Your refrigerator likely comes set at the factory-recommended temperature, probably a “mid-setting,” but what is that?
If you set the temperature too low, your food will freeze. Set it too high, however, and your food will spoil quicker due to increased bacterial growth.
The recommended temperature for your refrigerator ranges from 35 degrees to 38 degrees.
I keep my refrigerator at 37 degrees and try to keep it stocked well with food, because — believe it or not — a fully stocked fridge holds its temperature better than one with a couple condiment bottles in the door.
But the best test for your refrigerator’s temperature is a beverage. If you don’t like the temperature of your beverage, adjust the fridge. If you think your refrigerator is too cold, increase the temperature by 1 degree and allow 24 hours for the compartment to adjust. Obviously, do the opposite if you think your refrigerator is too warm.
To ensure proper temperatures, air has to be able to flow between the refrigerator and freezer sections.
As shown in the super sweet illustration, cool air from the refrigerator enters through the bottom of the freezer section and moves upward. Most of the air then flows through the freezer section vents and recirculates under the freezer floor. The rest of the air enters the refrigerator section through the top vent and flows down the back of the refrigerator compartment.
Make sure the air vents aren’t blocked by some errant food thing. Otherwise, it might block the flow of air to the refrigerator, which in turn causes temperature and moisture problems and melty ice cream, etc.
Also (word to the wise), last time my refrigerator was too warm — and I had cranked it up to the coldest setting — I (my dad) finally popped off my kick-plate to find a veritable lint blanket.
Lesson: if your refrigerator can’t exhaust properly, it can’t cool properly. So, vacuum the condenser every three months!
If your refrigerator dispenses water, chances are it uses a filter.
Most manufacturers recommend replacing the filter every six months to nine months, but certainly your fridge won’t blow up if you don’t. You might just drink some stanky water or notice a “decreased flow.” Or your ice maker won’t function as well.
Or you could just replace your filter when your status indicator light (or “change filter” light, as many customers call it) tells you to. Usually, this light lives on the temperature control panel. If you don’t have a change filter light, replace the filter based on the time frame recommendations outlined in the Use & Care manual you tucked away for safekeeping because you’re a responsible appliance owner.
Mostly, just use good sense, as the life of the filter depends on your usage and the quality of the water. If you notice a change in your water, replace your filter more frequently.
Many of you don’t know this, but I used to be somewhat of a water filter whisperer back in my Warners’ Stellian receptionist heyday. Customers never remember what the heck brand their fridge is when they come in for a replacement filter — not that I judged them. Picking up a replacement water filter falls under the “lost bet to spouse” level of fun errands. (On a related note, we offer free shipping on accessories totaling more than $50.)
I could generally qualify someone based on sketchy info, but not all receptionists possess such amazing skills, so do your homework. And even if you know your brand of refrigerator, it’s important to look at the filter itself as some brands make several types. Here’s how you replace your refrigerator water filter:
For the filters like the one picture above left, rotate the cap counterclockwise until its vertical pull the cap and filter cartridge out through the base grille. Push the new filter cartridge into the base grille until it stops with the cap in the vertical position. Rotate the cartridge cap clockwise to a horizontal position.
For the filters like those on the above right, press the eject button and pull the cap straight out. Don’t twist the cap or it will detach from the filter, and you’ll have to put the cap back on and try again the way I told you to in the first place. Got it? OK. Push the new filter into the opening in the base grille. The button will pop out when the filter is in place, but give the cap a tug to make sure.
This kind of filter, found in the upper right corner inside the refrigerator, is pretty easy to replace. Just turn the filter counterclockwise until it come out, drain it into the sink and trash it. Next, remove the seal from the new filter, insert the filter into the filter head and turn it clockwise until it stops. Easy.
This filter to the right often sits in the back right of the fridge.
To remove, turn the water filter 90 degrees counterclockwise (aka your left) until the filter releases. Take all the packaging crap off the new one, push it up into the housing and turn 90 degrees to the right. (Here’s where the directions include “close the door,” but I figure you can make that decision on your own.)
Once you replace the filter, make sure you flush air from the water system, otherwise you’re going to have a drippy dispenser in your kitchen driving you absolutely nuts. Watch this fun video or follow these directions:
Hold a container to the water dispenser lever for 5 seconds, and then release it for 5 seconds. Repeat until water comes out. Continue holding and releasing the dispenser lever (5 seconds on, 5 seconds off) until a total of 4 gallons has been dispensed. You might get a little spurting as the air clears out, so beware.
