Is your idea of refrigerator maintenance restocking the shelves with your favorite treats? If so, maybe it’s time to consider a better approach to refrigerator care and cleaning. This appliance works hard for you 24/7, and it needs some attention to continue running its best.
Every three to six months, take a few minutes to run through the simple refrigerator maintenance tips below. If you run into serious appliance problems or want an expert refrigerator checkup, connect with your local Mr. Appliance® for outstanding service.
Nine Crucial Refrigerator Maintenance Tips
With just a bit of effort, you can lower energy costs and prevent premature refrigerator replacement.
Check the gasket.
Damage or dirt can prevent the gasket, or door seal, from sealing properly and keeping cold air in the fridge. If the gasket looks dented, twisted, cracked, or torn, it’s probably time to replace it. Otherwise, use warm water and a cloth or sponge to clean the gasket periodically, especially inside the folds where grime can hide.
Another maintenance trick for a refrigerator gasket that has weak seal is to apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the gasket after cleaning it. A thin layer is all it takes to improve suction.
Remove obstructions from vents.
Vents in the freezer circulate cold air to the refrigerator. If the vents are blocked or the freezer is too full, neither the freezer nor fridge will cool properly. An important task for refrigerator maintenance is moving food packages away from all vents. Also, avoid crowding the fridge too much, which hinders air circulation too. To help your appliance stay energy efficient, try to keep it about three-quarters full.
Clean the condenser coils.
Dust buildup on the refrigerator condenser coils prevents them from releasing heat. The result is a compressor that must work too hard and too long to do its job. By cleaning the coils at least once every six months, you can save energy and prolong the life of your refrigerator—not to mention avoid unnecessary repairs. If you have household pets who shed, you may need to perform this task more often. The coils are located at the bottom of the fridge, either across the front or in the back, depending on the model. To clean the coils, use a coil cleaning brush and a vacuum.
Clean the condenser fan.
Refrigerator condenser fans can be like magnets for dirt, dust, paper scraps, and even adventurous mice. If the fan is blocked by debris, the fridge cannot cool properly because air isn’t circulating across the coils. To clean the condenser fan, roll the appliance away from the wall, and remove the fan access cover. (Check the owner’s manual for the fan’s location.) Use a brush and vacuum to clean the fan blades and the crease between the blade and motor.
Set the right temperature.
This is one of our simpler refrigerator maintenance tips, but it’s very important. For optimal operation and energy efficiency, set the refrigerator temperature to the middle of the available settings. The ideal fridge temperature is between 3.33333 and 5.55556 degrees, while the freezer should be between -17.7778 and -12.2222 degrees.
Keep an eye on refrigerator contents.
Did you know the refrigerator needs plenty of contents to maintain the ideal temperature? Thermal mass is necessary—you need something to absorb warm air when the fridge doors open. If the appliance is empty or nearly empty, it cannot operate efficiently. Don’t have a lot in the fridge? You can place a jug of water inside.
In addition to keeping the fridge full (but not overfull), avoid placing hot foods inside. While some homeowners think they can quickly cool food with help from the appliance, this introduces too much heat to the inside of the fridge, making it work harder to stabilize the temperature.
Eliminate frost buildup.
If you notice a half inch of frost accumulation or more inside the refrigerator or freezer, it’s time to eliminate the buildup. Too much frost will impact the temperature control of the appliance. To manually defrost the appliance, move all the food into a cooler. Then unplug the appliance. Once the frost is melted, dry the water with a towel, and plug in the refrigerator. Wait until it reaches the optimal temperature, and restock the food.
Replace the light bulbs when necessary.
This is a refrigerator maintenance tip that some people ignore, but you can avoid unnecessary energy usage and appliance wear by replacing the light bulbs as soon as they go out. Let’s face it—when the light bulbs are burned out, you will stand there longer with the door open to find what you need.
Schedule professional refrigerator maintenance and repair.
In addition to regular refrigerator care and cleaning, sometimes you need an experienced professional to help you solve persistent refrigerator problems. Turn to the friendly, knowledgeable technicians at your local Mr. Appliance for expert refrigerator repair and maintenance services.