Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Samsung Refrigerator RF263AEBP

Our new refrigerator has had a loose handle for a month or so. There is a very small set screw that holds the door handle on. It has come loose. I tried tightening it myself, but I don't have the right size allen wrench. Today, it came off.

It has a 1 year warranty, so I called Samsung up and asked them to send me the correct size wrench. The first person I talked to said that the refrigerator shipped with the allen wrench, I would have to pay for a new one. I did receive an allen wrench, but it is large and is for taking the doors off the refrigerator, not for tightening the set screw on the handle. I explain all this and the representative says they don't cover damage due to abuse. I claim defect in workmanship and she claims abuse. Obviously an impasse, so I request a manager and I'm put on hold. For a very long time. I explain everything to the manager and he gives me a part number and tells me I have to pay for it because one was included with the refrigerator...Argh.

I then proceeded in my calmest voice to say, "This refrigerator is approximately 6 months old. I have a warranty that states it is covered for 1 year for defects in material and workmanship. I am requesting a warranty call to repair a defect in workmanship." Which must have been the magic words because he gave me another number and told me I would be hearing from their service people in 1 or 2 business days.

So let's recap, he could have spent a couple bucks to send me an allen wrench but he instead chose to make it a service call which will cost Samsung ten times that...Total time on the phone to get the problem fixed - 32 minutes.

UPDATE: Received a call from Samsung. They're sending a 7/32" allen wrench so I can do the repair myself. This representative said he didn't want to send a person to replace the whole door, which is what they would likely do. This guy just saved his company some cash.

Update: In the end, I received a brand new stainless steel handle (my refrigerator is black) and a couple of other things that come with refrigerator. I ended up buying a set of english allen wrenches and tightening the screw myself. Great job Samsung! Wonderful warranty program you've got there.

Update: Samsung called and asked if I wanted to buy an extended warranty on the refrigerator. Umm...NO!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Do Not Install Solar Hot Water

While I love the idea of getting free hot water from the sun, in practice, it leaves a lot to be desired. My system was installed almost two years ago and is already facing major problems. The glass on the collectors has clouded over with some sort of white film on the underside of the glass. Here are the pictures I sent to SOLARHOT, the manufacturer.

They have offered to honor their warranty. All I have to do is get the 4' x 10' collectors off my roof and to their facility in North Carolina for an inspection, where they will repair, replace, or charge me to fix depending on the outcome of their investigation, then I can transport the panels back to my home and reinstall them on my roof. I'm estimating it will cost several thousand dollars to remove the panels, ship them to NC, and then reinstall when they are done.

They did say it would probably be better if I removed the glass and cleaned it with KABOOM. Which looks all well and good when the panels are flat on the ground, but not on a pitched roof.

Bottom line: DO NOT purchase a solar water heating system. If you want to save money on your heating costs, buy a hybrid heat pump water heater like the ones by Rheem and GE. These cost around $1500 and install like a regular hot water heater which means your plumber can do it for a couple hundred bucks. My SOLARHOT equipment costs were over $3800 plus another $3k or $4k for install. A hybrid hot water heater would have been about a quarter of the cost, would have saved me about the same in electricity, and would have provided maintenance free hot water.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wahing Machine Inlet Valve

Late one night, my wife and I were getting ready for bed. She had put a load in the washer and it was nearing the end of its cycle (we thought). We started hearing chimes coming from our laundry room, so she went to investigate. She came back into the bedroom and said, "It's not working...and it was flashing a code OE"

So, I went in to investigate and decided to empty the machine. As the machine tried expelling the water more was flowing in from the top. I went downstairs to the manifold and shut off the water to the washing machine. I could still hear a trickle of water flowing through the pipes, so I also turned off the valve near the machine. The machine emptied and finished its cycle.

I did some internet research and everything I found pointed to a bad water inlet valve. I pulled the top off and checked the solenoids with my multimeter. They were fine, so I pulled the water line and checked for a blockage. There was some plastic bits around the screen, so I assumed some of them got through the screen and were now blocking the valve in an open position. To check it, I went to the sink and filled up the inlet. With just that little bit of pressure, water was dripping out the other side. I went online to Appliance Parts Pros and picked up a new water inlet valve for $71 plus $12 for two day shipping. It took me 2 minutes to install. I'm running a load right now to test it.

Our laundry monster looks like Marjory.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


We had a new HVAC system put in yesterday. The old system was installed in 1993 and was installed improperly. We didn't notice it, but the unit was tilted slightly and the control wires going out to the heat pump only had 4 conductors. When they installed the new system they had to run a new 8 conductor wire. The contractor was surprised that they were able to get the heat pump to work with only 4 conductors.

