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Sprinkle: When life gives you a lemon ... better hope you purchased the extended warranty

Chances are, if you’re over the age of 30, somewhere along the way you’ve acquired a “lemon.” They come in myriad guises, including cars, electronics, lawn care equipment, tools — and kitchen appliances. And if there’s any consolation, it’s in knowing you’re not alone.

It was 2009 and the first remodel of the kitchen since we built the house. Until that time, I couldn’t have cared less. I was no gourmet cook, nor did I have any plans to become one. The kitchen was, after all, functional for a family of three, and then two, after our daughter married. Besides, with a full-time job and an average 3-hour round-trip commute, I had neither the time nor the inclination to put any effort into designing a “Barbie” kitchen.

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By 2009, however, it became clear that I needed to bite the proverbial bullet and make some renovations. The old Formica countertop that once glistened white with gold flecks was wearing thin enough in some places to see the brown backing, and the gold flecks were turning green, evidencing years of service. Remodeling could wait no longer.

So began the makeover. And it was perfect. New floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, complete with pantries. New quartz countertops with ceramic tile backsplash. New granite composite sink. And brand new appliances—microwave, dishwasher, range hood, and an electric glass-top range with sufficient lights and gadgetry to be mistaken for a missile launcher.

Then, there was the new fridge — the bane of my existence for the next seven years.

In the past, I had replaced several refrigerators, but nothing compared with this $3,000 travesty — a boat anchor masquerading as a piece of kitchen equipment.

I selected this particular model because the icemaker was located in the door for easy repair accessibility (icemakers are notorious for their high mortality rates). Additionally, it had a flip-and-twist ice tray rather than the rotating metal teeth to kick out the ice cubes. Seemed like a better design to me. But just to be on the safe side (and solely by the grace of God), I bought the “extended warranty.”

Then came the string of repairs — among them, replacing two non-functioning icemakers and two compressors —and in the midst of the numerous rehabilitations, a leaking water line knocked loose during one of the repairs, resulting in water damage to the bottom of one of the new cabinets.

When the compressor gave out for the third time, I called the seller’s repair shop and told them that according to the terms of my “extended warranty,” I was entitled to a new replacement appliance. I would settle for nothing less; the repairman had been to the house so frequently, the neighbors were beginning to talk.

So out with the old and in with the new — that particular year’s version of the same model. I was apprehensive, yet convinced myself that it was certainly possible the first fridge was a fluke, inhabited by some diabolical spirit bent on taunting me to the point of threatening to attack it with a hammer.

And all was well — until it wasn’t. It soon became clear that this “new” model was on the same trajectory as its forebear, and when the second compressor in the replacement fridge succumbed to the travails of keeping cold food cold, I headed off to another store to purchase the totally different make and model that sits in my kitchen today. Is it perfect? Judge for yourself.

One evening while preparing dinner, I pulled open the freezer drawer and the handle fell off in my hand. Although I resisted the temptation to use the wayward part to whack the fridge into submission, my anger was well kindled, and it subsided only after I was able to reassemble the unit with minimal effort.

Since then, I’ve reattached the handle a couple of times, but (bless its little compressor) it’s still keeping the food cold. And every now and then, when I walk by, I give it “the look” — just to remind it of the fate of its indolent predecessors.

M.K. Sprinkle writes from Hampstead. Her column appears every other Saturday. Email her at sprinklemk@comcast.net.

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