It’s easy to forget about fridge maintenance when it seems to be running smoothly, and it's not emitting unpleasant odors when you open the door. However, this essential appliance needs more care than we think. When was the last time you did more than restock your fridge or wipe up a sticky spill?
Proper refrigerator maintenance need not be an elaborate chore. In fact, simple everyday practices can keep your fridge running well and help prolong its life.
Here are some refrigerator maintenance tips that will keep your fridge in tip-top shape for a long time.
1. Clean the Condenser Coils
The first step when doing maintenance like this is to unplug your refrigerator. You will need to move the fridge away from the wall to unplug it. Condenser coils are usually located on the back of the refrigerator, or underneath it. These coils are responsible for condensing the refrigerant and releasing heat. When the coils become clogged with dust, dirt, and other airborne particles, it puts stress on the compressor, which can cause it to work inefficiently or even fail.
Thus, care and maintenance of refrigerator coils can help keep your fridge working well. from breaking down. For more details on cleaning the coils, check out this blog.
You should clean your condenser coils every three months, and more often if you have furry pets. To access and clean the coils, you will either pop off the front kickplate or remove the fridge's back panel. Consult your manufacturer’s manual if unsure where or how to locate condenser coils, Then, using the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner, simply brush over and under the coils to vacuum off any debris.
2. Check the Temperature
Keeping your refrigerator at its recommended temperature level allows it to run more efficiently. When you set your fridge to its coldest setting, it will keep your food and beverages colder, but it puts more strain on the compressor, potentially causing components to fail sooner than they might otherwise. Keeping it to the recommended temperature can also reduce your electrical bill, and prolong your refrigerator’s life. Check here for more on how long refrigerators typically last.
The refrigerator compartment's optimum setting is between 38 and 42 °F, and between 0 and 10 °F for the freezer.
3. Close the Door
Believe it or not, one of the best refrigerator maintenance practices you and your family can follow to help your refrigerator last longer is to minimize how often you open and close the door. For example, when you open the door frequently within a short time, or you live with someone who likes to keep the door open to stand and stare into the fridge, these small actions make the refrigerator work harder to maintain the set temperature.
These actions also waste energy and reduce your refrigerator’s efficiency. Instead, if you can think ahead about what you want from the refrigerator, and then take out everything you need at once, you can reduce some of the stress and strain on your fridge.
Another tip to keep in mind, from an energy perspective, is that when you are taking care of a refrigerator, any two-door fridge can be more efficient than its one-door counterpart. If your single-door refrigerator is getting older, consider replacing it with either a new side-by-side or “French door” appliance. Manufacturers continue to improve refrigerators to comply with the latest federal energy-efficiency standards, so buying a new fridge can help reduce your electric bill.
4. Inspect and Clean Door Gaskets and Seals
It is a good idea to check the door gaskets on the refrigerator and freezer regularly for food residue and to ensure that the seals remain tight upon close. Dirt buildup and/or a loosening door seal can cause cold air to seep out, which can lead to higher electric bills, and when the problem persists, food spoilage. Clean the door gaskets and seals at least every six months using a toothbrush and a solution of baking soda and warm water.
You should also inspect the gasket regularly for any signs of cracks or deterioration as part of your refrigerator care and cleaning. Replace door gaskets if you see signs of wear and tear.
5. Replace the Water Filter
If your fridge dispenses water or ice, it probably has a water filter. Many homeowners don’t know that their refrigerator has one or more water filters, nor that these filters need to be changed regularly. Replacing the water filter every six months will ensure clean water and ice, and prevent clogs and leaks.
Check your manufacturer’s manual for the filter’s location and instructions on how to replace it. After you replace the filter, run a few gallons of water through it to remove any carbon residue before you drink the water.
6. Keep it Level
When your refrigerator is not level, it can cause the motor to strain, which can make your fridge less efficient, and over time, potentially reduce longevity.
If you notice that the refrigerator door does not close tightly, and the issue is not gasket-related, it can be a warning that the fridge is not level. Use a level tool to check your fridge’s position and adjust the feet as needed. Check your manufacturer’s guide to find the tools you may need and the instructions for leveling your fridge.
7. Fill Your Fridge
Refrigerators need “thermal mass” to maintain a consistent temperature. It may seem surprising, but when you have a fridge full of food and beverages, you are helping it work well. That is because a full refrigerator uses less energy. As the food in a full fridge reaches the set temperature, the cold items assist in keeping the overall air temperatures cold, so the fridge expends less energy to maintain its temperature.
While a full fridge is beneficial to your energy bill (and when you’re hungry), just be careful not to overcrowd it to the point of blocking vents or controls.
8. Empty the Ice
This may seem counterintuitive to keeping things cool, but one of the best fridge maintenance tips is to empty your ice tray regularly, which helps keep your freezer fresh. Ice absorbs freezer odors, and when the tray is too full, ice can also block or clog the dispenser.
To keep your freezer smelling clean, empty your ice bins monthly and clean them. Putting an open box of baking soda in the freezer also helps to absorb odors. Be sure to turn off the icemaker when the container starts to get full to prevent solid ice blocks from forming at the dispenser.
9. Storing Food
A few simple fridge care tips around food storage can also help with general refrigerator maintenance. For example, storing leftovers in closed containers minimizes moisture in the refrigerator, which can help it run more efficiently. Using securely fitting lids, or covering your food tightly with foil or plastic wrap is best.
Also, be sure that hot food has completely cooled before placing in the fridge; it takes extra energy to cool down warm dishes.
Are Your Appliances Covered by a Home Warranty?
Refrigerator maintenance is important if you want to keep it running well and help it last. You can also protect essential appliances, like a kitchen refrigerator, along with many other appliances and home systems, when you have First American home warranty coverage. Contact us to learn more, or get a quick, no-obligation home warranty quote.
The contents of this article are provided for general guidance only. First American Home Warranty does not assume any responsibility for losses or damages as a result of using this information.