Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wednesdays With the Appliance Guy

I’ve gotten into a fairly comfortable pattern now with the guy who fixes my appliances.

I am not the guy you want fixing anything more concrete than a paragraph.  While I can bash my way through certain low-level household projects, given time and advice-free space, I generally follow the rule that if I want something done right and quickly, I find someone else.  What can I say?  The material world and I have issues, and there are in fact problems you can solve by throwing money at them.  It is astonishing how many of the problems that fit that bill involve the use of power tools.

So whenever a large durable good decides to be less than durable, I call the Appliance Guy.

One of the joys of living in a small town is that you get to know people, and the Appliance Guy has been a regular visitor over the last few years as our appliances have begun to age noticeably.  He shows up in his truck when he says he will, sets to work, and enjoys a little conversation while he’s at it.  He’s an older guy – well past normal retirement age, in fact – so he could stop if he wanted to do so but he likes what he does.  And he charges reasonable fees.  He’s fixed the dishwasher (twice) and the refrigerator (at least twice), and today was the second time in the last week he’s been here for the range.

We have a gas oven that we got from my parents as a housewarming present when we bought our house twenty years ago because if there is a reason why anyone would want to cook with an electric oven like the one that came with the house I haven’t found it.  It’s a workhorse – you fire it up and it works just fine, most of the time.  I have no idea if they build them like that anymore, but they should.

But recently the main burner on the range has been acting up.

At first it was simply that we no longer had a “medium” setting – it went from high to low without any real transition.  On the one hand this was kind of a problem, since it is nice to have a setting that allows you to cook the insides of something before the outsides catch fire or you grow old and die.  On the other hand, though, this wasn’t that much of a problem, really, since we had three other burners that could do medium and also since most of the things we cook on it follow the basic “bring to a boil [i.e. high] and then simmer [i.e. low]” pattern anyway.

More recently and more seriously, the igniter stopped working.  You could still cook as long as you lit the flame manually, but as a former firefighter I know that is just a 911 call waiting to happen.  If you’re lucky it will be you making that call.  If not, then the neighbors.  This struck us as sub-optimal.

So the Appliance Guy came by last week to see what was the matter.  He diagnosed the igniter problem as actually being something else that was easily replaced and ordered the part for it, and he asked how much the lack of medium bothered us since fixing that would probably cost us as much as a new range just for labor.

Not that much, I said.

Today he came back and fixed the igniter, which now works just fine.  And he discovered that the range is actually much easier to disassemble than he thought, so the vast majority of the labor costs associated with the lack of medium would go away if we wanted to fix that too. 

So he’ll be back next week, when I can be there to let him in.  And then we will have a medium.

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