Your refrigerator works harder than perhaps any other appliance in your home. It runs around the clock to keep your food at a safe temperature — and most refrigerators will do this for 10 years or more. Give your fridge a break and help it do its job effectively my performing these simple refrigerator maintenance tasks regularly.
- Cover all food: Avoid food odors by covering any food that is placed in the refrigerator.
- Clean out old food: Before you head to the grocery store, take a few minutes to clean out any old food you don’t need in your refrigerator. This will help prevent the spread of mold and odors as well as the accumulation of moisture.
- Clean shelves and walls: While you’re clearing out old food, take a few minutes to quickly wipe down shelves and walls with a cleaning solution. This will also prevent the spread of mold.
- Avoid refrigerator gazing: If you or anyone else in your family has a habit of leaving the refrigerator door open, do your best to cut down on it. Leaving the door open lets warm air in and causes your refrigerator to have to work harder, putting strain on the compressor and motor.
- Avoid placing hot food in the refrigerator: Another action that can make your refrigerator work harder than it has to, placing hot food in the refrigerator is not a good idea. Let food cool down a bit before you store it in the fridge.
- Keep vents clear: Allow air to properly circulate by keeping vents clear. Avoid over stuffing your freezer and refrigerator.
- Use the correct temperature setting: Refrigerators should be set between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit, and freezers at zero degrees Fahrenheit or below. These settings are ideal for food safety and energy consumption.
- Clear out your ice: With time, ice cubes can sometimes form into a solid block at the bottom of your bin, interfering with air flow. Ice can also absorb freezer odors. Empty your ice bin completely on a regular basis to avoid ice blocks and off flavored ice.
- Store baking soda: Cut odors in your refrigerator and freezer by placing an open box of baking soda in both compartments, then replace them every few months. It will absorb some of the odors and keep your food fresher.
- Clean your door gasket: Dirty gaskets can make it difficult for your refrigerator door to close completely. Clean them with soapy water and dry them. If they are cracked or appear brittle, it’s time to replace them.
- Vacuum condenser coils: Clogged condenser coils can put stress on the compressor and cause your refrigerator to work harder than it should. Vacuum them out every few months and use a refrigerator coil brush to further clean the coils. This is also a good time to clean the condenser fan.
- Check for leveling: Your refrigerator may not close properly if it isn’t completely level, and that can put stress on the motor and cause condensation. Use a level to check your refrigerator and adjust your refrigerator’s feet if necessary.
- Clean the drain hole and pan: Check the drain hole and drip pan for food and mineral deposits.
- Replace your water filter: Make sure you have clean ice and water by replacing your water filter. Most refrigerators have an indicator for replacement, or you can simply replace every six months.
Signs of Refrigerator Trouble
Even if you stay on top of cleaning and maintenance, your refrigerator can run into trouble. These are clear signs that it’s time to call for help and have your refrigerator repaired:
- Your refrigerator or freezer is not cooling effectively
- Your freezer has ice buildup
- Your refrigerator cycles on and off frequently
- Your refrigerator runs constantly
- Your refrigerator is sweating (inside or out)
- Your food is spoiling quickly
- You have a puddle of water under your refrigerator
- Your refrigerator has become noisy
- Your ice maker isn’t working
- The back of the refrigerator is warmer than usual