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BIF
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[Fixed!] The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:57 pm

** All fixed. See my 2nd post on page 2. **

My 2004 side-by-side Whirlpool's fridge door won't hang straight on the hinge pins, so sometimes I walk by it to find that the door hasn't seated and now the interior is around 65 degrees F. Luckily for me, this has never resulted in the freezer contents thawing out even by a little bit.

I can push the door closed and it will "usually" stay closed. But who thinks of that? So because of this hassle, I've been shopping for a new fridge. Well, I started my search in mid/late 2016 (I think). Sigh.

I'm fairly sure that the culprit is the upper hinge pin. Or rather, the bushing in the door hole that the pin inserts into...that has gotten worn out over time. So now the door hangs "just so" off plumb, and the seals can't do their job. It's only the fridge door; the freezer door is not as wide, so not hanging as heavy on the hinge pins, even considering the weight of the ice and water dispenser in the freezer door.

A few years ago, I thought this would be an easy fix...all I'd have to do is replace the plastic/nylon bushing at the top of the refrigerator door.

But I couldn't find the part; nobody seems to stock it. So I figured I'd hold out as long as I could and just get a new fridge. And truth be told, I've always wanted a French Door fridge with a huge bottomless pit for freezer storage, so I started shopping for one of those about a year and a half ago. But every time I look, I get so discouraged by so many people having so much trouble with their newer refrigerators, I just kind of give up and go back to suffering with my lopsided door. After all, I can make it close; I just have to remember to avoid overloading the door and I have to make sure to close it firmly. Every time.

I do know that my personal view on consumer happiness is probably somewhat colored by the fact that happy people don't write in forums, and unhappy people do, but even considering that, it sure seems to me that the new fridge market seems rife with models with very poor reliability. Manufacturers are getting away with a lot here, and some of it may even be fraudulent.

The rate seems exceedingly high for people reporting compressor failure after just a couple/few years, and it looks to me that LG and Samsung are among the worst offenders. The second worst problem seems to be the malfunctioning of ice and water dispensers, which can (and has at least once for me) resulted in water dumpage all over the kitchen floor.

I need my food cold, and my ice should be in a solid state. And quite frankly, I live in 2019. Even my cheapest apartments all had icemakers in the fridges, so I'm kind of used to that.

So I went on the hunt for a reliable French Door fridge that's also Counter Depth (needed for my kitchen layout). Consumer Reports is largely unhelpful, having many LG and Samsung models in their "best" or "recommended" categories...models that are failing a LOT for their subscribers. In fact, their review response comments are loaded with VERY unhappy subscribers.

So with all of this, I think it's arguable that Refrigerators are probably the least reliable appliances in our homes these days, with the GREATEST cost per failure. Well, maybe except for a washing machine leak or a dryer fire. But at any point in time, I might have $800-1200 worth of food in my fridge. I'd like to avoid buying a fridge only to have a high chance of trouble and rotten food in a couple years.

So now since the failure frequency is so high, I'm kind of back to the idea of trying to fix that hinge so that my door hangs straighter, and maybe keep my Whirlpool for another few years, and maybe avoid spending $2-3K this year on a fridge.

Does anybody have any ideas? Even repair guys can't seem to find me a pair of new bushings for my model fridge. Might there be an alternate source? Or could I even have one manufactured for me?

Repair ideas welcome.
Reliable fridge ideas welcome, too! :D
Last edited by BIF on Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:11 pm

Can you drill it out and put in a brass bushing? Or maybe 3D print one?
Last edited by Usacomp2k3 on Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:12 pm

It's just a plastic/nylon bushing? Have any local machinist friends or someone handy with a drill press? I'd bet it'll be an easier fix that you imagine. Make it out of something tougher than the original material if the top pin is steel (brass maybe?).

I agree with your sentiment that refrigerators have dropped in quality in nearly every aspect except efficiency and noise. Ease of fixing, reliability, parts availability, all of it.
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:18 pm

Maybe 3D printing? Some libraries have those or maybe someone can print one for you. I don't know if something like https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/ could be helpful?
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:29 pm

Waco wrote:
It's just a plastic/nylon bushing? Have any local machinist friends or someone handy with a drill press? I'd bet it'll be an easier fix that you imagine. Make it out of something tougher than the original material if the top pin is steel (brass maybe?).
Good point; maybe I should start by pulling the bushing and getting good measurements on it. I can't believe that nobody makes a part similar enough that I couldn't get one and take a multitool or sandpaper to it. Hah, or maybe even a pocket knife.

