The kitchen is often called the heart of a home, both because the food is so central to our existence and because meals are an intensely social experience. Breaking bread with family and friends offers an opportunity for bonding and building connections that may last a lifetime.
If the kitchen is central to the home, the refrigerator/freezer is central to the kitchen. The ingredients we depend on for cooking are kept fresh thanks to this cold storage unit. Like any mechanical object, however, it can break down or function inefficiently if it isn’t cared for.
Take note of the following tips and your refrigerator/freezer should serve you long and well – a unit should generally last 10 to 15 years:
Care for the condenser coils – the parts responsible for removing heat from your appliance – by cleaning them twice a year. When dirt and dust build up on these radiator-like parts — found behind or beneath your unit – your refrigerator/freezer finds it harder to remove heat and uses more energy to do so.
Over the long term, dirty coils can do damage to the unit, so break out your vacuum cleaner and a long-handled bristle brush for cleaning, unplug your refrigerator and clean according to the instructions in your owner’s manual.
When placing the refrigerator/freezer in your kitchen, make sure there is enough space for air to circulate around the coils. If they are located at the back of the unit, leave 2.5 centimeters of space between coils and wall. If they are beneath the unit, space is not an issue.
The gaskets are the rubber seals that circle your refrigerator/freezer doors. Their job is to keep warm air from entering your unit. Clean them periodically with an all-purpose cleaner. They do weaken over time and don’t seal properly, but are generally easy and inexpensive to replace, so keep an eye on them.
If they aren’t sealing well, your unit will consume more energy and your bills will increase.
If your freezer isn’t a self-defrosting unit, you’ll need to get rid of the frost buildup yourself or the freezer won’t cool your food as efficiently and will require more energy as it makes the attempt. When a half-centimetre of frost builds up on the interior, unplug the unit or turn off the thermostat, remove the food and allow the frost to melt.
Wipe away the puddles, restart the unit and wait until it returns to its usual temperature before replacing the food.
If you have a self-defrosting unit, its cooling coils heat up every six to eight hours to melt frost accumulating on the coils. Although the water evaporates, you’ll still need to clean the pan beneath the refrigerator with a bit of detergent to prevent odors and bacteria from accumulating.
On many models, you can remove the lower grill and slide the pan out; check your manual.
Freezers work best when they’re full, but not so full that air can’t circulate. Frozen items keep each other cold and help maintain a cool freezer temperature. If your freezer has free space, don’t run out and purchase food that you don’t need.
Simply fill some empty milk containers, pop bottles or other storage containers – but not to the brim, since freezing water expands – and use them to take up space.
Overloading the refrigerator, however, isn’t cool (pun intended). If you load the refrigerator to capacity, you may block the freezer vents and require the motor and condenser to work harder than they should; damage may result – the strain can cause the motor to burn out.
Extra strain can also lead to higher energy bills since the unit will be working harder to cool its contents. In addition, if there is inadequate space for air to circulate, the items in your refrigerator won’t cool properly. This could damage the food you have stored, making it unsafe to eat.
Just as running too frequently may hurt your knees, running constantly is a sign that your refrigerator may not be working properly. Check all of the obvious potential problems before calling a repair shop: space for proper airflow between coils and the wall and a proper gasket seal. Don’t ignore it – you’ll use more electricity than you should.
Refrigerators are essential to modern home life in the 21st century, but they are expensive if you need a new one every year or two. Take care of your refrigerator and it will provide you with years of service.
Check out these related articles:
Even when you take precautions, accidents can happen. Home insurance is one way to protect your family against financial losses from accidents. And, home insurance can start from as little as $12/month.