Published on May 18, 2021

Old house, new fridge need handyman son

By Edward A. Forbes / The Bulletin

My son is the handyman in our family. He doesn’t get it from me. I’m as handy as a shovel blade with no handle.

He recently embarked on a journey that seemed simple in the beginning. But things got somewhat complicated, because a handyman’s travels are never in a straight line. It’s more interesting to take a few detours.

His family of seven (5 children) outgrew the size of their refrigerator.

He and his wife, his ever-faithful companion, loaded up the entourage and headed to one of the big-box stores to look at new refrigerators. This took two trips and some Internet surfing to determine what size they needed and what features they wanted and would use.

What features do you need? Does anyone really need a fridge that is Bluetooth capable? Does anyone really need a fridge that shows contents on a video screen, so you don’t have to open the door? Does anyone need a fridge with a touchscreen that you can leave family memos or grocery lists on?

Wifi-capable smart refrigerators can track expiration dates, compile shopping lists, control other automation devices in the home and stream music. “Hey fridge! Stream some music by Meat Loaf.” That does seem appropriate, though.

They didn’t need all of that, but they settled on some nice extras. They selected a top refrigerator/freezer (which means refrigerator is on top and freezer on bottom); French doors (you can open with or without door shelves so you can access those items without the entire door space losing cold air); an ice maker; water dispenser (their fridge stores filtered water in a pitcher that you can remove as well as exterior spigot to fill a glass); and a large bottom freezer.

It is a large refrigerator. How large is it?

As it turned out, the new refrigerator was far too wide to fit through the front door of their home, built in the 1950s. But the depth could be accompanied by removing the screen door and the wood door.

Once in the home, there was another problem - getting it into the kitchen. The kitchen door was at least six inches too narrow.

This is when I would have canceled the order, considering that the task at hand was too much for my skill set.

But it was no problem for my handyman son. The mammoth fridge would be part of the kitchen furnishings, even if he had to take apart part of the house.

He took out the kitchen door frame and cut the drywall on each side - fortunately the interior studs allowed that.
Now all he had to do was re-frame the door and mud in some holes. Oh wait, reconstruction left a gap in the laminate flooring. No problem. Now we just needed a few pieces of laminate flooring that would match a 30-year-old floor. That is still a work in progress.

The big day came for the new fridge to be delivered and installed. My son was at work but wanted to be there for the delivery. His wife called him when the delivery man arrived.

But by the time he could leave work to go home, the fridge was in the kitchen, and the ice maker was being hooked up. The old refrigerator remained in the kitchen, and the only way it could be removed was by moving the new fridge. The installer agreed with this assessment, and said, “Sign here and good luck.”

I stopped by the other night. They were cooking supper in the two-refrigerator kitchen. The old unit’s departure was scheduled for the weekend.

The life of a handyman is never smooth, as any contractor will attest.

(Edward Forbes wants to hear from you. Email him at eforbes1946@gmail.com or send comments by snail mail to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX. 77516.)