Even new, sophisticated refrigerators need some basic care and feeding

New refrigerators can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the model and features, which include
ice and water dispensers, water filtration systems for these same water dispensers, multiple defrost
options, and zoned cooling, and at least one model has a built-in TV that is satellite- and Internet-

Regardless of the age, style, or model of your refrigerator, it will need some attending to if you
want it to run efficiently, nothing more than regular cleaning and inspection. As far as repairing water
pumps or replacing a condenser fan, these can be exercises in frustration. You’ll have to diagnose the
problem, track down the part from an appliance store, and do the installation. And, while appliance
repair technicians are expensive, they are often worth it. A job like this might be best left to a
professional unless you have the time and patience to do it yourself.

Checking Seals

A refrigerator door gasket has to be kept intact, clean, and supple to remain an effective seal.

Condensation on the seals suggests they are leaking and need to be replaced.

Clean the seals monthly, after sticky spills, or when there’s any presence of mold; use warm water and liquid dish soap (use a
bleach-based cleaner for mold).

When it is clean and dry, coat the seal with a small amount of petroleum jelly to keep it soft and prevent it drying out.


There’s no getting around regular refrigerator cleaning if you want to avoid bad food smells and unintentional rotten food.

Unplug the refrigerator and remove everything, storing items that must be kept cold in a portable beverage cooler and tossing out
anything that even looks questionable.

Clean inside and out with warm water and liquid dish soap—use baking soda on stubborn spills.

Rinse and dry all washed surfaces.


To calculate whether a refrigerator is worth repairing, figure the cost of a service call,
additional labor, parts, and the age of the appliance versus replacement with a unit under
warranty that uses less energy. One repair can cost over $200, and a new basic refrigerator
can cost over $500.


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