Caring for Your Refrigerator and Freezer
You put your refrigerator through a lot. You go to it when you need a midnight snack. You use it to preserve science experiments. You rely on it to proudly display your family's achievements. As the centre of your home, you count on your fridge to always perform at its best.
In an earlier post, we discussed the importance of buying the right refrigerator. Once you've found the perfect fridge for your home, it's equally important to care for it. Refrigerators are a major financial investment, so you'll need to take proper maintenance steps to protect that investment.
Maintaining Your Refrigerator
Is it just us, or does food seem to be getting more and more expensive? While you can't avoid sticker shock every time you stock up on groceries, you can save money by caring for your refrigerator.
Check the Door's Seals
Your refrigerator works around the clock to keep your food and drinks cold. This in and of itself uses a lot of energy, but your refrigerator might be eating up more energy than you think. If your door's seals are dirty or worn, your fridge has to work even harder to cool food.
Check the seals around your refrigerator to ensure no air escapes. A great way to test your door's seal is to close the door on a dollar bill. The seal should be able to hold the money tight. If you can easily slide the bill out or if it falls out, you need to replace the door seal.
Be sure to perform the same test on your freezer.
Many new refrigerators and freezers come with an automatic defrost option. While this is convenient, it also uses a lot of energy and will hike up your electric bill. If you're interested in saving money, manually defrost your freezer. This uses about 35% less energy than automatic defrosting.
To manually defrost your freezer:
- Turn it off and empty its contents
- Remove trays, drawers, and shelves, if possible.
- Locate the drainage hose and point it away from the freezer.
- Place newspapers or towels around the freezer to prevent puddles.
- Let the ice melt. You can use a fan or hair dryer to speed up this process,
just be sure to keep all cords clear of water.
- Wipe up all the water after it's melted.
- Clean and dry the freezer's interior before turning it back on.
Defrost your freezer every six months, or on an as-needed basis. If your freezer contains more than 1.25 centimeters (about .5 inch) of frost buildup, it's time defrost.
Organize Your Freezer's Contents
It's easy to forget about that leftover spaghetti or extra batch of cookies you put in the freezer. Come up with some sort of organization system to keep your freezer from morphing into a cave haunted by ghosts of dinners past.
Here are a few tips:
- Keep new foods at the back of the freezer, and move older foods toward the front.
- Sort through your freezer on a monthly basis. Throw away food that is past its
expiration date or that has severe freezer burn.
Clean the Condenser Coils
Just like you rely on the refrigerator to keep your foods cool, your refrigerator relies on its condenser coils to produce cold air. Condenser coils attract dirt, dust, and grime. When these things build up, the condenser coils can't radiate heat properly.
Take the following steps to clean your condenser coils twice a year:
- Unplug the refrigerator and pull it away from the wall.
- If your condenser coils are on the bottom of the fridge, remove the base grille.
- Use a towel or brush to remove dust, dirt, and debris from the coils.
- Sweep or vacuum the floor around the refrigerator.
Clean condenser coils will save you money in the short and long term. They cost less to operate on a daily basis, and they'll also prolong your appliance's life.
Keep the Fridge Away from Heating Appliances
Help your refrigerator out and keep it away from anything that produces heat in your home, including dishwashers, microwaves, and dryers. Heat exposure forces the refrigerator to work harder and use more energy to cool food.
Additionally, let hot food cool on the counter before placing it in the refrigerator. This cuts down on the amount of heat the food radiates in your fridge.
Caring for Your Freezer
While the refrigerator is the centre of your home, the freezer is often an abyss of excess frozen chicken and long-forgotten food. Luckily, freezers are low-maintenance appliances that are easy to care for.
Keep the Freezer Full
Freezers perform at their peak when they are full, so don't feel bad stuffing as much as possible in there. Just remember not to block the fan that circulates cold air.
The opposite is true for refrigerators. Whereas freezers don't require a lot of air circulation, refrigerators thrive on it. To keep your food fresh, be sure to leave some breathing room in your refrigerator.
Manually Defrost the Freezer