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Ice Man

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Compiled by Kobus Botha

They say what he doesn’t know about fridges and refrigeration isn’t worth knowing. We chat to the Cape’s coldest character: Roelof Brits, a fridge and freezer guru.

How did you end up becoming a fridge guru?
It used to be a hobby. I was a qualified artisan, a machinist by trade, but then I was in a car accident and became incapable of continuing that line of work. So, my hobby became a means of survival; and, by the time I’d recovered, my one-man business was shakily on form.

So, how long have you been in this business?
The accident happened 25 years ago, and thanks to loyal support from customers, family and friends – far too many to mention – I’m still here.

What are the common mistakes people make when it comes to fridges?
Many people still believe that if you have a problem with your fridge, you just stand it on its head, turn it back the right way up, and it will work again. This dates back to the very old paraffin fridges. You certainly can’t do it with today’s fridges, as they work on a totally different principle; in fact, doing this will probably be harmful to your fridge. When it comes to transporting fridges, you shouldn’t put a fridge on its side or its back, as it must be transported standing upright.

What’s the first thing that usually breaks on a fridge?
Generally, the thermostat.

Are fridge parts expensive? Are they easy to come by?
The cost of refrigerant gases has, at various stages, increased dramatically. Body and electrical parts can be expensive (depending on the manufacturer), but you’ll find all parts are readily available from the suppliers.

How long should a fridge last?
These days, a lot of the quality has been sacrificed in the interests of mass production and cost, but fridges should be able to last for many years.

How can you ensure that your fridge lasts longer?
It’s important that the door seals and hinges are always in perfect condition, so replace these if they start to crack or wear out. If the seal is worn or improperly aligned, cold air will escape and cause the motor to run much longer and harder than necessary to maintain the internal temperature; this will cause unnecessary wear on the motor parts and waste electricity.

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