Although you may not think about it often, your fridge is a central part of your daily life. It stores your perishable and frozen goods, provides you with ice, chills your favorite beverages and keeps your leftovers safe to eat. Without this key appliance, you would be forced to subsist on a diet of pantry items and warm drinks－and that’s not okay! Since the refrigerator is so important to your household, it is important to know when to repair it, and when it is time to splurge for a new model. The tips and warning signs below will help you know when you need to have a professional take a look at your fridge!
Is the humming of your fridge keeping you up at night? Does it make an annoying, buzzing or rattling noise while it is running? New energy-efficient fridges make different noises than older refrigerator models due to the addition of variable speed fans and compressor motors, as well as computer controlled cooling, ice making and defrost cycles. Your fridge automatically defrosts itself at least once a day. During a defrost cycle, which could last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, you may hear popping, hissing, sizzling or water dripping. These are all normal sounds; however, if you are are familiar with the sounds of your fridge, and suddenly notice something out of the ordinary, it may be time to investigate.
Pay attention to temperature.
A properly functioning fridge should chill your food to at least 40 degrees. A range of 37 to 38 degrees is the recommended temperature for most refrigerators. If your appliance is no longer able to do so, or you notice your food spoiling more quickly than it has in the past, your fridge may need a service call. You may also want to get a thermometer to hang in the middle to upper shelves of your fridge to monitor the temperature accurately. Some refrigerators come with a digital temperature display on the front, but this is not always displaying the actual temperature, but rather the desired set temperature. If your fridge is working properly, you should be able to set the fridge or freezer temperature knobs to the middle setting with the unit maintaining somewhere between 37-40 degrees.
Are your frozen goods a little too icy?
Yes, your freezer is supposed to freeze your food. The normal temperature for a freezer is approximately zero degrees fahrenheit. The first warning sign that a freezer is starting to have problems is often indicated by soft ice cream. Again, an accurate thermometer will tell the true story of what is happening in the freezer. However, if the items you pull out of the freezer are covered in an icy coating it may mean your unit is not functioning properly. If this happens, the first step is to defrost your freezer, which will temporarily eliminate the issue. If the problem persists, it is time to check for a door not closing properly or a torn or leaking door gasket. Excessive frost on the food almost always indicates an air leak﹣usually at the door seal. If your fridge or freezer doors are not sealing completely, you are not only wasting energy, but excessive ice and frost will build up on the fans, passages and dampers, causing loud noises and poor cooling performance. If left unrepaired, your unit may need to be shut down and allowed to defrost for several days to restore full functionality.
If you are having problems with frosting at the back wall inside of your freezer, your automatic defrost system may be failing. If this is the case, you should call a professional as soon as possible. Once frosting gets severe, the unit will no longer cool properly and you will experience food spoilage in the freezer and most likely in the fridge as well. If you are experiencing a build up of clear, hard ice sheets in the floor of your freezer or fridge, your defrost drain is most likely clogged. If this happens to your unit you should call for service, as this problem does not usually cause cooling issues, but can lead to water leakage﹣causing serious damage. In these instances, the unit can be taken apart and cleaned, and replacement parts may be available to keep the drain from clogging as easily again.
Consider the age and efficiency of your appliance.
The lifespan of a modern refrigerator can be anywhere from 10 to 20 years, depending on many factors including brand, make and model. Most domestic refrigerators and freezers made prior 1995 used a refrigerant called R12. These units were known to last as long as 50-60 years. After 1995 the EPA banned R12 refrigerant, and most manufacturers switched to R134a refrigerant. These newer style units have a drastically shorter lifespan of about 10-20 years.
As your refrigerator gets older, you will find it becomes increasingly expensive to repair. At a certain point, you must weigh the cost of repair versus the cost of a new fridge. Generally when you have problems with the refrigeration system, such as a refrigerant leak or burned out compressor, it is more cost-effective to replace the unit. Be careful as sometimes inexpensive problems can disguise themselves as major issues.
If you have noticed your electric bill slowly creeping up, but have not been using more power than usual－an inefficient appliance, such as your fridge, may very well be the culprit. In fact, a refrigerator that is more than 10 years old uses at least twice the amount of energy to cool your food as a more modern, Energy Star rated appliance.
Still not sure if you need to stick with what you have or upgrade? You can always contact us to come out and help you make an informed decision about your refrigerator!