in-place approach.

Tim, our apartment maintenance guy, responded right away and determined that ice buildup was blocking the water removal tube. His solution was for us to take every single thing out and keep the refrigerator open for 24 hours, which we did.

Of course, we didn’t want to lose our food. So first, we got our little blue and white cooler to store the ice cubes and popsicles. Then we put some other things in a bag, with a little note saying “don’t take,” and placed it in the community room refrigerator.

In truth, since we live in what could be described as an arctic climate — Mark Twain once noted that the worst winter he ever experienced was August in Duluth — our balcony had all the freezer storage we would need.

But has anyone here, looking forward to a bologna and cheese sandwich, tried to get frozen mustard out of the wonderful yellow French’s container? Shards of ice floated in the SlimFast and Gatorade Zero for days, which was a bit reassuring since they had been outside on the balcony for all the critter world to see.

As I bet you suspect, that was not the end of the saga.

After 24 hours, the inside of the fridge was dutifully wiped down, and the food recovered from downstairs and the balcony. We were hoping that would do the trick.

Two days later, it flooded again.

Tim returned and with renewed vigor, took the whole refrigerator apart. Finally, with various components sitting on our kitchen counter, he muttered his way to the real problem. Right where the auto defrost water was supposed to drain and get into the bottom evaporation pan, there was a clogged tube. What looked like brown goopy wax had clearly blocked off the drainage process.

It seemed logical that cleaning out the spout would solve the water problem for the foreseeable future.

We are keeping our fingers crossed.

The reason I used the phrase “first world problem” above, is because we actually have a fridge.

While houseless people here never have to worry about their food thawing, they may not even have meals at all. Skid Row dwellers may have Los Angeles warmth, but it would be nice to experience a safe and peaceful cool breeze once in a while.

So the moral of the story is: when completely frustrated by a household appliance, stop for a moment and get a broader perspective. Thinking of others won’t solve the problem, but it will make you at least a bit more compassionate.

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