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Refrigerator Maintenance

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Refrigerator Maintenance
This guide to refrigerator maintenance serves as an excellent manual to efficient usage and handling. Check out how you can trouble shoot minor problems with refrigerators.

Refrigerator is one of the largest consumers of energy at home. Improve your refrigerator's overall efficiency thereby saving money and energy. We have collated maintenance information for refrigerators and summarized them here.

Keep the refrigerator clean

  • The refrigerator has to be kept clean. It is a good to clean the exterior surface of the refrigerator at least once a month with a cleaning cloth. The Condenser coils sit below the skin of the metal exterior and heat the outside body to dissipate the heat. Dust acts as a barrier to the heat and any accumulated dust can hamper the normal process of dissipation of the heat. Your refrigerator will have to work harder unnecessarily which is not good for it and for your pocket.

  • The products in the refrigerator need to be removed so that a thorough cleaning is done. The crispers where the meat and vegetables are stored need to be removed and emptied every month. They need to be washed with soap and water.

  • Most modern refrigerators use ducts and small fans to force the cooled air to circulate inside. It stands to reason that the ducts are not blocked and you leave adequate space around food contents for the air circulation.

In the event of poor circulation of air, or if the fans fail (you can hear them whirring. The compressor which pumps the refrigerant makes a slight drone sound), you will have hot regions across the refrigerator. The Frost free type of refrigerators have forced air circulation to keep the internal compartments at the intended temperature. They have bush bearings and wear out faster than compressors which have ball bearings with oil circulation. This will keep the compressor running always which requires professional attention. You would have to change these fans occasionally. But before you call in the service technicians, make sure that there is ample space around these fans and that nothing fouls their shroud. Do not attempt to open the inside. You will end up damaging the internal insulation which will cause corrosion on the metal body or cause the live wire which feeds the fans or the light to come in contact with the metal body resulting in a shock or electrocution hazard. There are no user serviceable parts in a refrigerator. Call qualified service technicians.

Thermostat setting

  • It is advisable to keep the thermostat between 37 to 42 degrees F in the refrigerator and at 0 degrees F in the freezer. A thermometer can be used to determine the temperature if the temperature dial in the refrigerator has only numbers.

  • The refrigerator should not be placed under direct sunlight or near any heat source such as an oven. The cooler the surrounding temperature, it is easier for the refrigerator to maintain a cold temperature inside.

  • It is recommended not to open the door of the refrigerator very often as it only wastes energy. The interior temperature of the unit can shoot up to 10-20 degrees F each time the door gets opened.

  • Ensure that the door of the refrigerator is tightly closed every time you open it.

Leak check

  • Over time and usage, the rubber seals on the refrigerator doors tend to become harder or twisted. This gasket has to be checked periodically to ensure that leaking does not occur. Insert a doubly folded A4 sheet paper inside the door when open and close the door. When you pull the paper out, there should be some amount of resistance. If the paper comes out easily, the air can enter/exit easily too. It increases the current consumption and also increases the possibility of insects entering inside.

  • It is advised to use an automotive wax polish on the exterior of the refrigerator on the exterior cabinet and doors so that it is protected from rust. This is particularly recommended for people living near the beach or coastal areas.

Trouble shooting guidelines

  • If only the light works and the refrigerator does not run, then temperature setting should be checked. Always ensure that there is at least three inch space between the refrigerator and the wall. Clean the condenser coils; sometimes unplugging the refrigerator for two hours and then re plugging could also help if the problem is caused by compressor overheating.

    In case water gets splashed accidentally on to the back of the unit and it trips your mains power supply, simply unplug the refrigerator and leave it to dry on its own. The compressor is a hermetically sealed unit and only its contacts must have been affected by the water. A slight leakage to the ground can trip the ground fault circuit interrupters (RCD/GFCI). Re plug after sometime and check if it trips again. It is a good idea to call the technician to check the insulation of the cable. If the problem persists, call the technician before connecting the unit to the mains.

  • A common complaint is that the refrigerator / freezer is not cold enough. In this case, check the temperature setting and ensure that there is enough airflow in refrigerator / freezer. Check for airflow restrictions in vents, temperature control, condenser coils, door seals, defrost heater, defrost timer, evaporator fan and clog in the drain tube.

  • Alternatively if the refrigerator and freezer is too cold then check temperature settings and temperature control.

  • Power Consumption: Typically a frost free refrigerator consumes around 200 VA when the compressor and the evaporator fan is running and less than 10 VA when 'resting'. This depends on the capacity of the refrigerator and the ambient temperature. Normal consumption of such a refrigerator is about 2 KW or 2 units per day on a hot day (ambient temperature > 90 degree F). In such cases, it has approximately 1.14 kg carbon-dioxide emissions volume.
  • If the refrigerator is noisy then check the drain pan, condenser fan, evaporator fan and inspect the compressor mounts. Some slight Hissing and popping noise is normal in frost-free refrigerator as it is the defrost heater making such noises.

Disclaimer: This series of articles contains general information on home maintenance of household machinery. This is not an exhaustive list of service procedures. A lay user can only attend to general maintenance with limited skills and tools. All electrical and electronic machines operate at lethal voltages and can CAUSE serious damage or even electrocution or shock hazard to self and home. It is positively dangerous to even attempt to repair any electrical machine without the required skills or knowledge. Always refer servicing to qualified technicians or the dealer. For detailed troubleshooting refer to owner's manual and service manual if available. The information contained herein is only for general reference and does not carry any warranty implied or otherwise. You use the information provided here at your own risk.

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