Sunday, January 21, 2007

dealing expeditiously with freezer ice

My dorm room has one of those mini-fridges familiar to anyone who has lived in a dorm. The "freezer" is barely worthy of the name, and over the course of several months, as often happens with such "freezers," it develops a thick layer of ice that completely covers the metal freezer element and diminishes what little freezing efficiency the fridge already has.

I usually deal with this by emptying out my fridge, eating or drinking whatever's perishable (almost everything), and allowing the thing to thaw overnight. I tilt the fridge back when doing this, so that when the ice melts, the water remains in the fridge without slopping onto my floor.

But a novel approach occurred to me yesterday, and it worked like a charm: I unplugged my frozen fridge, dragged it three feet over to my bathroom door, tilted it forward, then blasted the freezer element with scalding hot water from my shower attachment.

Within three minutes, the evil deed was done, and chunks of ice lay gasping and dying on my bathroom floor.*

The only risk, of course, was in accidentally blasting any exposed electrical elements. I dried everything inside the fridge as thoroughly as possible, plugged the fridge back in, and... not a single problem.

Guess which de-icing method I'll be using from now on.

*Note to Americans: Korean bathrooms are set up similarly to American ones; they have, at the very least, a sink, a toilet, and a hose with a shower attachment. They may also have a bathtub, but almost never have shower curtains. The entire bathroom doubles as a shower when it's time to bathe, so it's expected that the floor will be wet. Koreans generally use plastic slippers to navigate wet bathroom floors, thereby keeping their feet (socked or unsocked) dry.

I can't stand that state of affairs because I worry about mold and other evil creatures associated with standing moisture. My parents gave me an awesome bathroom squeegee; I use it after every shower to scrape all the water off the floor and other surfaces, including the sink, the toilet, and the bathroom mirror. I then wipe everything down with a rag (an old tee shirt). The result is that my bathroom is pristine within minutes instead of hours. The method works: no mold, nothing.

I'm not against the plastic slipper idea in principle, but in practice, I've had trouble at every Korean household because no one has slippers large enough for my feet.

Many modern Korean houses and apartments boast shower stalls, thereby eliminating most of the ancient water-on-the-floor problem, as the water is largely confined to the stall's interior. But most Koreans, as is true for most Americans, don't use squeegees for that post-shower wipedown, even if they have stalls. A shame.


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