Ezra's Cookbook
Brighten Up

Appliance Purgatory

In an attempt to keep costs down on our kitchen remodel, we opted not to replace any of the appliances. They were all pretty old and not particularly stylish (shiny, black, basic), but they worked. They probably wouldn't work much longer, we guessed, but we could live with them for now. We'd replace them as needed, once they officially gave out and died.

It turns out Appliance Death is not exactly a cut-and-dry sort of thing. Much of our lives since have been spent locked in existential debate about the fate and mortality of our stupid appliances. 

The dishwasher "died" on a semi-regular basis from the day we moved in, but we found it could usually be revived with a couple vigorous slams of the door. If that didn't work, we just needed to pop open the control panel and replace a particular fuse that kept blowing. Also the top rack was prone to popping off its track and falling off completely if you pulled it out a touch too far. That cost us a couple dishes every now and then, but hey, it's all just Ikea and Goodwill crap. Other than all of those things, the dishwasher works! It's alive! It's fine!

Eventually, after replacing the fuse yet again, then watching our children repeatedly slam the door over and over again in an attempt to get the start button to respond only a day later, Jason decided enough was enough. Labor Day appliance sales were around the corner; the dishwasher was given a DNR order in the meantime. 

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(The amount of dirty dishes that piled up in anticipation of our shiny new dishwasher was truly embarrassing, as we all kinda forgot that things called sinks exist, and that they can be used to wash things.)

That left us with three appliances to go, and we took bets on which one would be next.

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The bottom shelf on the refrigerator door is held together with duct tape (a delightful discovery I only noticed on move-in day), and every once in awhile the ice maker goes berserk and produces like, 400 ice cubes that spill out everywhere when you open the freezer....but other than that, it works. It's fine. 

The oven cooks super unevenly so everything I make requires a lot of extra rotating and shifting. The left side gets much hotter, particularly in the back, so I've gotten used to lopsided cakes and extended cook times because I have to open the door to flip things around so many times. Jason desperately wanted a gas stove when we moved, but every house we looked at had electric, like this one. But other than that...it works. 

The microwave seemed to be in the best working order...I mean, it wasn't new or fancy but it nuked things as expected, the buttons all worked, nothing was duct-taped.

But then the plastic vent above the door started randomly falling off. Usually right after you closed the door, preferably after removing something you've just heated up, all the better for the vent to LAND RIGHT ON YOUR HEAD and cause you to DROP HOT FOOD ON YOUR FEET. 

Jason thought maybe he could find a replacement vent (it was just one small plastic nub that had broken off, thus keeping it from fully snapping into place) but never actually looked for one. Meanwhile I took to either holding the vent in place every time I opened or closed the microwave door, or jumping backwards and dodging it whenever I forgot.

The vent would then, naturally, go for a particularly long time without falling off, leading me to believe I'd somehow magically fixed it. Then it would lie in wait and nail me directly in the face and shoulder the next time I retrieved a piping hot, overfilled bowl of soup. 

So after walking in to find me surrounded by soup-saturated paper towels and yelling "YOU FUCKING BITCH ASS PIECE OF SHIT!" at our microwave, Jason again decided enough was enough. Time for a new microwave.

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(The fucking bitch ass piece of shit vent in question.)

We installed it ourselves last night, which was not as easy of a process as we anticipated, because we forgot to measure the height and needed to remove some of the backsplash, and also Jason is allergic reading instructions, plus nothing in this house is EVER installed the way one would expect things to be installed. (Also, WOW, was that old microwave a lot...stickier than I anticipated.)

But we figured it out and lo, we have a shiny new microwave that we got on super sale at Best Buy. And one that 1,000% does not even have a vent to fall off and hit me in the head. 

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Of course, while shopping for the microwave, I wandered around the appliance section, opening and closing refrigerators and practically moaning with envy. Look at the shelves! Look at the layouts! Look at the sliding freezer drawers and custom temperature zones and built-in beverage racks and total lack of duct tape!

