Yeah planned obsolescence has got to be what it is. My "good" kitchen fridges have not lasted very long- 4th one in about 20 years. My garage "beer & deer" fridge is about 20 years old and still works fine as long as you know where to put different foods. Top shelf left side will freeze - don't put lettuce there, frosty beer on a hot summer day is quite nice. Anyway, the garage fridge holds the kitchen fridge overflow just fine. The ice maker in the garage fridge died, so I just removed it, insulated the hole in the door, and covered the hole with a plastic storage box lid - it almost looks like it was meant to be that way.
Sound like a good solution - although a bit of a "duct-tape band aide" approach. I probably would have gone on line to some place like surpluscenter.com and searched for a fan that I could cram into the spot.
I also replaced my fridge a few years back, with an Energy Star design. A model with the same basic footprint and interior size costs about half the electricity to run as the old one did by the even more inefficient end of its not-very-efficient life.
Double check your defrost timer. It is the number one failure mechanism. It is a mechanical rotary timer that shuts off the compressor and turns on the heaters to defrost. It gets dirty and stops turning after several years. Yours may have stopped in the "compressor on" cycle. This will run the compressor too much, causing frost build up. As the frost builds up, the compressor will have to run more to get the fridge cold. I could picture this continuing to the point where the compressor is overheating, breaking the icemaker tube etc.
Look behind the lower grill, or sometimes it is inside the fridge. It is a small knob. You should hear the compressor turn on and off, also the heaters will crackle when it is in defrost mode. Usually, just turning it a few times will loosen it up for the next few years.
Less Deer - More Beer - that hole in the front can be used to put a very natural looking tapper, direct from the pony keg within! One of my college room-mates very first projects, as soon as he was in his own home, (post graduation).
I'm not so sure appliance designers are diabolical enough for planned obsolescence. Besides, disgruntled employees would eventually spill the beans if it were really a conspiracy to build products that break down. I think it's poor (in a hurry) craftsmanship mixed with pressure to build inexpensively.
There are only two significant areas of improvement/change in Frig design over the last 40 years...
biggest- insulation of the temperature chamber
next biggest- efficiency of electric motor(s) used
The remaining changes... minor (impact on energy efficiency) , possible exception: reduction in door opening for ice/water.. since I don't use ice or cooled water, it has not been an issue for me.
Insulation improvements are a traded against wall thickness (over all size vs interior size).. shouldn't affect reliability of frig.
Electric motor(s) and their control systems .. "efficiency" is OFTEN traded against "reliability".
When I was a electrician (in my youth) .. would often come across electric motors from 1930-50s that would likely never die. Reason: overbuilt (is that possible?) with extreme amounts of iron and electrical insulation space resulting in bulky/in-efficient motors that ran cool due to the mass and would last as long as the bearings didn't fail... - Society expected capital equipment to last forever and energy was cheap.
Now the engineers are asked to push the limits for efficiency with the latest materials.. in expectation of:
-lower energy consumption
-expected further improvements in materials (want to rotate "out" less efficient appliances in the field)..
- and yea, it makes business sense to have this planned obsolesce (speed of money and it's effect on economy).
Closer to the limits of materials.. the less reliable the product. .. AKA risk vs reward.
Is that a conspiracy? Gov. mandated social engineering? Unstoppable technological change? Response to Energy costs? Response to environmental concerns? Capitalism at work? .... There is some truth in all of these observations, just a matter of perspective.
If someone made a Refrigerator that was guaranteed for 30 years.
Would society be OK .. being stuck with no improvements in energy efficiency because of much lower rate of replacement? After all, a refrigerator's energy consumption is a pretty small percentage of a household's total. But it may have a significant total in a community. Tomorrow? someone MAY create a refrigerator that is another 25% more efficient... but no one will buy it, because they don't need a replacement and it will take 20 years of energy saving to recoup the investment.
The specific choice is often determined by expectations based on the past (my old frig lasted 25 years!) . When the best choice may not be related to this past experience.
Change or "faster rate of change" .... creates tough decisions.
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