5 Ways to Keep a Refrigerator Working Well


Cleaning under a refrigerator with a brush

Your refrigerator puts off heat while chilling your food, which is why your refrigerator has to work harder if the air around it is hot. An overworked fridge wastes energy (and your money) and shortens the life span of the refrigerator. Fortunately, keeping your refrigerator cool can be simple with these 5 refrigerator maintenance tips.

Don't Crowd the Refrigerator

Leave space around the refrigerator so the hot air it releases can move up and away:

  • Dynamic condenser refrigerators—the ones with a fan in the back—need 3/8 inch at the top and sides.
  • Static condenser models—the ones with a black coil on the back—require 3 inches at the top and 1 inch at the back between the condenser and wall.

Place Your Refrigerator Away from Hot Spots

If you have options about where to put your refrigerator, avoid installing your refrigerator in direct sunlight or next to a range, cooktop or wall oven.

If you have a refrigerator in a room that heats up during the summer, such as a storage room or garage, take steps to keep the room temperature under 110°F. Otherwise, the refrigerator always runs, forcing the compressor to cycle on the overload protector. That translates to warmer temps inside the refrigerator and freezer.

Use the Right Electrical Outlet

If you have a refrigerator in a storage area or garage, it must be plugged into its own dedicated 115 volt, 60 Hz, AC-only electric outlet. Otherwise, it struggles to do its job without sufficient electricity, which decreases its performance and damages electrical components.

Dust the Refrigerator

If your model has exposed condenser coils on the back, pull it away from the wall a few times each year and vacuum dust from the coils and the surrounding area.

If the condenser is under the refrigerator, vacuum dust from the front grille and under the refrigerator, because the condenser fan pulls in air through the front grille on the left side, passes the air through the condenser and over the defrost water pan and returns into the room on the front right side.

Close the Refrigerator Door

As you load food, remove food or ponder what to eat, keep the door open as briefly as you can. When you close the door, make sure nothing blocks the door from closing all the way. If the power goes out, keep the door closed as much as you can.