And then there are the times when DIY goes awry. Lest you think we’re some sort of home improvement mavens following our recent self-taught plumbing escapade, let me disabuse you of that notion post haste by telling you the tale of our oven. And our refrigerator. And our closet door…

An Oven Obituary

Our oven and fridge... scene of the crime(s)
Our oven and fridge… scene of the crime(s)

Right on the heels of our frozen and burst pipe, the Frugalwoods oven decided it was a dandy time to cease operation. Mr. Frugalwoods turned it on one fine evening in anticipation of preparing a scrumptious and highly complicated dinner (ok, actually it was a frozen pizza) and… nothing happened. We reasoned that the oven was jealous of all the attention the pipes had received and hence felt the need to act out.

Our oven is was not old. Not old at all. And so, with the foolish optimism of youth, we had the folly–and hubris–to assume it would serve us for years to come. Years I tell you. But sadly, the whims of fate had other plans for our dear food-cooker.

Although the oven failed to turn on, the stovetop continued to work, which gave us hope for its repair. Indeed, it appeared the ignitor for the oven was simply not igniting. Easy enough to fix (note to self: never utter these words before embarking on a home repair project).

And so, my trusty self-taught handyman husband hopped on YouTube and researched how to replace an oven ignitor. Turns out, it’s relatively straightforward. Mr. FW ordered this new ignitor from Amazon and gamely disassembled the oven. However, our model of oven was not quite as straightforward as the YouTube tutorials purported. And by “not quite” I mean not at all.

When DIY Does Not Pan Out

Mr. FW disassembling the oven
Mr. FW disassembling the oven

As he was removing the ignitor with the oven turned off, Mr. FW realized that it was still fully energized and sparked when it grounded itself to the bottom of the oven. Since that is not supposed to happen, Mr. FW decided this was the limit for his DIY adventure.

Why? Because he sincerely did not want to blow up our house. Messing around with an appliance that’s sparking and contains explosive gas doesn’t seem wise. And for this circumspect decision, I thank him. One of the things I love most about Mr. FW is his caution. Safety is a priority with this man, which I deeply appreciate.

Frugal weirdo DIY protip: call in the experts when death and/or dismemberment seems like a distinct possibility.

Shop Around For Repair Quotes!

Capitulating to the potential danger of gas line DIY, I called no less than 15 different appliance repair folks to get quotes. I’ve learned that if you can’t insource a project, always, always, always get as many quotes as you possibly can and buy the part yourself if feasible. The prices and availability of repair people varies greatly and it behooves a frugal weirdo to shop around.

At long last, I located the best quote and scheduled a visit from some friendly oven repair people. Unfortunately, they were similarly confounded by our oven and, in their own turn, nearly blew our house up. They were shocked to see that the ignitor was sparking and hurriedly yelled for us to shut the power off to the house. In their words: “I’ve never seen an oven spark like that! It’s not supposed to do that!” Very comforting, I assure you. Following this exciting turn of events, they replaced the old ignitor with our new bought-from-the-internet ignitor. And… the oven still wouldn’t ignite. We were bummed to pay for a repair that didn’t work, but alas, such is life.

Mr. FW chatted with the repair guys for awhile and they surmised that perhaps the controller board was the issue. They kindly told Mr. FW what would be required in order to replace the controller board and agreed that it was something he could try himself.

Mr. FW replacing the control board
Mr. FW replacing the control board

Frugal weirdo DIY protip: anytime you have an expert in your house, ask them as many questions as they’re willing to answer. Never hurts to learn from the pros!

Undaunted (well, partially daunted at this point) we purchased this new control board and Mr. FW once again disassembled the oven (put that down as something you hope you won’t have to do more than once). He ably replaced the panel and… the oven still didn’t work. Sadly, we’d now exhausted all of our options for things that can be repaired and/or replaced on an oven.

RIP Oven

Glumly, and with heavy hearts, we set off for Home Depot in search of a replacement oven. It pained us to not fix our existing oven, both for the cost savings and also the resulting waste. I hate that we had to essentially throw out an oven that’s only 10 years old! Boo, I say.

But alas, we must have a working oven. Although I’m a proponent of buying most things used, appliances typically do not fall into this category. As we discovered in our chest freezer price comparison research, used appliances are often not cheap enough to merit buying them and risking a shortened lifespan and/or subpar performance/energy efficiency.

