College life: little to no cash, a constant frugal life where you would want to save up money as often as you can.
The nightmare starts whenever something breaks in the house: household appliances, the TV, and even the refrigerator. While you can live without TV, the later one is indispensable and often cost big money to get replaced, so the best option is to either repair it or to expand its insurance lifespan. The thing with refrigerators is that they’ve been the heroes of sweltering summer days especially when you have exams and all that can save you is an ice coffee at home or a fresh cold beer from the fridge to forget about everything for 30minutes.
Coming a long way from the original ice boxes of 1840s, today’s fridges are very efficient at keeping our food fresh and our drinks cold, just the way we like them when the outside temperatures start to soar. But, like with many other useful things we end up taking for granted during our young years, we don’t always invest the necessary time and effort in taking care of this appliance.
Regular maintenance tasks will not only help your refrigerator function smoothly but can also extend its lifespan with up to 10 years. Imagine you’ll be finishing a post-graduate project by then (PhD. included). Use the tips offered below to keep your fridge in good working order for years to come, so you can always enjoy a cool beer for 30minutes before going back to the study room. And, why not, to save money, because let’s face it: you can never have enough money in college.
1. Keep It Cool
If you notice that your yoghurt keeps getting frosty while the other perishable foods are losing their freshness much quicker than they are supposed to, you should definitely check your refrigerator’s thermostat. In order to keep food nice and cool, you should set the temperature at 32-40° F (0-4 degrees Celsius), while the freezer must be below 32° F (0° Celsius).
The optimal refrigerator temperature is 35° F (1.6° C). Another trick that will help your freezer work properly for longer is to fill the empty space with water bottles, which will keep the temperature at optimal levels without consuming extra energy, saving you money in the long run.
2. Keep It Tidy
When was the last time you gave your refrigerator a good scrub? Keeping it clean and tidy at all times, however tricky that might seem, won’t only avoid food contamination with stomach-upsetting pathogens but will also prevent damage from corrosive stains. Since air needs to circulate around food to keep it fresh, remove all the expired items that take up unnecessary space, leading to temperature differences between shelves.
The best thing you can do to extend your appliance’s lifecycle is to clean the condenser coils (found on the bottom or at the back of the fridge) once or twice a year to avoid overheating, the most common reason for compressor failure, which is the most expensive component of your refrigerator.
If it sounds complicated, don’t worry, it’s actually as simple as it gets: unplug the appliance, remove the vanity grill, then gently clean the dirt off with a soft-bristle brush or a lint-free cloth. Dust can also accumulate on the cooling fan’s blades, causing it to slow down and lose balance, so while you’re there, show the fan some TLC, too!
Important safety tip: if you own an older "non-frost free" refrigerator, never use a sharp object to remove frost deposits from the coils as you will risk puncturing them, causing your appliance to break down. In the unfortunate event of that happening, don’t throw your appliance away as it can be fixed in timely and cost efficient manner by an experienced technician or trusted service provider. There are Lifealso companies such as Fixed By Assurant which go the extra-mile and provide, besides immediate access to skilled technicians, 1-year extended warranty that will cover any other future surprises. However, it’s always best to be safe than sorry, so do your best not to damage those coils in the first place.
3. Keep It Drained
Every frost-free refrigerator has a separate section containing the drain pan, usually located close to the coils. Since this is where all the excess water from the inside of your fridge goes, it’s a good idea to empty it every now and then and also give it a thorough rinse with warm, soapy water. Don’t forget about cleaning the inside, too, and you can use a pipe cleaner to get rid of the gunk that may be collected within it.
These three simple tasks can add years to the life of this essential member of your household and even make it more energy efficient, helping you save money and the environment in the long run.
If you want to know more about how to make your appliance friendlier on the environment, take a look at this how-to guide, which has some great tips on how to get your appliance to perform better, energy-wise.