Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Katrina Klunkers

It's a common problem faced by those of us who rebuilt in the months after Katrina: the demand for appliances at the time was so high that companies shifted into high gear their manufacture of everything from washing machines and stoves to hot water heaters and refrigerators; production went way up and quality control went out the window. As a result, most of the appliances purchased after Katrina are pieces of #@$%.

In the last five years, my fancy, bells-and-whistles post-Katrina LG washing machine has broken down six times (can you say, "bitter"?). The dryer once. The refrigerator twice. The stove twice (it still doesn't work right). The dishwasher once (it still doesn't work right). The downstairs central air conditioning broke down just a couple of weeks ago. This week, it's the hot water heater's turn.

Of course it went out on a Saturday. (Why do these things always happen on a weekend?) No one would even come look at it until Monday. Then they needed to order the parts. I said, "Why don't you just replace it?" They said, "That'll run you about $900." I said, "Okay; order the parts." At least it's still under warranty, so the parts are free even if the labor isn't.

The repair men are here now. That's right, I've been without a hot water heater for five days. Yes, it's been relatively warm here, but even in the summer an icy shower right before you go to bed does not help a writer's chronic insomnia.

I've decided hot water heaters are mankind's greatest invention. Now pardon me why I go pay my plumber $175 for fifteen minutes' work. I'm in the wrong business.


dusty said...

I have long been convinced that appliances actually have spirits...
my toaster oven is a lazy old thing that only reluctantly and very slowly colors bread...the washing machine likes to dance and has been known to offer a syncopated drum solo without any warning...the vacuum...has an evil spirit that only my husband can attacks and trips me...
production of all mechanical items should include exorcisms...
my sympathy

dusty said...


I feel like Oliver Twist
More please

Steve Malley said...

My hot water went down after both quakes, September and February, too...

Unwilling to bathe in cold, I heated pots of water, first on the BBQ then on the stove once I had power. Mix enough boiling with cold, and one gets enough warm water to soap one's hide.

I feel for you there! :)

Pax Deux said...

My sympathies! Sounds like your appliances should meet my cars :-(

I learned to like cold showers when I spent several years in Southern Spain and Morocco. With the very dry air, the cold shower was the only thing that would help me sleep at night when no air conditioner available (often the case). In humid weather, the cold shower just makes you wet *and* momentarily cold.

orannia said...

Why do these things always happen on a weekend?

Murphy's Law!

And I so should have been a plumber...or an electrician :)

So, you have hot water now?

orannia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cs harris said...

Darlene, you do have a way with words! I now feel like I have a houseful of malevolent spirits. And I'm so glad to hear you enjoy the St. Cyr books.

Steve, okay, you win; I have never had to heat my hot water on the BBQ! We did use a little propane stove and a billy can up at the lake after Gustav, although it was so hot then that the cold showers weren't as much of a trial. I made it through the last week with an electric kettle, which sounds like the lap of luxury in comparison.

Pax Deux, I have to admit to voluntarily taking cold showers here in dog days the summer, although the water that comes out of the tap is so warm that it doesn't really rate as "cold".

Orannia, I have the plumbers back right now. When I was writing out the check yesterday, I said, "I smell gas." They basically told me I was an idiot. (I think they have a course in trade school called, "How to treat an intelligent adult woman like an idiot.") Finally they said, "Well, maybe a tiny bit leaked when we opened the line; it'll go away." Except of course that after I took a shower (for a blissful 15 minutes) I had to open all the doors and windows in the house it was so bad. Seems the seal on the new burner is leaking. I restrained myself from saying, So who's the idiot, guys?

Charles Gramlich said...

as long as there is any civilization there will be a need for plumbers!

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is so much the aftermath of Katrina, but just general shoddy workmanship in general. In the last 3 years I've had to have the dishwasher repaired twice, the refridgerator once (but it was out for a whole week waiting on parts) and the washer twice, dryer once. All these appliances are between 4-6 years old. Sigh....I'd rather be without the fridge than hot water though. Try to keep the windows open to not kill yourself with the gas. Sigh again.... Sabena

orannia said...

OMG! I can't believe it! They called you an idiot to your face and then screwed up! The fact you didn't throw it back in your face means they owe you lots of brownie points!

cs harris said...

Charles, how true, how true!

Sabena, this is not comforting! Here I've been mentally counting off the years until I can replace these things, and you're telling me they're all like this? Remember when refrigerators lasted for 30 years?

Orannia, it's even better (or do I mean worse?): I had them back out yesterday because it was STILL leaking gas.

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