So, fridge repairman shows up. Looks over the fridge, takes the back panel off, checks out the inside, and...
"Well, everything looks fine to me."
Not a single problem with the fridge? "But," we say, "we could see red glowy light and hear water sizzling! Isn't that, you know, bad?"
And he says, "Well, sure, it would be alarming, but there's no sign of anything being wrong or burned or anything. It was probably just the heating coil in the freezer."
"Huh?" I think, confused. "A heating coil, in my freezer? Doesn't this seem, well, a bit at odds? Heating coils make heat, and well, isn't my fridge supposed to be a cold place?"
And then, the rusty wheels in my cerebellum start creaking slowly into action. See, it's a frost free fridge, right? So, for something to be frost-free you have to have either a) no moisture or b) something to get rid of frost/moisture as it occurs. Obviously, you can't prevent moisture from entering your freezer, so it has to be (b).
Ahhh. Light bulb moment. Picture that moment in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when John Cleese says "Because... she's made... of... made of wood?" and you'll get a fairly good approximation of how this felt.
Not only is the fridge is fine, but we also have had the amazing luck to have never managed to open the fridge just as it was entering its defrost cycle (which typically last only a couple of minutes and cocurs every 6 or so hours) AND when it was actually defrosting something (drip/hisssss... drip/hisssss....) in nearly 6 years.
So, although I am now out about $50, I am tremendously relieved that my $1100 fridge is perfectly fine and is not preparing to burn down my house as I sleep. And, considering that I was already pricing a replacement fridge, completely convinced that the cost of reparing this one would be exorbitant, I feel as if I actually saved tons of money by spending fifty bucks. I think I'll cling to this feeling: It's satisfyingly contradictory, and quite rare.
For more info, see this bit of info over at How Stuff Works.
Now Playing: R.E.M., "Around the Sun"