Thursday, February 2, 2012

Vacuum Your Fridge

It's been over a week since I have blogged. And like everything else in my tiny, little universe, I am blaming the broken fridge. For almost four days, that broken fridge was an excuse to eat out, skip bringing food for coffee hour (only because I knew my rockin' SS class would more than provide), and apparently, blog.

Last Friday, when I should have been bringing you the latest and greatest in organization or child-rearing secrets, I was moving all of our fridge contents into the freezer or ice chests while simultaneously plugging in the garage fridge (crossing my fingers that it would stay cold at night) and phoning Whirlpool as the fridge is still under warranty. That completely messed up our PJ Friday and thus, the blogging routine. Then on Monday, when I should have been sharing a fantastically delicious Sunday treat, I was instead waiting for the fridge repair guy. Sadly, there was no treat to share as the lack of a fridge means the absence of eggs. And as I am sure you know, cupcakes don't really do so well without eggs.

Thus, it is now Thursday. An odd day for me to blog, I know. And I have no amazing tips to give you. Instead, I am going to tell you what I learned from our broken fridge incident.

It is essential that you clean UNDER your fridge. All you do is pop off the vent cover, stick your shop vac attachment under there, and vacuum away! The repair guy said at least every six months, but with the amount of ice behind that secret panel in the freezer, I think we will be adding that to the weekly vacuuming chore.

Once upon a time, refrigerators were made with the coils on the back. Now, I knew that you were supposed to vacuum those coils every once in a while to keep the dust off so that the air can circulate better. Because optimum air circulation is essential for a fridge to work properly. But these days, those pesky little coils are located under the fridge on most models. They are known as fully encased systems, or something like that. According to my fridge guy, Tony, this is not great for three reasons:

1. Those coils get less air flow under your fridge.
2. More dirt, dust, crumbs, and grossness occur under your fridge.
3. Way harder to clean.

I will come clean and say that I have NEVER cleaned the coils of any refrigerator. EVER. I knew you were supposed to, but never bothered since I never experienced an issue. (When I told him Tony's advice, my sweet husband thought that vacuuming the fridge was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard.) But I assure you, we will be doing so now. I can't remember all the technical stuff that Tony told me, but basically, those things get dirty and it restricts airflow. When that happens, coolant (or something) gets dumped into the mechanism located in the freezer. When that stuff freezes, it prevents airflow to the fridge part. So your freezer keeps on truckin' while the fridge gets warm and your milk goes bad. And I can't even describe the amount of ice that was completely taking over behind that little panel. It took Tony over 30 minutes to melt it with a heat gun. It then took all night to get the fridge back to the optimal cooling temperature of 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit. (We put a thermometer in the fridge to ensure it was indeed getting colder.)

But we once again have a working fridge. I hope to make some fantastic Super Bowl inspired treats for my super cool band peeps this weekend. And homemade chicken tacos and guacamole on Tuesday night tasted like the best meal we had eaten, probably ever.

So to save you the headache, my tips for preventing this in your house:

1.  Vacuum under/behind your fridge at least every six months. Or how about when you change your air filter? Or smoke detector batteries? I'm all about bulking the home maintenance stuff into the same day. Makes it easier to remember those rarely thought about chores.

2.  You know how, when you were looking for something to eat, your mom always told you, "It's not a TV. Shut the door!"? Yeah, she was right. I can attest to the drastic change in temperature after simply keeping the door open for one minute to pour a glass of milk. Since we left the thermometer in the fridge for about 24 hours to ensure it was working, we got to see the massive temperature fluctuations caused by leaving the door open. We're talking 3-5 degrees, well into the "danger zone." Then your fridge has to work harder, and that can't ever be a good thing.

3. If you think your fridge feels warmer, it probably is. We let it go for almost a week before we were convinced that it really wasn't working. Trust your instincts, people.

4. Tony advises that you obtain an extended warranty or service plan on only three appliance: your dishwasher, washing machine, and refrigerator.

We're thinking about it; how 'bout you?

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