Make Your Fridge Last (Almost) Forever With These 8 Tips
After the furnace, the most important appliance in your home is probably the refrigerator. It's also one of the most expensive ones. When you spend $1,000 or more on an item, you want it to last for many years. (See also: Best Refrigerators)
The tips below will ensure that your fridge is running efficiently and for years beyond the warranty.
1. Place It Away From Heat
Anytime a motor is working harder than necessary, it is likely to die early. This is what happens when a heat source such as the stove or oven is nearby. The refrigerator has to work hard to keep itself cool due to the excess heat in the kitchen. Installing a refrigerator in the garage may be practical for overflow and when entertaining; however, if you live in a climate that gets warm in the summer, you may want to move it to a basement. Garages get extremely hot, especially in the summer, and the refrigerator will be working overtime to stay cool. (See also: 6 Tips to Make Your Dishwasher Last Forever)
2. Keep It Level
When you first install your refrigerator, make sure it is level. A fridge that is not level will not close properly. This allows air to escape from any leaks. When air is leaking from the fridge, the motor runs continuously to keep it cool. The more the motor runs, the sooner it will quit. Be sure to check it once a year to make sure it is still level, as homes do shift and settle. (For information on how to level your refrigerator, see the owner's manual.)
3. Keep the Top Clear
The top of your refrigerator should not be used as storage. When you fill the space above your refrigerator with storage containers, cereal boxes, and baskets, you are keeping the warm air that flows from the top inside. This causes the motor to work harder and can lead to it overheating. Find another place for your storage and only put small decorative items on top of your fridge.
4. Keep It Clean
On most refrigerators there are coils on the outside that function as the cooling system (some newer models may have coils that are completely covered). These coils can accumulate pet hair, dust, and food particles. Vacuuming the coils on a regular basis (2-3 times a year) keeps the fridge running efficiently. (See also: One-Month Guide to Spring Cleaning)
5. Inspect the Seals
Regularly inspect the seals around the refrigerator and freezer doors. Broken, cracked, and damaged seals cause air to leave the refrigerator, which forces it to run longer. This runs up your electricity bill and again, causes the motor to work harder. LG, one of the leading manufacturers of refrigerators, recommends also inspecting and cleaning the gaskets on the doors to ensure a tight seal is maintained.
6. Keep It Filled (but Not Too Full)
What you put inside your fridge is as important as what you put next to it or on top of it. A fridge that has food stored in every available space is going to work harder to keep it cool due to the lack of air circulation. On the other hand, a refrigerator that is too empty also works harder to keep itself cool. If your fridge gets too empty and will be for a while, for example while you are on vacation, fill bottles and jugs with water to store inside. This will keep your fridge running at its optimal speed.
7. Set the Proper Temperature
To keep your fridge from working too hard, set the freezer to a temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit and the fridge below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This keeps food safe, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and allows the refrigerator to run efficiently. (See also: Expiration Dates and Food Safety)
8. Avoid Placing Warm Foods Inside
When warm foods or liquids are placed inside of the fridge or freezer, it must work extra hard to cool them off. Keep foods on the counter to cool for a short while before placing them in the refrigerator. If you are concerned about food-borne bacteria, place the food in the fridge while it is warm along with a frozen jug of water. The jug will keep the inside cool at the same time as the food is cooling without causing the fridge to work harder.
Following these tips may not keep your refrigerator around forever, but they will extend the life of it for many years. Careful placement, cleaning, and maintenance will ensure that you do not have to replace it any time soon.
How old is your fridge? What are you doing to help it last longer?