We take our refrigerators and freezers for granted until something goes wrong. No one can avoid long-term power outages during natural disasters, which can result in ruined food. But with a few simple steps, you can prevent a lack of maintenance from causing refrigeration failure. Here’s how to keep things chill.
Vacuum the condenser coils
Refrigeration operates on precisely the same principles as your home’s air conditioner. Your outside AC unit needs to be rinsed of dirt now and then so that the condenser coil fins can conduct heat and the flowing coolant can do its job. The same goes for the coils underneath and/or behind your refrigerator and freezer. Use a vacuum hose periodically to remove accumulated dust. If the coils have a pressboard cover with breathing holes to protect them, that may be where dust accumulates. Either way, keep those coils clean to preserve the longevity of your appliances.
Your refrigerator and freezer should sit on a level surface to ensure proper door closure and refrigeration. If they don’t, the feet on each corner can be adjusted to ensure the appliances themselves are level.
Keep refrigeration filters changed
The filters of more recently manufactured refrigerators with water dispensers need to be replaced at least every six months. Changing the filter is important because clogged filters will diminish the water dispenser’s flow and cause ice cubes to be smaller than they should be. If a clogged filter is left long enough, water will back up out of the filter and leak into the refrigerator itself. A control panel on the front beside the water dispenser may display an orange warning light when the filter needs to be changed.
If your freezer isn’t self-defrosting, schedule regular sessions to remove ice build-up from the inside. Ice accumulation of more than a half-inch means it’s time to defrost. Ice reduces space for food storage, can cause the door not to shut properly and can interfere with adequate refrigeration.
Keep the drain hole and pan clear
Self-defrosting freezers have a drain hole that needs periodic cleaning to remove accumulated mineral deposits and gunk from food that drops to the bottom of the freezer. To clean the drain, find the hole and clear debris with a Q-Tip. Pour a mixture of vinegar and water down the hole to clear mineral buildup. The hole empties into a pan beneath the refrigerator, so slide this pan out while you are at it and give it a good cleaning.
Check the door seal
The rubber seals around the edges of older refrigerator and freezer doors can get worn out after being opened and closed thousands of times. If you can close the door on a dollar bill and then easily pull the money out, the seal isn’t working sufficiently for adequate refrigeration. Carefully inspect the entire seal of your refrigerator and freezer doors. If seals are cracked, permanently misshapen or pulling away from their mounting slots, replace them. You can order replacements online.
Purge and clean
Frozen food can acquire a peculiar taste from freezer burn if kept too long. Be sure to keep track of how long foods have been in the freezer. Periodically pull all the food out, remove the freezer racks and wash them with warm, soapy water.