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I may need a new fridge...

my 11 year old Kenmore needs service (not cooling, everything in freezer defrosted). I've got a service appt but if it costs too much to fix, I will probably buy a new one. My 31+ year old GE energy guzzler (that I keep in the garage) works just fine, go figure. I almost got rid of it but glad I didn't!

The Kenmore is a side by side but I'm thinking I'll go back to a "traditional" freezer top (or bottom) mount. Can anyone recommend one brand over another? The Kenmore has an outside ice/water dispenser and I think I may not need/want one again. I've seen the models where the doors open in the center and I'm not sure I like that idea. I don't want stainless steel, but otherwise, I'll be as flexible as possible.

Any thoughts, recs, etc?

Thanks!

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  1. If your appliances haven't taunted you periodically you might not realize how much they charge just to come out and tell you it's dead (~$70). Sears offered me the $$ back if I bought a replacement there, but I had a service contract -- still, worth asking whomever you called out if they'll do that for you.

    Note: I love buying appliances from Sears because of their service. 24/7 you can get someone on the phone, and when a tech comes out he orders the parts online while he's still next to your appliance.

    All ice/water dispensers can be touchy. Need/want doesn't matter much once you go past a certain pricepoint.

    Armoire/French door style is I think what you're talking about. It's nice if you are tight on space (that's the style I'm getting soon, because I have a galley kitchen and the fridge is right at the entrance).

    I have some Kenmore appliances and chose them because they had added features and were better deals than their counterparts. Couldn't be happier with them. But it is smart to find out what brand it actually is so you know what you're really getting (many of their higher end fridges are now LG, for instance).

    Looking at new on the market top of the line fridges of any style is a great way to get an idea of the latest features. For instance, I'm so glad I didn't get a fridge last year because the latest GE model had LED lighting spread throughout the fridge. Hello, no food living in shadows on the lower shelves! They're not the only brand that is/will be doing this. Gimicks I hate, but practical additions make life so much nicer.

    Samsung is what I'm really leaning toward, but I can't recommend it as I don't have it. It does seem to have a good track record for reliability. GE is iffy on my list, but as Samsung has been making most of their fridges the past few years it's on my list. There's another thing, these manufacturers are a little, shall we say, incestuous. Would you ever guess a GE fridge is really a Samsung inside? Take note as you look at different brands; while they have different exteriors, their interiors will be identical (ice maker style and placment is an easy marker).

    2 Replies
    1. re: mlou72

      Thank you both for your helpful replies.

      Re Sears: I called for an appt but couldn't get one til next week so am using a local/independent repairman. I know Kenmore is the Sears brand/made by another company but don't remember who.

      Yes, thinking of the French door (didn't know the proper name). My sister has one and loves it. I think her ice maker is inside...

      Yes I remember the ice cube thing which is funny in a way as my ice maker stopped working last year so was glad I kept the trays from the GE.

      I don't know why GE is iffy, but as I said, my 31 yr old model still works perfectly.

      I'll do some comparison shopping and see what current models are going for and then decide. I figure that (just like a car) there's a point of no return, where it's better just to replace the item than keep repairing it.

      Thanks again!

      1. re: rednails

        Oops I didn't mean GE is iffy; it's just not quite making my list. My old fridge is a GE, 20+ years old. Love it still. The fridge I did have my eye on was a GE made by Samsung but it's been discontinued so my search goes on. GE nixed a couple of fantastic features the Samsung has -- spring loaded freezer drawer and doors that are much easier opening, and a couple other things I liked. I spent a year or more hovering between the GE and Sam while my fridge made horrible noises at me but still worked just fine. Gain one feature, lose another... if I could've just smashed the two fridges together....

        Kenmore is not just one brand, though if I remember correctly they used to be heavy on the Whirlpool / KitchenAid and now seem to use a lot of LG and Frigidaire.

        Good luck with your search. It'd be so much easier to choose one if one didn't expect to be stuck with it for a couple of decades, wouldn't it?

    2. If we were buying a new refrigerator it would be one with the bottom freezer. They usually have pull out baskets and it seems we go into the freezer less than the refrigerator so there would be less bending over. We used to have the ice and water in the door. We did not seem to need it and it took away a lot of freezer space. I would not have one without the automatic ice maker however. (Does anyone remember the shouts of "who took the last ice cube without making more"?

      1. My daughter has had loads of problems with her Samsung Refrigerator. The ice maker is a mess, freezes up, the levers on the front to get the ice and water push so hard they will break glasses, and the damn thing throws ice 2 - 3 feet away from the refrig. Compared to my Frigidaire getting to the ice inside is a nightmare. We can just pull out our ice container to fill a cooler or reach inside to grab cubes or place something for quick cooling. She cannot, it is so inconvenient.

        1. I have purchased Kitchen Aid twice and have been very happy both times. Each one had the freezer at the bottom which I enjoy, so I don't have to bend over for fruit.

          I agree with you, the center doors don't work for me, because I find space is lost that way, especially in the freezer section...

          As for size, the bigger the better :) That's always been my fridge motto :) I have a 22 cubic feet for myself alone, and with all the vegetables I buy it fills up fast. Also, it is more difficult to find things in over-stuffed fridges. And don't forget Thanksgiving when the turkey needs to be placed somewhere ! I never had an ice-maker, because I don't use ice much...and when I do, I make ice the traditional way.

          As for shelving, I chose spill-proof glass shelves, and adjustable height shelves, which I found important because your needs can change and this offers flexibility.

          Good luck !

