5 Quick & Easy Refrigerator Maintenance Tips

A woman cleans the fridge

A working refrigerator is essential for the smooth function of your household. In fact, even a small malfunction in this workhorse appliance can lead to significant disruption of your normal routine. Fortunately, with these 5 quick tips, you can greatly decrease the odds that you will experience unexpected problems if you establish and carry out a regular fridge maintenance routine.

You might think that adding this task to your to-do list will just create unwanted hassles. However, concerning money, periodic fridge maintenance simply makes more sense. What’s more, maintaining the health of your fridge throughout its expected lifespan doesn’t actually require any serious time commitments.

Let’s look at our 5 quick tips that can save you from major issues in the future, or help you maximize your fridge’s usefulness.

1. Periodically Check the Condition of the Refrigerator Door Gaskets

Door gaskets are strips of compressible rubber that line the edges of the doors on your appliance’s refrigerator and freezer compartments. They perform an essential task by forming a tight seal when you close the compartment doors. This seal stops cold air from leaking out of the fridge/freezer, and also prevents warm air from entering.

Door gaskets can tear loose or rip if any kind of sticky substance is allowed to remain between the gasket and the appliance body. In addition, all gaskets can fail over time as a result of long-term wear and tear. As part of your refrigerator maintenance routine, you should periodically check the condition of the door gaskets.

If you notice any sticky substance (e.g. syrup, etc.), you can typically remove it with just soapy warm water and a sponge. If you notice a tear or a gasket that just won’t seal tight anymore, an inexpensive, do-it-yourself repair will usually take care of the situation.

2. Check the Temperature Settings

All refrigerators and refrigerator/freezers are designed to run best at certain temperatures. While the precise temperature may vary according to a number of factors, fridge compartments should typically operate in a range between roughly 37 F and 40 F. Freezers typically operate at 0 F. You may need to adjust the temperatures inside your appliance on a seasonal basis. Many models have detailed guidelines posted in their interiors. If yours doesn’t, check the manual.

Most refrigerators and freezers don’t display active temperature readings. However, you should still periodically check the accuracy of the temperature settings. To do this, you can place a simple, inexpensive fridge/freezer thermometer in the appliance interior. If you need to make a temperature adjustment, wait half a day to one full day before you check the new reading.

Failure to maintain a proper temperature in either appliance compartment is typically an indication that you need help from an experienced repair technician.

3. Clean the Interior Surfaces of the Fridge

The fridge side of most refrigerators is a hub of daily activity. In most households, this simple fact leads to one of the most common fridge-related issues: a gradual accumulation of crumbs, spills and other food debris. Over time, this accumulation can leave the interior of your fridge an unsightly mess. It can also lead to a build-up of unpleasant and unwanted smells, as well as stains and sticky spots.

To avoid these issues, make periodic cleaning of interior surfaces part of your fridge maintenance plan. In a busy household, a twice-monthly cleaning is often sufficient. However, you may need to adjust this schedule to fit your household’s routine or your available personal time. A moistened paper towel or good old warm, soapy water will help you take care of most interior spills/sticky spots.

Alternatively, you may choose to use an all-purpose cleaner. Your maintenance routine should also include a check for airtight lids on spill-prone containers, as well as a check for food packages prone to leaking on their own.

4. Clean the Condenser Coils Twice Annually

All refrigerators keep their interiors cold by venting heat. The components used to perform this critical task are called condenser coils. Depending on the make and model of your fridge, you can find these coils in one of three locations. These places are back of the appliance, the very bottom of the appliance, or the top of the appliance. In each of these locations, a buildup of dirt and dust can create a layer of material that interferes with these crucial components’ ability to do their job.

In turn, poor condenser coil performance can translate into higher-than-normal fridge interior temperatures, as well as more severe operating problems. You can easily clean dust and dirt from the surfaces of your refrigerator’s condenser coils with an inexpensive tool called a coil-cleaning brush, found in virtually any home improvement store.

Once you loosen material from the coils, all you need to do is suck it up with a vacuum outfitted with a standard nozzle attachment. Two cleanings a year are usually sufficient, although you should check your fridge’s manual for more specific guidance.

5. Change the Filter of the Cold Water Dispenser

Today, many refrigerators come equipped with built-in water dispensers. As a rule, the lines for these dispensers pass your household water supply through a filtration system designed to remove impurities and potential contaminants. This setup improves water drinkability, as well as the quality of your ice cubes. Gradually, the impurities and contaminants in your water supply will clog up the removable filter that forms the working core of your refrigerator’s filtration system. While the amount of time required for this to happen can vary significantly, six months is about the maximum in a busy household.

Clogged filters will still allow water to pass through, but no longer perform their job properly. Every half-year or so, change your fridge’s filter. Look for it in the refrigerator-side compartment. Your refrigerator manual should tell you which filter types will make a suitable replacement for the one currently installed.

Once you know what to look for, a quick trip to your local home improvement store should be enough to locate the required item. The average filter is relatively inexpensive, although prices do vary between manufacturers.

While our tips for refrigerator maintenance should hopefully make the task as simple as possible for you, sometimes it’s better to leave repair work to the professionals. Whether the busy nature of life has left you with too little free time to worry about fixing your fridge, or you’d simply feel more comfortable having us take a look, West Coast Chief Repair is at your service. Give us a call today!



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