I hate it when major appliances fail. They're "major" appliances not just because they are large, but because they are expensive and important (My M/V might object to being left out of the group since I use it daily). And it takes some research and time to replace them.
Minor appliances are easy. Your M/V fails, you get another anywhere in 30 minutes. Same with toasters, slow-cookers, fans, radios, clocks, etc. But try to replace a dishwasher in less than a week...
Anyway, I noticed after my usual dinner binge of opening and closing the refrigerator a dozen times for this or that, that the thermometer was up to 50F. I keep it at 35-37F, and that is the middle cold setting (4 out of 7). But I use a lot of fresh foods and it warms up briefly inside being opened so much.
But when I went to put leftovers away an hour later, it was still 50. Uh, Oh!!! Hoping it was the refrigerator thermometer, I also stuck my digital cooking thermometer probe in there.
I checked for internal airflow blockages, but it is designed so that blocking the internal airflow is nearly impossible. I distinctly recall from the manual that no cleaning of external coils is required, and indeed after pulling the refrigerator out a few inches and shining a flashlight behind it, there is nothing to clean.
This morning, it was still 50! *GLOOM*
I've gone through a few refrigerators in my time. It's always the condensor, and replacing the condenser is most of the cost of a new refrigerator. But you pay $100 for the serviceman to tell you that.
So I jacked up the cooling button to max. After 4 hours, it got back down to 37F. I can live with that for a week while I choose a new refrigerator. But it does mean that a lot of stuff was held at 50F for 36 hours. Which means stuff like mayonnaise and salad dressing are dangerous. I don't keep fresh meat, so no loss there. Veggies and fruits are safe. You can tell when they go bad anyway. So I haven't lost much food.
With the cooling selection on "maximum" I can wait a few days. At least it's not like having the A/C die in the middle of Summer or the Furnace die in Mid-Winter...
The choice for a new one is ongoing. When the previous refrigerator died (sadly only 5 years ago) I replaced it immediately without doing much research. I like bottom-freezer models and I went to one store and bought the cheapest most energy-efficient model they had in black. Bad move...
This time, I'm going for the largest, best temperature-recovery time, bottom-freezer, with slide out shelves, in black, high-reliability-rated refrigerator I can find that will fit in the space. Right now, according to Consumer Reports magazine website, that seems to be a Kenmore Elite 79043.
I decided to ignore the energy-efficiency rating. I don't do that lightly. But I discovered something surprising about refrigerators. The big low-efficient refrigerators cost about $59 per year to operate. The best-efficiency (with slow temperature recovery times) cost about $40 per year. The difference is irrelevant. Why would I want a refrigerator that ages my milk faster each week to save $19 per year?
Its not like choosing a car that saves $1,000 in gas per year... $19 is the difference between most and least energy costs? Who cares?
There is more to the decision. I keep an older refrigerator in the basement for bulk veggie and fruit storage, garden seeds, beer, wine, bird suet, sodas, etc. I bet it is so energy-inefficient that I've paid for a new one several times over. I should have replaced IT years ago...
So the new one will go in the kitchen, the current one will go in the basement (where 50F is just fine for the things I keep there), and the deliverymen will haul away the oldest one for junk.
Looks like I am going shopping at Sears tomorrow!