Tricounty News

'Slices of life'Fixing the fridge

Normally I'd call a professional repairperson to fix a major appliance. It's the prudent thing to do.

Then again, no one's ever described me as prudent.

The problem with my fridge started out small: a drip here, a pitter-patter there. My first reaction was that of any normal person; I ignored the situation - you know like one ignores a squeaky step, leaky faucet or any birthday after age 40. I sort of got used to the blemish and forgot that it even existed.

Then the problem grew. Water trickled out of the freezer compartment down into the fridge with increasing frequency. I placed a cup under the leak and went about my business. Remember, ignoring is bliss.

This wasn't a perfect solution. Sometimes the cup would tip over, or I'd forget to empty it and the water would pour all over the fridge. As I wiped up the wet mess I grumbled about the inferiority of my appliance.

Since my freezer is not equipped with an automatic icemaker, the situation was quite mysterious. I'm no Scooby or Shaggy, but I've always enjoyed a good mystery.

Besides, I figured maybe I had a big problem on my hands. Maybe my fridge was dying. Maybe I'd end up with a brand-new one. I was thinking stainless - with an icemaker. Maybe a side-by-side. Prudent or not, a girl can dream.

I decided to make like Thelma and research the problem. I went online and Googled "freezer leaking water" and discovered that many people had experienced the very same thing in their kitchens. Best of all, they gave detailed instructions on how to fix the problem.

I have never been one to ignore detailed instructions. They call out to me like a "Scooby Snack." Within seconds I was searching for something called a drain pan.

I didn't know a drain pan from the Mystery Machine, but I wasn't going to let a detail like that stop me. I emptied the freezer and thought I was pretty sure that I had positively identified the drain pan. It was a plastic thing at the bottom of the freezer that looked decidedly ... well ... pan-like.

My instructions said to remove the pan. Trouble is, the metal doohickeys that attached the pan to the freezer were situated within a concave dimple of plastic and I didn't know how to reach them.

Not to be thwarted, I called my husband and described the problem. He introduced me to two new vocabulary words: "socket" and "ratchet." Turns out these were important tools that he had hidden in a toolbox in the basement. I wonder what else he has down there?

I learned that the socket fits on top of the doohickey, which I now know is called a nut. (Or is it a bolt?) The ratchet fits on top of the socket and is supposed to turn just one way and loosen your nut. I got a socket to fit, but despite my husband's patient and flawless over-the-phone directives, I couldn't ratchet to save my life. My nuts were stuck. Lucky for me, there was a screwdriver implement that also attached to the socket. I am nearly professional when it comes to screwdrivers and can distinguish a "slotted" from a "Phillips" with a high amount of accuracy.

I removed the nuts, and sure enough my drain pan was sitting on a glacier. It was clear my drain was iced over, in a word: clogged. The water created during the defrost cycle of the freezer had nowhere to go but down into my fridge - drip, drip. Problem solved. Give that girl a "Scooby snack."

My fridge was saved. I wasn't sure if that was good news or not. I guess I won't be getting the stainless model any time soon. Still, I must have saved some money on what a professional repair would cost. I could probably charge about $75 an hour for my expert services. Problem is, I'd have to bill myself.

Except that wouldn't be prudent, now, would it?

Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and award-winning freelance writer. She appreciates your comments and can be reached at < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or you can check out her Web site at