User Input

User Input: Needy Appliances


You don’t appreciate them until they’re gone.

Good morning everyone.

About a month ago, I went to warm up a cup of coffee in our new-ish (about 6 months old) microwave, and after pressing the “start” button, instead of the hum of RF radiation being emitted, there was a sudden loud buzzing sound, much like a stuck garbage disposal. After the unit did its countdown and shut off, my coffee was still cold. Drat the luck, now this microwave was broken.

As it was still under warranty, we called the manufacturer who shall remain unnamed (it was Samsung), and after much dicking around through various departments, we were able to get the number of our local repair service. Before this, I had offered to try my hand at solving what was most likely a simple repair, and started fumbling for my #2 phillips screwdriver, when suddenly everything went black. When I regained consciousness, I was on the couch with a roaring headache and She Who Must Be Obeyed was in mid-tirade, the subject of which was that I was never to approach any of her appliances with the intent of “fixing” it, lest I get smacked with a skillet again because she was tired of telling me.

Anyway, we called the repair service and the soonest they could come out was two weeks from Monday (this was Wednesday). Evidently we are the only owners of this unnamed brand of appliance (Samsung) that were having difficulties with them. So we started trying to go about our business without a microwave.

As far as I can tell, most normal households own a microwave oven and have for many years (no, I’m not talking about you, mdharrell). As a consequence of this, there are a lot of convenient foodstuffs at our markets that we buy and fill our freezers with (excepting Dr. Harrell). When you don’t have a working microwave, however, these convenient foods suddenly become very inconvenient, and meal preparations can become rather challenging to some. Like my youngest son who lives on Hot Pockets, frozen Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, instant noodles, and taquitos.

But we coped and waited. Finally the repairmen arrived, dismounted the microwave from above the stove, disassembled the unit and replaced what appeared to be the transformer and magnetron (or whatever they’re called in microwave ovens these days). Upon testing, the microwave made the same loud buzzing sound and still did not function. At this point they were out of options and skills, so they had to take the unit back to their shop for more tinkering. For at least a week, they said. Now, not only do we no longer have a working microwave, we also no longer have an exhaust fan for the stove. Just lovely.

At this point, She Who Must Be Obeyed had had enough, and directed me to located a countertop microwave for us to buy so that she could bloody well get on with things. So that’s what we did. Our supposedly repaired microwave is scheduled to be returned today (after 2 weeks in the shop), and it might even work again, but we’re ready if it doesn’t.

So, devoted reader(s), what appliance is the biggest pain in the ass for you to be without, and when was the last time it happened? Also too, how did you cope with the loss?

image stolen from

  • mark hamilton

    Well, we lost our window A/C on a Sunday morning. In Tucson. In June. 100+ degrees.
    Glad Home Depot is open on Sundays!

  • I have too owned a microwave oven for many years! This one:

    <img src="; width="450">

    As a bonus, it still works.

    The new house has one built-in that I believe is a bit older. I'll have to take a picture.

    • CopterBob

      If they only still made them with such simple controls. We have about 7 different models at work spread out over several different break rooms, each with totally different methods of operation. With maybe a couple of exceptions I've come across, microwave ovens get my vote as the devices with the most illogical, counter-intuitive controls ever.

      Our first microwave lasted well over 10 years. The second about 6. The third about 4. With labor rates being what they are now, I'm shocked (no pun intended) that they're even worth trying to repair.

      • skitter

        I'm most bothered by the instant-cook function whenever you press a number.
        I wasn't done yet, and I want to use the 7 so they wear evenly.

    • The Professor

      [sounds of jaw dropping and teeth clattering across the floor] I stand corrected.

      • jeepjeff

        Microwave ovens were invented as a civilian re-purposing of WWII military technology. He's allowed to have one.

        If it helps, I have one, but only my wife uses it, because she won't let me melt beer bottles and generate plasmas with it. She thinks I might "ruin" it for "cooking".

        • The Professor

          I feel your pain, and I still have a lump to prove it.

  • Most detrimental to my personal well being: Coffee pot. I broke the glass carafe about a year ago, and it took 3 days for a replacement to arrive. Alternative cups of coffee left me feeling sad.

    Most aggravating: PC goes on the fritz and I have no time to look at it until a week later. A smartphone can only do so much.

  • sawer-massey

    My partner is terrified of microwaves and insists that the children stand well back when they operate. She has insisted so that now even when my offspring use the toy microwaves on the plastic kitchen sets they stand back while it is "working".

    • CopterBob

      I worked with a programmer who would leave the room–as in bolt out the door–while the microwave was in operation.

      • nanoop

        The ISM band is too crowded, probably his Bluetooth implant went just nuts.

