June 14, 2012

Thrifty Thursday tip

Last month I had a call from Sears, from where we had purchased our refrigerator as well as washer and dryer, informing me that it was time to renew my service agreement for another year.  The cost of this would be in excess of $400.

I was reluctant to do this even last year, although I ended up doing it.  This time it occurred to me after I hung up that with the money I was spending for appliance protection since the year of purchase, I easily could have purchased a replacement, if not all three, for either the fridge or the washer and dryer set rather than pay for an expensive repair (particularly for the washer and dryer, both of which have numerous sensors that can easily run into the hundreds to repair).  That just didn't make sense to me and made me feel like Sears was getting rich on my nickel.

I told them I wasn't going to renew. After listening to the rep drone on about how much repairs cost, etc., I stuck to my guns.  I then arranged for one last service call before the current coverage expired.

When the man arrived, I asked him what I could do to prevent the need for service.  He told me that with the refrigerator, it's all about keeping the coils clean, and with a washer and dryer, it's all about protecting the sensors against lightning, avoiding mildew in the washer, and avoiding lint buildup in the dryer.

He instructed me to leave the washer door as well as the drawer where detergent and bleach go in the open position when a load is not running to keep them aired out, to clean the lint catcher regularly and to try to keep the lint drain clear as well (my laundry room is on the second floor with my bedrooms, so I'll have to get my handyman to do that).  Finally, he suggested a surge protector to keep lightning from burning up the sensors, or to simply unplug when not in use.

As for the refrigerator, the repairman said to continue keeping the kitchen appliance rug in place in front of it because it blocks out dust from getting underneath.  When he removed the bottom grill and vacuumed under the fridge, he said there was very little dust becuse the rug kept it out.  He showed me how to remove the grill and how to put it back so I could use my vacuum attachment to gather any dust that will eventually settle on the coils and make the fridge not as cold as it should be.  He pronounced the sealants in good condition, and that was that.

In four years, I've only called out the repair to do an annual checkup but have never needed repair work for any of these three appliances.  I figure the worst that can happen with the fridge is that my icemaker in the freezer might act funky, in which case I'll have to make my own ice...hardly the end of the world.  As for the washer and dryer, the set is made by LG, an excellent brand (the hatches holding the doors to the units are metal, whereas other brands we looked were held together with plastic, which is a lot less sturdy and more prone to cracking and breakage). Of course, one never knows if your appliance was slapped together fifteen minutes before quitting time before a three-day summer weekend.  Still, I'm confident that I can manage without having to spend $400 a year on "just-in-case" repair coverage that hasn't yet been needed.

Something to think about!