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  • Writer's pictureSara Dalicandro

How to extend the lifespan of the most used appliance in your home

My husband and I bought our current refrigerator in 2012. While talking to the salesperson I made a joke about how appliances don't last past 10 years anymore and as much as I was hoping he would get a chuckle out of that, he looked at me solemnly and agreed.

According to the United States Dept. of Energy, refrigerators last approximately 12 years. That's it! So, what can you do to extend that short lifespan? Like with most things, maintenance is the key to keeping your appliances working efficiently for as long as possible. It’s particularly vital for your refrigerator since it’s one of the few appliances that you use every day and that is always running. Here are some things you can do to keep your refrigerator running for as long as possible.

Clean the Refrigerator’s Coils

The condenser releases heat when the fridge cools food. A refrigerator has condenser coils that are located either in the back or on the bottom front of the appliance.

Keeping those coils clean is a simple and essential maintenance task. You might be surprised to see how much dirt, dust, pet hair, and food waste winds up in the refrigerator’s coils. That can stop heat from escaping the fridge and force the appliance to work harder to keep food cold.

Depending on your refrigerator’s design, you might have to move it away from the wall or remove a cover to access the coils. You can buy a tool that’s specifically made for cleaning refrigerator coils, or you can save some money and just use your vacuum cleaner or a stiff brush.

Inspect and Clean the Seal

Your refrigerator needs a tight seal on the door to keep cold air inside. If the gasket is dirty, worn, or loose, it can’t work as well as it should. That means cold air can escape, which will force the refrigerator to work harder to keep your food cold. That can result in higher electricity bills.

At least twice a year, use a solution of soap and warm water or a mixture of baking soda and water to clean the seal. A toothbrush can help you scrub away dirt and grime. If you notice signs of damage, buy a new gasket from a local hardware store.

Make Sure the Fridge Is Level

If your refrigerator is a little bit off-level, you might not notice, but it can affect the way the appliance operates. The doors might not close properly, which can allow cold air to escape. That means the motor will have to work harder to maintain a cold temperature.

To find out if your fridge is level, place a level tool on a shelf. If necessary, slide a small, thin object under one or more of the refrigerator’s feet to correct the problem.

Check the Temperature Settings

Maintaining the right temperature in your fridge and freezer compartments will help the appliance operate efficiently and save you money on your utility bills. The ideal temperature range for a refrigerator is 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The freezer section should be at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Regular Maintenance Can Keep Your Fridge in Top Shape

Caring for your refrigerator is an essential part of home maintenance, but it doesn’t have to be hard or take up a lot of your time. Following a few simple steps on a regular basis can keep your refrigerator operating efficiently, keep your utility bills from jumping, prevent a mechanical breakdown, and extend your fridge’s useful life.

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