Whether you've just invested in a new refrigerator or you've been given a hand-me-down from grandma's estate, you want your item to last as long as possible. Most refrigerators come with a standard manufacturer's warranty to cover defects, and they extend anywhere from 90 days to five years. But with these four simple tools and some routine maintenance, consumers can greatly extend the life of their refrigerator, making their investment last up to 20 years or longer. Here's what you need to do.
Refrigerators have a condenser coil that holds refrigerant. With the help of a compressor, this coil absorbs heat from the fridge and freezer sections before transferring that heat to the surrounding air, keeping your fresh foods cold and your frozen foods frozen.
In order to work properly, the condenser coils need to be clean. When they're covered with dust, crud, and hair, the air can't reach the surface, and the result is a failed compressor, costing you a pretty penny in repairs.
Many years ago, these coils used to be at the top of the appliance, then later, they were moved to the back. This was all rather efficient—as long as the fridge wasn't backed tightly against the wall, air could easily circulate around the coil. But in most modern refrigerators, the coils are located on the bottom, which unfortunately makes them more of an attractant to dust and pet hair. On the other hand, it makes them much easier to get to for cleaning purposes, particularly if you have the right tool.
A refrigerator brush is an item that can be purchased at almost any hardware store for just a few dollars. It has a lengthy handle—about a foot and a half long—sparing your hands and fingers from having to reach into tight spaces. The bristles are about ½ inch wide, and they fit perfectly between the condenser coils.
The first to do is unplug your refrigerator. This is critical. Next, remove the kickplate grill underneath your fridge and use the brush to clean the coils as well as the motor fan. It's important to also clean the fan because when dust accumulates along the edges of the blades, it can circulate slower or spin out of balance, ultimately damaging the unit.
This process should be done a minimum of once a year, twice if your home is particularly dusty or you have pets.
If you can't find a refrigerator brush for your project, or you have an older model unit with the condenser on the back, you can either use a vacuum, canned air, or a soft bristle brush.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to be gentle. This can't be stressed enough. If the coil is damaged to the point that it leaks, you've now got coolant spilling on your floor and another repair issue altogether.
After cleaning the coil, simply vacuum up the dust and debris. You should also use the vacuum and a soft rag to clear away any dust between the plates on the grill.
Now that your condenser coil is clean, you should notice that your refrigerator cools more efficiently, meaning it's working less hard to get the job done. This will also save you money on your electric bills.
As silly as it sounds, it's important to be sure your refrigerator is level. If it isn't, you run the risk of the doors not sealing tightly enough, resulting in a loss of energy.
If it isn't level, consult the owner's manual on how to adjust the legs. Most of the time, these are nothing more than bolts with protective feet at the bottom. And to adjust, you simply turn the bolt to raise or lower the appliance.
This is a super easy trick to check the gaskets on the doors. If that seal isn't tight, the refrigerator will have to work that much harder, putting a strain on the compressor and your utility bill.
Most people can generally "eyeball" the gaskets to check for any cracks or open spaces. But one handy trick to ensure they are nice and snug is by closing a dollar bill in the door. If it comes out easily, you'll need to replace the gaskets. If you're not familiar with how to do this, it's usually recommended to leave it to the professionals.
For more information or if you run into a problem you cannot solve, it is important to call professional refrigerator repair services.