Your refrigerator might be one of the most important appliances in your home, and when it’s on the fritz, it can really ruin your day – or your week. A lot of us are staying home more these days, and that probably means more trips to the refrigerator for a meal or snack.
But the extra use can put added wear and tear on your fridge, increasing the likelihood of an expensive repair or – even worse – a refrigerator replacement. The typical cost is $200 to $1,500 to repair and/or replace a refrigerator.
Want to avoid these extra costs as long as possible? Follow these tips to increase the efficiency of your refrigerator and extend its lifespan.
Keep the Doors Closed
While you might be at home more these days, it’s important to resist extra trips to the fridge. When you open the refrigerator door multiple times – or leave it open while you look for a snack, you’re letting the cool air escape. This can raise the temperature, which causes the compressor to run more, straining this important component and using more energy to cool the fridge back down.
Set it at the Right Temperature
According to the Food and Drug Administration, your refrigerator temperature should be set at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer should be set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain food safety. Setting your temperature too low is another way to put stress on your refrigerator’s compressor – the lower the temperature, the more frequently the compressor will run to cool your fridge, and the more electricity you’ll use. Generally, a refrigerator setting of 37 degrees Fahrenheit will keep your food at the appropriate temperature while avoiding additional wear and tear.
Clean the Condenser Coils
Condenser coils are another important component of your refrigerator. Located on the back or the bottom of the front of your fridge, these coils help release heat and trigger the compressor to run, which cools your fridge. They’re crucial to the operation of your refrigerator, and keeping them clean is one of the most important maintenance tasks you can do. Unfortunately, because of their location, these coils can trap dust and debris like pet hair. To keep your condenser coils clean, give them a quick brushing or vacuuming once a year – before the beginning of summer is a great time to do this.
Keep the Top Clean
Depending on the amount of storage you have in your kitchen, it can be tempting to place additional food, drinks or even small appliances on top of your refrigerator. But this can do more harm than good. Placing items on top of your fridge prevents heat from escaping the appliance, and this can also force the compressor to work harder, gobbling up energy and raising your electric bill.
Create Space for Air Flow
On a similar note, it’s important to provide enough space around your refrigerator for proper air flow. You need room at the top, as mentioned, but you should also leave a few inches behind your refrigerator and on the sides. A refrigerator that’s placed too snugly can’t adequately remove heat and won’t cool properly. Another thing to consider is the proximity of other appliances. Your refrigerator should be placed as far away from other heat sources in your kitchen, like stoves, ovens and dishwashers, as possible. The extra heat will just cause it to run more, so if your fridge is too close to another appliance, you might want to consider moving it if you’re able.
You might need your refrigerator now more than ever, so don’t neglect it. Remember these simple maintenance tips to keep it running longer – and more efficiently.
*Repair/Replacement costs ranges are the twentieth and eightieth percentile of U.S. costs as reported in A Study of Homeowners’ Appliance and Home Systems Service Experiences, a nationwide survey of homeowners conducted in 2019 by ClearVantage for American Home Shield. Further reproduction or use is expressly prohibited.