But You Can Still DIY A Little Bit

Ever the frugal weirdos, we removed the new ignitor and new controller board from our defective oven and returned them from whence they came. No reason for those (and the money we spent on them) to go out with the trash! Additionally, Mr. FW installed our new oven himself, which saved us the $130 Home Depot would’ve charged us to install it. Even insourcing a portion of a repair will typically save you some dough. And before they carted our deceased oven away, we scavenged the grates from the stove as well as the oven racks just in case we find a use for them in the future.

And Then The Refrigerator Too

Mr. FW removing ice jam from the freezer
Mr. FW removing the ice jam from the freezer

Evidently my theory of appliance jealousy has merit because no sooner did we resolve the oven situation than our refrigerator jumped into the fray. Our dear fridge (which is similarly youthful) began to experience tsunami-like gushing of water from the freezer. That may be a slight exaggeration, but anytime water gets into the fridge, it feels like a mammoth amount aiming to soak your foodstuffs!

I strategically placed several bowls under the offending drip spots to stave off a mass flood of our food and was ready to call it a day (seriously). But Mr. FW wisely noted this was merely a temporary fix. So once again, he logged onto–you guessed it–YouTube and discovered several videos describing how to ameliorate our unwanted water situation.

This resulted in removing everything from our freezer and stashing it in a cooler (which, by the way, we found for free by the side of the road) and–of course–taking apart the interior of the freezer.

So, the gist of this issue is that the back of a freezer has a radiator with refrigerant running through it. The fins on this radiator get periodically blocked up with ice, and thus there’s a defrost function to resolve it. This excess water is then supposed to drain down a tube, but our drain tube was frozen over, which meant that water was prevented from going down the drain tube and evaporating. Thus, the water from the defrost cycle was instead cooling at the back of freezer and dripping down through the vents that allow cold air to migrate from freezer to fridge.

The solution was to disassemble the interior of the freezer to expose the drain pan, then run a hairdryer on the block of ice to loosen it up, and then use a screwdriver to pull out the chunks of ice. Next, Mr. FW poured boiling water into the drain pan to melt the ice in the tube. After a few minutes of this, the tube began to drain properly.

We’re two weeks out from this repair and thus far, nary a drop of water has graced our fridge. Unfortunately, we don’t know what caused this to happen in the first place, so we may have fixed a symptom and not the actual cause… only time will tell. Although we can of course afford a new fridge, I’d really rather not make another trek to the Home Depot appliance section again. It’s too soon.

Closet Door Calamity

The closet doors in question
The closet doors in question

To add to our never-ending excitement, the mirrored closet door in our master bedroom (yes the very ones I so lovingly refinished!) experienced a grievous injury. I’m not talking a minor flesh wound, I mean the freaking spindle on one of the track wheels broke. How this happened is a mystery since we don’t exactly go around slamming the closet doors.

We’ve decided to blame Frugal Hound who does have a penchant for standing at the mirror with her snout pressed up against it (I know this because there are greyhound snout marks and drips all over the mirrors… ).

This, mercifully, turned out to be a very cheap and easy fix indeed. We took the door off, removed the broken cartridge (which contains an adjustable wheel that rolls along the bottom track) and installed a new one purchased from–you guessed it–Amazon.

Noting that this type of wheel cartridge is a very cheap fix for a very challenging problem, Mr. FW sagely ordered several in the event that another wheel decides to break at a future date. Vastly less expensive than buying an entire new door (plus it would hurt to see my refinishing efforts hauled to the dump!).

The Upside

What really matters to us
What really matters to us: Babywoods!

We find it rather hilarious that our happy little home decided to have oh so many things break in concert (P.S. there’s more broken stuff that I’ll get to in a future post… but this one is already too long. Plus we’re trying to, you know, actually fix all this stuff before we write about it).

Much like our experience with our frozen and burst pipes, having plenty of money in the bank to cover unexpected happenings is a key element of prudent fiscal management. It’s also one of the fabulous benefits of living the frugal life. Having a robust emergency fund is wise and it’s also a peace-of-mind provider. I actually think “emergency fund” is something of a misnomer, it’s more of an “of course these things are going to happen” fund. But emergency fund is easier to write.

Frugal weirdos everywhere know the beauty of not worrying about minor (or major) home calamities. These are all just things and they simply take money to fix. It’s no more complicated than that. In the thick of dealing with having no water and no oven, we were angry, frustrated, and uttered a few fowl words (including goose, duck, turkey… ). But with the wisdom of hindsight, I see the pettiness of getting upset over things. They don’t truly matter in the grand scheme of life and they certainly aren’t important in their own right. And so, I can happily report that we’re still standing and aren’t (entirely) daunted by the revolt of our worldly possessions.

