Your refrigerator cost you a significant piece of money, and it plays a vital role in your home by keeping your groceries fresh, tasty, and safe to eat. If it the fridge fails, you’re apt to find yourself out the repair cost and also the money you spent for the food that’s gone bad and has to be thrown out.
So you certainly hope your refrigerator will remain in good working order for a good long while. The average person expects his or her fridge to last at least ten years, and the manufacturers tell us they should. A Consumer Reports study, however, found that 40% of them develop some sort of problem within the first five years of service.
But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Follow these five maintenance tips to keep your fridge working as it should.
Make the Refrigerator Last by Not Putting Things on Top of It
Many of us are tempted to store things on top of the refrigerator, but if we do, the objects can interfere with its ability to get rid of heat.
Similarly, cabinets above the fridge can give you the same problem if there isn’t a gap to provide for airflow. Some models have specific spacing guidelines, but in general, an inch is sufficient.
Make Your Refrigerator Last by Cleaning the Water/Ice Dispenser
Over time, you might notice that a white film has accumulated on the dispenser and its tray. Honestly, this probably won’t significantly impact the life of the fridge, but it’s unpleasant to say the least. Sponge it away with a mix of 50% water, 50% vinegar. If the film doesn’t want to come off, soak the tray in the solution.
Make Your Refrigerator Last by Changing the Water Filter
Replace the water filter twice a year.
When seeking a replacement, be wary of aftermarket filters. It’s hard to know if they truly rid the water of bacteria and contaminants.
Alternatively, if you’re positive your drinking water is safe unfiltered, you can save some money by dispensing with filters. Some refrigerators need a cartridge plug inserted to maintain the flow of water. If your fridge is one of them, it should have come with such a plug.
Make Your Refrigerator Last by Cleaning the Door Gaskets
The function of the gaskets is to keep the cold air inside. When food bits and spills accumulate, they can keep the gaskets from creating a proper seal. Then the compressor has to work harder than it should and is subjected to excessive wear and tear.
Use a damp sponge or cloth to clean the gaskets, and dry away excess water to keep it from evaporation into the folds of the gaskets once the refrigerator door is closed. If you spot any mold, you can probably get rid of it with disinfectant, but be sure to check your owner’s manual first to avoid using a product that could harm the refrigerator.
Make Your Refrigerator Last by Vacuuming the Condenser Coils
Over time, condenser coils accumulate dirt, grime, hair, dust, and other residue. Once they accumulate enough of it, their ability to dissipate heat is compromised. That makes them less efficient and can lead to an eventual breakdown.
To prevent this, vacuum them with a soft-brush attachment. Once every six months should do it. You’ll find the condenser coils underneath or on the back of the fridge or on the top for built-ins. That means you’ll need to remove the grille or pull the refrigerator out from the cabinets to gain access.