          1. I went to Sears tonight and have narrowed it down to 2 French door models. One is a Samsung 26 cu ft for ~ $1600 and the other is a 25 cu ft Kenmore for ~ $1200 (I'm rounding up just a bit). I decided against side by side as it just doesn't work out when entertaining (can't fit large platters) and the top freezer seems...outdated (tho much cheaper). Both models don't have outside icemakers which is fine with me, I don't need that. Inside ice is OK. The thing I really like are the wide shelves and separate pull-out wide bin for deli stuff. Oh and both have very large produce bins - essential for me after my weekly farmer's market trips. What I will miss from my side by side is being able to see all the frozen stuff. The bottom freezers all seem to be the "dump it all in" kind without separate shelves (or just a slim pull out tray).

            I will also look at Best Buy, and the usual home stores-Home Depot and Lowes if I have the time. It may come down to what I can get delivered first (the Kenmore at Sears). The salesman said the Kenmores are made by either Samsung or LG.

            Thanks again for all of the input. This may all be moot if the fridge is not to expensive to repair.

            1. I have a refrigerator replacement story that is quite different from rednails. When I was a teenager the family refrigerator (I think it was a Gibson, now they are Frigidaires) broke down. As I recall, it had been repaired a few times and was on its last leg anyway. I grew up in a small town and my father's solution is one unlikely to occur today except in a small town. My father called up the owner of a local appliance store and told him he needed a new refrigerator. The appliance guy told him about the makes, models, and features of the available refrigerators and Henry, the appliance store owner, delivered a new Amana refrigerator to our house that afternoon, on Easter Sunday.

              1. I think it's just too individual.

                Personally I can't stand those French door models, my mom has one. Especially their ice maker placement. We bought a new fridge last year and got a Kenmore Elite side by side. We also have a second fridge, and that one is an old freezer on top. So I already have a place for wider stuff and I wanted ice and water in the door. After looking at all the models I actually did not like their top of the line models.

                6 Replies
                1. re: rasputina

                  I wonder if you could be more specific about what you hate about the French door fridges, which look great to me. And what is wrong with the icemaker?

                  1. re: sueatmo

                    I'm going to assume the ice maker referenced eats up valuable fridge space. Some models place it flat inside the left door, some plunk it in the upper left corner of the fridge. Without ice/water in the door, you'll find the icemaker in the freezer. It's a 'pick you poison' kind of situation, as it's difficult to find a fridge above a certain price point that is devoid of ice or ice/water.

                    1. re: sueatmo

                      Too me the French door fridges are like an unorganized closet. Wide shelves, stuff gets shoved who knows where on the shelf. My husband has enough trouble finding stuff right in front of his face, it's much easier for him to find stuff on the smaller side by side shelves. I don't like the freezer on the bottom at all nor the open bin style, I already have that in my chest freezer, don't need it in the house. I can't stand the ice maker location, often ice falls out of the bin and into the freezer compartment and is lost in between packages of food. I find ice and water in the door much more convenient. And I think the sales pitch of being able to fit long items like trays in it is a gimmick. I can fit those in my traditional freezer on top fridge I have in the garage so I don't need it also in the kitchen fridge.

                      1. re: rasputina

                        OK. I've always thought the French door fridge seemed perfect! I have an older fridge with bottom freezer. I prefer this. I've used side by side fridges, and it is convenient to get water and/or ice from the door, but I've noticed that many times ice lands in the floor. There is probably no perfect arrangement. My icemaker takes up almost 1/2 of a freezer shelf.

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          "There is probably no perfect arrangement."

                          In a nutshell. I've been looking at fridges for several years and am finally down to the wire and have to settle on one soon. Everything is a tradeoff, there is not a perfect fridge out there. But in the last few years there have been a lot of improvements, and I'm hoping the models that come out as the holidays approach will have features that I'm looking for.

                          1. re: mlou72

                            My fridge is over 14 years old. This morning I heard noises coming from it which might have been coming from the icemaker. However the noises are new, so I don't know if my fridge is on its last legs or not. I really don't want to buy a new fridge now. If I had to, I don't think the French door style would fit. We'll see.Fridges are really expensive.

                  2. We are in the same boat. We have a 17 year old Kitchen-aid, freezer on the top, with a 22+ cubic foot capacity. Twice in the past month we noticed the freezer was okay but ice cream was soft and the refrigerator was getting warm. Probably a failed defrost timer which could be repaired, but why put $300 into an old machine. Time to replace it!! The main problem we have is the limitations on size imposed by our 1940s kitchen. The space for the fridge is only 67 inches and the newer styled models run as tall as 70 inches for the capacity I wanted. The sales guy at the local chain appliance store went through all the models that fit within our dimensions and we settled on a black exterior 21 cubic foot GE with the freezer on the top. It has the factory installed ice maker and the flexible glass shelving that I insisted on. I wanted maximum freezer space and the largest unit to fit my space. I'll see how it works when it is delivered on Wednesday.

                    1. A few years ago we bought a Kenmore french door freezer on the bottom model and it's been so perfect I can't believe it. The temps are spot-on, it alarms if somebody leaves the door ajar, I have NO complaints about it at all. The icemaker, according to my MIL (who has the same model) unplugs by just pulling it out if you're not going to plumb your fridge for water and ice (we aren't). It's far and away the best fridge i've e ver had.

                      1. Not a reccomondation, but a possible fix. Years ago my husband and I went to local appliance store for a new fridge when ours failed. The owner told us to go home and take the back completely off and to clean it all out. I had seen appliances with the metal groves on the back dusty, but never knew that the hidden/covered ones needed to be cleaned as well. We were in early 20s then and in 25 years I have only bought from the guy who could have sold us a fridge.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: calliope_nh

                          That's also the first thing that should be done with a central air conditioner that stops working. First vacuum it thoroughly, then hose it out thoroughly. Sometimes a good cleaning is all it needs for the compressor to work properly.