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A Year’s Worth of (Easy!) Fridge Maintenance

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Amy Thomson
07.28.16

The life expectancy of a fridge is anywhere from 10-20 years. That’s a pretty big range. What makes one fridge last longer than the other? Maintenance!

Some tasks need to happen more often than others, but most of them are pretty quick. Here’s a breakdown of the best ways and times to give your fridge some love:

Once a Year:

Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

Cleaning your refrigerator coils keeps your fridge cooler with less work. It takes about an hour and an annual cleaning should do the trick. You will want to start by shutting your refrigerator off, then you can locate your coils and use a vacuum and a paint brush to remove all the dust. This will allow them to work at top efficiency. Consult our step-by-step guide for more details.

Check the Temperature

The ideal temperature to keep food cool is 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder than that creates an energy suck and warmer can cultivate bacteria growth. Keep this in mind when you’re cleaning the coils and make sure your temp is set to the optimum degree. Check out this guide for more info on checking your fridge's temp.

Adjust the Fridge Level

Crooked fridge doors don’t close properly, requiring more energy to keep the inside cool. Use a level on the top of the fridge and adjust the feet (either with a wrench or twisting by hand) until the level reads horizontal.

Make Sure Your Fridge Has Space to Breathe

You want about one inch separating the fridge from any walls to ensure circulation. Pro Tip: Don’t store anything above your fridge, like cereals or flour, this traps heat. Looking for the best place for a fridge in the kitchen? Check out the three laws to refrigerator placement.

Twice a Year:

Replace Your Water Filter

The suggested regimen for this task—which is keeping the water you drink clean and healthy—is every six months. You can find instructions in your fridge manual or online. Also be sure to check out our quick step-by-step!

Defrost the Freezer

Start by clearing out all the food and moving it to a cooler. Turn the freezer temperature to off and use a warm rag to start clearing out all the ice and frosted corners. If you’re having trouble defrosting the area, consult our step-by-step guide for more tips on how to completely defrost before you return the frozen items.

Freshen Up the Rubber Seal

Also known as a gasket, the seal along your fridge door is what traps the cold air in and keeps your cheese cool. Try closing the door on a piece of paper, and if the paper easily slips out of the closed door, you may want to have your seals checked by a professional. Until then, use a soapy rag to clean the gasket and then apply some Vaseline to moisturize the rubber. This will help prevent cracking.

Four Times a Year:

Clean the Drip Pan

Your drip pan, which is what catches condensation, can collect some perishables (a rogue piece of lettuce, perhaps?) along the way. Drip pans are generally located at the bottom of your refrigerator. You can use a flashlight to follow the drainage coming from the main storage area to find the pan, which should be removed carefully. Rinse it with mild soap; and while you’re at it, make sure the drainage area is clean and remove any blockages with the same soapy rag.

Clean the Refrigerator

A quarterly deep clean is the best way to prevent silent spills from causing mold and other bacterial growth. For this, you will need to remove all the perishables and drawers and give the surfaces a good scrub with an all-purpose cleaner. Want more specifics? We have a step-by-step guide for this one, too!

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