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Refrigerator Maintenance: 3 Often-Overlooked Steps to a Better Fridge

Refrigerators are one of the easier appliances to maintain since you use it every day. But what does your refrigerator maintenance schedule involve? For many homeowners, maintenance is simply cleaning out the fridge of excess food and dirt. But some extra maintenance steps can keep your fridge running smoothly for a longer period of time.

Here are three often-overlooked maintenance steps to help you have a better, more efficient fridge in the long run.

Waxing the Exterior

You should already clean the exterior of your refrigerator regularly with a general purpose cleaner and sponge. The cleaning is important for cosmetic reasons but doesn't provide a lot of actual protection for the fridge's exterior, which is also called the cabinet.

Add in biannual cabinet waxing using an appliance wax available in most hardware stores. Follow the package directions on how to use the wax. Using the wax helps protect the metal cabinet from erosion and rust due to the natural humidity in the air.

Drip Openings and Drain Pan

A frost-free refrigerator, which applies to most modern models, has an automatic defrosting system. The defrosting system melts any frost that would buildup on the evaporator coils or freezer roof and drains the resulting water out of the fridge via drip openings. The drip openings lead down to a drip pan that collects all the water.

Use your owner's manual to locate the drip openings in your refrigerator. Potential locations include inside the door of the fridge or under the bottom crisper drawers. Check the openings for any noticeable blockages and clear out using a long thin piece of metal. Plugged drain openings can cause the defrosted water to backup and start a flood inside your fridge so its important to check the drain openings at least a few times a year.

Condenser Coil Cleaning

Your refrigerator has two sets of coils: the evaporator coils, which keep the fridge cold and are cleaned through the defrosting process, and the condenser coils, which offset the heat produced in the refrigeration process. The condenser coils are located on the back or bottom of the fridge and require circulating air to pass over the coils to offset the heat.

Circulating air also comes with the potential for particulate and dirt buildups. You need to incorporate periodic condenser coil cleanings to ensure the coils keep offsetting enough heat or else your fridge's interior temperature can start to rise.

If your coils are on the back, you can just scoot your fridge away from the wall, unplug the unit, and get to cleaning. Use a commercial coil cleaner from the hardware store choosing a no-rinse kind when available and follow the package directions.

Are your coils on the bottom of the fridge? You might want to call in an refrigerator service technician to clean the coils and give your fridge a general once over at least yearly.