Have you ever experience the revenge of the appliances? Do they coordinate these things? If so, we must infiltrate their ability to organize.

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      1. Hahah, I only wish I had photos of this. The thing is, she does it in secret when we’re not watching… I should get a nanny cam for my dog.

  1. We’ve definitely experienced the concert of broken things before, although I can’t say they were all major appliances. Our cars organized over the past winter, and several of my shoes seemed to wear out just last month, but I guess that’s to be expected when you keep them around for so long. .I agree that having an emergency fund and DIY skills (or willingness) makes it all easier to bear. Cute babies help, too!

  2. What a nice job on the PEX plumbing….It is crazy that the fridge and the stove went…A word to the wise, had a fridge do what you described and I thought I had it fixed. It was fixed temporarily and then before I could get the parts from Amazon the fridge perished. I’d keep an eye on it. Pretty good info on You Tube on “defrosting heaters &timers” for fridges.

  3. Commiserations for the loss of your oven, RIP. However, it’s great to see that you’ve been able to fix (even if temporarily) your fridge – it’s also fascinating to know what those grooves are for at the back of my fridge now (thanks for the insight)! Good news about the closet door as well. Your posts on self-fixing are an inspiration and have made me think about what things I could fix myself if they began to go wrong.

    I hope nothing else breaks for you for the foreseeable future!

  4. Man oh man, I would have lost my mind. You are handling it so great and I am glad you were able to find solutions. Bad things happen in threes they say? Hopefully you are done. I strive to not panic and be more calm like you, not only about the money but also general frustration that things continue to break somehow. Have a good one!

  5. My parents purchased a house with relatively new appliances…… almost 20 years ago now. They were shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, when all the appliances started to give out at roughly the same time. First the dryer almost caught the house on fire with a build up of lint in the vent. Then, the washer mysteriously stopped and started periodically through the spin cycle. After that came the fridge with a loose ice water hose that soaked through the drywall, the floor, and my stepdad’s books before they discovered the leak. They fixed that and then the compressor went out. Not to be out done, the dishwasher also broke and had to be replaced. The only original appliances left are the wall oven, microwave, and range top, and I fully expect the oven to go sometime soon. They should be set for awhile after that though!

  6. Have you ever thought about getting a refurbished appliance? You know, when home depot takes away your old stove, they just go toss in a $20 part and fix it and sell it to someone else. Buy those ones!

    I put refurbed appliances in all of my rental units. They all come with a 6-12 month warranty. I’ve had to use it once or twice, but every appliance that has made it past the warranty period has lasted me until now, or about 5 years since I started doing it.

    I got a beautiful dual oven 5 burner stove for our house for about 1/4 what it costs brand new. Comes in handy!

    Need to be frugal to keep that passive income as high as possible…but still need to keep the Mrs. happy!

    1. Eric is really on to something there. When we had to move back to the USA from Mexico we refused to buy a brand new washer/dryer. So we picked up some rebuilt units from a small, local shop. Price included delivery! They have been working perfectly fine for several months now, and we saved around 2/3 over most retail prices.

      I’ve done my fair share of appliance repairs over the years. Dryers, washers, refrigerators, indoor plumbing. I’ve even laid tile! There is great satisfaction to be had, both with the accomplishment and the savings. Was sorry to hear about your oven. Hope you can eventually find out what could have possibly caused such a strange problem…

  7. “Having a robust emergency fund is wise and it’s also a peace-of-mind provider”. YES!!!
    We are not DIY people, so when something breaks we go the “buy a new one” route or “have it done professionally” route. And it cost a lot. So we keep a good emergency fund. We had water coming into the house last week. So we now have to pay to franchise for the inspection and insurances (800$) plus the cost of repairs outside of the house (don’t know how much yet, couple thousands??). We could try doing it ourselves but honestly this would probably end up costing more to repair the damages WE could do! So this is when emergency funds come handy!

  8. You never fail to crack me up! Thank you for the morning laugh over coffee. 🙂
    Frugal weirdos unite! I recently took back a $10 pair of work gloves to Harbor Freight because they turned my teenager’s hand bright yellow!
    He was embarrassed and said “Mom, you can’t take back something I’ve already used!”. I replied “Oh, yes I can! I refuse to pay for things that are “defective” and yellow hands are a sign of defective! ” They just don’t make things like they used to!

