Our refrigerators are constantly working to keep our food cool and safe, which means when they start to fail, our food goes bad and we put our health at risk. Sometimes, a refrigerator will fail slowly over time, and we don’t realize there’s a problem until it’s too late. Keep these tips in mind to help your refrigerator run smoothly.

Know What You Want Before You Open the Door

Image via Flickr by osseous
Image via Flickr by osseous

Every time you open the refrigerator door, warm air gets inside, and your refrigerator has to work to cool down again. While there’s nothing you can do to prevent that warm air from getting in, you can lessen the amount by knowing what you want before you open the door. This small step can cut down on the strain of cooling down the air inside your refrigerator and help it run more efficiently.

Let Leftovers Cool Down

Putting piping hot leftovers in the refrigerator adds warmth inside, and just like leaving the door open, makes your refrigerator work that much harder to cool down the air. If you can let the leftovers cool down before you put them in, you save the compressor some strain. Just keep in mind that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends storing perishable foods within two hours.

Keep the Condenser Coils Clean

As your refrigerator works to keep the air inside cool, the condenser coils in the back or bottom release heat. If these coils become clogged with dirt, dust, or pet hair, they can overheat and the compressor can break down. Every couple of months, use a brush and vacuum to gently remove all the dust and hair away from the condenser coils so you can avoid stressing the compressor and wasting energy. If you have pets that shed a lot, consider cleaning once a month.

Watch the Temperature Inside

If you begin to suspect your refrigerator isn’t cooling as well as it used to, place a thermometer inside and check the temperature. The refrigerator should be at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and the freezer should be zero degrees. If it’s getting harder for your refrigerator to maintain these temperatures, it might be time to replace it with a newer model.

Use Specialized Compartments

Most modern refrigerators come with specialized compartments to hold meats, fruits, and vegetables. This is because different foods require different levels of humidity to keep them fresh and safe. Meat and cheese drawers direct cool air into the drawer to help keep these items colder, but without freezing them. Additionally, fruits need lower humidity while vegetables require higher humidity. Therefore, make sure you keep these foods separated, and use the correct setting on the crisper drawer.

It’s important to keep up with refrigerator maintenance to reduce the chances of your refrigerator failing on you and spoiling your food. Not only that, refrigerator maintenance also helps you cut down on electricity costs and save money.