Learning how to maintain a fridge can protect your investment while saving money on needless repairs in the long run
About every five or six years, homeowners are suddenly faced with an expensive appliance repair they could have prevented. Refrigerators particularly become a fixture in the kitchen, only cared for with the occasional wipe down or a replacement water filter. Without proper maintenance, these appliances break down. Then you open the fridge one morning to discover it's no longer working properly: the cooling system is toast and your milk carton is sweating and going sour. Ouch.
Luckily, learning how to maintain a fridge is simple. Keeping to a cleaning schedule can prevent unnecessary repairs down the line and save you a lot of money after your warranty expires. Most refrigerators are expected to last for 10-15 years (or even longer for luxury appliances). If your fridge is getting old, it may be time to start planning to purchase a new unit. After all, cleaning can't fix everything. But these steps should help your beloved fridge last as long as possible.
Below we've outlined seven proven steps on how to maintain a fridge. If done all at once, this process should not take any longer than an hour or so.
How to maintain a fridge like a DIY professional
1. Keep the cold air in
Check the rubber gaskets that line the inside of each door. These seals collect grime and food particles over time, which can break down the rubber or cause them to stick and tear off. If these seals start to deteriorate, warm air will be sucked into the unit, causing the cooling system to work harder. Too much stress can cause more expensive parts, like the compressor, to break down.
To clean the seals, simply mix a warm water and vinegar solution. That should be enough to clean the grime off the rubber without doing any damage, which typical house cleaning products can cause.
2. Clean condenser coils
The condenser coils are usually located underneath or behind the unit. These coils function as part of the refrigeration and cooling process, where coolant gas condenses into a hot liquid. The coils then dissipate the heat from the liquid as it travels through to evaporator coils.
When the condenser coils become clogged with dust and hair over time, they cannot properly dissipate the heat, leading to cooling issues.
To clean the coils, first unplug the unit and then use a light brush to remove all the debris.
3. Maintain optimum temperature
Your refrigerator should always be at a temperature between 35-40 degrees and the freezer should be set at -18-0 degrees. Setting the right temperature will allow you to be aware when the unit isn't cooling properly. Here are a few things you can do to assist and make it easier on your fridge:
- Keep your fridge stocked with food.
- Don't block air flow vents.
- Make sure food and debris are removed from vents.
4. Make sure it's level
For folks that want to learn how to maintain a fridge, this step is often overlooked. If your unit is off level, the doors can warp and not shut properly, causing a bad seal. You can manually adjust the feet of the unit or simply move it around until it's leveled again. Make sure to place your leveling tool on top off the unit and wipe off any debris in the way.
5. Check the drip pan
Underneath the refrigerator is a pan to collect water drippage from the cooling coils. In some cases, these pans can form mold and spores, so it's a good idea to clean them manually at least once a year. Remove the front grille at the bottom of the fridge and slide the pan out. If there is mold, take it outside and scrub it with hot, soapy water.
6. Replace water filter
Although this step won't teach you how to maintain a fridge to outlast a warranty, it's still good practice. After all, you do want to drink clean water, right? Each unit is a bit different for this step, so take a look at your owner's manual to locate the filter and determine which replacement to purchase. Be sure to run water through the new filter before you drink from it.
7. Wipe up the refuse
Finally, you'll want to pull out all food and give the insides a thorough cleaning. Be sure to get in all the corners and crevices where bacteria can build up. If you use a cleaning detergent spray, be sure to let the surfaces air dry before placing your food back inside.
A little bit of hassle in exchange for a big and expensive hassle down the road
All of us have neglected to maintain our appliances, so don't get too worried. Hopefully, you're not reading this post because your fridge has started to make a horrible noise. But if you want to learn how to maintain fridge and prevent needless repairs, these steps will show you.
Do you have a habit of getting stuck with unforeseen costs when it comes to repairs? Upgrade your homeowners policy to include a variety of extras, including the cost to replace home equipment for just pennies a day.