Can’t get to the store for a new filter? You can still remove and use the water dispenser in bypass mode. You just won’t have filtered water.
If you’ve replaced your refrigerator within the last several years, your shiny new model might be making its presence known in noisier way.
For one, foam insulation — often used to make these appliances more energy-efficient — lacks the sound-baffling capabilities of fiberglass insulation incorporated into previous energy hogs.
Here’s some other “normal” sounds to expect, along with their abnormal counterparts:
A boiling, surging or gurgling sound as the compressor starts and stops. Also, a pop as the evaporator expands and contracts after defrosting.
The sound of air being forced through the unit is normal, but a continuous ticking or even intermittent squealing is abnormal.
Sizzling or hissing sound from water dropping onto the heater during defrost cycle
Newer fridges’ compressors are much more efficient and run much faster, giving off a high-pitched hum, whine or pulse. But watch out for clicking during start up (especially if the lights dim), banging or knocking during start or stop, a ping or snap followed by the compressor stopping.
Cold control and defrost timer
A snapping or ticking sound as the refrigerator turns on and off
Cracking or popping as the temperatures change
Running water during or after the defrost cycle
Buzzing, clicking or running water as the icemaker fills or water is dispensed
Cracking of ice and cubes dropping into the bin
Air being forced over the condenser is normal, but squealing from the motor is abnormal.
You should hear a surging or gurgling sound from the flow of refrigerant when the compressor runs, but an improperly placed drain pan could cause rattling.
If the normal sounds bother you, consider a piece of rubber-backed carpet for underneath the fridge. You could even put sound absorbing materials inside the cabinet if the refrigerator sits in an enclosure.
This summer, I’ll be receiving a box of fresh produce weekly from a farm share, which makes Liebherr’s dual-compression system an ideal choice.
Standard refrigerators first cool the freezer — meaning the moisture is pulled out of the air as its cooled (think about your skin in the winter) — and then send that air into the refrigerator compartment. So, instead of produce getting the moisture ideal for preservation (think about the sprinklers in the grocery store produce displays), dry air actually draws moisture out of your food.
In Liebherr refrigerators, separate compressors keep colder, dry air in the the freezer away from the moist air in the refrigerator. Produce “keeps” much longer, meaning you throw out much less expensive fresh foods.
Not keen on veggies? You can keep fresh meat and fish in the refrigerator days longer before it needs to be used or frozen.
One by one (or two), I’ll replace each of the appliance, either to improve efficiency and performance or because one simply konks out. And in the case of the fridge, that could be sooner rather than later…
Appliances don’t come cheap, and though I get a discount on them, they’re still an investment. So I’ll have to decide where to spend my money and where to save.
Because it’s dominating my thoughts the last few days, I’m going to channel my forthcoming appliance purchases into a series of blog posts called “Things I Want.” I’ll write them based on what I’d pick if I were going shopping today.
My criteria considers performance, features, aesthetics, durability, efficiency, price and warranty — not equally, however. And they all must be sold at Warners’ Stellian, obviously. But there’s really nothing I’d want that we don’t sell.
I’ll split it into two categories, one aspirational and the other more achievable. I’m trying to think of what to call each category, and I keep thinking I’m ripping “Desired/Acquired” from something. But until I find out for sure…
When I closed on my house last week, I asked the former homeowners question that wrinkled their noses.
“How old was that fridge in your basement?”
They looked confused but told me, “We probably shouldn’t be using anyway, I guess. It was such a pain to move. I don’t know…1960s, I think.”
My jaw DROPPED.
My energy stat knowledge doesn’t go back farther than ’70s models, which cost about $278 per year to run. So a fridge from the ’60s must cost at least $300 to run. That’s some pretty expensive beer they’re cooling.
I think many people don’t unplug their ancient second fridge because they don’t know how to get rid of it.
And certainly most homeowners don’t know that many utility companies pay them money to come pick it up!
Xcel Energy is among the local utility companies with a refrigerator recycling program that offers $35 to pick up a working second refrigerator. Some also run this program for freezers. Of course, you must be a customer of the utility to participate.
Some utilities, like Minnesota Power, up the ante to $50 to get you to give up that beer fridge. Even if you use the money towards a new refrigerator (if you use Rochester Public Utilities, you can get up to $75 for replacing and recycling a refrigerator), your energy usage on the new unit will likely be significantly reduced.