Finances & Money

How I beat Sears and saved $233

My GE Profile Arctica refrigerator was freezing the food on the fridge side. The temp was going down to 28 degrees even though we had it set at 37. Luckily the former owners left us another fridge, so we moved everything from the fridge side into the other one. I tried to find the problem online and everything pointed to a thermostat or control board problem.

At my wife’s urging, I called a repairman. Sears charges $65 for the first visit to diagnose the problem, and I was able to get them to come the same day. He was here for about 2 hours total (much of it on hold with GE technicians) and initially blamed the circuit board. However, when he was taking it apart further, he looked into the large device that brings freezer air in and distributes it to the fridge and found that the “damper door” was off its hinges. Therefore, even if the fridge tried to stop the air coming in, it couldn’t.

He quoted me a price of $158 for the part and $157 for the labor, plus the $65 for the initial call. As he was finishing up his tests, I ran to my laptop, punched in and found the same part for $75 plus $7 shipping. I ordered from this site before when I replaced the ice maker, so I could trust it again.

I came out and told him I’ll do the repair myself since I could find the part for half the price. He seemed a bit offended, as he had the part in his truck. The “Refrigerator Air Inlet blah blah” appeared to just be hanging by a wire harness in the disassembled fridge. I tried to see how he was putting it together, but the guy was bigger than the fridge and I was 1) too scared to hover and 2) couldn’t see around him anyway, so I just sat on the couch till he finished.

So I ordered the part, and it arrived in 2 days, on a Friday (I would count 3 days, but I ordered it after business hours so I won’t penalize them for it). I took apart the fridge in what appeared to be in an order that made sense. A note: I’m known for being impatient and breaking things that I’m trying to repair. I got the big air thingy unscrewed and unharnessed. I installed the new one (I had to use the thicker insulator ring they included) and screwed everything back in. The only thing to give me trouble was the plastic headliner around the ceiling light.

I had it all done in 30 minutes. I took another 30 minutes to clean all the shelves, drawers, and walls inside the fridge since it was empty. Bonus points with the wife 🙂

If I don’t count what my time is worth, I saved about $233 on parts and labor. I couldn’t charge $147 for a half hour of my own time like Sears was going to charge for theirs!
So in the end, think about doing the job yourself. My rule is that I stay away from electrical and plumbing work. Everything else is fair game. Oh, and my friends and coworkers are telling me “I didn’t know you were so handy”….I’m not, I’m just cheap!

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Clever Dude

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