Your refrigerator is one of the hardest working appliances in your home. It runs 24/7, which can mean a lot of wear and tear. If you don’t take the time to keep it properly maintained, you can end up with some expensive problems on your hands – not to mention losing all your perishables. To prevent your fridge from breaking down, follow these routine refrigerator maintenance tips.

Day-to-Day Maintenance

Here are a few things you can do on a day-to-day basis to keep up on your fridge maintenance:

  • Always cover your food to prevent odors from migrating to the freezer and throughout the rest of the fridge.
  • Keep a small, open box of baking soda in your fridge to help absorb odor-causing acids.
  • If you don’t have a front-vented or zero-clearance fridge, be sure to maintain an adequate amount of clearance on all sides of the refrigerator.

Monthly Maintenance

These refrigerator maintenance steps are important to do every month to prevent odd odors from building up:

  • Keep a small, open box of baking soda in the freezer to absorb bad odors.
  • Empty your ice at least once a month. Ice can form solid blocks in the bottom of your bin, it can also absorb freezer odors causing your ice to taste funky. By emptying it out every month you can keep the ice loose and fresh.

Three Months Maintenance

Knowing how to service a refrigerator can be a very beneficial skill to learn. These refrigerator maintenance steps are extremely easy to do and should be done every three months to keep your fridge running smoothly.

  • Double-check that the fridge is level. When a fridge isn’t level, it won’t close properly which can strain the motors and cause condensation inside. You can check by placing a level on the top of the machine. If it’s not level, rotate the adjustable feet under the fridge until it lines up.
  • Inspect the door gasket. Flimsy and dirty gaskets can prevent the door from closing properly and stresses the motor. Every three months, clean the gaskets with soapy water and then dry completely. 
  • Be sure to also check the seals, if they’re loose you will need to replace their embedded magnets or remagnetize them. You can easily remagnetize these embedded magnets by running a powerful magnet along each side of the gasket in the same direction for about 50 times.
  • The condenser coils on the back of your fridge should be cleaned every three months. These coils and condense refrigerant, releasing heat. To keep them clean, vacuum the condenser coils and fan using the brush attachment on your vacuum. After this, clean the back coils and sides with a coil brush. These can reach into tricky, hard-to-reach spots. If you have pets that shed, you should clean the coils monthly.

Six Months Maintenance

  • Your fridge should have a drip pan and drain hole that remove condensation. You will need to clean these about twice a year. Clear away any food or mineral deposits, then scrub out the drain pan. You can check your owner’s manual for instructions on how to do this and where to locate both the drain hole and drip pan.
  • Newer model refrigerators often have a “replace filter” reminder that will notify you when it’s time to replace the filter. If you have an older model, you will need to replace the water filter every six months. This will ensure that you have clean ice and water and can also prevent leaks and clogs. You can check your owner’s manual for where to locate the filter and how to pull it out. Once you’ve replaced the filter, run a couple of gallons of water to help remove any carbon residue in the filter.

Other Tips & Tricks

Here are a few other things that you can do to keep your fridge well maintained:

  • Maintain the temperature. Check the temperature often in both the freezer and refrigerator sections of your appliance. The refrigerator should be around 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer should be set at zero degrees Fahrenheit. You can get an inexpensive fridge thermometer at just about any home improvement store.
  • Keep your fridge full. You don’t have to overcrowd it, but keeping the contents full can help the unit cool better and also help it operate more efficiently.
  • Always keep your light bulb working. This may seem like a silly thing, but if your fridge light doesn’t work, you may end up keeping the door open longer to find what you’re looking for. So, switch out any interior light bulbs that burn out.
  • Don’t place hot, steaming food in the fridge. Wait for your leftovers to completely cool, otherwise, they can raise the temperature in your unit making it your fridge work harder to stabilize the temp.
  • The placement of your refrigerator can play a big part in its ability to keep the contents cold and also in conserving energy. Although you may not be able to pick where your fridge goes, if you can, keep it away from the oven, cooktop or any other heating source.

Your fridge breaking down can stink (sometimes literally!), but there are ways to save your meals and your wallet. With some simple adjustments in fridge care, you can ensure your fridge stays working better for longer. And if you’re still worried about what happens when your refrigerator bites the dust, consider checking out the Home Service Club for all your home warranty needs!

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