By Billie and Robert Nicholson

Out of sight and out of mind, Old Faithful just keeps our food cold, or does it? Recently we noticed our 25 year old freezer was letting our ice-cream get too soft. Oh, we did the usual, turn the thermostat down even lower, clean the door seal and apply a light coat of Vaseline, shuffle a few items away from the internal vents. Basically we told our freezer to shut up and keep freezing. It didn’t work. We then unloaded our freezer, packing our frozen stuff into other devices, taking a large load to my brother’s house and throwing a few old things away. We unplugged Old Faithful and started a long overdue defrost. After all it had only been running continuously for 13 years. A week’s time and 3 gallons of moisture later the freezer was dry. After a good scrub inside and out, cleaning of the coils with an obscene looking brush and a small prayer, we restarted the freezer. We even sprung for the cost of a new on the shelf refrig/freezer thermometer. Suspense was in the air and Old Faithful was not to disappoint! Yes, the temperature dropped to 10 F below zero, we were saved! But this got the thinking process started. Had we been saved from disaster? Or was this our wake-up call? We decided to upgrade to a new, energy saving freezer and to donate Old Faithful to charity. Our longtime freezer friend, Old Faithful, was on its way to be with a new family. Our new freezer will save us money on energy, it has all the temperature data right on the front door and comes with five year food replacement insurance for peace of mind. Finally back to normal.

Not so fast! A few days later the butter in our 12 year old main refrigerator started getting soft. Who says that appliances don’t talk to each other? We repeated the procedure for this appliance. Fortunately this unit only took 24 hours to reset. We cleaned and restarted. We also called the appliance repair company. The technician arrived promptly and suggested that we replace the thermostat just to make sure. We agreed and a few days later we were back to normal.

The technician also told us that he had replaced lots of circuit boards in modern refrigerators and freezers. The problem was voltage spikes or surges. The preemptive fix is to place a surge protector between the appliance and the wall plug. To be effective a protector with a rating of at least 900-1000 joules was necessary. This number defines how much energy a MOV-based surge protector can theoretically absorb in a single event, without failure. Better protectors exceed peak ratings of 1000 joules and 40,000 amperes. But we were in good shape because we have a whole house surge protector on our main electric panel that protects everything electrical. If this sounds good to you, check with Duke Energy or a qualified electrical contractor. And happy cooling, with ice cold drinks, watermelon, and all the treats of summer

Billie and Robert welcome your questions or comments. Reach them at