How your refrigerator works


Your refrigerator is an important appliance that you use 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A malfunction can result in the loss of hundreds of dollars worth of food, not to mention at least a few nights of eating out while you figure out your options. Those expenses can add up quickly. 

On top of the cost, nobody has time in the midst of a busy week to deal with the stress and time that come from a broken refrigerator. To be sure that you are decreasing your odds of problems by giving your fridge the best possible care, it's important to first understand how the appliance works.

How it works
When you're outside on a hot day, your body produces sweat as a cooling mechanism. As the sweat evaporates off of your skin, it takes some of the heat with it and your body is cooled. Refrigerators work on a similar principle, according to the California Energy Commission. On older models you'll find a tube that loops back and forth on the back or bottom. The tube is attached to a pump which pushes the chemical Freon through the coils where the liquid becomes a gas. The process sucks up heat, cooling the coils. The vapor is then turned back into a liquid and the process begins again.

Modern refrigerators work a bit differently. Because Freon was discovered to be harmful to the environment when released, most models now use other forms of liquid refrigerant. According to How Stuff Works, a compressor compresses the gas, heating it up as it's pressurized, condensing into liquid. The liquid then flows through an expansion valve and vaporizes, dramatically dropping the temperature, which is how your refrigerator stays cold. The gas is then sucked up by the compressor and the cycle begins again. 


                                         Learning how your fridge works will help you identify problems. 

What you need to know
You don't need to be a chemist to figure out what's wrong with your fridge. Many things that can go wrong only require a rudimentary understanding of the appliance to know how to fix a refrigerator. 

For example, while the ice makers and water dispensers in most modern fridges can be helpful, they can cause leaks in the system. If you enter your kitchen to find puddles on the floor, or notice that your water bill is higher than usual, the problem could be caused by a leak in the valve of the pump that pushes water through the system. Total Protect's home warranty gives you 24/7 protection for these kinds of issues.

No ice? Don't go without during the last hot days of the summer.  When you protect your home with Total Protect, you don't have to settle for lukewarm drinks. Problems with the ice maker can be caused by an issue with the water valve, something one of our 40,000 pre-screened technicians can easily fix for you.

If your refrigerator is cycling on more frequently or using up more energy, Popular Mechanics reported that your problem could be with condenser coils under the fridge. As the coils can easily collect dust, vacuuming them may take care of the problem. 

Understanding how a fridge works and knowing how to recognize common problems are both helpful, but they don't replace having a good home protection warranty. With Total Protect, you can rest easy knowing that your refrigerator is protected from the wear and tear or daily life, something that's not typically covered by homeowner insurance policies. 

When you take care of your freezer, air conditioner and stove, you'll be able to host great get-togethers all throughout the season. What other steps to you take to prepare your home for summer soirees?

The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.