  9. I, too, had all of my kitchen appliances die the same month – at 20 years of age. A scratch and ding appliance store was carrying discontinued Maytag appliances [new in the box, stainless steel, no scratches or dings] at significant savings. So, for $1700, I got a new fridge, stove, and dishwasher, including delivery, install, and carry away of the three old appliances. Thanks to my emergency fund – no credit was used. It was very educational on several levels.

  10. We had a very similar issue with the freezer in our refrigerator. We had to replace the plastic fin part (obviously I am not a technical expert on fridge parts). That got us about six more months of life, but we kept having issues with our freezer and fridge not maintaining cold temperatures. In the end it was our compressor that was bad and we were told a new compressor would be as expensive as a new fridge so we bought one. I commented to my fiance at the time that while it was a pain having to deal with a wonky fridge at least we didn’t have to worry about how we would pay for it. We did end up throwing out some food because of the wildly fluctuating temperatures in our fridge, but coolers and our chest freezer made the process much easier.

  11. Thank the heavens for a handy hubby and Internet access. We too had the same problem with our fridge. With it being just 5 years old, I was determined to fix it (or get hubby to do it). With the help of Google and YouTube, and a few fowl words as well we succeeded. It’s been 6 months and not a drop has been seen. We concluded it could have become plugged when we unplugged it for a our kitchen renovation.
    Have there been any power failures this winter??
    I quite enjoy your blog and get pretty excited when I see s new post. Thank you for sharing your creativity and wisdom, and of course beautiful photos of babywoods and frugal hound.

  12. My 12 year old car with 220,000 miles on it (200,000 by me) has decided to break one necessary component at a time over the last two years (since we drove it to Florida pulling our frugal hotel — aka: T@B camper). One thing after another. What criteria do you use in determining to fix or finally replace your vehicle?

    1. A true bird in the hand question,, with no magic formula.

      Does the car still have the right combination of utilitarian value for you? Have you outgrown it as a family or downsized so that it no longer fits your requirements? Those answers might make it an easier decision. Is it your only car? The one you depend on for long trips? A commuter car? Those all need considered.

      About the things that need fixing… are they really maintenance items like shocks, struts, and tires, or are they big power train items like motor bearings or transmissions? Electrical issues are my hot button – I sell those with electrical problems sooner rather than later. Have you done the regular maintenance, especially oil changes? What else does the car need in terms of repairs right now? Do you trust your mechanic’s evaluations? All to be considered.

      As well as, what would you replace it with and how much you sell it for also all come into play as well as insurance costs and fuel efficiency. Wow, I think this is only a partial list, but in the end 220,000 miles is getting pretty long in the tooth for me anyway.

      1. The car is in good condition overall, always maintained with whatever is needed. In the past two years, we’ve done the drive train (huge job, the whole big long thing under the car. I defer to my husband on mechanical decisions and part names but that cost $3,200. I trust our mechanic, but he’s a professional and not cheap.) Of course I do new tires/breaks/shocks as needed. Just last fall bought a new set of tires for over $800. In February, the car was heating (to the red zone) and we didn’t know if it was thermostat, water pump, or what, ended up being the radiator. Mechanic said to do water pump, thermostat and timing belt (a little overdue) while we’re at it. I think that was $2,400. I love the car, it’s been reliable, the right size for everything, it’s not our only car (my husband travels a lot and I need transportation — but what’s next? A newer version of the exact car (a 2012, for example) would cost about $20K trading in what’s left of this one. That’s exactly what I paid for this one in 2006 (for a 2004 car).

  13. Appliances via Craigslist? Could be a missed opportunity, but please keep this frugal as dirt trick a secret!

    I regularly search the appliance section of Craigslist using the word “warranty”, but ignore the used appliance store 90 day types. What I’m looking for is not the manufacturer’s warranty but a big box extended warranty. Some people buy the 3 or 5 year extended warranty from Lowe’s or Home Depot. And some of those people want their appliances to be one color one day and change all of them out the next. Other people move across country. Or households merge.

    We found a 2 year old matching front load washer and gas dryer this way for about half of new, $1000. We verified the extended warranty was in place as part of the deal and we upgraded. The 12 year old set that came with our home sold for $400 on Craigslist .Fast forward two years worth of clean clothes and the washer starts making noise. Called the warranty man. Man comes. Washer broken! Repairs cost more than washer worth. Big problem? No problem! Lowe’s made good on the warranty as the washer would have cost more to repair than replace (aka bad bearings) by sending us a gift card for the original cost of the washer, plus tax, $977.00! (Which was nearly what we paid for the set.)

