Fridge issues

Professor_WilmarthJune 19, 2011

OK, so I know nothing about the mechanics of this device. I have always taken it for granted that they work and that you can trust them to keep your food safe. The complex I live in now is an older one and not the most luxurious. In the year that I have lived here I have had to have maintenance come out and look at my fridge at least 4 times. What happens is that I notice that the fridge part starts getting too warm. So each time the guy comes out, wrestles around with something in the freezer, and then it sort of works again. In the meantime, I notice that something starts dripping after awhile from the top of the fridge onto the bottom, and this gradually increases as the fridge nears the point where it starts to get too warm again. The food in the freezer is usually covered in frost and my concentrate paper juice cans look like they have soaked through.

Finally, after noticing that it is warm again, I decided to go buy a little fridge thermometer and at that point it registered at around 54 degrees. Well obviously this is not right. So I speak with our manager, and he says that the fridge will be replaced. Well they send the maintenance guy out, do the same thing they always do, and never follow up to replace it. I go and buy a bunch of groceries a week later and monitor the fridge throughout the day. The night before it seemed like it was cooling properly, but when I put the food in the fridge and the freezer I notice that throughout most of the day it is hovering at 50 degrees and feeling warmer to the touch than it should. This goes on for several hours. So I call the management kind of upset, and maintenance comes out and tells me that nothing is wrong. I show him that the thermometer says 50 and shake my concentrated juice can that has been sitting in the freezer for over 6 hours and is still liquid. So they leave and tell me they will take care of it after the weekend is over.

What's frustrating is that now the fridge is at about 42 degrees the night after. So if someone comes and looks, it will appear that everything is OK. I really don't want to be a whiny tenant, but I know that my food was too warm most of yesterday after I came back from grocery shopping. For probably at least 8-9 hours. I just don't feel that I can trust the device enough to keep the chicken, potato salad and other items that can spoil.

This has never been an issue I have had to deal with before. Am I being unreasonable to assume that the fridge is not working properly and that I am almost certain that it will just stop working at all again because nothing has really changed? Don't I have the right to ask for a new one or to have it swapped out?

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Get back to the manager and ask why you don't have a new fridge yet. The temperature is too low and it leaks.

The one you have doesn't work. If it's a self-defrosting refrigerator, it sounds as if it's staying in the defrost cycle too long, or something like that. So when it's in the defrost cycle, the temperature gets too high. But don't mention that to anyone.

If someone shows up to fix it again, let them in and let them try. Then call the manager again and tell him that the fridge is still not working properly and you are still waiting for a replacement.

Basically, you need to become a broken record. Keep calling the manager and complaining (politely) that the fridge is broken and it needs to be replaced, which the manager has already agreed to do. If they've tried to fix it 4 or 5 times and it's still broken, what makes them think that they'll figure it out on the 6th or 7th try?

And if the manager still stalls on replacing it, check around to see what your state provided in terms of landlord/tenant laws. Check your lease as well--if there's anything in the lease about the landlord providing a working fridge, he's now in violation of the lease.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 7:27AM
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Thanks for the response. Well, they are not going to replace it as it is supposedly "working" at this very instant. I am more than irked that after all that complaining I was never contacted after I left an ugly message and had the maintenance guys come out this past weekend (when they said nothing was wrong with it). Not to mention I had both an assistant manager and a maintenance person explicitly tell me that they would replace it.

When I called the manager, they more or less implied that it was my fault for not immediately calling them and telling them I had lost food, and didn't seem to think that there was any real problem. It was also a bit of an issue that I did not have receipts to show what had been lost. To me that is beside the point. They have shown almost no concern or any degree of courtesy for what is obviously their faulty equipment.

The manager relucantly seemed willing to give me a paltry deduction in next month's rent. What bugs me is that nothing would have ever been mentioned again had I not called. In the meantime, I have a fridge that I am fairly sure will go out and that I cannot feel safe putting my food into of which I will have to continually monitor the temperature. It is a safety issue.

Is it really too much to ask that management treat their tenants as customers instead of indifferently as prisoners to their leases? Maybe so.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 10:28AM
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I"m sorry you are still dealing with this.

I'd get back to the manager and ask for his definition of "working" as regards to refrigerators. Write it down, with the date of the phone call. Then, whenever your fridge isn't "working" as determined by the manager's definition, call the office. IF you have an email address for the manager, write up the definition of "working" in an email and send it to him. This establishes a paper trail. "Dear So-and-So, As per our conversation of 6/17, a working refrigerator is one that maintains a temperature of 55-44 degrees in the refrigerator compartment and a temperature of less than 32 degrees in the freezer compartment. It does not leak. Food does not melt in the freezer." (Change to whatever the manager tells you.)

Basically, you have a choice right now. You can accept the broken fridge, and live with it, maybe buying a small dorm size fridge to keep things in. Or you can become the squeaky wheel that finally gets greased, because the manager and the office don't want to deal with you any more.

You have been given some valuable information. If you have lost food and have the receipts, they will take you more seriously. They will refund money.

So I'd buy a can or two of frozen orange juice, or something cheap, and save the receipts. When you see it melted, take a picture and call the office. If you have an email address for the office, email the picture.

Repeat daily/weekly as necessary. Sooner or later, it is going to be cheaper for them to replace the fridge than to keep sending out repair people. Or they will finally send someone who can actually fix the thing.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 8:35AM
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Unlike the myriad abstract concerns such as noise or a "mean" neighbor, this is easily proven and potentially deadly. What you have is a shelf not a refrigerator. Not only is 42-54 degrees fostering quick spoilage it's also a prime temp for pathogens. In fact, the USDA recommends not eating food that's been in a fridge for more than two hours above 40 degrees.

The landlord may not have to fix or replace a broken fridge. Check your lease for mention of appliances or other "as is" type language. The lease is to protect you.

Camlan's totally correct that a small claims judge could reimburse you for an average cost of food if you win -- and the dorm fridge maybe. If it was all gourmet food, have the receipts. No one reads their lease it seems, but there's pretty clear cause if your landlord was supposed to fix it, told you it was working fine and you (or someone) got sick. We're not talking a dispute about adequate heating. This is much more serious.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 3:06PM
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38 for the fridge and -2 for the freezer is the correct temp. Tell the manager that if you get food poisoning he will be paying your hospital Bill!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 11:02AM
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Is a working fridge something they are required to provide? I ask because I live in a state where landlords are not required to provide you with a fridge but most will have one on the premises and will let you use it while you're a tenant. I bought my own.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 12:11AM
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My state recently tweaked their landlord tenant code and appliances is a new section they added. Prior to the revised code, appliances weren't mentioned at all in state code. Per the revision, a LL is not required to provide any appliances nor required to maintain any appliances with one exception. If a LL specifically uses appliance(s) as an inducement to rent, such as "For rent: 3 BR house, 2 car garage, all appliances included...", then LL is responsible for maintaining those appliances.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 7:46AM
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