"No," I told myself. "The fridge is not dead yet. The fridge is alive and the fridge is fine."

I found Jason standing in front of the gleaming, gas-range ovens, tapping away on his phone and muttering stuff about getting a propane tank and propane service because he's sick of cooking with this electric crap mutter mutter mutter. 

Our appliances aren't dead. No. No no no. We're waiting for the day when we can send them upstate, to a nice big farm in the country. To be with our old dishwasher. And the rabbits and ducks or whatever. 

(Don't even get me started on our washer and dryer. We'll be here all damn day.) 

Comments

Brenda S

We have that microwave (and matching dishwasher, stove and fridge). We LOVE them - but FYI if you get all fancy and do by the matching refrigerator just know the icemaker sucks because it is not insulated from the rest of the refrigerator so the ice melts. Otherwise they are beautiful (inside of the gas stove is pretty blue)! Good luck!

Anne

Just thought I’d weigh in on the gas/electric debate and say that I was hard core pro-gas and moved to electric-only territory, wherein we purchased an induction cooktop that I love so so so much. Just sayin’. I feel you on all the appliance BS though! Been there! Nice micro!

Jean

OMG, find a president's day sale and replace them all! We did it a few years ago, got a payment plan with no interest and paid them off over the course of a year. Totally worth it.

I however, have been arguing with my washing machine that will work fine the first wash cycle of the day, but then will refuse to high spin every other load without banging it around. So yeah...I should probably not talk.

Stacy

We are far from rolling in the dough, but life is too short to put up with crappy appliances. The first thing we did when we bought a house where I now have a tenure-track teaching job was to buy a new fridge, dishwasher and washing machine. Sticky does not even begin to describe the state of the range that was left behind. I still shudder at the memory of taking it out. I don't think the dishwasher even worked anymore, based on the smell of it. It looked original to the 1980 construction date of the house. Lucky for me, we moved my fancy-pants range out of our other house. (Our tenants now have a regular gas range to use). We also just ponied up for the gas line to install said fancy pants range in an electric-only house. We'll be appliance-poor when we finally move in, but I don't regret spending the money at all. You use these things every day.

Lee

You made me LOL. It's like you've been in my kitchen. We built our house, so all the appliances came in at the same time. One by one, they are dying. The double oven went first and then the dishwhasher. I stood in the middle of my kitchen and yelled "JUST BECAUSE YOU ALL CAME IN TOGEHTER DOESN'T MEAN YOU GET TO LEAVE TOGETHER!" My husband strolled in afterward and said "So, ya think that's gonna work?" So far, so good. Knock wood!

Jen

Induction; we love it and great for cooking with kids at NO BURNS. I was pro-gas until hubby talked me into it and never looked back. We bought ours from Sears outlet and have been very happy. Just try your pans with the layout before purchasing!

LeighTX

Our dryer came with the house we bought in 1995. We've moved seven times since then, and it only works if you turn the knob to the exact spot I've noted with a dash of red nail polish, but by golly it still works. I'm hoping to go for some kind of record.

Elf

A warning on Jason's yearning for a propane tank; gas stoves just don't work the same on propane. You don't get the fine control. It may be better than the electric, but I'm planning to go the induction route when I replace my stove, as we don't have a gas line.

I'm in a pretty similar situation to you re: new house, old appliances, except that they do all seem to actually work (except for the washing machine. Which I fixed, yay! except that now it has a slow leak from the pump as a result of fixing, but a cookie sheet underneath totally fixes that. And I will not get a new washing machine, because even the non-HE ones are HE enough to make washing diapers a PITA)

abbey

Watch out for that rogue ice maker. The water line to our refrigerator sprung a lead and slowly leaked under our gross vinyl floor unnoticed by us until our floor was ruined (all subfloor soaked through), thus necessitating the removal of all our lower cabinets that were original to our 1940s house and VERY built in, thus in turn necessitating all new cabinets, and then well since we are at it basically an entire kitchen remodel because one thing leads to another. All of this unplanned. I live in one of those urban, booming west coast cities. Basically every contractor we called was laughed their asses off at us for not planning better and said they could get to us and START in 4 months and they were like 1990s Linda Evangelista and don't get out of bed for less than $10,000 (lots more but you get the idea). Anyway, the water line to the refrigerator is one of the most common causes of household floods --- certainly something to keep an eye on.

