Our xperts offer their insights into common ways people improperly care for their fridges — and how you can correct these bad behaviors.
PROBLEM: Not cleaning your condenser coils
WHY IT’S BAD: If you let dust and debris accumulate on the coils, they won’t regulate the temp in your fridge properly, and your food might not be safe for your family to eat.
SOLUTION: This is an inexpensive fix to a common problem. Get a brush designed to clean the coils and have at it — it’s no more complicated than dusting. You’ll find the coils on the bottom or back of your fridge. Our pros recommend you clean the coils at least twice a year.
PROBLEM: Overloading your fridge
WHY IT’S BAD: You could block the cool air vent, and the air can’t circulate around your food. The result will be a warmer-than-recommended fridge, which can be dangerous in terms of food safety.
SOLUTION: Clean out the fridge regularly. Toss anything past its prime — especially if you can’t remember putting it in there!
PROBLEM: Never changing your water filter
WHY IT’S BAD: The filter is designed to clean drinking water (and ice) of the pollutants that travel through your town’s pipes to your home. Neglecting the filter prevents the fridge from doing its important job to safeguard your family’s health and can also cause sediment and other gunk to build up inside your pipes.
SOLUTION: Change the filter every six months. Heads up: Even if you don’t have a water dispenser, your ice maker has a filter.
PROBLEM: Not cleaning up spills
WHY IT’S BAD: This isn’t just a matter of having a messy fridge. If you don’t clean up leaks and spills, you can be exposing your family to food poisoning. Bacteria, viruses and even parasites can result from having a fridge full of spills.
SOLUTION: Clean your refrigerator every two weeks (you read that right) with a mild cleaning solution.
PROBLEM: Not checking if the gaskets are leaking
WHY IT’S BAD: Gaskets, the seals that line your fridge doors, can crack, tear or become loose. Damaged gaskets can cause your fridge to leak cool air.
SOLUTION: Eyeball your gaskets. If they’re cracked, torn or loose, call a pro to replace them.
Common misuses of fridges aren’t difficult to fix. With a little attention to detail (and that handy brush), you can help keep one of the most expensive and important appliances in your home running smoothly and safely.
Before you do anything, though, break out your owner’s manual for information on how to properly care for your particular fridge.