There are few appliances in your home as vital to the health, well-being and happiness of your family as the refrigerator! On average, refrigerators last about 14 years, and they account for approximately 8 percent of your monthly utility bill. Properly cleaning and maintaining your refrigerator will ensure it continues to run smoothly and efficiently, as well as extend its lifespan. The following refrigetator maintenance tips will help you avoid losing groceries to spoilage as well as the inconvenience of a service call and costly refrigerator repairs or replacement.
1. Clean the condenser coils. If you only have time to do one thing on this list, make this your No. 1 priority. When condenser coils are dirty or dusty, the fridge has to work harder to keep cold, which means higher power bills and shorter life expectancy. So, clean condenser coils at least every three to six months (more often if you have pets). They are located either on the back of the unit or underneath it, behind a grill on the bottom front of the fridge and can be cleaned using a cloth or vacuum. By simply cleaning the coils, you can improve your refrigerator’s efficiency up to 30 percent.
2. Check and clean the door seals and gaskets. Inspect gaskets for cracks or rust and seals for rips, tears or brittleness. The seal should be tight every time you close the door. If it’s not, then you have cold air leaking out and warm air seeping in, which makes the refrigerator work harder to do its job and vastly decreases its efficiency.
To test door seals, close the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If there is little resistance, you might need to adjust the latch or replace the seals. To clean seals and gaskets, use an all-purpose cleaner or use vinegar to prevent mildew growth. To make the seal glide smooth at points of contact, use a spray such as PAM on the gaskets.
3. Clean the drain hole and drip pan. The drain hole removes condensation, which helps the unit run more efficiently. Food particles and mineral deposits can build up in the drain hole and should be removed according to directions in the owner’s manual. After that, you should clean the drip pan.
4. Maintain recommended temperatures. For the refrigerator, the ideal temperature is 38° to 42°F. Check your unit’s temperature by placing an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator for 24 hours. For the freezer the ideal temperature is 5°F. To check it, place a thermometer between frozen packages for 24 hours.
5. Change the water filter. If your refrigerator/freezer has a water dispenser or ice maker, you should replace the water filter every six months or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.