Marianne

We moved into our house in 2015, and it's our first house. The kitchen had been remodeled sometime in the late 80s or early 90s and they did it on the cheap. Everything was functional though; so we've lived with it. But, we're the same as you, and have been replacing things base on attrition. Our washer and dryer were first. I love the new ones so much (I have three kids too and lots and lots of laundry). My father-in-law broke our dishwasher's door off on accident, so he bought us a new one. That was nice!

Now, we're trying to decide if we're going to remodel our kitchen. If so, we don't want to worry about the appliances that mostly work. Adulting is so stressful.

Dianne

Our appliances all came with our house when we moved in a year and a half ago - a 1973 gem in Hawaii, and no gas. It came with a shiny glass top stove/oven. I hate it. You can only cook 1 large pot/pan at a time, the other 3 burners are small. But it's only 4 years old. The washer is another story. Hated it from the day we moved in, but hey it worked, with a little tweaking. But 2 weeks ago, it completely died and I researched the heck out of new washers. Opted for an old school type "basic" Maytag, top loader with an agitator AND (this is the most important), a dial that lets you choose to bypass the auto HE sensor setting and fill the whole damn tub with water. Front loaders never completely dry out here, plus geckos are known to find them cozy if you leave the door open to dry, which never happens anyway and the agitator-less top loaders all had many many complaints about unbalanced loads. So old school it was. So far so good....

Lori

I cannot wait until our electric stove dies so I can get an induction cooktop (no natural gas here - hey, North Bethesda.) The sellers did give us a $1,000 credit for a new fridge since the light in ours doesn't work but that thousand and its eleven cousins went to replacing the HVAC instead.

Linda

Don't get propane, unless you're used to cooking with propane. It does not get as hot as natural gas - very different cooking experience. (Had it in an RV. Hated it.) Look at good quality induction. Instant temperature change, only heats the pot, easy to clean... Have it in an RV and love it so much, we replaced the cooktop in the house with induction. Con - you need steel or cast iron pots and pans. Non-magnetic metals (i.e. aluminum) don't work on induction. There are very good ones to be had for not a lot of money.

Linda

Oh, yeah - 10 year old refrigerator died last year. (Defective lighting fixture didn't turn off when the door shut. Cooked everything on the top shelf. Completely out of warranty, of course.) New refrigerators are miraculous. Love, love, love the LED lighting especially. No dark recesses.

Suzanne

Ooooh, pretty, extremely QUIET Bosch dishwasher. My three month tenure in commission appliance sales made me covet that model so freaking fiercely, but no, I bought the top of the line Maytag 13 years ago and have to wait for that sucker to die before I can upgrade to that lovely thing of beauty.

Microwave, my husband installed ours for the second time and the man is meticulous about getting it right. Different KA, but they also make a lovely product.

So, electric vs. gas. Yeah. I hate not being able to get gas here with a passion. (My 7 years in Frederick spoiled me forever). If the stove is the next thing to be replaced, know that the sticker shock on the KA, Jenn Aire, and the brands your foodie loving selves have watched on Food Network for years will send Jason screaming away from the propane tanks. It did to me and I'm not that price averse for good stuff.

Instead, I chose a nice ceramic top Samsung convection stove. This was their top of the line product in 2009 and maybe 1/3 the cost of the KA I really, really, really wanted. The only part of it that I don't like is it does not like cast iron, but that just means I've acquired more Le Creuset that doesn't hurt the surface and gives me the wonderful cast iron heat conduction.

I await your Fridge purchase. Currently hating my side by side fiercely, because I no longer have a 'garage fridge' to take the overflow frozen foods/store all the craft beers. Not willing to pay what they charge for French door. Your fridge will die before mine, so plz, report and pictures when you replace it!

