6 tips to give your fridge a longer life

Most appliances have a pretty easy life — you use them for an hour or two, and then they have the rest of the day off. Not so the faithful fridge, which we expect to be on duty 24-7. Here's how to keep yours humming into the next decade.

6 tips to give your fridge a longer life

1. Keep it on the level

  • A refrigerator's motor and other parts are designed to work best when the machine is level.
  • Place a carpenter's level on top of the fridge, and check it from side to side and from back to front.
  • Inspect the legs or casters to be sure all are firmly on the floor.
  • If one is not on the floor, or the refrigerator is not level, adjust the legs until the unit is level in all directions.

    Here's how: 

  • Take off the grille at the bottom of the fridge — it's usually held on by clips and pops off when you pull up on the bottom edge.
  • If the legs are threaded, simply change the height by turning the legs with a wrench.
  • More likely, the unit has casters. In this case, turn the levelling screw clockwise to raise, or counterclockwise to lower, until the unit is level.
  • Prop the corner of the unit on a piece of wood to take the weight off the leg or caster while you are making adjustments. Check for level after adjusting.

2. Keep it cool

  • If you are designing a kitchen layout, plan to keep the refrigerator out of direct sunlight and away from items that generate heat such as the stove, a hot-air vent or a radiator.
  • The fridge's compressor won't have to turn on as often, and that will not only make your refrigerator last longer, but it will also lower your electric bill.
  • If your current fridge does receive direct sunlight, draw the shade over the window during the hours when the sun is hitting it.

3. Vacuum the condenser coils

  • The condenser under or behind your refrigerator gives off heat.
  • Dirt and dust on the condenser coils act like insulation, inhibiting dissipation of that heat.
  • Reduce the strain on your refrigerator's condenser by vacuuming the coils monthly — more often if you have pets that shed.
  • On frost-free models, the condenser coils are under the fridge.
  • To reach them, unplug the refrigerator and pop off the grille at the bottom by pulling up.
  • Put the crevice tool on your vacuum cleaner, and push the tool as far under the unit as you can. Be careful not to bend the condenser tubing or coil fins.
  • On models that you have to defrost, the coils are on the back of the fridge. Just pull the unit away from the wall slightly to vacuum them.

4. Give the condenser coils breathing room

Keep your fridge five to ten centimetres (a few inches) away from the wall so heat from the condenser coils will have plenty of room to vent away.

5. Keep a full freezer

  • It takes more energy to keep air at freezing temperatures than it does to keep solid items frozen.
  • So you'll prolong the life of your freezer and reduce your energy bills if you keep the freezer packed.
  • On the other hand, it's most efficient to leave room for air to circulate in the refrigerator compartment.

6. Keep your fridge clean

  • Wash the compartments, drawers, and shelves of your refrigerator twice a year with a solution of baking soda and water. Also clean the drain pan with warm, soapy water.
  • Wipe the door gaskets every couple of months. Be sure to clean up spills promptly.
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