I agree with your sentiment that refrigerators have dropped in quality in nearly every aspect except efficiency and noise. Ease of fixing, reliability, parts availability, all of it.
Yeah, but they sure have gotten pretty!
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:32 pm

bitcat70 wrote:
Maybe 3D printing? Some libraries have those or maybe someone can print one for you. I don't know if something like https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/ could be helpful?


That's a thought. How well would 3D filament stand up to the opening and closing of a door over time? I know my 15 year old fridge won't last forever, but I'd be happy if a 3D part could be made to last for at least 5 years.

Hmm...I just thought of something. Could I maybe wrap the pin in a thin layer or two of teflon tape? I'll need to get the part out for inspection, but at the moment I can't imagine that the bushing has been cored out more than a millimeter or two over all these years.
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:14 pm

I just repaired a 15yo Kenmore (Whirlpool OE'd) door this past summer. You sure the part isn't out there?

https://www.appliancepartspros.com/sear ... =whirlpool

Whirlpool parts are everywhere, another fun one is that plastic door closer thingy on the bottom hinge of the doors:

https://www.appliancepartspros.com/whir ... 03517.html

Teflon tape will probably tear up inside the hinge. If you want to re-use the bushing, I would core it out and then sleeve it with brass tube from the hardware store.
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:29 pm

While you're at that, also check the lower pin and bushing. These carry the weight of the door and are probably in a worse condition than those at the top. Also, is the lower pin held in place by a metal bracket or something similar? It could be bent.

You said that the door "won't hang straight", what does this mean exactly? Does it hang at an angle? Is it visible or measurable? Or is the door in a too low position because of the worn out lower bushing?

In any case, there must be some part of the door that hits (scratches, leans on, rubs against) some part of the fridge's internal wall or floor when you close it. Try to find out the exact location. It's easy if there are scratch marks visible already. If there are none, spread some Nutella on the door and see where it transfers to the wall or floor. No, that's not the cure, that's the advanced diagnosis.

I have a similar problem. The lower bushing is worn out. Haven't fixed it yet. Maybe a couple washers will raise the door enough.
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 7:37 pm

Buy a commercial grade stainless fridge like a Thermador.
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 7:43 pm

Maybe there's enough slop that just raising the door up a few millimeters will allow it to close acceptably, even though it will still be crooked? Nylon washer around the lower hinge pin, perhaps?

I'm thinking something like this? You can probably find something similar at the local hardware store; this particular one was just the first thing that popped into my head since I deal with CO2 gas fittings on a regular basis. Drill the hole out to fit the hinge pin if necessary.
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 8:13 pm

hkuspc40 wrote:
Buy a commercial grade stainless fridge like a Thermador.

Eight to nine thousand dollars.

https://www.ajmadison.com/cgi-bin/ajmad ... 900NP.html

:lol:
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 8:17 pm

ozzuneoj wrote:
hkuspc40 wrote:
Buy a commercial grade stainless fridge like a Thermador.

Eight to nine thousand dollars.

https://www.ajmadison.com/cgi-bin/ajmad ... 900NP.html

:lol:

I'm really liking my 60 cent nylon washer idea right about now. :lol:
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 8:20 pm

just brew it! wrote:
ozzuneoj wrote:
hkuspc40 wrote:
Buy a commercial grade stainless fridge like a Thermador.

Eight to nine thousand dollars.

https://www.ajmadison.com/cgi-bin/ajmad ... 900NP.html

:lol:

I'm really liking my 60 cent nylon washer idea right about now. :lol:


LOL, me too!
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 8:29 pm

Wirko wrote:
While you're at that, also check the lower pin and bushing. These carry the weight of the door and are probably in a worse condition than those at the top. Also, is the lower pin held in place by a metal bracket or something similar? It could be bent.
Yep, if I'm taking the door off, I'll definitely check the lower part of the hinge too.

You said that the door "won't hang straight", what does this mean exactly? Does it hang at an angle? Is it visible or measurable? Or is the door in a too low position because of the worn out lower bushing?
It visibly sags when closed. You can see that the vertical edge of the door isn't plumb and neither is the top edge. The top left corner of the fridge door is about a quarter inch lower than the top right corner of the freezer door, when both are closed. And it didn't used to be that way. I think the wearing out was slow and took 10 years to happen.

