Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Two Is One...

I posted this on Facebook last night, but I figured it bore repeating.
So, our microwave died. Well, technically, our backup microwave died. The actual microwave that came with the house died two weeks after we moved in. It was fixed under the home warranty and lasted another year.

The backup microwave (which was our primary microwave at the house in MA) died today with little warning. So now we're on the backup backup microwave, which is a $50 deal we bought at *least* 15 years ago for our pop-up camper.

Two is one, y'all...
One of my co-workers humorously opined:
What about the second emergency auxiliary backup. Come on man, be prepared!
To which I replied,
That's called a Coleman stove.

I have two of them.
And the thing is, all of the above is true, and unremarkable, really.

Our VA house had a built-in microwave in the kitchen. We had a recent microwave in our house in MA, so we moved it down - no sense giving it away, it worked fine, and you can always use a backup, right? The little microwave was in a box of stuff we pulled out of our pop-up camper when we sold it in 2007. Other than being a little dusty, it worked fine.

I wasn't kidding - the built-in microwave died within two weeks of us moving in. We followed up on the home warranty, and had a repair visit where the repair guy basically replaced the electronic controls (including a new panel) and it was working again. It lasted a little under a year, and then died again - in a different way. Since we never moved the backup microwave off the counter, we just continued to use it.

And then last night, *that* microwave gave up the ghost. As I was in the middle of preparing dinner. Remembering the second microwave, I frantically beat feet down to the basement storage, retrieved it, cleaned it off, and within 15 minutes we were enjoying freshly nuked green beans. At some  point this weekend we'll sashay to one of the box stores and pick up another countertop microwave, and I'll look into removing the built-in to see if I can find a replacement.

As for the Coleman stoves, well, one is the liquid fuel variant that I inherited from my parents. It's at least 40 years old, but - since it's a Coleman stove - still runs like a top. The other one is newer, runs on propane and is half-grill, half-stove (single burner). It's quite useful for cooking hotdogs while boiling water for dehydrated meals (BTDT) and also has a griddle attachment so we can have pancakes and bacon while camping (we're not savages).

It's one of the great things about being an outdoors-type person. All that gear you use when camping? It's great SHTF gear. If you're into backpacking, that's even great for bugging out gear. Even if you don't camp, having a propane stove and lantern and a six-pack of fuel stashed away somewhere is a fantastic safety net for power outages and the like. 

Or when your microwave gives up the ghost.

That is all. 


Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Were the two microwaves on the same circuit? If so, you may want to have that circuit checked. Three failures in - what, two years? - may be a sign that there's something wrong, like "dirty" power. Also, if you weren't using one already, they make small, single outlet surge protectors specifically for appliances like microwaves.

abnormalist said...

Years ago I was working across the state from the family, and it was winter. I had a pretty solid OSK (oh *shucks* kit) in the trunk, being winter, and Michigan... Well, the rental I was moving into on day 1 lacked a working stove, microwave, and refrigeration. All were on order, but weren't in "yet"

Refrigeration was not an issue, once again, Michigan. Winter. Keeping things from freezing solid was more of a trick. Best answer I had was stick food in garage, for the most part, we were all set.

Stove wasn't an issue, I had a small single burner backpacking white gas stove in the OSK (Coleman Apex, god what a nice stove) that did full duty from boiling water for coffee, to making pancakes, to chicken fajitas for the week or two that I was waiting on the stove to arrive. After a few days I did have to buy a gallon more white gas (only had the fuel bottle full in the OSK), and in the interest of carbon monoxide, fumes and safety I did my cooking in the garage.

I opted not to locally source a microwave, as I had a working stove, and it really wouldn't give me much more functionality.

Adapt, improvise, overcome. Isn't just a catchy slogan people.

Anonymous said...

You don't have a you know, normal stove/cooktop? I'da cooked my beans that way if the microwave went out.

Hat Trick said...

My first thought was surge damage or dirty power as Jake suggested. There are whole house surge protector/filters that can be installed on the service entrance. These can be backed up with individual surge protectors on sensitive devices. If the grid is stressed in your area you can get switching transients and all kinds of "dirty" power conditions that will take out electronics without you noticing the lights going dim like the typical brownout. Lightning surges can also weaken components that may take a year to fail after the surge hit.

Jay G said...

If it *didn't* involve two very old microwaves, I might be concerned about the power situation. I appreciate the tip, and it's definitely something to keep in mind.

The built-in microwave was built in 2003. The other microwave we had in MA for at least 5 years, so it's close to 7 years old.

Given that two kids ab(use) the microwave, it's not outside the realm of possibility that both were prematurely aged...

Old NFO said...

Soooo... Belt, suspenders, AND a jockstrap... :-)

John said...

And yes we have a backup microwave, and a liquid fuel Coleman two burner stove as well as a single burner Coleman propane stove. There was also a Coleman single burner dual fuel, but that has been among the missing for a number of years.

My perfect microwave would have only an add thirty seconds button, as that is the only button I use.

Roger said...

I am continually brought back to my Boy Scout motto:

Sailorcurt said...

I'm still working on the very first Microwave I ever owned. It's a Panasonic circa 1985 and is big enough to cook a turkey in (if you swing that way).

I don't recall how many watts it's rated for, but when heating things by the directions on the package, I put it on medium high rather than high and the times work out about right. Maybe that's the secret to it's longevity...I rarely use it on high because that's generally too much.

I had to repair the control panel once about 20 years ago or so, but it didn't even require replacing any parts. A piece in the panel had slipped out of place...took it apart, put the piece back where it belonged and it's been working like a champ since...knock on wood.

They just don't make 'em like they used to.

I dread the day that this one goes out because I know I'll never find another one like it, the next won't be nearly as big or as powerful, and it probably won't last more than a couple of years.

But when it does fail, I've always got the range, and if that goes too, the camping gear.