Deb

Our condo came with a high end gas range and I struggled to cook on it for the past 4 years. The oven temperature drifted by over a hundred degrees every time I used it. I could never get a good simmer. It had been installed unevenly and oil always pooled in one side of a frying pan. I HATED it.

Finally in November, we bought a Samsung induction range on sale at Home Depot, zero interest for a year, free removal of my old range and $15 installation.

There ended up being a TON of installation issues and it took over five weeks, with all the capping off of gas lines, installing higher amp wires and cutting the limestone counter to make it fit. For a few weeks I had both ranges in my living room and no usable stove. But everything got resolved and Home Depot came back to put it in and take away the old one.

I am here to tell you it was SO WORTH IT. I love that thing and am enjoying cooking again. Vegetables actually roast! I made mini pavlovas, which require a low consistent temperature and they were perfect! Cooking oatmeal on top of a single layer of paper towels means I never have to take up grates to clean up overflowing gunk again. A big pot of water boils in less than three minutes.

It is super easy to clean and actually increases the counter space of my tiny kitchen.

Oh, and there is a warming drawer. I use that ALL the time, even though I thought I never would. (It comes in handy when I'm cooking my Blue Apron meals and something finishes cooking ahead of everything else.)

After I bought it, I kept an eye on the price and Home Depot gave me $200 back when it went on deeper sale.

You can tell I'm excited about induction. Look into it and see if it would work for your family. :)

Suzy Q

I moved into a new place a year and a half ago that didn’t have water or dryer. I got the biggest (but still most basic) ones Maytag makes (washer has no agitator and is a top loader). I was TIRED of trying to fit a king sized comforter into the damn washer. The one I got may even be a bit TOO big (5.3 cubic feet, I think), but who cares? I can wash ALL THE THINGS. I can probably fit my own damn self into the dryer, too.

Anna

New appliances are sexy and Bosch dishwashers are the shit!

Jenny

The only appliance we have not replaced since moving into our 1940s bungalow is the fridge. I know the current fridge got stuck in the doorway to the kitchen when the previous owner replaced it, and it recently leaked INSIDE the freezer, creating a giant frozen food ice cube.

But it’s not broken. And also not sure how we will get it out...so, it’s fine!

Amanda

We moved into our house around the same time you did, I think. Our appliances are a real grab bag. Fridge is fine, dishwashers decent, microwave is 20 years old but functional.

However. The stove. I am fairly certain it’s original to the house (built in the early ‘70s) and this thing just WILL NOT DIE. It is so old that it does not even have a digital clock, it’s got one of those ones where the numbers like manually flip as the minutes pass. The oven consistently runs about 100 degrees hotter than you set it, but because it still continues to “work” we haven’t been able to justify the expense.

Ashley

You could help even out the temperature in the oven with a large unglazed piece of terra cotta tile like a half inch thick. Thicker the better. A pizza stone might work too but they’re very thin. It will absorb heat and radiate it and balance out during cooking.

We have our own appliance nightmares here. Had to call the fire department this past fall after our 25 yr old electric stove’s coil heated to a melting point in one spot. Would have loved gas, would not have loved installing the gas line and replumbing! The not that old (7 yrs?) microwave was replaced two weeks ago because it kept spinning after the door opened but wouldn’t heat or spin when closed. Then this week the dishwasher (oldest appliance left at about 10 yrs) had a spring break so if you open it the door falls down on you. A heavy door. We replaced a 15 yr old fridge about 5 years ago and have been in love with it ever since (die side by sides, long live freezer drawers and French doors!) Best Buy floor models are a great cost saver!

Trish

Propane FTW! We love ours.

Jenny

Go for induction!! Love it way more than gas!!

JoyL

So, same boat here. The dishwasher was the first to go. We got a lovely new stainless steel Bosch. Currently, the microwave kinda starts and stops while running and the light inside goes on and off. The fridge makes a very loud scary sound and you cannot use the water dispenser any longer. I do have a gas range (propane) and it's mostly good but I'd really like a new one with a convection oven. They will not die though...

