How To Extend the Life of Your Refrigerator

By Amy DeYoung

Did you know that about 25% of all refrigerators are expected to develop problems in two to five years? On top of that, the median cost of an appliance repair is about $162, which is no small cost, especially if your refrigerator requires multiple repairs throughout its life span.

So, how can you extend the life of your refrigerator and get the most out of this pricey but important appliance? Keep reading for our top tips for extending the life of a refrigerator.

Keep the Top of the Fridge Clear

Did you know that storing things on top of your fridge actually interferes with your fridge’s ability to dissipate heat? This disruption forces your fridge to work harder, wearing it out faster.

So, while it’s common to store boxes and items on top of your fridge, we recommend clearing it off or limiting the things you keep up there to reduce the strain on your fridge. The same goes for cabinets above the refrigerator. Ensure that your cabinets are at least 1 inch above the fridge so that your fridge’s airflow isn’t disturbed.

Set Your Fridge to the Right Temperature

Having your fridge set at too warm of a temperature can lead to spoiled food. On the other hand, having your fridge’s temperature set too cool wastes energy and can cause some of your food to freeze.

The recommended temperature for a fridge is about 37°F, which is cool enough to keep your food fresh without producing ice crystals or overworking your fridge.

In addition to setting your fridge to the right temperature, never put boiling hot food inside. Having hot food in your fridge forces it to work overtime against the warm air and can cause surrounding food items to heat up.

Clean Your Fridge Regularly

We know that nobody loves cleaning out their fridge. However, it’s an important maintenance task that prevents many issues, including foul fridge odor, the development of fungus, and food loss. On top of that, proper cleaning is necessary to extend your fridge’s life expectancy.

Clean the interior of your fridge with warm soapy water monthly. If you notice a foul scent, place a bowl filled with baking soda or a bowl with vinegar and lime inside the fridge to absorb the bad odor.

If your refrigerator has a drip pan, make sure that you regularly clean this too. Cleaning your drip pan every two weeks should prevent disgusting buildup and anything leaking to other parts of your fridge.

If you have a water filter, make sure that you replace this regularly. The typical rule of thumb for water filters is a replacement every six months. However, check with your specific water filter for the best recommendation.

In addition to cleaning your fridge, make sure that you routinely defrost your fridge. Older refrigerators are less likely to have an auto defrost option, so you may need to do this manually, depending on your fridge model.

Place Your Fridge in an Optimal Area

Your refrigerator is essentially a window air conditioner, meaning that it lacks proper ventilation on its own, which can lead to a damaged compressor.

As a result, placing your fridge near appliances that regularly get hot, such as your stove, will put additional pressure on your refrigerator’s compressor, wearing the device out faster. While it’s understandable that your fridge needs to be in the kitchen, we recommend that you keep it away from hot spots, windows, direct sunlight, or hot stoves, if possible.

Regular Tune-ups

In addition to regular cleaning, schedule frequent appliance tune-ups to have your fridge assessed for any cold air leaks, deteriorating pieces, and more.

If you notice any issues, such as frost buildup on the condenser coil outside or a loose fridge door seal that won’t stay shut, have these immediately addressed by a professional. These issues can lead to your fridge breaking down if not appropriately addressed or wasted energy consumption.

Don’t Empty or Overfill Your Fridge

Neither overfilling nor emptying your fridge is a good idea. Your refrigerator relies on smooth, cool air circulation inside the fridge to keep your food cold. If you have too many items in your fridge, this strains your fridge’s compressor as it works harder to keep your food at your desired temperature.

On the other hand, an empty fridge may not seem like a problem. Still, the lack of items can cause your fridge to work overtime to cool the hot air and empty space rather than the food products, which retain a cool temperature easier than the empty space.

As a result, we recommend that you keep your fridge neither overfilled nor empty. A healthy number of items in the fridge allows it to work as designed.

Closing Thoughts

Most of us don’t give much thought to refrigerator maintenance except for cleaning up the occasional spill. However, leaving sticky spills and not routinely checking your fridge for efficiency issues or worn-down parts can quickly lead to costly repairs or even force you to need to replace your fridge prematurely.

Don’t let this be you. Keep up with routine cleaning and maintenance, and set your fridge up so it can function optimally to extend your refrigerator’s life span.

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