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Fridge Maintenance: How to Look After Your Refrigerator

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What would we do without fridges? They help us keep produce fresher for longer (meaning it’s tastier and safer) and they save us loads of time (simply because we don’t need to keep buying fresh food).

fruit and veg in basket

Like any other appliance, however, fridges aren’t invincible.  Misusing a fridge can increase the energy it consumes and the likelihood of it breaking down. Long-term, it’ll also reduce its lifespan.  If this happens, you’ll quickly realise how important your fridge really is!

Keep reading to find out what you need to do to ensure your fridge runs as efficiently as possible for as long as possible.

Can a fridge be too full?

When we’re stocking our fridges, we might assume that the more items we can pack in there, the better – after all, what good is empty space if we’re not going to make use of it? 

In truth, however, an overcrowded fridge is bad news.  Refrigerators work by piping a chemical known as coolant from the inside to the outside.  This piping forms two sets of coils on the inside and outside of the fridge, respectively known as the condenser and evaporator coils. By manipulating the pressure of the coolant, the fridge can channel heat from the former to the latter, thereby cooling the fridge.

Refrigerator condenser diagram

A fridge also contains another important component – the thermostat.  The pressure of the coolant will be manipulated by the readings taken by the thermostat.  If the volume of produce in the fridge is preventing the cold air from circulating properly, this reading will be inaccurate – the condenser coils will become either too warm or (more likely) too cold. If you’ve ever noticed that items in your fridge become slightly frozen when it’s overfull, this is probably why.

Caring for the condenser coils

As condenser coils collect grime they become less effective at removing heat.  That’s why it’s important to occasionally clean the coil with a long-handled brush.  You don’t need to scrub too hard – just remove the visible dirt and dust and leave the coil for another year. 

You’ll also occasionally need to remove any frost that might have formed on the condenser coils – do this by removing the contents of the fridge and turning it off – this will allow the fridge to entirely thaw and drain.  Many modern fridges come with an auto-defrost function which will take care of this automatically, heating the condenser coils just enough to melt any frost.  If you notice that your fridge is leaking, this might be evidence that it’s not level and the melted water is unable to drain properly.

Caring for the gasket

In order to minimise the load on the fridge and your energy bills, you’ll want to ensure that the rubber seal surrounding the door (the gasket) is properly cared for.  Clean the seal regularly and replace it where necessary, doing so you’ll prevent warm air from entering. This will vastly improve the efficiency of the fridge.

Need a new fridge? Check out our full range of high-performance, affordable fridges here. You might also want to take a look at our freezers or combined fridge freezers.