Refrigerators, like many home appliances, can be extremely expensive to service and replace. According to Mr. Appliance, the average fridge lasts about 15 years, with a variance between 10 years to 19 years. So the more you can do to keep yours running, the less you’ll spend over the lifetime of a house. Follow these tips to keep your refrigerator running efficiently for as long as possible.
Keep it clean
A dirty interior won’t affect the efficiency rating or the lifetime of the fridge unless things get really out of hand, but it will grow “fridge rot,” which will make your food spoil faster. Considering how much the average person spends on food every week, this is potentially the biggest drain on your wallet that a refrigerator can cause over its lifetime. Make sure you clean all interior surfaces regularly to eliminate any mold growing inside.
Vacuum the coils
The coils on the back or bottom of your refrigerator can easily get clogged with hair, dust or whatever else is floating around back there. If you don’t get to this every few months, a buildup can eventually lead to your compressor burning out. Just by using the hose extension of your vacuum to suck everything up, you can keep your fridge running for longer and with greater efficiency, which will lower your monthly electricity payments.
Adjust the temperature
The ideal temperature inside a refrigerator is between 37 degrees and 40 degrees — any hotter and you risk faster bacteria growth on your food, but any colder and your fridge is working harder than it should be. Not only does a too-cold refrigerator risk frost burn on food near the cooling element, it also raises your electricity bill and can lead to your appliance burning out faster. If you have a thermometer around, check your refrigerator’s reading against that of your thermometer to make sure that it’s accurate. If not, turn the thermostat in your fridge up or down as necessary.
Check the seals
The seals around the outside of your refrigerator doors are what keep the cold in and the heat out. One of the fastest ways to overtax your fridge is to let these seals deteriorate, allowing cold air out and forcing the appliance to work harder to maintain a low temperature. Clean your seals regularly, and if they are falling apart, make sure to get them replaced as soon as possible (something a Cinch service partner can do with no problem for a covered appliance).
While you’re at it, check to make sure that your refrigerator is level. If it’s not, even perfectly good seals might not be meeting the door in the right place. Even a small gap can cost you a lot of money over the lifetime of the appliance. If your fridge isn’t level, many models have screw-type legs underneath that you can adjust as necessary.
Clean the drip pan
Underneath most refrigerators is a drip pan for condensation to collect. This can fill up with mold and dirt, which is bad for your appliance. Every few months, make sure you pull out the drip pan and clean it out before replacing it.
Maintain anything specific to your refrigerator
Some older fridges don’t come with standard auto-defrost. You’ll know whether yours does or not by the frost that either continuously builds up on the walls or doesn’t. If you do have frost buildup, every few months you should take everything out and unplug the appliance. Once the frost has melted, wash the inside of the fridge before putting back your food. Don’t forget to keep your food cold some other way while you’re at it!
If your refrigerator comes with a water filter, don’t forget that just like any other water filtration system, the filter element has to be replaced regularly. If you wait too long, the water running through your filter will come out even dirtier than from the tap.
Consider a Cinch home protection plan
A Cinch home protection plan will protect a handful of your home’s major appliances in the event of an unexpected malfunction. Refrigerators represent a large investment to most families, and an unexpected breakdown can be difficult to manage. By reducing the cost of any breakdown or repair into a fixed, low monthly payment, you’ll know that your appliances are safe without having to worry about the possibility of a sudden, high expenditure.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.