    • Tiller188

      My dad has a handy-dandy microwave radiation detector that always amused me. It's a little guy, battery-operated I think (from a 9V, if memory serves?), with a rectangular analog gauge. The readout looks a bit like the one below, although the actual device is much smaller.

      <img src=";, width="500">

      Anyway, all that long-winded lead-up is to get to why it amuses me. I don't even remember what the units of measurement are, but thankfully, you don't have to be familiar with them or with what a safe dosage is, because while the rest of the device looks quite serious and the scale is actually graduated in some units that I don't remember, the far right end of the scale is simply labeled "RUN!"

  • I like to take the trash out once a week on trash day so for many years I have used a kitchen trash compactor. It has the added bonus of being dog proof. The first one I inherited. It has been replaced with 2 or 3 Craigslist specials. A few weeks ago the latest one crapped out. That reminds me, I need to search Craigslist today. It is getting difficult to find the ones meant for freestanding installation.

  • Number_Six

    Microwave-free since 2001. However, I'd sell my auntie at a market for cannibals if it got me in-suite laundry.
    <img src="; />

  • OA5599

    When you wait for the microwave repairman, you make the best of things by using the toaster oven, or making a sandwich, or eating out. That frozen burrito will be waiting for you to nuke it when everything is fixed.

    When you wait for the refrigerator repairman, you either buy lots of dry ice, cook everything at once so it won't spoil, or throw out a couple hundred bucks of thawed food.

    • The Professor

      Yep, and we recently played that game too. Our recently replaced freezer went on the fritz, but we were lucky enough to get someone out the next morning, so we didn't lose anything. This freezer is just a year old and is already having problems, whereas the old one that it replaced ran for 34 years without a hiccup.

      • OA5599

        Our fridge was bad straight out of the box. Of course we picked it up at night, and for the first bit of runtime just assumed it took a while to get down to temperature, so it was the next day before we even knew to call for service. The repairman diagnosed it as a bad solder joint which let all the refrigerant out.

        A control board went out on it about a year after the warranty ran out.

        The prior fridge was in service for at least 25 years. It still worked when we replaced it, but our family outgrew it so we replaced it with something bigger. I had it in storage until the control board went out on the replacement fridge. I tried to de-mothball it then, but all the disuse caused the refigerant to leak out.

        • The Professor

          Build quality on the appliances made nowadays just sucks, doesn't it? The problem with my freezer turned out to be two bolts that held the air circulation fan together were over torqued and snapped off, causing the fan to literally fall apart.
          But what are you going to do? Like you, we outgrew our old freezer, plus it iced up like the Arctic used to and was an energy hog. You have to replace it with something, and unless you can afford some of the more exotic import models, which may or may not be any better, you're stuck with the affordable junk.

          • OA5599

            The warranty repair guy said the plumbing is welded up by robots, and the quality is normally so good that there is no provision to add refrigerant. Must be interesting to watch. He said leaks are mostly a thing of the past now, and that we ended up with a really rare defective unit.

            We have a freezer that kept icing up. Ice would form in the drain, blocking it from draining additional condensation, which then froze all the food on the bottom shelf into a block of ice. The fix was to form a heat sink out of stiff copper wire, one end in the drain hole to melt the blockage and the remainder placed to conduct heat from the defrost heater. It cost about a dollar to make, and not counting the time needed to thaw the ice and remove the interior of the freezer for access, took just a couple of minutes to install. Fancy-branded freezers probably already have something similar built in.

          • I think every refrigerator or freezer that my family has bought in the last 15 years has needed repair within 3 years of purchase. However, the 1954 International Harvester refrigerator in my basement has been going strong for at least the last 40 years, probably the last 60. As far as freezers go, I just buy them cheap (<$150) off Craigslist and scrap them if they break down. I usually don't keep more than a few turkeys, a little bit of meat and frozen pizzas in the freezer anyways.

          • The Professor

            Ah, an IH fridge! If that ever breaks down, you can fix it with a cold chisel and a hammer.

          • sawer-massey

            Or the odd extra IH Scout part. Was there anything made in the atomic age that didn't include at least one part from IH?
            On another tangent…I found an original hat from the CASE/IH plant in my home town that also was the previous home of my namesake's plant.

  • RSDeuce

    We recently moved into a new apartment, and it actually took me a day or two for it to register that we no longer had a microwave at our disposal. We sold our last one after the 3rd apt in a row that came with one, and it didn't even occur to me that there wasn't a built-in unit here.

    That said, we haven't missed it a bit.

  • Waywords

    Needy appliances. It's tough to decide which is neediest. I got a new washing machine a few years back that immediately crapped out. Six service calls later and it was working fine After they replaced the motherboard. My washing machine has a motherboard? Then, of course, there's my mop that requires 4 AA batteries, and a wastebasket with an on/off switch