Proper refrigerator maintenance and operating tips can help this appliance run smoothly and last longer. Here’s what you need to do.
Clean the Condenser Coils
Your food stays cold because condenser coils remove heat from inside the refrigerator and freezer. Located underneath or behind the refrigerator, it’s common for dust, dirt and food particles to cling to these coils over time. This reduces their efficiency and puts extra strain on your refrigerator, eventually leading to operation problems and expensive repairs.
Fortunately, cleaning the condenser coils is an easy refrigerator maintenance step you can complete yourself. Pull the fridge away from the wall or remove the snap-off grille at the bottom to reveal the coils. Then clean them with a long-handled bristle brush and vacuum up the dust that falls to the ground. Complete this task every six months to help your refrigerator run more efficiently.
Replace the Rubber Door Gasket
In order to create a tight seal, refrigerators have a rubber gasket running around the door. Over time, the seal can weaken as the gasket collects debris and wears out with age. When this happens, warm air more readily enters the fridge, forcing it to work harder to remove the additional heat. This means higher energy bills and a refrigerator that wears out faster.
To help the door gasket last longer, clean it periodically with an all-purpose cleaner. If you suspect the gasket is losing its ability to seal tightly, conduct a simple test: shut the door on a dollar bill and if it slides out easily, the gasket isn’t sealing tightly. Fortunately, replacement gaskets are inexpensive and easy to install.
Defrost the Refrigerator
Frost buildup on the coils inside your refrigerator forces the appliance to work harder and makes it difficult to maintain the proper temperature. This wastes money and may lead to early food spoilage. Frost buildup is especially profound in hot, humid climates. Most new refrigerators and freezers are self-defrosting so you don’t have to worry about this particular refrigerator maintenance.
However, if your appliance is a little older, be prepared for ice to accumulate on the interior wall. When this ice reaches one-half-inch thick, it’s time to defrost the refrigerator. Remove all the food, turn the thermostat off, leave the door open and let the unit defrost. You can chip off the ice as it melts and place it in the sink to prevent it from dripping onto the floor. Once the ice is gone, return the temperature to its normal setting and restock the fridge with food.
Set the Temperature for Energy Efficiency
The optimal refrigerator setting for food safety and energy efficiency is 36 to 38 degrees F. You should also keep the freezer at 0 to 5 degrees F. Setting your appliances any colder than this just wastes energy.
Give the Refrigerator Room to Breathe
Your fridge requires ventilation to work properly. If your refrigerator fits snugly up against the wall or cupboard, it must work harder to keep your food cold, which could lead to a premature break down. When picking a space for your refrigerator, make sure it has at least an inch of clearance on all sides. Also avoid placing large objects directly on top of the fridge.