In any case, there must be some part of the door that hits (scratches, leans on, rubs against) some part of the fridge's internal wall or floor when you close it. Try to find out the exact location. It's easy if there are scratch marks visible already. If there are none, spread some Nutella on the door and see where it transfers to the wall or floor. No, that's not the cure, that's the advanced diagnosis.
No scratching, striking, or "other" kinds of binding are happening. The door moves through its range smoothly, and the gasket is still in good shape after all these years; not cracked, hard, or inflexible. The only things wrong are the door hangs crooked as described above and it doesn't want to "stick closed" unless I push it closed firmly.

I have a similar problem. The lower bushing is worn out. Haven't fixed it yet. Maybe a couple washers will raise the door enough.
Others have mentioned that the door could be "sitting lower" due to a worn lower bushing. That doesn't appear to be the case, but it's not impossible, and I'm not sure there would be a way to tell until I take the door off and get a visual on all of the parts. So I shall do that.
Last edited by BIF on Fri Jan 25, 2019 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 8:30 pm

BIF wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
I'm really liking my 60 cent nylon washer idea right about now. :lol:

LOL, me too!

I guess whether that's a viable option or not really depends on how the door is misaligned...
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 8:33 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Maybe there's enough slop that just raising the door up a few millimeters will allow it to close acceptably, even though it will still be crooked? Nylon washer around the lower hinge pin, perhaps?

I'm thinking something like this? You can probably find something similar at the local hardware store; this particular one was just the first thing that popped into my head since I deal with CO2 gas fittings on a regular basis. Drill the hole out to fit the hinge pin if necessary.
This is an awesome suggestion, and deserves big bonus points for sourcing a solution from a beer-making parts website! :P :D I will take it under advisement, for sure!
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 9:07 pm

Update:

I just now took a torpedo level to the door and checked it. Well what d'ya know, it actually is plumb! It just sits lower than the freezer door by about 3/8ths of an inch, and I must have been visually fooled into thinking it was hanging at a droop. I can lift the door quite a lot with it cracked slightly open, so there's lots of room for one or more washers to lift it up, should I choose to go that route.

I think now I have two alternatives:

1. Fix it the cheap way by adding a washer, as JBI has suggested. This might be all that's really needed...but then there is a cam on the lower hinge, and I'm afraid that if I pull it apart, the hinge or cam might disintegrate; leaving me with a fridge that can't be reassembled until I get parts. I still have those ribs and wings and steaks that I've gotta keep cold! :lol:

So...

2. Just plan to replace the hing pin and cam at the bottom.

I went to PartSelect's site and found both the upper and lower hinge pins in stock, yay! If I'm taking the door off the fridge, it's worth it to just replace both parts. It'll run me about $65 total, which is not as elegant or economical as a beermaking washer, but it's okay by me if it helps me delay a new fridge purchase even by a year or two.

Has anybody ordered from PartSelect? I like their "how to" videos, and even learned how to clean my dryer so it doesn't burn down my house, so that's kind of cool. But I've never had to order anything from them. They are open on Saturdays, so I'll give them a call in the morning.
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:06 pm

I think I have ordered stuff from them before but not 100% sure.
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:31 pm

BIF wrote:
Update:

I just now took a torpedo level to the door and checked it. Well what d'ya know, it actually is plumb! It just sits lower than the freezer door by about 3/8ths of an inch, and I must have been visually fooled into thinking it was hanging at a droop. I can lift the door quite a lot with it cracked slightly open, so there's lots of room for one or more washers to lift it up, should I choose to go that route.


Bit of engineering humor-Just level up the fridge now to the door and you'll be fine.haha.

Back to reality-It seems that if your door is level, and droops 3/8", your fridge is on the piss 3/8", and the wrong way for easy closing...........
Level your fridge, with a slight tilt to the back before you go spending any money......................
good luck....
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:38 pm

Has anybody ordered from PartSelect? I like their "how to" videos, and even learned how to clean my dryer so it doesn't burn down my house, so that's kind of cool. But I've never had to order anything from them. They are open on Saturdays, so I'll give them a call in the morning.[/quote]
I second what Heretic said; use the levelers to give your fridge a slight backwards tilt. This should take some stress off the doors and let gravity help to close them and keep them closed.

