Your fridge is probably the most important appliance in your home — It’s the hub of your kitchen, you use it every day, and it can make or break your mealtime experience. Plus, a fridge is a big investment! So, shouldn’t you be doing all you can to keep it in tip-top shape?

If you’ve just bought a new fridge you love or are looking to add some mileage onto your reliable old refrigerator, there are some things you can do to maximize your time together and make your fridge more effective than ever. Try these five tips to prolong your refrigerator’s life and keep it working its best.

1. Clean the Coils

The cooling coils are the beating heart that make your refrigerator tick. They can usually be found either behind or underneath the unit — two places that collect a lot of dust, dirt, and pet dander. Those coils are what keeps your food cold and your fridge functioning the way it’s supposed to, but when they get buried in layers of gunk, their efficiency is going to take a nosedive. If the buildup gets bad enough, the coils could even burn out altogether! Every few months, be sure to vacuum out the coils and remove any stray debris to reduce that extra strain on your fridge.

2. Keep the Top Clear

It can be tempting to use the top of your refrigerator as an extra shelf for storing stray cereal boxes and other snacks for easy access, but resist that temptation! Your refrigerator releases excess heat through the top of the unit (which is why it’s always a bit warm to the touch). Placing things on top traps the heat in, forcing the motor to work harder to maintain optimal temperatures inside the unit. Over a long period of time, this can do serious damage to your refrigerator and the food you keep in it, so play it safe and keep the top clear.

3. Keep It Full

The best kept secret of the refrigerator world is that fridges actually work much better when they’re full! It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true — as the items in your fridge get cold, they help keep the temperature of the whole unit down, letting the refrigerator itself relax a little and delegate some of the work. Now that’s teamwork! So don’t be afraid to make a little extra next time you’re whipping up dinner. The more food you have in the fridge, the less strain on your refrigerator’s motor, keeping your fridge in better shape for longer.

The inside of a refrigerator full of food and leftovers.

4. Keep the Seals Well Maintained

The quickest way to a fridge full of spoiled food is a problem with the fridge seal that’s left unresolved for too long.

The seal (or gasket) along the inner edge of the fridge door is what keeps all the cold air in and the warm air out. Leaks or gaps in the seal can not only drop your refrigerator’s temperature low enough to allow bacteria to start growing on your food, it also forces your fridge to work double-time trying to make up for the lost cold air.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to detect a loose seal — just stick half a dollar bill into the door and shut it. If the bill easily slips out, the seal needs some fixing. Usually, giving the gaskets a thorough scrub with soapy water and a sponge will clean out any debris keeping it from sealing properly, but if the problem persists, give us a call and we’ll make sure you get the expert help you need to fix it up good as new.

5. Clean and Defrost It Regularly

The best thing you can do to keep your fridge working its best is regular maintenance. Cleaning out loose debris, giving the shelves a good soak and scrub, and defrosting your freezer on a regular schedule will do wonders for keeping your fridge in good shape. Most modern fridges are pretty good at preventing frost or condensation buildup, but if foods are put into the fridge or freezer while they’re still hot or if liquids are stored uncovered, moisture can get into the system and gum up the works. Just to be safe, you’ll want to defrost everything once or twice a year and make sure the fridge gets some TLC every month or so.

Whether you’re looking forward to a long and happy life with a brand-new fridge or trying to put off a new fridge purchase for another year, these tips will help you get as much as possible out of your fridge for as long as possible.

But if you’ve tried all these tips and you’re still seeing your fridge’s efficiency go downhill, it might be time to invest in a new one. Start fresh with a fridge that has all the latest in self-defrosting, energy efficiency technology and keep it around for a long, long time by starting with these tips from day one. If you’re looking for a fridge that will last, look no further than your favorite local appliance store! Drop in or give us a call for all the info you need about the fridge of your dreams.