How to Maintain Your Refrigerator

Contents of fridge

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Simple maintenance and cleaning procedures can significantly extend the life and efficiency of your refrigerator. Here's how you can keep your fridge running well now and for years to come.

What You Need

Clean the Condenser Coils

Dusty condenser coils cause a refrigerator to work harder, which translates into more significant energy bills and a shorter life expectancy for the fridge. To prevent this from happening, use a vacuum or broom to remove dust build-up from the coils every three months (once a month if you have pets). Depending on the model that you own, the coils are either behind or underneath the fridge. To access coils located underneath, remove the grill at the bottom front of the refrigerator. To access coils located behind, pull the unit out from the wall.

Remove Deposits From Drain Hole and Drip Pan

Most refrigerators rely on a drain hole and drip pan to remove condensation. Remove any food particles and mineral deposits from the drain hole according to the instructions in your owner's manual. Then, scrub out the drain pan.

Check and Wipe the Gaskets

The gaskets on the refrigerator and freezer doors seal the cold air in and keep the warm air out, which is vital to the efficiency of your fridge. So, it's essential to make sure that the seal is as tight as it should be. Look over the gaskets to see if any spots are cracked or otherwise damaged. Then, shut a dollar bill in the door, and see if you can pull it out easily (the seal should create resistance). If either test turns up problems, consider replacing the gasket. Clean the gasket with an all-purpose cleaner and wipe dry.

Change the Water Filter

Does your refrigerator have an ice maker or a water dispenser? If so, it probably also has a water filter that needs to be changed regularly. Replace your filter every six months or as recommended by the owner's manual. Need a little incentive to shell out for a new filter? Consider this: Water pulled through a neglected filter comes out dirtier than before it was filtered.

Check Leveling

The doors of a non-leveled fridge may not close on their own or may not seal as tightly as they're supposed to. A non-leveled fridge can lead to energy loss. To check to see if your refrigerator is leveled, place a carpenter's level on top of your unit. Then, if necessary, adjust the feet by hand or with a wrench until it appears level in the gauge.

Set the Right Temperature

Keep the fridge between 37 and 40 F and the freezer at 0 F. Check temperatures periodically. An appliance thermometer is an expensive device and is the best way to check if your fridge is set at safe levels.


  • Schedule your refrigerator cleaning on your calendar or use an online reminder service to ensure that you keep up with your regular maintenance
  • Clean the gaskets with a vinegar-water solution to prevent the growth of mildew
  • Consult your refrigerator owner's manual for additional recommended maintenance and for information on parts that need replacement