    So we then replaced the washer with a floor model on close out for $700, used our existing base cabinet, and now we have a brand new washer (and yes we bought the extended warranty because they don’t last like grandma’s did) and still have some warranty left on the dryer. We still have $277 credit on the gift card. We sold the old washer to an appliance store for a hundred dollars, as apparently their time isn’t worth as much to fix it as the big box. And now there is a water company rebate for $200… oh yeah!

    Yeah, it’s doable.

  14. I have had a similar array of recent appliance break downs. I was lucky enough to find rather modern replacements on Craigslist which saved us a boatload of money. I heart Craigslist. I heart it.

  15. When it rains it pours. I just did a fix on our fridge for exactly the same problem. I’m embarrassed to admit that I knew what the solution was but didn’t take care of it for months. I just stuck containers underneath that would fill with water and we’d end up having to dump in the sink periodically. Finally I had enough and went through the same process. I think I also used a hair dryer to break up the ice a little faster.

    Sorry about your oven. Why didn’t you just unplug it or turn off the circuit breaker? Usually each kitchen appliance will have it’s own breaker down in your box. I wonder if the initial unexpected spark might have fried something else, because it sounds like the problem started with the igniter. Oh well, live and learn I suppose.

  16. It’s really weird how everything breaks at once, isn’t it? For appliances, we’ve had fabulous luck with the Sears outlet. Refurbs and floor models get sent there, and then marked down X percent every week, so you have to look around. There might be the exact same model, one that’s been there a month and one a week, so they’ll have drastically different prices. We picked up $3000 worth of super-spiffy washer and dryer for $800. Both were floor models, in perfect running condition, but with a few minor surface scratches. My MIL got a dryer there (a new refurb) as well, for about 25% of the original price.

  17. In a two month period a year ago I had a run on small appliances. Toaster oven, microwave, coffeemaker, radio, lamp, DVD player, and also cell phone and computer. Yes, really. I called myself the typhoid Mary of small appliances. My friends said back, back, bad juju! I did manage to fix the lamp myself.

  18. We had someone come out to fix a freezer issue – he ended the job by drilling out the hose to make it a bit wider in diameter to avoid it clogging up again… Might be worth investigating?

  19. Your theory has merit! Over the winter, a miserable 5 week period was spent wrestling with all my gadgets. My laptop died. My phone died. My backup laptop died. My iPad fritzed. Then my last hope (Obi-wan, how could you???) Laptop just spun itself into oblivion.

    There were moments of despair, I tell ya! We’ve got to get an infiltrators into their ranks or humanity is doomed (So say we all)!

  20. Ha ha this was funny!

    Our fridge is circa-2001. We’ve fixed a couple of things. It stopped keeping things cold once, and it turns out it was the fan (there is a fan in the freezer that blows into the fridge). We had a guy from Sears come out and tell us what was wrong, and said he could fix it for $220, or hey, here’s the part number – fix it yourself for $70. Guess what we did?

    And then, one of our drawer slides broke. As my husband was thinking of a new fridge (we had a baby by then, it was getting annoying), I decided to google. When he was on a business trip, I found the part, ordered it, and installed it myself. Win!!

  21. Hi- we had the same issue with our fridge-right after we installed new hardwood floors :(- looks like a different model. We did a bit of internet research and found out this was a HUGE issue for our model, and we were able to contact the manufacturer and they sent us the repair part for free (we just had to install ourselves). One issue may be that the defrost water does not drain due to the duck bill check valve being plugged. If its a due to a clogged valve it will eventually happen again, and if this is a known defect they should send the part free of charge!

  22. This. is the first time I have commented on a blog however you inspire me! Babywoods is absolutely beautiful thankful you for sharing pictures. My husband and I have been married 49 years this month and have been thru several revenge of the appliances periods and in between 4 children etc we survived. Hang in their my dear you and your hubby are truly an inspiration.

  23. Oh, yes! We have certainly experienced the revenge of appliances. Thankfully, our oven is electric and was easy to fix. The dishwasher, on the other hand, is still waiting to be replaced. Our fence blew over, the freezer froze up, the hubbie’s truck needed a new blower motor, and the dryer needed repair. Needless to say, it actually becomes comical and instead of getting stressed, you learn to take it all in stride!

  24. Scratch and dent appliances are a great way to save. Often the damage is minimal.
    And, have been meaning to say that Babyeoods is pretty stinkin’ cute!

