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Follow these easy maintenance tips and your refrigerator will run smoothly for years.
BY: Jessica Tolliver
Your refrigerator is one of the most expensive appliances in your home. Here’s how to keep it running smoothly and efficiently for years.
1. Vacuum the coils.
Look for coils either on the back of your refrigerator or behind a panel under the refrigerator. These coils remove the warm air inside the refrigerator and replace it with cooler air. When dust and grime build up on the coils, the refrigerator works harder to operate and uses more energy than it should.
2. Check the seals.
Another refrigerator maintenance tip is to check the rubber seal around the doors of the refrigerator and the freezer. If the seal is cracked or brittle or coming loose, cool air could be escaping, forcing the refrigerator to work harder and increasing your electricity bill.
3. Clean the drip pan.
To maintain your refrigerator, look underneath it, and you’ll find a drip pan. Condensation from the refrigerator drips into the pan, and food particles and other gunk can build up there.
4. Defrost the refrigerator.
If your refrigerator does not have automatic defrost, you will need to defrost it whenever ice in the freezer builds up more than 1/4 inch.
5. Change the water filter.
If your refrigerator includes a built-in water filter for the ice and water dispenser, you’ll need to change the filter to keep the water fresh and pure. Note: Water that runs through a dirty filter can get dirtier than it was in the first place.
6. Level the refrigerator.
The doors on a refrigerator that is not level may not close properly, letting air escape and compromising energy efficiency.
7. Check the temperature.
The ideal temperature range to keep food safely chilled is between 37 and 40 F. A refrigerator that is colder than 37 F is working harder than necessary and using excess energy. (A setting warmer than 40 F can speed up the growth of bacteria on foods.)
8. Clean the refrigerator.
To properly maintain your refrigerator and make it last and keep it smelling fresh, clean the interior often. Smelly spills or old food particles can lead to bacteria buildup and impart an “off” smell to fresh foods.
9. When to consider replacing your refrigerator.
If your refrigerator breaks down, compare the cost of fixing it to replacing it to determine which course to take. Note: Refrigerators built before 2001 are significantly less energy-efficient than newer models and can cost more to maintain than newer energy-efficient models.
By following these simple refrigerator maintenance tips, you will be protecting your investment for years to come.
Jessica Tolliver is a writer and editor with 15 years of experience in covering home improvement and decorating topics for variety of publications, including House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes & Gardens and Consumer Reports. She is also the author of two books on design.