With very few exceptions, US appliance manufactures make junk. I do like our Whirlpool front loading washer and dryer, but they were made in Germany.
Cate in point out my wife found sheet metal screw at the bottom of the oven in our GE electric range. Close inspection found that it had been one of two self tapping sheet metal screws holding the oven vent in place. The hole in the oven liner was enlarged due to corrosion. A close examination of the liner found numerous rust pockmarks. The material that GE used for the liner is junk and the as is the enamel coating. The range was five years old at the time of the failure.
I was blown off by both GE and Sears, the retailer. LG next time.
I also have the GE Profile refrigerator, and suffered the pooling water on the floor under the freezer door. After investigating the hose routing, I determined that the push-to-connect fitting that is used at the door-freezer compartment intersection had become unseated when the contractor moved the unit into my new kitchen. After locating the fitting, it was a matter of pushing the hose firmly into the connector, then pulling snugly to make sure the seal was tight. Problem solved, but the linoleum will need to be replaced pretty soon, as that was where the seam was located for two separate flooring sections.
I am quite sure that this design met all of the criteria given to work with. Cheap. Quick. Unserviceable. These are pretty much today's main criteria of design in consumer products as far as I can tell.
Name me some common consumer item that is meant to be serviced. Televisions? No. My CRT-based televisions lasted 20+ years each (including the three I still use regularly) with NO service required. My brother's very new 46" LCD required a new motherboard ($1,400) 11 months later. Another month, he was told, and it would have been cheaper to replace the television outright (hold that thought).
Radios / VHS decks / CD players / iPods / DVD players? LoL.
Automobiles? I can tell when my neighbor is changing his plugs again, he has the engine hoist out. Or those lovely plastic headlight covers. Once a year we buy the $20 polish kit and return them to transparency. My neighbor's 20 year old daily driver with the ORIGINAL glass headlight covers are perfect!
I love car shopping. The salesman will say things like, "This automobile is very well designed. You could drive it for 10 years with proper maintenance." I always reply, "Great! You won't mind putting a 100,00 mile / 10 year warranty on dealer letterhead then." The choking sound is always amusing.
Remember that thought you were supposed to hold? If not, stop scanning for key words and go back and actually read this rant.
There are several factors behind what I (and maybe others) perceive to be the current insanity in consumer design. It began with the "first to market" syndrome made popular years ago by the consultants. Then huge advances in the price/performance ratio in CAD allowed companies to "flatten" engineering departments (eliminating many experienced people in favor of CAD jockeys and salesmen). Finally, insane salary demands from the top offices put very real pressure on the accounting department to come up with cash, now (unlike the Federal Government, companies cannot print money, thank God!). The net result was a focus shift from quality and serviceability to how fast and cheap can we spit it out with minimum regard for it's performance once it hits the shelf at Wal-Mart or Best Buy. Longevity? You ARE kidding? Right? The warranty period is a rough estimate of how long it should work based on the accounting department's cost-of-warranty vs. cost-of-manufacture vs. cost-of-time-to-market analysis. You laugh. I've seen that analysis. Eerie.
And, the American consumer has bought into in a big way. Sure, something breaks, we just go buy another one. The newer one will have fancier labels and colors so it must be better, right? I'm reminded of Barnum & Bailey at this point but that's another topic.
Or maybe we have only ourselves to blame. Growing up, everyone knew how to fix something. The really bright fellows, like my Dad, could fix almost anything (houses, cars, radios, televisions, broken bones, etc). In fact, in the 50+ years I knew him, I cannot think of anything he couldn't fix. Alzheimer's finally took him but even the experts haven't a clue on that stuff yet. Ask some kid today to pop the top off the washing machine -- one of the simplist machines in the home -- and they'll give you that sad deer-in-the-headlight look and dial 411 on their iPhone for a repairman. LoL What can I say? It's really fun to watch.
Now. Back to major appliances. The cost-to-fix-exceeds-the-cost-to-replace syndrom is beginning to make it's way into this arena (now that it has killed off many other small businesses, like television repair shops and electronic parts stores). Last year, the local appliance repair fellow called it quits and left the area. With the advent of the front-loading machines, it is essentially cheaper to buy a new washing machine than to repair one out of warranty. And with all the new electronics I'm sure (tongue-in-cheek) they'll just get more reliable; yeah, like nothing ever goes wrong with electronics ... just ask some Toyota owners. ROTFLMAO BTW, my advice? Buy only mechanical switch controlled washers and dryers. I kept the first set running 20+ years with an occasional siliconing of the friction pads on the dryer and a new drum clamp ($16) on the washer around year 15. The second dryer is nearing 20 years with the same siliconing maintenance. The washer required regular visits until I asked the repair fellow a simple question but that's another topic also. And mechanical units actually get your clothes clean without doing the Hawaiian hula dance. Ooh.
