|Spend 30 minutes on these simple maintenance steps to keep your fridge running in tip top shape. It's hard to believe, but six simple maintenance steps
will prevent almost 100 percent of refrigerator breakdowns and eliminate those service calls. Take these steps and you can forget about spoiled food, lost
time waiting for repair people and shelling out $70 an hour plus parts for the repair itself. In this story, we'll show you how to keep your fridge humming
and trouble-free. And we'll also tell you what to check if a problem does occur.
1. Check the door seals.
A loose seal allows cool air to seep out, wasting energy and causing your fridge to work harder than it needs to. First make sure the seals are free of food
residue. (Clean them about twice a year, using a toothbrush and a solution of baking soda and water.) Then try the dollar-bill test: Close the bill in the door
so that half is in and half is out. If it slips out easily, you may need to have the door seals checked by a pro.
2. Keep the coils clean.
When the condenser coils (see following page for more on parts) are covered with dust, the refrigerator can’t run efficiently. Twice a year, pull the
machine from the wall to reveal the coils in back (or snap off the grille, if the coils are on the bottom front), unplug the refrigerator, and vacuum with the
3. Condenser Fans
If the coils are located on the bottom of the fridge like ours, clean the condenser fan and the area around it. (Fridges with coils on the back don't have a
fan.) The fan circulates air across the coils to help cool them. At times, paper, dirt, dust and even mice can get sucked into the fan and bring it to a
4. Freezer Vents
These little vents on frost-free fridges allow air to circulate in the freezer. Don't block them or let crumbs or twist ties get sucked in around the evaporator
fan or clog the drain tube. To help save energy, keep your freezer about three quarters full to retain cold air. But don't pack it any fuller—the air needs to
5. Set the right temperature.
Keep the fridge between 37 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer at 0 degrees.
6. Fill it up (even if you never cook and only have takeout).
Refrigerators need “thermal mass” (a.k.a. lots of stuff) to maintain low temperatures. Cool foods and drinks help absorb warm air that streams in when
you open the door. If you’re the eat-out type or your fridge is too big for your needs, store a few jugs of water in there.
7. Clean and Clear Drip Openings
Drip openings allow water that has melted from the defrost cycle to flow down to a pan located by the compressor, where it evaporates. Check your
owner's manual for the location on your fridge. On cycle defrost fridges, a channel directs the water to a tube in the food compartment.
On frost-free types, look for a small cap under the crisper drawers that covers a hole, or an opening in the back of the freezer or refrigerator. If the drain
opening clogs, water will build up under the crisper drawers and eventually pour out onto the floor
8. Be prepared.
If the power goes out, keep the doors closed and use foods from the pantry. An unopened refrigerator will keep food safe for four hours; a freezer will
maintain its temperature for 48 hours if full and 24 hours if half-full.
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