10 Steps to Help Refrigerators Live Longer
By Donald Grummett
Every summer there are countless refrigerators that die unexpectedly. This is often due to the increase in temperature and the associated humidity. The following are a few suggestions to help your appliance make it through the next summer heat wave.
- Don’t use as an air conditioner. You may laugh, but this is particularly common with the elderly. They often leave the refrigerator door open in the hope of cooling the room. Or they may stand in front of the refrigerator trying to get cool themselves. A chair left sitting in front of the refrigerator is a sure sign.
- Don’t overload defrost system. Keep containers of water or juice sealed. Open containers of liquid will increase the amount of moisture deposited onto the cooling coil. This will cause the compressor to run longer. Run times of 16 hours per day are normal for refrigerators. Extra moisture could easily increase this to 20 hours per day.
- Turn off icemaker.Icemakers will produce a harvest every four to six hours. This is more ice than most families can consume. All the exposed ice cubes will stress the refrigerator in hot weather. Turn off the icemaker until more is required. Depending upon the size of ice bucket, you will probably only need to turn it on every few days.Put new ice cubes into a sealed container rather than leaving exposed in the ice bucket.Have even seen a customer turn off icemaker and cover the ice bucket with plastic wrap. They left the front of bucket open enough to grab cubes when needed. Customer claimed this idea made ice cubes last longer, and refrigerator run less.
- Doors not sealing properly.Gaskets full of holes or cracks allow warm air to enter. Or gaskets that are not clean may not seal properly. Clean surfaces with light detergent and warm water.To test the gaskets use a dollar bill. While holding dollar bill against cabinet close door so that gasket seals. Pull the dollar bill out. It should have a resistance to being pulled out from under gasket. Use this method to test full perimeter. Resistance felt should be uniform around whole gasket.
- Door warped. When the refrigerator door closes it should seal along its full length. If it seals at one point, but not another, the door itself may be warping out of alignment. This will need to be corrected by a service company. Until they get there try closing the door firmly (close hard, but don’t slam shut). This will often force door to realign temporarily.
- Don’t overload. A standard refrigerator can accept about 50 pounds of new food per day. If you are overloading the food may appear not to cool properly. For example: Why add a whole case of warm soda to a refrigerator on a hot day. Add only what is required for that day. Add extra beverages just before bedtime. The refrigerator will have all night to cool them down.
- Don’t overload door shelves. Modern refrigerators can have extremely large door shelves that are easily overloaded. Heavy items such as glass bottles or large soda containers should be moved inside. The weight may be pulling the door away from the cabinet. This can cause the gasket to stretch until small openings appear at the corners of the gasket. Warm air can enter.
- Teach children refrigerator etiquette. Children are notorious for standing in front of the freezer door trying to decide which treat to take. Even a few minutes with the door open can cause the refrigerator stress. Every time it is opened the cold air will roll out. As it rolls out the warmer room air will enter the refrigerator's interior. This warm air invasion forces the appliance to run longer trying to produce more cold air.
- Don’t block air circulation. Remove bags, brooms, trays, etc, from the space between outside of refrigerator and surrounding walls. The refrigerator must be allowed to circulate air around itself. Blocking the airflow will cause the compressor to overheat. An overheated compressor can quickly burn out. If refrigerator temperature suddenly becomes erratic suspect the compressor is overworking.
- Keep level. If not level the cabinet can go out of square. This is particularly important with newer refrigerators because they have very little internal bracing. If not properly leveled the cabinet can start to lean. This will affect door alignment and closing.
Doing the above will certainly help your refrigerator make it through the heat. The last suggestion is to simply keep your fingers crossed. Because, if Mother Nature decides to send us the full strength of her heatwave that is all that may save your refrigerator from joining the others in the great landfill in the sky.
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Copyright 2007 by Donald Grummett. All right reserved. Donald Grummett has been in the trade over 30 years as a technician, business owner, and technical trainer. Visit MG Services to learn more invaluable information about your appliances.
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Last Modified: 19 January 2020