We did finally break down and buy a new refrigerator after 40+ years. I love the wheels they designed in and the loose lens on the light is just a minor oversight in the lip design but a piece of tape fixed that PDQ. The drawer glide clips come loose regularly but they click back easily enough. The only mystery so far is why did the designer put 10 slots on the ice cube maker but only enable the first two? I called Sears service and they assured me that it is working perfectly. I haven't bothered to dissect it for correction yet. We don't use much ice anyhow.
Meanwhile, I just keep fixing things as I go.
Latest fix? A $200 label printer. It looked great on the CAD system I am sure. But allowing only 0.015" between the label advance button and the switch on the printed circuit board was NOT a good idea given all the tolerance stackups in between and the inherent issues in aging plastic and printed circuit boards. As the printer got to be a year old or so, the 0.015" clearance became an interference and, yeah, you guessed it ... if you put a roll of labels in it just spit them all out. I "re-designed" the printer and now it works just fine. Yes, I did contact the printer manufacturer through their web site's support service. They basically told me there was nothing wrong with their printer and they couldn't figure out what I was talking about. Who knows? I don't care. It took less time to fix it than to discuss it.
I tell my grandkids to either learn how to use tools, or stay in college until they're lawyers or doctors. And learning Mandarin isn't such a bad idea either. LoL
Shopping for quality instead of price is a grand concept, but often difficult to do. I tried to purchase a tree limb clipper. It was impossible to find one without hollow aluminum handles. Yes, light and easy to handle. Inexpensive. Useless, because they wouldn't cut anything more stout than a poke salad stalk. I had to shop several places and found one at the local feed and farm store. Steel handles, compound action, replaceable blades, and rubber hand grips. It was $45 instead of $15. A much greater capital outlay, until I remembered that I had destroyed 4 sets of the cheap imported clippers. The issue isn't so much the money, though. Perhaps we as consumers are content to settle for cheap, shoddy goods because we can always get one at the local every-mart. We'll have to become better shoppers and wiser consumers, andeventually the marketplace will respond by bring us what we want instead of what they think they can sell us cheaply.
Good advice @failureindesign. Actually, I never did drink the water from the fridge. We have a well and really hard, iron-laden water, so I wasn't keen on drinking it even with the built-in filter. But disconnecting the hose is probably the right idea. Thanks for the tip!
@Beth: If you have the same model and it drips, I would disconnect the water to the door. IMHO, it's not worth risking mold poisoning just for the convenience of not having to open the door to get a drink. And, we musn't forget the tap. At least out here in the boonies of upstate New York we still have nice clean water coming out of the ground. For now at least. Sigh.
To jmiller: Can a quality-driven consumer drive a quality product? Good question. In the long run, we can drive the quality of products if there's sufficient competition. The classic example is the American auto industry. Consumers accepted their junk in the 1960s and '70s, until the Japanese carmakers stepped in and produced a better product. American automakers almost planned themselves into obsolescence with their idea of "planned obsolescence." Let's hope the same holds true for the makers of refrigerators like this one.
Actually, it's not quite as simple as hacking the foam away. Some details were omitted to simplify the description of the problem. The door is made up of an outer skin, welded to a frame, and an inner panel, also welded to the frame. The hose is placed between the door skin and the inner panel. The foam is then injected into the door cavity through several holes in the inner panel. There is no room to hack out the foam to get to the leaking hose.
One alternate design would be to place the hose inside fixed tubing before adding the insulation. The hose could then be snaked through the fixed tubing. Granted this is a more expensive design, and would cost more to assemble than the existing non-repairable design.
Every design is a compromise. In the middle of the 20th century, refrigerators used fiberglass insulation. It would inevitably fill with water due to condensation and the fridge would quickly become an energy hog. Later on they bagged the fiberglass in plastic bags in a futile gesture to keep the water out, but the bags would get punched through by the assembly screws, thermostats etc. and end up holding a lot of water.
So the current solution is to use spray in foam, which cannot absorb water and results in good efficiency throughout the life of the fridge. I think maintenance of the new design is more pleasant, not having to deal with soaked itchy fiberglass and rusted out interiors. All you have to do is hack away at the foam, replace the hose, use an aerosol can of spray in foam and then trim it off.
Is there any product out there where water, or any liquid for that matter is involved that doesn't give us leak problems?
Nothing monkey'd up here. What would your "obvious" design approach be?
At this year's MD&M West show, lots of material suppliers are talking about new formulations for wearables and things that stick to the skin, whether it's adhesives, wound dressings, skin patches and other drug delivery devices, or medical electronics.
The US Congress has extended an important tax credit for solar energy, a move that’s good news for future investments in this type of alternative energy and for many stakeholders in the solar industry.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.