  25. The rule of thumb used to be that water-contact appliances would last 10-15 years, non-water contact appliances 15-20. Over time we’ve replaced heating elements, filters and belts on our electric clothes dryer, heating elements and thermostats in electric ovens, dispenser trays and agitators in washing machines. One of our old washers had a solenoid right at the tray outlet for bleach, and it would embrittle and start to leak. I think we replaced that tray 3 times. Our current front-loader washer began to complain about a lack of water pressure during fill cycles, though I could always get it restarted. I searched for the solution online. Came up with several different suggestions, bought one inexpensive part, that didn’t fix it, poked at the washer, was getting ready to call for help. Then I started keeping track of when it quit (kept a chart in the laundry room), and decided it was the hot water inlet valve since it only failed on hot or warm water fills. Opened it up, rapped smartly on the valve, tapped anything else nearby for good measure – and so far, so good.

    My husband used to get mad at me if I left an interior light on in my car – which of course I shouldn’t do, but it was usually the map light – and one day he smacked the button so hard he broke it and it fell out. The dealer wanted to replace the entire overhead console, to the tune of several hundred dollars, saying he couldn’t get just the button, so for a long time it had no button. There were 2 map lights, after all. I tried to fix the button, but the stress on the plastic didn’t allow for it. Finally thought to search for just the button, and found it on ebay, used. Apparently Honda really doesn’t sell just the button. Our daughter is now driving the car (2000 Honda Accord, 250 thousand miles or so) and the clip that holds the driver’s visor up broke entirely off, so the visor never stayed completely up the way it should. Found that on Amazon, new OEM. The button cost more than the clip. Once I saw (YouTube) how easy it was to replace the clip, we realized we could have snitched the one from the passenger side, but that hadn’t occurred to us, and would still have left a falling-down visor.

    1. Barb, we were told when we bought our Maytag washer that appliances today last 8-11 years. I think they were speaking specifically of washers/dryers, but it seems about right to me.

  26. I’ve had similar issues when trying to repair our oven. I ordered parts, and that still didn’t fix it. I couldn’t find a reasonably priced new control board (it was a 1972 oven and used control boards were hundreds of dollars) so we just bought a new oven. Problem solved, and new parts will be easier to buy!

    I dread the day our fridge decides to die. I’ll have to find a place to store all the food in the fridge and freezer while we repair it or buy a new one. I would also be tempted to call a repairman if it’s not a quick easy fix. I don’t mind troubleshooting but it would be hard to go without a fridge for many days if I’m waiting on parts.

  27. Arg! That’s so frustrating! Glad it ended well with the oven. Good time to remind everyone to always turn off power or gas to the house when working on potentially dangerous areas.

    How much did the repair quotes differ? I had a friend who got quotes that varied by a factor of 2-3 times the lowest cost.

  28. Frugal weirdo DIY protip: call in the experts when death and/or dismemberment seems like a distinct possibility.

    Great protip, although I sometimes can’t decipher until I see sparks;)

  29. Yup, of course they happen all at once! Last year we had the ice and water dispenser in our fridge freeze over due to a water drip issue, then the main ground-fault outlet that our freezer is plugged into started resetting randomly leaving our freezer off overnight several times, and a balancing rod in the washer broke making it stop at the spin cycle and keep repeating the rinse cycle. And all of these started over about a 5 day period. Thankfully, I was able to fix the fridge myself, and since the washer was less than a year old, it was under warranty (super fun getting an approved repairman to come out and fix that!) and believe it or not the ground-fault outlet seems to have fixed itself. I think it was a case of jealousy as well, but it backed off when it saw my treatment of the other trouble makers! I can turn into a bit of a Clark Griswold when things get crazy.

    Sidenote: That baby is just too cute!

  30. We also have what we call ‘blitzes’ take place, when one thing goes it’s going to be another. Most recently, it was dishwasher, stove, and fridge. Our range was bought 21 years ago to replace the one that was red tagged for it’s part in carbon monoxide poisoning of us. It began having issues at the time we decided to replace our fridge that had begun to randomly turn off. My husband replaced parts 3 times and it still was not to be trusted. Having previously had aforesaid very terrible co problem my husband strongly felt we should also replace the range. The next day, before shopping, the dishwasher quit. (My husband has less hair after that week.) For the dishwasher, theres 2 of us at home and I had wanted more storage anyway so problem solved. We went 1st to a Home Depot sale, but OMW… I wanted a White, simple, freezer on bottom fridge. Wasnt happening and I wasn’t going to pay THAT MUCH for what I didn’t want. And ranges were worse. When we went to our little home town appliance store, we found the fridge we wanted for almost $400 less than anywhere else. And sitiing right there up front was an adorable 2 oven range being clearanced at more than half off clearance! This was at least 800 off the cheapest range anywhere else. Moral of this story: Know what you want and need and dont get forced into more. And, the big stores aren’t necessarily the cheaper, better option. And, as you brought out, since blitzes do happen, having money in savings at these times makes so much difference.