I bought a fan that circulates the air in the freezer compartment for my 25+ yr old Amana fridge from them a couple of years ago. The part was easy to replace and fixed the problem.
I also replaced the belt on my 40+ yr old(no, I am not joking!) Whirlpool dryer that broke last year. I don't think I bought it from PartSelect though. IIRC, there was another parts site that had the same genuine Whirlpool belt for several dollars less because they had much cheaper shipping charges. BTW, repairing the dryer was even easier than repairing the fridge was. It was the easiest appliance repair I have ever done; if only all repairs were that simple!!!
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Sat Jan 26, 2019 2:20 pm

Ordered the parts today. We'll know in a few days if this was the problem.
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Sat Jan 26, 2019 4:23 pm

HERETIC wrote:
Level your fridge, with a slight tilt to the back

This was my first thought, though perhaps make the backward tilt a bit more than just slight. Perhaps you may have some sort of boltesque footers on the fridge that would allow you to raise the front a bit to achieve a bit of a backward angle.
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Sat Jan 26, 2019 4:45 pm

It does have levelers. The fridge right now is perfectly level in all directions, and I think it's supposed to be that way, to keep round rolly things from rolling around, and to keep water from flowing over the back of the icemaker and ice trays. ;)

I think the cam on the bottom is the thing that's supposed to keep the door open when you're putting 2-handed things into the fridge, and it's probably supposed to help keep the door closed, too, along with the aforementioned magnetic weatherstripping.

This fridge is built into a KraftMaid kitchen cabinet thing, with the gap all around barely big enough to get a tape measure in there for taking fridge measurements. It's a gorgeous setup with very fine tolerances, and I think the look isn't intended for a backward leaning fridge.

Looking at it again this morning, I saw that the fridge door, although level and plumb contrary to my initial comments, is hung so much lower that there's no physical way for the magnetic weatherstrip along the top of the door to make a 100% contact with the metal door jamb. If it's touching at all, it's only getting a 16th to 1/8th inch contact patch.

I haven't looked at the bottom, but if the top isn't mating, then it's possible that the bottom is off too, and I could even be losing cold air from the top and bottom of the fridge section.

Given all that, I'll replace the hinge/cam assemblies first and see if it behaves better.
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Sun Jan 27, 2019 12:05 am

BIF wrote:
Others have mentioned that the door could be "sitting lower" due to a worn lower bushing. That doesn't appear to be the case, but it's not impossible, and I'm not sure there would be a way to tell until I take the door off and get a visual on all of the parts. So I shall do that.

Here's a tip for fridge door repair: get a roll of 6mm painter's plastic and a roll of higher-end duck tape (3M, Scotch, etc.) Measure and cut two sheets of the 6mm that are a bit larger than the void opening. As soon as you remove the upper hinge pin and door, tape both sheets over the door opening. The first layer must be airtight. The second should be reasonably tight. Let the fridge run like normal.

As long as the fridge isn't sitting in a non-climate controlled room in late July, this will get you the necessary hour or two of work time without resorting to ice chests.
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BIF
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Sun Feb 03, 2019 1:58 pm

ludi wrote:
BIF wrote:
Others have mentioned that the door could be "sitting lower" due to a worn lower bushing. That doesn't appear to be the case, but it's not impossible, and I'm not sure there would be a way to tell until I take the door off and get a visual on all of the parts. So I shall do that.

Here's a tip for fridge door repair: get a roll of 6mm painter's plastic and a roll of higher-end duck tape (3M, Scotch, etc.) Measure and cut two sheets of the 6mm that are a bit larger than the void opening. As soon as you remove the upper hinge pin and door, tape both sheets over the door opening. The first layer must be airtight. The second should be reasonably tight. Let the fridge run like normal.

As long as the fridge isn't sitting in a non-climate controlled room in late July, this will get you the necessary hour or two of work time without resorting to ice chests.
Great tip; thanks!
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Sun Feb 03, 2019 3:03 pm

Update:

The lower hinge arrived, but the top hinge is on backorder. It doesn't matter, because upon seeing the "cam", I realized that it is only one half of the "cam assembly". With a little digging, YouTube confirmed my suspicions.

