We have talked a lot about how to do some refrigerator repairs, but there are some things you can do for this appliance to help stave off a lot of those repairs. Refrigerators are built to last a pretty long time, but they can last even longer when given the proper attention. So if you just had to make a repair to your refrigerator or are dedicated to yearly maintenance for your appliances, here are a few things you can do to help give your refrigerator a longer lifespan until your refrigerator needs repair again.
Clean the Condenser Coils
This is easily the most important maintenance task for your refrigerator, and if you had to pick one thing, it should be this one. Over time, dust and pet hair will build upon the condenser coils of your refrigerator. These coils are meant to dissipate heat, and when they are insulated by dust or hair, they can’t do that as efficiently. This means that your refrigerator is working harder to cool itself and that means that all the working parts are becoming worn down faster. The condenser coils should be cleaned at least once per year, but you may have to do it more if you have pets.
To clean the condenser coils, you need to first locate where they are. Some models will have them along the back while other models will have them along the bottom. Once located, you will want to unplug the refrigerator then remove the protective grill over the condenser coils by just pulling it off in most cases.
There are several different ways you can clean the condenser coils and the toe grill. They make specific condenser coil brushes that do the job, but any sort of brush will technically work. Snow brushes or brooms also work well, but the key is to be gentle so that you don’t damage the coils as you brush the dusts and hair off them.
What you don’t want to do is try to vacuum or blow the dust off the coils. Trying to suck the dust off won’t dislodge the layer that is on the actual coils while blowing will send so much dust and hair all-around your kitchen. You don’t want that. It is easiest to just brush the dust away and vacuum it up. Once done, the toe grill can be put back on and the refrigerator can be plugged back in.
Clean the Drain Tube and Drain Pan
In order to keep your freezer from frosting over, your refrigerator will run a defrost cycle that melts away the frost on the evaporator. Of course, this water needs to go somewhere, so when it melts, it drips down to the drain tube and then drops to the drain pan where it evaporates away. You want to check both of these areas at least every few months to make sure everything is going okay. If the drain tube gets clogged, which can happen as it is only a small little hole, your refrigerator can start leaking that water out. You want to make sure food particles are cleared from this area.
As for the drain pan, you want to make sure that the water is evaporating out of this area in a timely manner. If it sits, it can attract mold, mildew, or even insects. You will want to give this a wash with soap and water once every year as well.
Adjust Doors and Check For Level
Over time, especially if there is a habit of leaving refrigerator doors open for longer than just a quick check, the appliance can fall out of level. The weight of the doors on the hinges when open can bend them or loosen the screws, it can also cause the refrigerator to tilt slightly on its legs. When a refrigerator isn’t level, it puts new stress on some of the parts.
When the doors aren’t properly adjusted, it can cause warm air to seep into your appliance as it is not forming a proper seal. It is an easy check that you can do once per year by putting a level on top of your refrigerator and on top of the door to make sure that everything is flush. If the actual appliance is off level, then raise the front legs up or down to fix it. If the doors are off level, usually you just need to tighten some screws. The worst-case scenario is that you need to replace the hinges as they have bent. This is usually as simple as replacing the hinges on any other door, so don’t be intimidated.
Clean and Inspect the Door Gasket
The door gasket is the plastic seal that runs around the outer edge of the doors on your refrigerator. This seal does what you would expect a seal to do. It keeps the cold air inside and the warm air outside. Unfortunately, it does not often have the same lifespan as your appliance. It can get old, and when it does, the rubber becomes brittle and can crack. When this happens, it no longer performs its function as a seal. Once a seal has aged, the only thing you can do is replace it. The process of doing so will differ between models, but in most cases, there are screws that secure the frame, which secures the seal. By removing this frame, you can remove the old seal and install a new one.
You should also be aware that the gasket is typically a big area where condensation can occur, especially if you have a refrigerator with a freezer above the fresh food compartment. When you open the freezer, the cold, and warm air meet and form moisture on the top of that seal. When moisture appears, that means that mold and mildew might grow. To prevent this, you want to regularly clean the seal gently with a white vinegar solution. Vinegar will kill mold and mildew but won’t risk damaging the gasket like bleach would. You also want to scrub gently as excess force could ruin the seal as well.