Everyone’s Favorite Appliance
Who doesn’t love refrigerators/freezers? This was the invention man and womankind had been waiting to have forever. The “fridge” that we take for granted today, allowed modern man to keep food fresh longer. Food purchased or hunted in bulk could now be frozen for long periods after it would normally otherwise spoil. Beer stays colder and certainly lasts much longer!
Over the years, refrigerator technology has improved and cost for basic models have come way down. Many homes now have multiple refrigerators including specialized models for greens, wine and beer storage. Under-counter and drawer-type models are also available.
Refrigerators can be equipped with ice makers and water dispensers. Some upper-end residential units (and most commercial refrigerators) have dual motors and compressor systems. One motor for the refer part and one for the freezer. As these products have become more complicated with features like filtered water dispensers, ice makers, zoned crispers, complicated door systems etc. they have also presented more things to service and additional ways to break down.
How Do They Work
The refrigerator works by extracting heat from inside the refer and transferring it to the outside of the refer. The heat is expelled through coils mounted on the outside of the unit usually on the bottom, back or top. Heat dispensing coils need to be clean in order to work properly. Accumulated dust on these coils will act as an insulator that interferes with the heat transfer thus making the refer work harder. On some refrigerators, these coils are not easy to get to. Some even require moving the refrigerator out in order to access them properly for cleaning. Manufacturers that do that should be tortured by being forced to drink warm beer forever. Note: when servicing the refrigerator be extremely cautious when moving the unit so as not to damage the finished floor.
Avoid Water Damage
Ice maker and water dispenser systems have potential for causing serious damage. These features require that the refrigerator be attached to a water supply. This water supply connection can fail if mishandled or if improperly installed. Also, the internal dispenser mechanism can fail. Either of these can potentially cause flooding and damage. The water connection lines must be well plumbed and flexible enough to allow the refer to be moved in and out without the lines being damaged. I highly recommend a moisture alarm be positioned below the unit, especially if you have floors that can be damaged by leaks.
Another area of the refrigerator that needs attention is the condensation pan. Most homeowners don’t know about this pan. It is there to catch moisture that accumulates on the interior of the refer every time you open it. It is also there to catch the occasional spill that might happen. Read your unit’s operating manual for the exact location, but it is usually somewhere toward the bottom and behind the lower grill.
The easiest area to check frequently is the door seal. The seal is important because it is an insulation barrier that keeps cold air in, and even more importantly it keeps warm moist air out! If the seal is damaged, warm moist air can find its way into the refer where it will condense and cause a water problem. This can be severe enough to appear as a leak. Wash the seal with a safe soap and warm-water solution to keep it clean and prevent any sticky material from accumulating.
- Kill power to the appliance prior to cleaning.
- Remove any spills on the interior immediately and keep the interior of the refer clean find your appliance’s owner’s manual and place it in a secure location for instructions on your specific appliance.
- Check the light bulb and replace if it goes out.
- If you have lost the manual or want a second copy, you can usually find them on line.
- Inspect the weatherstripping around the perimeter of the door to make sure that it is clean and that it seals all the way around. Gaps in the seal can cause condensation that can leak onto the floor and under the appliance.
- Never use steel wool for cleaning your appliances, especially stainless steel.
- Stainless steel should only be cleaned with warm sudsy water or a special cleaner made specifically for stainless steel. Always wipe the surface of stainless steel in the direction of the “grain” only with a soft completely clean cloth.
- 1x per year: Refrigerators have tube coils that need to be cleaned of dust build-up once per year. Test door seals by closing the door on a dollar bill and extracting it. If the bill comes out easy, replace the seals as they are leaking. Also check for a warped or bent door.
- 1x per year: Refers have drip/condensate pans in the bottom area that should be removed and washed every year. Flush the internal drain lines and check for leaks. Clean out dust from beneath the refrigerator.
- 2x per year: Refers equipped with water dispensers should have filters replaced and the dispenser cleaned.
- 2x per year: Keep the air inside the refer fresh smelling with this deodorizer packet that’s specifically designed for refrigerators. According to the manufacturer, this deodorizer is many times more effective than baking soda for eliminating food odors and it lasts up to six months.
- As needed: Replace any burned out bulbs with the appropriate appliance grade light bulb.
Clean and inspect the door seals for damage and make replacements as needed.