3 routine checks to make sure your fridge is running smoothly

We expect a lot from our fridges, so we need to give a little back in return. Do these three routine checks of your unit to ensure everything is in proper working order.

3 routine checks to make sure your fridge is running smoothly

1. Do a temperature check

  • To keep your fridge and freezer humming along at maximum efficiency, it's a good idea to take their temperature occasionally.
  • Let a glass of water cool near the centre of the refrigerator compartment for 24 hours.
  • Then put a refrigerator-freezer thermometer (sold at houseware stores) in the water for a few minutes. Look for a reading between 1°C to 4°C (34°F and 40°F).
  • In the freezer, insert the thermometer between two frozen food packages. Look for a reading between -18°C to -15°C (0°F and 4°F). If necessary, adjust the temperature setting and repeat the test.

2. Test the door light switch

  • If the light inside your refrigerator doesn't shut off when you close the door, the heat of the bulb will keep the motor running overtime and will cause poor refrigeration.
  • The switch has a button or a lever that's depressed by the door when it closes.
  • You can check by pushing it in by hand. If the light stays on when you press the switch, unplug the refrigerator, gently pry out the switch with a screwdriver, and disconnect the wires.
  • Attach the clip and probe of a continuity tester to the switch terminals.
  • If the switch is working properly, the tester should light when the button is out and go off when it's pushed in. Replace a faulty switch with a duplicate from the manufacturer or an appliance store.
  • A continuity tester — which usually looks like a screwdriver with a cord coming out of the top of the handle — is really a small flashlight that lights up when its probe and the clip on its cord are connected to complete a circuit.

3. Check the fan switch

  • In some frost-free models, there is a second door switch that turns on the evaporator fan when the door is closed.
  • If this switch fails, air can't circulate and frost builds up in the freezer.
  • When you press down this switch, the fan should go on. (With the compressor and fan running, you should be able to feel a draft in the freezer air duct.)
  • If the fan doesn't go on, test the switch.
  • If it's working properly, the tester should light when you press the button and go out when you release it.
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