Second Hand Appliances. Curse or Blessing?

Scattered across this great nation of ours are myriads of small community centres, bingo halls, churches and small social clubs. While we may think that community halls or other centres are outfitted with commercial kitchens, this is not always the case. Even within a city the size of Calgary, many small churches and community halls cannot justify having a commercial kitchen, yet they still have a fairly busy social calendar. And many of them have kitchens with hand-me-down kitchen appliances. Second hand refrigerators, ranges, ovens, freezers and dishwashers can be an excellent choice for some of these small halls, but several factors need to be observed.

No community hall wants someone else’s problem. If you are involved in the maintenance or running of a small community hall or church building, be sure you know and trust the source of that used dishwasher, refrigerator or stove being donated. However sad it may be to contemplate, many an organization has been saddled with a used refrigerator, oven, or dishwasher that didn’t work or only partly worked because someone thought it would be “good enough” for the hall. Pawning off such a “treasure” in lieu of paying to have an old kitchen appliance disposed of properly may seem like a low blow, but it does happen.

On the positive side, there are some authentic treasures to be found in small community halls or social clubs. Many of the older models of kitchen appliances may be simple and plain, but what a benefit they can be if they are an appliance of quality. While it is true that an older refrigerator or freezer may not have an ENERGY guide sticker, the fridge or freezer in question may be very well constructed, with good insulation. In the cool basement of a church for example, the compressor may not have to run as frequently as a newer model refrigerator or freezer. By the same token, one can’t expect the bells and whistles associated with a newer model. For example, ice and water dispensers didn’t used to be nearly as common on refrigerators. However, if this feature isn’t a necessity in a small community hall or church, then a good older model refrigerator may be very adequate – especially if it has been a free gift to the building.

What about ranges, ovens, stoves? Again, some of the older models may be simple and plain (or an unsightly colour), but they could be of a very good quality and still quite serviceable. Think practically and bear in mind how often the oven is going to be used. A potluck every 3 months puts a very different strain on an oven than daily usage. Many older ovens still function very well and were constructed with high quality parts and excellent insulation, but are without self-cleaning features. Is this going to be a necessity for your hall or church? Are there enough volunteers to keep that good ol’ oven clean when the need arises? If there aren’t, then it would be better to forego the free, hand-me-down range and set money aside in the budget to invest in something else with a self-cleaning function.

Dishwashers can be notorious. Hard water can cause various parts to clog, rendering the dishwasher ineffective. If your organization decides to take on a second hand dishwasher be very sure you can ascertain the appliance’s history. How long has it been sitting? How long was it used? Where? Get the whole story and make an informed decision. There is no point in paying to install a dishwasher that is not going to get dishes clean and then have to pay to dispose of the appliance anyway.

Even the highest quality hand-me-down kitchen appliance has a limited lifespan. Nothing lasts forever, parts become obsolete, but there are circumstances when the right used appliance can fit the need very well. Maybe someone’s home renovation could result in the perfect refrigerator or stove for the community hall and the donation would be very beneficial. Isn’t it better to give a good quality refrigerator, freezer or range a new home and help the social club or community hall rather than sending a quality appliance to landfill before its time?

Maybe you have a win-win story about a hand-me-down kitchen appliance which has benefited a small hall, social club or church?

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