    1. Love that you were able to support the local place and that the pricing was so competitive. Thanks for the reminder to at least give the little guy a chance before making the plunge!

  31. I think the refrigerator problem must be a common one. Happened to us just a few months ago. When MIL saw water inside the fridge, she commented that we needed to buy a new one. Um, no. DH and I aren’t the handiest, but even we (ok, he) could fix that problem.

  32. Ah, I understand the problem now. You’ve got yourself a case of the appliance gremlins. Once they get started, they’ll spread to every appliance in the house. The best way to defeat them is to replace all affected appliances and swear numerous curse words around the house.

    That usually clears them out.

  33. I almost feel guilty for the pleasure it gives me to read about your failing appliances. Not because I like to see other people suffer, but because the way you describe things is hilarious.

    We always have this. When one lightbulb breaks, they all break. When there is a crack in our window, we break another two. We once had to replace a washing machine, a refrigerator and a car in one week. We bought everything refurbished, by the way.

  34. Yes, I determined the seven year itch in a marriage is really one or more appliances giving up the ghost and the resulting stress.

    1. One of my cousins commented that at your 20 year anniversary you need to have another bridal shower, to replace all the small appliances that quit about that time.

  35. I’ve been following your blog for about 6 months. We were inspired and well on our way to some good savings – and out of debt (besides mortgage yay). Then our car decided to die a few weeks ago. I’m happy we could pay cash for our (new to us) car. You have such a fun way with words I really love it. I can picture frugalwoods nose drips – I have a pug that likes to leave sliding glass door drips.

  36. I’m still at a point where broken appliances annoy me more than it should, but I’m seeing some positive results in being frugal, it bring me more and more confidence that I can probably fix it myself, or find a cheap replacement, or, worst case scenario get it fixed for an amount that will not kill our finances.
    It used to freak me out much more. Thanks, frugality 🙂

  37. We recently had the YouTube It school of appliance repair going at our house when our previously trouble-free 7 year old dryer broke a belt. My husband got the exterior panels unscrewed, looked at the innards and said, “This one is a lot more involved than on the video.” So we called a technician, who took the panels off and said, “Wow, this one is complicated!” But he fixed it and we hope that takes care of it, as springtime in the southeast is often rainy and it was taking our clothes a couple of days to dry on the drying rack.

    The baby is SO cute! I love that peachy-navy-polka dot outfit. So girly and yet so fun!

  38. Babywoods looks so cute! By the way, I prefer repair before I buy a new product or appliances. The only time I buy is when the appliance is really unrepairable. Haha! I am really so frugal when it comes to thing like this.

  39. I’ve had great luck buying used appliances from stores where they refurbish them. I got a washer and dryer in 2002 that I am still using and have never had to repair. I do realize they are on borrowed time, but until they have a problem, I’m happy to keep using them.

  40. If it’s a problem I can’t fix myself, I’m all about buying new appliances too. The lifetime is just inherently longer than anything used. You just don’t know the provenance of a used appliance. So many things could possibly have gone wrong with it over the years that the previous owners aren’t telling you about. Smaller ticket items I always try to buy used though. A used iPod’s useful life is more predictable, and will cost less than half as much as a new one.

  41. I don’t think I’m very superstitious, but when more than one thing goes wrong I resign myself to THREE things going wrong. That’s usually how it happens. It’s a weird and spooky feeling, dreading to see what that third thing will be.

  42. Freezer drains clog, then freeze. Perhaps a stray niblet?

    For defrosting freezer sections, I find an electric frypan very effective, if somewhat chancy. I suppose a boiling hot water bottle would do, pans evaporate their water and make more ice, hair dryers need constant attention..