Kirsten

I was so excited to get our new Bosch dishwasher...great Consumer Reports reviews and so quiet! But I absolutely hate it. None of our dishes fit the tines right so it’s so inefficient to load. And the cleaning sucks. I was given the warnings: don’t rinse first, use Finish tabs, have to use Jet Dry stuff. It doesn’t matter...I regularly have to rewash even washing on the Heavy setting. I wish I was having the good experience others have posted about!

Amy A

I’m just wondering where the new microwave now vents? Because the old one had a vent and this new one does not? Or does the new one vent outside?
I’m only curious because I recall it being an issue when we purchased ours a few years ago, but have no idea where it needed to vent, and why.

Stacy

For the Elf comment, get a Speed Queen washing machine. Built right here in WI and waste water like the best of them, but everything gets CLEAN!!!

Karen

We are renters and the peace of mind that comes with knowing that if the microwave dies it's Not My Problem cannot be overstated. The dishwasher in our house started to die last fall. At the same time, we were noticing that we had big giant black ants coming into the kitchen, not a huge amount, but enough that I was squashing (ew) a few every day. We figured it was the trash and started taking it out more regularly.

Then the dishwasher officially died. We agreed to not bother the landlord about it--he's a sweet man, but elderly and fighting leukemia--and wash our dishes by hand.

Lo and behold, the ants stopped coming in the kitchen. Apparently they liked the water that remains in the dishwasher...which explains why in our past house we'd have ants coming into the dishwasher...we now use the dishwasher for pot storage and it's great. I am starting to think of dishwashers as wasted storage space.

Another bonus to not using the dishwasher: now that the kids (all four of them, boys) know that there isn't a magic machine that washes their dishes, do you know what they do? They take their lunch or dinner or breakfast plates to the sink, wash them and PUT THEM AWAY. Without being asked. It's a miracle. And I always hated unloading the dishwasher anyway.

We will tell the landlord about the dishwasher if/when we move. Now, if the stove or oven goes on the fritz, that's a no brainer. The fridge is ours and we have a shelf that's held up with packing tape and some parts of it get too cold and freezes the produce, but I can live with that. Baby carrots thaw out just fine, it turns out. Lettuce, not so much.

Amy

I'm kind of jealous. Our appliances are also super old. Ice maker doesn't work. Microwave died last week. Trash compactor NEVER worked. So I want just a new microwave because replacing everything is a lot of $$$$$ but the hubs wants everything to match. So we're stuck in limbo and meanwhile I have 5 kids and no microwave. (It's a built in with a vent. Very impressed y'all installed a new one yourselves.)

L

You might consider a basic home warranty plan if your other appliances are near death. The companies can be a pain to deal with but we have replaced our dishwasher, microwave, stove, hot water heater, and garage door motor, as well as taken care of a few other non-appliance related repairs all for $75 a pop, plus our monthly premium. It has worked out to be advantageous for us although we’ll probably cancel the plan after the last of our appliances go (I’m looking at you fridge).

Blythe

I had a hard time convincing myself to replace an appliance. Ours were fine. The fridge leaks almost daily, spits ice, etc. But it keeps stuff cool. So I can't toss it. The garage fridge is fine too. A couple broken taped things, but it's fine. The oven works, the range works, the microwave works. But it's all 10 year old builder-grade. It's got a fancy badge on it, but it all sucks. So finally I broke down and replaced the it's kinda working but not really dishwasher.
O M G
It's amazing. It's so quiet. And the dishes are so so so clean. I can't even tell you the joy I get when I hold up a glass and it just shines. It's like some alternate reality where things just work. So while I may have to guesstimate cooking times for the wibbly oven (350* is 350* but broil might light the cabinet on fire and warm is sear) and I may have to have a waterhog mat at my fridge so I don't break my butt on the slippery tile (ice melts yo), but my dishes are sparkling.

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