The other half of the cam assembly is attached to and lives in the door itself. This other part appears to be plastic (or nylon?) and also serves as the female counterpart to the lower hinge pin. It's the whole "inside the door part", so to speak. In addition to being part of the cam assembly, it's also the "bushing" that I initially thought I needed to replace.

Because I didn't want to fix only half of my problem (the lower pin and lower-half of the cam assembly), I went ahead and placed another $15 order for this $7 part.

Now that I have a better understanding of the assembly, I also realize that a washer would not have sufficed in this case because although it would have raised the door, it would have also interfered with the proper operation of the cam, making the door not "stay" in the open position when loading the fridge or contemplating which yummy food item to eat.

So I'm still in a holding pattern, but think I have all the right parts forthcoming now. :)
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Sun Feb 03, 2019 3:10 pm

Most of my issues with refrigerator doors turned out to be issues with the refrigerator frame. As the refrigerator sits in place over the course of a few years, the floor underneath it may sag, or the vinyl may get pressed down unevenly. Or the fridge may have been installed incorrectly to begin with.

Measure opposite corner to opposite corner on both sides of the door's opening "window". And check the level on all four edges of the top of the fridge. If your refrigerator is like most, it's out of square.

The ugly part is leveling the bottom of the frame with the four legs, although some manufacturers make it easier with some self-leveling features. Also, consider some 4" ceramic tile under each foot to spread the load. Once the bottom is square and level you'll probably see a marked improvement in the operation of the door.
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Sun Feb 03, 2019 6:35 pm

Hey Sluggo; thanks. I'll check all that with a bigger bubble level when I pull the fridge out of the cabinetry...but really, it's not likely to be out of square, since the floor is a concrete pad. I mean, if the floor is moving, then maybe I should abandon ship before the sinkhole gobbles me up, right?

Additional: Knowing now how the cam works, I tested both the freezer and refrigerator doors (it's a side-by-side fridge), by just opening them and closing them very slowly, feeling for the "detent" or stopping points.

The freezer door still has a detent at about 120 degrees from the closed position (from 3 o'clock (closed) to a little past 7 o'clock (fully open). The fridge door should have a similar feel from 9 o'clock to about 4:30, but it has no detent feel of any kind from all the way closed to all the way open. At this point, I'm 98.5% certain that the cam has worn down completely on the fridge side because it doesn't stop the door at all.

The fridge door hinge parts just wore out. Barring replacement of the refrigerator, maybe the freezer door will go in another 20 years. Why? My guesses...
  • The fridge door is wider than the freezer door, and therefore is heavier and puts more "axial torque" on the hinge pins. I don't know if that's a thing, 'cause I just made it up! :P
  • The fridge door also has good, usable storage, and so in all this time has carried more/heavier food items on it than the freezer door has; maybe as much as 16-20 pounds of whatever's in the door (milk, soda, juice, iced tea, cheese, all those heavy condiment bottles, beer, etc). Stuff wears out!
  • The fridge door gets used many times per day, even when I eat out a lot, whereas the freezer may get opened only once or twice all day.

I think this is just a wear-and-tear item that has exceeded it's MTBF by a significant value. I'm hopeful that I won't have to buy a $2000-$2500 fridge today, only to replace it in 2 years when the compressor dies (which they all seem to do). But even if this does work, I'm really expecting no more than another 5 years for that appliance. Fridges made in 2004 don't usually go for more than about 20 years.
 
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Sun Feb 03, 2019 7:46 pm

BIF wrote:
The freezer door still has a detent at about 120 degrees from the closed position (from 3 o'clock (closed) to a little past 7 o'clock (fully open). The fridge door should have a similar feel from 9 o'clock to about 4:30, but it has no detent feel of any kind from all the way closed to all the way open. At this point, I'm 98.5% certain that the cam has worn down completely on the fridge side because it doesn't stop the door at all.

That's exactly what happened to ours, the cam was ground down to nothingness. Fortunately, we didn't have the problems inside the hinge pin that you've got.
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FireGryphon
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Re: The Sad State of Appliances (in this case, Refrigerators)

Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:36 pm

Washing machines have similar issues: they’re expensive and fail frequently, and CR recommends some of the worst offenders. It’s as if they go solely on features and don’t test them for extended periods, and don’t listen to their readers.

I’m on the edge of my seat reading this fridge saga. Keep it coming!
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