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Thursday, January 31

Appliance Meltdown

We’ve had appliance issues recently. Our heater died, a slow painful death. Initially, the water in the kitchen sink wasn’t heating; at the hottest setting, the water was cold. Then the bathroom sinks. And then finally the shower. As the temperature dropped outside, it was intolerable without a functioning heater.

When the hot water in the shower ran cold water, we contacted the heater company listed on the heater. The company came for an inspection and stated the obvious; the heater was at the end of its life and would not function. They suggested a replacement. Since the heater came with the apartment (one of the very few things), we contacted the person that helped us get our apartment. This person isn’t our landlord nor is he a hausmeister (apartment manager) but he has been the point of contact for us (probably because) he speaks good English. He dutifully noted he’d check with the landlord and call us back. Day 2, 3, 4, 5 passed and we hadn’t heard back. The husband called him again to inquire on the status and he said he had not been able to reach the landlord so we’d have to wait. On day 8, the husband contacted again and asked for the landlord’s number so we could contact him ourselves. He didn’t get the number but instead was told he would keep trying. Finally on day 11 I called to inquire on the status and testified it isn’t entertaining to shower in cold water. I even asked if he’d tried it and he laughed. On day 13, we received a call from the heating company for an appointment on the upcoming Tuesday.

Two men arrived on Tuesday at 8:30am and spent 3 hours identifying the problem. Around noon, they recognized accepted the heater couldn’t be fixed and started removing the old unit. The next 4 hours were spent installing the new heater. There were few glitches, so a third man was called to help. At 4pm, the new heater was installed and functioning.

2 days before leaving for India, our refrigerator bit the dust. We didn’t have enough time to order a replacement so we emptied out the entire fridge, threw away food (much to my chagrin), and asked a close friend to keep certain things I wasn’t ready to part with. (It’s hard to find variety of peppers in the winter/spring months so I freeze some varieties.)

Upon returning, we checked Amazon as well as couple electronic stores. At each place, we were told the delivery time would be 7-10 days. Unfortunately 7- 10 days seemed too long so we asked for speedy delivery. Specifically, we asked if we could pay extra for overnight delivery and were told no, each time. At one store, they had the fridge in stock however refused overnight delivery, with extra money. Then the husband asked a coworker if we could bring the fridge in her car. With her help, they bought and brought the fridge home and the three of us carried the fridge up 2 flights of stairs.

We learned out of order appliances cannot be left on the sidewalk; they have to be taken to a Recycling Center. Fortunately with the help of another friend, with a car, we took the old fridge a week later.

Here’s to hoping we don’t have appliance meltdowns anytime soon.


  1. I'm at the point where after returning I've started to be hit with a bit of nostalgia. Reading this made me go, "Ah-HA! I love AMAZON PRIME!" So sorry to hear about your appliance struggles. What a pain to navigate that in a foreign language, even if you are building up fluency. Know that in the world of expats, I too, went about 2 weeks without heated water in the middle of a cold Belgian Feb due to similar circumstances. I see yours is also tankless and located in the bathroom. I can imagine your frustration, but trust that brought a smile to my face in AL =)

    1. Neeli, I am sad that so many of us expats have to experience this as expats in Europe. Although it's assuring to know there isn't one or two isolated cases, it's sad that we all have this uphill climb to attain basic things, in a European country! (that's the crazy part, if I had these issues in an African country where many people are still trying to get plumbing or electricity, it makes perfect sense, but in Germany or Belgium!?!)

    2. I know. I cannot agree more. Like, "duh i don't have HOT water - and you need to fix it ASAP." But when you call you are reassured and yes the order is in, and yes they are waiting for "x" piece from "here"

      It still thrills me that I can go shopping on Sunday, and that grocery stores and most other stores are open past 6 pm. I appreciated that they were closed in EU, but then I can appreciate being able to shop outside of normal business hours.

      Btw is there anything you need from US?

    3. I have, surprisingly, gotten used to Sunday- off day. I actually like it because it forces me to be better at menu planning and come up with other ways to entertain ourselves when everything is closed. The 8pm (here in Germany) rule is still annoying, I will never get over that.

      That's very sweet of you to ask. We have a certain close friend coming to visit in few weeks and then my parents are also visiting in few months so I've made my list. Thank you!

    4. Though if you're planning a trip this way, I highly recommend a visit to Bavaria. :)

  2. No, it's really "not entertaining to shower in cold water" - not in this winter! I hope everything is going well now. I'm still surprised hearing these stories as I always thought (at least before learning about your experiences) that Germany was all about efficiency.

    (I, too, am sad that you had to throw away food...)

    1. Mia, so far so good. phew. In Germany, efficiency is another term for red tape or a pile of paperwork, I am convinced.