Cooktop Cove: 7 critical refrigerator maintenance tips that are often missed
By Caitlyn Knuth
When it comes to storing food and beverages, the refrigerator plays a vital role in your kitchen. For most homeowners, it's an appliance they use daily and one that runs continuously. Although it’s easy to remember to restock your fridge with food and drinks when groceries get low, taking time to perform regular maintenance doesn’t always come as naturally.
It can be easy to overlook the necessary steps to keep your refrigerator running smoothly and efficiently. Even though a quick exterior wipe down can help your fridge look like new, forgetting to take care of internal parts could lead to its breaking down at the most inopportune time. Consider incorporating these seven critical maintenance steps to make the most of your refrigerator's capabilities and life span.
1. Clean the gasket
As most homeowners know, the gasket is the rubber seal that keeps the refrigerator and freezer doors closed, and cold air safely locked inside. With time and use, grime and dirt can accumulate on the gasket, leading to gaps. When these gaps get too severe, cold air can begin to seep out, negatively affecting the items being cooled as well as energy efficiency. Taking time to wipe down the gaskets regularly with a dishcloth and standard cleaning solution is a good way to extend the life of this seal. When age is a factor, replace the sealing strip, a relatively inexpensive repair.
2. Wipe down shelving
Soak a microfiber cloth with all-purpose cleaner to tackle tough stains and buildup that find their way onto interior shelving units. Although these spills aren’t always easy to see, if you perform a quick, weekly inspection to reveal buildup on shelving, and simply wipe those areas clean, it can make a big difference. Removing spills and stains also helps to diminish any unpleasant refrigerator odors. If wiping the evidence away isn’t enough, consider adding a fresh bowl of cut-up lemons to the shelves regularly or a store-bought version such as a Fridge Aid deodorizer.
3. Replace the water filter
Just as it’s important for you to regularly replace air filters in the furnace, it's essential that you also replace water filters in your refrigerator. The recommended replacement time for these filters is at least once every six months. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for specifics on how to replace the water filter, and if it’s tricky to remember to do this, try making furnace and water filter changes a combined effort.
4. Brush down condenser coils
Typically hidden beneath your refrigerator or on the backside is a collection of condenser coils that helps the appliance to function efficiently. Their hidden location makes them particularly susceptible to dust, dirt and debris that finds its way underneath the appliance. As buildup accumulates, there’s a good chance noticeable changes will be seen in your fridge's performance. To avoid this, pull out your refrigerator at least once every three months to clean the coils. This can be done with a vacuum nozzle or, for a deeper clean, take a scrubbing brush underneath.
5. Keep an eye on the temperature
It’s easy to assume that once the temperature is set in the refrigerator, you don't have to worry about it. Unfortunately, older models may lack easy-to-read thermometers, whereas newer refrigerators often come with knobs that are easy to bump out of place. Keeping an eye on the internal temperature of both the refrigerator and freezer is important, not only for appliance efficiency but for food safety. Make sure on a weekly basis that the freezer is set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and the refrigerator is set between 37 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid any potential risks.
6. Level the base
Unbeknownst to many homeowners, nearly every refrigerator comes with an adjustable base that’s used to keep it level. An uneven refrigerator can lead to doors that pop open and food that spoils quickly. Save time and money, and avoid frustrating moments by setting a level on top of the fridge at least once a month. If the level reveals an uneven surface, give a quick twist to the refrigerator's feet. That's usually enough to get things back on track.
7. Empty the ice bucket
Drinking a cold glass of ice water dispensed directly from your refrigerator is a modern amenity many people enjoy. What’s less enjoyable is the strange odor that can come from that glass when it's filled with ice from a fridge that hasn’t had an ice bucket change in a while. Although it doesn’t always come to mind, regularly dumping out the ice bucket gives the ice maker the opportunity to replace it with fresh cubes. This makes drinks far more enjoyable and keeps your fridge smelling fresh.
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