Refrigerator Tips and Advice
- Maintenance for Refrigerator Tips
- Food Safety Guidelines
- Refrigerator Cleaning Tips
- Refrigerator Repair FAQ
- Ice Maker Tips
Also check our Refrigerator Maintenance Tips Blog for some really helpful information about removing refrigerator odors and suggestions on how to clean your condenser coil.
Our Refrigerator Maintenance Tips Save Energy
If you've noticed refrigerator or freezer temperature problems, or if you lose power, keep both doors closed to save your food for as long as possible. On average, your refrigerator will keep food at the correct temperature for about 4 hours, provided the doors remain unopened, before it begins to lose cooling properties. A freezer can keep an adequate temperature for about 36 hours, if the door remains closed. Every time you open a door, you lose significant amounts of cold air, which is then replaced by warm air, so these times will also be significantly reduced with each door opening. As you can see, time is critical in saving your food and money. The sooner you call A Fast Local Refrigerator Repair for service, the faster we can get your refrigerator running.
If your refrigerator has a black condenser coil mounted behind the unit, make certain there is a clearance of at least 2 inches from the rear wall to the coil at its closest point, 4 inches from the cabinet above, and 1 inch on both sides of the unit. These types of coils rarely if ever need to be regularly cleaned of dust.
If your refrigerator has no exposed black coil, it will be located underneath all other freestanding units, some accessible from the front, others will have to be pulled away from the wall and the back cover removed. Built-In units have the machine compartment on top. Both will accumulate dust and pet hair, among other things, on the condenser coil. Check your owner's manual for machine compartment locations if you are unsure. Check at least once per year, and clean as necessary with the unit turned off or unplugged. If you have more than one pet, or one pet that sheds profusely, increase frequency. See our blog for additional information on how to clean your refrigerator condenser.
Believe it or not, one of the worst things we do to our refrigerator is open the doors. It is a good practice to open and close the doors quickly, so not much cold air can escape, just like our parents told us. We're letting cold air out and replacing it with warm air. The best way to minimize this displacement is to reduce the amount of empty space. If you don't store a lot of food, you can add bulk by placing rinsed out milk jugs 3/4 filled with water in the freezer or the fresh food sections. This will not only reduce the amount of empty space, but the thermal inertia of the added bulk will also keep the compartment cold when the door is opened.
Don't overload the refrigerator with too much food inside. If items fall out when you open a door, it's possible you may have overloaded it. A refrigerator that is more full will run more efficiently compared to an emptier cabinet. However, an over-packed appliance can prevent correct door closure and proper airflow.
Keep your refrigerator away from heat sources, such as direct sunlight, space heaters, heating vents and stoves, ovens or ranges. If your kitchen layout does not permit rearranging of appliances, you can try placing a piece of insulation between the oven and the refrigerator.
If your water pressure at the door dispenser is slow, or ice cubes are smaller than normal, check and change your water filter, whether it's built into the unit or an in-line filter between the refrigerator and the source water valve. If they are older than 6 months, its recommended you change it.
If your refrigerator leaks water, you might stop the water flow to the refrigerator by turning off the water supply to the refrigerator only. We can help you locate the shut off valve for the refrigerator when you call and schedule an appointment. If you are unable to locate the shut off for the refrigerator, you may need to shut the main house source valve off. Please note, turning off the ice maker does not shut off the water to the refrigerator, additionally, turning off the water source to the refrigerator may not prevent further water leaks.
If you have any foul-smelling odors due to spoiled food, once you remove the offending food, clean out the inside cabinet with a mild soap and water solution, you should not use any harsh cleaner, for example, bleach, as it will be harder to remove that odor. Instead of baking soda, place an activated charcoal air deodorizer inside the unit near an air vent. The moisture in the cabinet air activates the charcoal, which can remove the odor.
If you have glass shelves, make certain no food is resting against the walls, which can cause the food items to freeze, in addition to altering proper air flow to lower shelves.
Food Safety Guidelines
Be sure to check the infographic on our Food Safety Guidlines blog for a list of foods to discard or keep when temperatures rise in the refrigerator or freezer.
Food that is properly cooked and frozen is safe. Food that is properly handled and stored in the freezer near 0° F (-18° C) will remain safe. While freezing does not kill most bacteria, it does stop bacteria from growing. Though food will be safe indefinitely at 0° F, unless otherwise indicated, quality will decrease the longer the food is in the freezer.
Refrigerate or freeze perishables right away. According to the US FDA: Stick to the "two-hour rule" for leaving items needing refrigeration out at room temperature (72° F). Never allow meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or other foods, including leftovers, that require refrigeration to sit at room temperature (72° F) for more than two hours.
Keep the refrigerator temperature at or below 40° F (4° C). The freezer temperature should be 0° F (-18° C). Thermometers placed at the center of each compartment are the best way of knowing these temperatures and are generally inexpensive.
Food temperature danger zone is 41° F to 140° F. We cook food to a temperature above 140° to eat it safely, about 20° hotter with some steak sauce for me, please. We refrigerate food just below 40° for short term storage, and we freeze food near 0° for longer term storage.
According to the US FDA: If you lose power you should cover your food to catch drippings. We also recommend doing this when you have any kind of refrigerator or freezer temperature problems.
Be alert for spoiled food. Anything that looks or smells suspicious should be thrown out. Mold is a sign of spoilage. It can grow even under refrigeration. The safest practice is to discard food that is moldy, and has passed its expiration date.
If you want to relax knowing your refrigerator has been repaired by a qualified, courteous and certified expert technician, while saving money in the process, then call the professionals at A Fast Local Refrigerator Repair or click the orange Schedule Service button at the top of the page and we will schedule you within 15 minutes. Remember to follow our maintenance tips and food safety tips, you will save money on your electric bill and prevent food loss from spoiled food.
Additional Resources: fda.gov/FoodSafety/
Refrigerator Cleaning Tips
Before cleaning, it is recommended you unplug refrigerator before cleaning to prevent serious injury from electrocution. Now is a good time to sweep behind the fridge since its pulled out too.
According to the USFDA: Clean the refrigerator regularly and wipe spills immediately. This helps reduce the growth of bacteria and prevents drips from thawing meat that can allow bacteria from one food to spread to another. Clean the fridge out frequently with a mild soap and water solution. Bleach is not recommended.
Whether you clean out the refrigerator one shelf at a time or all at once, discard any spoiled, expired or out of date food items. Check if any food has fallen behind shelves, bins or baskets. You can temporarily move items to another shelf, on a counter, or in a cooler if you anticipate taking longer than 30 minutes.
Use hot water and a mild non-fragrant soap. Do not use an abrasive cleanser, bleach, or any other cleaner that has a very strong odor which can permeate throughout the appliance, and thereby your food items. To help reduce foul-smelling odors, place a dish of activated charcoal on the top refrigerator shelf.
Start with the main shelves, they're usually removable, if not, wash and dry in place with the soapy water. Remove drawers and bins entirely, and clean them, as well as the rails they slide into. Clean shelves and bins on the door. Clean and dry the interior walls, ceilings and floors
It's a good idea to wipe down the rubber door gasket and the corresponding cabinet face. Clean and disinfect any mold that may be growing in the crevices.
Vacuum out dust from the condenser coil according to your manual, using an appliance brush available at most hardware stores. The condenser is located underneath and in the back on most freestanding models. On built-in models the condenser coil is usually located above the appliance, behind a machine compartment cover. Do this once a year, twice if you have hairy pets.
Once you are finished cleaning, plug refrigerator back into the power outlet. Keep in mind it will take 4 to 24 hours for the appliance to get back down to normal operating temperatures.