Last Updated on December 16, 2020
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The buying process of home appliances is very time consuming and tiring: you need to collect a great deal of information, compare prices, hold out for promotions, and spend a large sum of money. But it has to be done.
Even if you wash the dishes by hand to avoid buying a dishwasher, or reheat your food on the stove so that you don’t have to buy a microwave, you will still definitely need a refrigerator – according to CNN, the refrigerator is the most commonly owned appliance (present in nearly 100% of American homes), with 1 in every 4 American homes having two of them.
The average life expectancy for a standard refrigerator is about 17 years. That’s pretty great if you take into consideration the fact that this appliance is running 24 hours a day, does not take one single day off, and is constantly being opened and closed.
However, to achieve this expected longevity (or perhaps even exceed it), correct use and proper maintenance are required.
In this article, we will discuss 7 ways in which you might be unknowingly killing your refrigerator, so that you can avoid those expensive fridge repair costs that will make you wonder if you should just buy a new one even if your currently broken refrigerator has only been used for eight or nine years.
1. Direct sunlight
You can’t just place your unit in some random place in your kitchen. Most modern homes have large windows to allow greater sunlight penetration.
This trend is fantastic for energetic reasons and for its huge impact on people’s moods while being aesthetically pleasing. But you need to make sure you install your fridge in a shadowy corner, where it won’t be directly exposed to sunlight at any time of the day – especially if your fridge has a dark color.
When the outside area is warm, the fridge has to work extra hard to keep its interior at an ideal temperature, leading to a massive increase in power consumption and making wear and tear issues much more likely.
2. Not giving the proper spacing
In addition to exposure to sunlight, there are two other concerns when it comes to installing a refrigerator: you should not place it up against the wall, nor place it directly next to another appliance.
Refrigerators have condenser coils on the back responsible for cooling and condensing the refrigerant, that need proper air circulation to function perfectly. That is why you should always space the fridge a few inches from the wall.
On the other hand, if the refrigerator is leaning against another appliance, it can suffer from the heat generated when that other appliance is working. This type of damage is in every way similar to that of direct sunlight exposure.
3. Always too full
Some people like to keep their fridges bursting at the seams. Depending on your refrigerator model and manufacturing date, this might be a problem.
Most recent refrigerators are designed to accommodate lots of food, but older models might need more free space in their interior so that the air can properly circulate. A good way to perceive if you are over stacking your fridge is to try to reach the back of it without having to remove any products.
If you can’t do it, it’s time to rethink your grocery habits. Otherwise, your fridge will struggle to keep your food cool and might eventually break down after some time.
4. Storing food while it’s still (very) hot
If you usually store your Tupperware containers with freshly made soup and leftover food still steaming hot, you are shortening your refrigerator’s lifespan and preserving the food in a way that can potentially be dangerous for your family’s health.
Hot food will raise the temperature inside the fridge forcing it to work harder and consume more energy to maintain the ideal temperature.
This puts a lot of stress on the appliance which may not even be able to lower the temperature, creating an environment that allows for the growth and multiplication of bacteria that may contaminate all stored food.
5. Refrigerator cleaning
Although it is a demanding task, deep cleaning your refrigerator is something that should be done at least twice a year (ideally you should be doing it at the start of each new season), both inside and outside.
And don’t forget to clean the fridge coils! Dirty fridge coils are responsible for the majority of service calls and replacements. The debris that accumulates on the coils over time prevents your fridge from dissipating heat properly, thus making it harder and shortening its lifespan.
If your fridge has a water dispenser, you also need to clean the water filter. A dirty filter will allow calcification, nozzle, and sediment to get in your cup.
Here’s how to clean a water filter: remove the filter (usually located at the back and base of the refrigerator, but you might need to check the user’s manual) by pressing the release button or by turning it counterclockwise and pushing; clean all the debris and wash it very carefully; finally let it dry before putting it back into place. Sometimes cleaning is not enough and you might need to replace the water filter.
6. Ignoring weird noises
There may come a time when you notice that your fridge is making a weird noise that it didn’t use to make. Please don’t ignore it, as it might be a cry for help.
The first thing to do is to try to identify the problem. Try to discover where the noise is coming from and do some research to figure out what exactly you might be dealing with. Sometimes the noise can be caused by a problem that is so easy to fix that you can even do it yourself.
If the noise comes from the bottom, it might be as simple to stop as to secure the drain pan back in place; and if the noise is coming from the bottom, it might be caused by a dirty fan.
However, if any part has to be repaired or replaced you will have to consult with an expert and the bill is probably going to be very expensive. It’s worth checking your manufacturer’s warranty since most brands offer an extended warranty on some specific parts.