Hold the Mayo—Refrigerator Maintenance for Homeowners

Fridge MaintenanceIs your refrigerator running? Well, you’d better go catch it! Ha hah… ha… ahem.

Okay, bad (and old) joke. But seriously, your fridge runs 24/7 to keep your food safe—don’t you think it deserves some TLC once in a while? Follow these tips to keep your hard-working appliance in good health, especially during this season of perpetual leftovers!

Ice See Dead Odors… (Monthly)

Did you know that ice can absorb odors in your freezer? Talk about unappetizing. It also has a habit of forming a solid block at the bottom of your ice bucket. To prevent this, empty and clean out your ice bucket monthly. Then add a box of baking soda to your freezer, to absorb odors before your ice does.

Filters and Drains and Drips, Oh My! (Twice a Year)

For refrigerators with water dispensers, replace the water filter twice a year to keep it running smoothly and with less buildup. You should find directions to do so in your owner’s manual. Once you’ve got the new one in and all set, run a gallon or so of water through it to remove any extra carbon residue in the filter.

Also, you know that drain hole the condensation drips through on the bottom of your freezer? There’s a drip pan underneath to catch it—not appealing, I know. Give them both a thorough cleaning at least once every 6 months.

Sealed & Condensed (3 to 4 times a year)

Your fridge is already running all day, the last thing you want is for air leaks to make it work even harder. Check the seals (or gaskets) along the doors and clean them of any food residue. Use a toothbrush and a mixture of baking soda and water for an easy and safe clean that won’t damage the gasket.

Once it’s all clean and dry, do the ‘dollar bill test’ on it to check that the seal is complete—place a dollar bill half in and half out of the fridge and close the door. If it slides out easily, your fridge is not getting a good seal and you may have to replace the gasket.

Last, but not least, make sure to clean out the condenser coils. Excess build-up over time can stress the condenser and reduce the lifespan of your fridge, so it’s good to clean them once in a while.

Yours may be on the back of the fridge or on the bottom of the front, behind a screen—check your user’s manual for clarification. Once you’ve located them, unplug the fridge and vacuum out the dust and/or pet hair.

Other Occasional Considerations

  • Keep It Level: An unlevel fridge can prevent proper closing of the doors and cause undue stress on the mechanics. Level it by twisting the feet on the bottom.
  • Keep an Even Temperature: Your fridge should be set to a temperature between 37 – 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Your freezer should be set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fill It Up: The amount of food in your fridge is known as the Thermal Mass. In other words, the more food that’s in there, the easier it is for your fridge to keep it cool. This is because the food absorbs extra heat. If you don’t typically have much food in there, at least add a couple jugs of water to prevent excess wear and tear on your condenser.
  • Stay Out During an Outage: If the power’s out, the best thing you can do is leave your fridge and freezer closed to keep the items inside cool as long as possible. FoodSafety.gov says that refrigerated food should safe for up to 4 hours, but when in doubt, throw it out! Check out this link for more specific food safety information.

Many blessings to you in the new year!

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