  43. Awww, she’s really at that cute-baby stage!

    Do NOT get me started on sliding closet doors. I’m glad you had success with that at least, even if you had to replace the oven. Big Brother keeps popping his sliding door off the track and only Mr. FP can fix it. (I like to be self-sufficient, so sometimes I ask myself, how would I handle this if I were a single mom? And the answer in this case is that I would have to take the doors off altogether and put up a curtain instead.) We already had to replace the floor guide, as he broke it. (We bought a two-pack.)

    Fingers crossed on the fridge!

  44. We prefer repairing a thing until it is impossible or insane to do so. A goid example is our dishwasher. It has been repaired at least 8 times and is only 5 years old. Stupid LG dishwasher. The design of the hose is wonky and is always clogging or leaking or cracking. BOO. It isn’t hard to fix, I think, but ultimately we just don’t have the emotional and mental energy between three sons, one of them with special needs and running our own business and more than enough in savings and no debt. So…we support a small local repair company with great prices and honest guys. When they tell us it isn’t worth it to repair it, they are always right when we crunch the numbers and we trek to the refurbished appliance store. A washer/dryer mismatched set cost us $358 total, including installation and removal of the old units (which died within days of each other, like an elderly married couple you would read about in a Nicholas Sparks book..). They work just fine and for the price I don’t mind that their lifespan might be shorter. My appliance guy says they are cheaper and easier (thus cheaper yet again) to fix than the ultra computerized new kind that does all kinds of stuff we won’t use.
    If I had a dollar for everything that has broken since the day we got married in 1999 I could probably buy you a very nice new fridge.

  45. One time, while still married to X-husband, our Culligan Water Softener decided to simply quit working; he wasn’t the greatest do it yourselfer and immediately called in the repairman. This was at least 35 years ago and for a Culligan repairman to just walk into your home was $75, before parts or hours were added to the bill. He immediately discovered the problem – a small hole that was plugged with a tiny bit of lint. However, while there and before leaving, he took a moment to show X-husband how to unbend a paperclip and poke it through that little hole and “poof,” the lint was gone. So, in the future when/if that happened again, because of the thoughtfulness of a very kind repairman, we were able to avert a future expensive repair bill.

  46. Yup the freezer fix is more straight forward but it’s likely it will happen again.. And again… And again. We’ve had to do the fix 4 times in the past 3 years I think.

    We figured it’s not so much of an inconvenience to buy a new fridge yet.

  47. It’s definitely great to see that Mr. FW is more the type to value safety instead of continuing to tinker with things until something goes horribly wrong. I’ve got a friend whose oven recently stopped working, but their stove top still works just fine. I’ll see if someone can have better luck with that one. Thanks for sharing!

  48. This was our last month too! Our clothing dryer went out (with 5 little kids, that is an important appliance!) and our large freezer. ugh. Thankfully Mr. Montana had the time to figure out how to fix them beings we are taking a year off from paid work. One of the financial benefits of being work optional!

  49. So glad you know when to call in the experts! So many people get hurt trying to DIY when it’s just not in the cards for them. Great post!


  50. The gas stove has very few parts that can go bad and the igniter is usually the first to go or one of the ones for the stove top will just click and not light the gas. Did you by chance smell a whiff of gas from time to time or think that something might have died or gone bad in your kitchen? There is a safety valve down by the burner tube that runs about $85 on Amazon or $250 from the local repair man depending on who you call first. If the igniter is sparking and the gas does not turn on its the valve that is the problem. You can smell gas or your propane guy will put a device next to it and if its even barely leaking the meter will go off like mine was doing. Repair man wanted $250 for the valve and 2 hr min onsite at $125 an hr. I said GoodBye and ordered and installed the valve myself with only a wrench. Then the magic happened with the ignitor kighting the gas and the bad smell went away,

  51. We are expecting our first child in January and are getting married in November and true appliance rebellion style our boiler and oven have decided to die! Not the best timing but we can manage it because we are frugal. We’ve botched the boiler a number of times but it has really got to the point now where no more botching can be done, it is 30 years old after all and not very efficient. So we’re going to get a new one fitted. Our friend who is a gas fitter has said my partner can help him fit it to save some money.
    A few weeks after this our oven door fell off, the oven is probably 20 years old but I’m hopeful that we may be able to save it. It’s one of those massive range ovens that cost a fortune new. We have managed to fix the door a few times but now we’re looking into getting a new door if we can find one. The thermostat has also gone! So we will have to have a look on YouTube for that.
    I also think the tumble dryer is getting jealous and has decided to stop drying things, I barely ever use it but I’m thinking with a new baby it may prove to be useful sometimes. As they say these things come in 3s…

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