Summertime fridge maintenance

There’s only one thing worse than losing your A/C during the summer and that’s having your refrigerator conk out.  Summertime might be a more relaxed time than the rest of the year, but it’s certainly harder on your refrigerator. So it’s no surprise to learn that summer is when most refrigerator repair calls are made. Why? Higher temperatures and increased humidity mean your fridge has to work twice as hard to keep your ice tea cold and clear the extra moisture that accumulates inside.

Most refrigerators will last between 14 and 17 years. It’s possible, though, if it’s maintained properly, that your fridge can last longer. Believe it or not, maintaining your refrigerator is fairly easy for do-it-yourselfers.  Having a home warranty is helpful, too, in case the worst occurs. The warranty helps keep your summer stress-free because it can cover part, or all, of the costs needed to repair or replace a broken fridge. It’s still a good idea to make the following fridge-friendly tasks part of your overall home maintenance routine.

  1. Change the water filter. If your refrigerator has an ice maker or a water dispenser then it probably also has a water filter. This actually needs to be changed regularly. It’s a good idea to replace your filter every six months. Or check the owner’s manual to see what they recommend. Wondering why this is so important? Well, consider that water pulled through a dirty filter is often dirtier than before it was filtered. Ick!

  2. Clean, clean, clean. Your refrigerator can be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, so clean it regularly. Use white vinegar and baking soda to clean it because they’re environmentally-friendly and they’ll help keep the inside looking shiny and new. Remove all the food and scrub the trays and shelves. It’s important to check dates on jars and bottles and toss what is past its prime.  Make a point to wipe down the door gasket with white vinegar, too. This will keep the seal clean and strong.

  3. Check the temperature. This probably sounds obvious, but many people set the temperature when they initially purchase the fridge and then forget about it. That’s not good because there are variables that affect interior temperature, such as ambient temperature and humidity, how often the door is opened and whether or not the condenser is clean. Use a thermometer to regularly check the temperature. If it’s vacillating, this might indicate a problem.

  4. Clean the condenser coil. Generally, a refrigerator that is not cooling properly has a dirty condenser coil. That makes the fridge work harder, which in turn delivers higher energy bills, too. The condenser coil's job is to remove heat from your fridge and it’s located on the back or on the bottom.  If it’s blocked, your fridge can’t “breathe.” When a refrigerator can’t breathe, it loses its effectiveness. Dirty condenser coils are the most common cause of warm refrigerators in the summer. Clean the condenser coil regularly with your vacuum and a condenser coil brush.

  5. Clear the drain hole and drip tray. Some people don’t realize that there’s a drip tray at the bottom of most refrigerators. It’s there to remove condensation, but it also ends up collecting loose particles of food and the remnants of leaky containers. Regularly remove it and clean it in the sink. Once it’s removed you’ll also be able to see if you need to clean and clear the drain hole.

Do these simple tasks regularly and you’ll improve your refrigerator’s energy efficiency — and increase its lifespan. It’s a good idea to also check your fridge’s owner’s manual to see what other maintenance tasks the manufacturer recommends. Refrigerator maintenance is easy. You don’t need to be an appliance repairman to do it, and doing it means you might not ever have to call on one.

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.