The refrigerator is one of the hard-working appliances in our homes that we don’t usually give much thought to — unless something goes wrong. All appliances need regular maintenance and cleaning so they can keep working properly, and your refrigerator and freezer are no exception. Inconsistent refrigerator maintenance not only shortens the useful life of the appliance but results from inexpensive repairs, too.
Regardless of the current state of your fridge, this guide can help you! We’ll go over fridge maintenance and cleaning basics and a few easy fixes to common problems.
Basic Refrigerator Maintenance
One great way to keep your refrigerator and freezer in good condition is to clean them properly and several times a year. Wiping the interior of the fridge when things get grimy is the most basic way to clean, but there are other areas you should clean regularly to keep your fridge working properly.
Proper refrigerator maintenance includes cleaning the coils behind the fridge once or twice a year. These coils are what keep your refrigerator’s motor working efficiently. To clean the coils, you have to unplug the fridge and pull it away from the wall. You can then open up the back of the fridge and vacuum out any dust or debris you see. A dry paintbrush is also helpful for cleaning the dust that has stuck on the coils.
You also need to clean the door seals since these help keep your refrigerator’s internal temperature consistent. An effective way to clean the seals is to open the fridge or freezer door and use a damp cloth to clean between the folds of the seal.
Finally, wipe down the inside and outside of your fridge and freezer entirely. The CDC recommends using hot, soapy water or, to disinfect, a solution made from 1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 gallon of water. These cleaning solutions will kill bacteria in the refrigerator and keep it fresh and clean.
Common Problems and Fixes
Even if you regularly maintain and clean your refrigerator, it can still suffer from a range of ailments. Here are some of them and their solutions:
- Freezer Frost
- Frozen Food
- Lukewarm Food
Frost in the freezer. Have you noticed a buildup of frost or ice crystals inside your freezer? Your freezer door might not be sealed tightly enough. If a freezer door isn’t tightly sealed, water can get inside, freeze, and form frost. When that happens, completely defrost the freezer and then clean it following these steps. To defrost a freezer, unplug it, open the door, and wait for the ice to melt on its own. This is something you must do at least once a year. If you find that you are needing to defrost more frequently, it may be time to replace the seal.
Food freezing in the refrigerator. If food in your fridge tends to freeze, you may have temperature control or thermostat issue. The easy way to fix this problem is to adjust the thermostat in your fridge. But if you still find frozen food in the refrigerator after trying that, you should look into hiring a handyman.
The refrigerator is not cold enough. If you notice that your fridge doesn’t seem very cold and the food inside spoils quickly, you have an urgent problem. Issues related to dirty coils, an incorrectly set thermostat, or a faulty thermostat are some reasons why a fridge doesn’t seem to get cold. The first two fixes can easily be done by anyone. (You will likely have to call a professional to replace a defective thermostat.)
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