Our Roomba is dead. Long live our Roomba.
Well, maybe not dead. The motor runs, it makes all the expected noises, the lights come on, it runs around, and air comes out, but the brushes aren’t turning, and it’s not picking up. Roomba support is urging me to call them, which I’ll do. I want to get to the bottom of this.
The Roomba has lasted only a few years. It’s our third Roomba. The first two died mysterious deaths. I eventually learned that my cat was pissing on it.
That surprised us. Lady was a sweet rescue. Never put a paw wrong. All she wanted was some food, a quiet place in sunshine, and a warm lap. We were happy to oblige.
It was a surprise to discover she was pissing on the Roomba in her final months. She didn’t like the Roomba; it disturbed her rest. I figured she said to herself, “I’m dying and I’m going to piss on that machine before I go. What are they going to do? Kill me?”
The Roomba folks were good about it. A refurbished machine was provided at a discount price. We kept Lady away from it.
The Roomba’s decline and possible death is parcel to a larger pattern. We bought our house in 2006. They’d just finished building it. Brand spanking new to use a cliche that I know but don’t really understand (how does spanking fit in?), my wife and I were the house’s first occupants.
All the appliances were new. Everything. Yet, in the eleven years we’ve lived here, we’ve had issues.
- The central vac system developed a control board problem at five years. We had to replace the unit.
- The water heater’s thermal coupler went out after seven years. When it happened again a year later, we replaced the water heater.
- Also at seven years, the gas furnace’s control module died and was replaced.
- At nine years, the central air’s capacitor died. It happened again the next year, but the repair tech had taught me about it, so I saved labor and replaced the part myself.
- At seven years, we became suspicious of the range’s oven. It’s a gas unit. Gas isn’t something we like to mess with, so a repair tech was summoned. Parts were tested but nothing resolved. We bought an internal thermometer to hang in the oven. It confirmed that the oven is erratic and unpredictable, rarely at the temperature that it’s set.
- Our solar panel’s inverter’s control board died earlier this year, one month short of its tenth anniversary. We received a new board free of charge but paid for labor. We’ve been keeping an eye on the system.
- Meanwhile, plastic panels that house the buttons on the range, dishwasher, and washer have all cracked and splintered, which we first noticed in 2013, when these appliances were but seven years old.
- The microwave began collecting condensation inside the door, and then rust appeared inside the door, and grew.
Naturally, these things angered my wife and me. These are Maytag, Kenmore, Rheem, etc. Supposed to be quality stuff, maybe not the apex of quality, but high enough up the pyramid that you wouldn’t expect these issues.
So, I did what I always do when encountering problems: I researched. I looked for how common these issues are, and how difficult and pricey they are to fix. I did this each time things happened.
I learned that water heaters will usually last seven years in modern America. Most other appliances die at ten years. That’s our new standard.
We learned that most dishwashers are manufactured in one giant factory. So are ranges and microwaves.
I learned that the control panel’s broken plastic can only be repaired by replacing the entire control panel assembly, and it’s not cheap. Replacing that still leaves us vulnerable to other parts and assemblies breaking because, hey, they’re ten years old. That’s their expected life.
Appliances are being replaced. We’re not happy about it, but we’re fortunate that we’re financially secure and can do this without significant strain. Let me tell you, it’s not a cheap process.
We’re beginning with the microwave and range. New ones have been purchased. We’re awaiting their delivery and installation.
We’re not certain what we’re going to do about the rest. Only our refrigerator, a Jenn-Air, is still running as expected and hoped for when we purchased it. We’ve looked at washers and dryers, and dishwashers. They’re not cheap, America. More, it annoys us on a fundamental economic and social level, even philosophical, you might say, that these appliances require replacements. Our parents had appliances that lasted them a lifetime. So do our older friends. It’s irritating that America has succumbed to this new and wasteful approach.
Meanwhile, I’ll call the Roomba folks tomorrow.