Freezer and Refrigerator Home Maintenance Tips

Use these tips to avoid costly freezer and refrigerator repairs!

Food is not only a necessity, but also a source of joy in life. There isn’t much in this world that beats sitting down to your favorite meal. Without appliances like your refrigerator and freezer, you and your family wouldn’t be able to enjoy many of the meals you’ve come to love.

Clearly, your refrigerator and freezer combine to create one of the most important items in your home. Keeping them in proper working order is easy to do, and it can prevent costly refrigerator repairs in the future. Follow these refrigerator maintenance tips and freezer maintenance tips to keep your food storage appliances in strong working condition.

Refrigerator Maintenance Tips

Your home's refrigerator safeguards all the delicious and perishable food your family eats. Regular home refridge maintenance keeps your fridge odor free, limits the food you waste and can even help to reduce your energy usage. These easy to do refrigerator maintenance tips will ensure your refrigerator is up to the job!

  1. Vacuum Coils Annually

If you aren't sure what a refrigerator coil is or where yours might be located, have no fear. This refrigerator maintenance tip is easy to do and incredibly effective. Your refrigerator's condenser coils work to release heat and keep your food cold. Dust, pet fur or other debris can clog these coils, preventing them from releasing heat properly and forcing your fridge's condenser to work harder. This will not only increase your energy bills but can even shorten the lifespan of your refrigerator!

The coils are usually located underneath a pop-off panel at the bottom of the unit, though some are on the back of the refrigerator. Vacuum them annually. This one refrigerator maintenance tip can help you save money on your energy bills, prevent expensive repairs, and extend the life of your refrigerator. If the condenser coils are at the bottom of refrigerator, there should also be a condenser fan located next to the coils that you can clean as well.

  1. Clean the Inside

Even if it doesn't require defrosting, cleaning your refrigerator reduces odors and helps you keep food rotated and used before spoiling - which saves you money!

To clean your fridge, simply turn off the unit and remove all food and any interior shelves or removable parts to clean separately and thoroughly. You can temporarily store the food in a cooler while you perform this refrigerator maintenance.

Use a simple solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda in quart of warm (not hot) water. After a thorough washing, rinse with clean water in a bucket using sponge or rag. Refrain from using harsh chemicals or abrasive scouring techniques. These can scratch the surface of the unit.

When you are finished don't forget to turn the unit back on and return your food to the refrigerator. Make sure your food hasn't spoiled while you were cleaning.

  1. Organize

Keeping the door closed as much as possible is a basic part of refrigerator maintenance (see more below). With proper organization, you’ll be able to find items easier and reduce the amount of time you need the fridge open to grab what you need. Keeping your refrigerator nice and organized can also help keep the door shut by preventing stray food items from blocking the seal.

  1. Check and Clean Seals and Gaskets

The seal and/or gaskets of your refrigerator doors play an important role in keeping the cool in and the heat out. As part of your refrigerator maintenance, it’s key to keep them clean. As you clean, check to make sure your seals and gaskets aren’t brittle or cracked. If you find extensive damages, replace them as soon as possible.

  1. Clean the Exterior

Interior cleaning is a common task on any list of refrigerator maintenance tips, but don’t forget the outside. With food and liquids constantly in motion, it’s easy for messes to find their way onto the outside of your refrigerator. Give your fridge a good wipe down to ensure your cooking space is as sanitary as possible.

If you have a stainless steel fridge, avoid using chemical cleaners that may possibly cause corrosive damage. White vinegar is a great alternative.

  1. Check the Temperature

A general rule of refrigerator tips is that refrigerators should be kept at temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Keep tabs on the temps in your fridge and make sure that it isn’t running warm. Food stored at unsafe temperatures may unsafe to eat.

  1. Close the Door

Simply put, your average refrigerator door should close by itself. If it's not closing on its own, check to see if anything inside the fridge is blocking the door. If there's nothing obstructing the door, try adjusting the support feet appropriately for proper closure.

Freezer Maintenance

Defrosting your freezer improves the efficiency of the unit. If you have frost in your freezer or ice-maker, defrost it according to your manufacturer's instructions. You should never allow a buildup of ice or heavy frost. Never scrape off frost or use sharp tools, or you may damage your refrigerator. You can also clean the inside of the freezer with the same baking soda and water solution described above.

Most upright freezers are self-defrosting. This saves you from having to defrost the freezer yourself. However, the water formed from that melted frost has to go somewhere. That somewhere is the drip pan and is usually located at the bottom of the refrigerator. These are designed to let the excess water evaporate but sometimes that process is slow, and bacteria or mold may grow here. Periodically check your drip pan and clean as necessary.

Standalone freezer maintenance is similar to upright freezer maintenance. One tip you should consider, however, is that you should try to avoid putting your standalone freezer in a part of your house that could get warm, such as in your garage. Ambient heat may mean your freezer has to work extra hard to keep at the right temperature. The general rule is that freezers should be kept at around 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Common Refrigerator and Freezer Issues

Frost & Temperature Problems

If you have problems with the unit forming frost quickly or experiencing temperature fluctuations, there are a number of possible causes. If you have many family members opening the door often, try to lessen the frequency and the length of time it is open. You may also have a leak in the door seal, and it may need cleaning or replacement. Over time, this seal can develop cracks or become brittle. Check your seal periodically.

Refrigerator Not Operating?

Check for a damaged fuse or tripped circuit breaker first. Make sure the unit is plugged in properly and the plug or cord has not been damaged. If this doesn't solve the problem, call for repairs.

We hope our freezer maintenance and refrigerator maintenance tips help you keep your food fresh and safe. For more information on general home maintenance, visit our Home Maintenance Guide, and if you need a home warranty, call us at 1-888-492-7359.

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