So, I got three quotes and I chose Cascades Comfort Services. They were recommended for quality by the Washington Consumer Checkbook. I use the Washington Consumer Checkbook anytime I need to hire someone and I don't get paid to say that. The quote was for $7700, New Air handler, and new 17.45 SEER heat pump. York was offering a $1000 instant rebate. The Commonwealth of Virginia is giving me a 20% rebate (around $1500) and the Federal Government is giving me a $1500 tax credit. The new thermostat is AWESOME! Most importantly, this system will use about half the electricity of the old system. Woo-hoo.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Million Little Details

So, it feels like there are a million little things that I have to do to finish off this kitchen. Every time I run through my list of things to do, I remember something else that needs to go on the list.

So, here is the current to do list in no particular order:

  • Finish Cabinet trim
  • quarter round at cabinet base
  • Baseboard moulding with quarter round
  • Drawer and Door pulls for the cabinets
  • Repaint repaired areas
  • Outside siding
  • redo the microwave vent (I'm not happy with it)
  • Heating Vent grate
  • Polyurethane the floor

Sunday, August 22, 2010


So...To finish out the kitchen, I needed to move the 300 pound refrigerator sideways down a hallway and then across my living room and then into the kitchen. This was going to take some brawn to avoid scratching the new-ish Pergo and the brand new cork floor I put down in the kitchen... Or some brains...

My kids have been watching Phineas and Ferb lately, so I decided to create a hovercraft like device to move the refrigerator. First attempt: Disaster. Second Attempt: Mild success. Third Attempt: Success.

This was the first attempt. I had some scrap wood lying around, but nothing big enough for the top, so I had to put a couple of pieces together. The bottom here (that you see) is 5 mm plywood I had lying around (I was using it to shim up the cabinets). I drilled holes in it similar to an air hockey table. I plugged it in and it wouldn't work, the design seemed too complicated, so I simplified it on my second attempt.

I went and bought 1/2 plywood for the top and then I stapled some spare tyvek house sheathing to the bottom. I used gorilla tape to keep the air from leaking out around the staples. In the middle of the bottom I screwed that small piece of 5mm plywood to create a cavity (when the tyvek is inflated). I put gorilla tape around the wood to reinforce the tyvek as I cut holes through it. I used the fan from the kids bouncy castle. It inflates the tyvek and then air leaks out the holes to the center cavity. It then leaks out under the tyvek and the creates what is known as an air film bearing for the contraption to slide on.

When I first turned it on with me on it, the bag inflated right away, but it wouldn't slide, so I cut some more holes in the tyvek on the bottom. That seemed to do the trick. But it wasn't as free sliding as I hoped. You really had to be balanced to slide and I wasn't sure if the fridge would balance well on it.

I had some constraints in the design process. My hallway is 36 inches wide, but with the base moulding and quarter round, I lose a good bit on either side, so my width had to be around 33 inches (the fridge is 32" deep). The fridge is 36 inches long and I needed some room on one side for the fan, so I made the length 48 inches (and I rounded the corners).

Our first attempt to move the fridge down the hall was disastrous. The bag wouldn't inflate because the fridge had the thing trapped against the floor, so I had to put some wood under the side, so air could get under it. Once we got it up, ABL pulled it down the hall until it got stuck. The door handles jammed it. So we backed it out and I pulled the doors off. On the third attempt, the refrigerator lost a lot of weight and once we got it balanced on the board, it easily slid down the hall and into the kitchen. eezy peazy (as my daughter says these days). Here's me and my son on the board:

And a pic of the tyvek inflated.

Crazy Three Days

The plumber, Renny Offutt, showed up on Tuesday (8/10) and quickly connected the dishwasher and sink. He needed some extra parts that he didn't have in his truck, so he left to finish another job (gas leak) and returned a couple hours later and finished up. We highly recommend him if you need a plumber in Fairfax county.

That got us to complete working kitchen status. The following day, My in-laws showed up to help. My MIL watched the kids while my FIL helped me mount the microwave on the wall. I wanted to vent the fan outside, so I needed to cut a hole through the wall and that was a huge Pain In The @ss (PITA). We put the microwave up on the wall around 5 times trying to get it right...

When I rebuilt the floor for the double wall oven, I put the supports in without checking to see if it would interfere with the drawer. It ended up interfering and my FIL and I had to rejigger the support to get the drawer to work.

I put in a hard day working on the kitchen and then I packed for our trip to Maine. Then I had to pack the truck up after ABL got home from work. It was a long day, including a couple trips around 9pm to Target for a new larger tent. We left for Main at midnight and arrived in Old Orchard Beach at 10am.