Nov 22, 2016
There's a little more to do to prep your refrigerator when closing it down than simply turn it off and emptying it. And missing a few steps could leave you more than a little frustrated, when it's time to get it ready for service later. Regardless of how long your fridge will be out of service, these proactive steps will ensure it's ready to meet your needs, when it's time to restart it.
1. Turn it off and unplug it. It's always best to do both when you're taking it out of service. However, if you're closing an RV refrigerator at the end of the season, you may not be able to access the plug easily, but do ensure that it is turned off and will not switch over automatically to another type of power when you leave it.
2. Defrost the refrigerator's freezer compartment completely after you remove contents. That includes emptying any tray underneath the unit, where water collects from an automatic defrost setting, or removing all ice from a manual defrost unit.
3. Cleaning it immediately is strongly recommended. If you do not clean the interior right away, you'll have to deal with odors, stains and possibly mold/mildew later. This is one step that will save you time later. A mild detergent is best, but if there's any evidence of mold, you'll also need to add a little bleach to your warm soapy water. Make sure to clean the racks too - even their underside, as well as all the door bins and freezer compartment. Also wipe down the exterior.
3. Wipe dry the interior to remove all moisture. Never leave any type of liquid or moisture in an out-of-service refrigerator. Water-filled ice cube trays are often missed, but anything that leaves humidity inside the fridge or freezer, will increase the risk of mold developing.
4. An open package of baking soda left inside the refrigerator will help to reduce lingering odors, leaving it smelling fresher when it's time to stock it up.
5. Leave the refrigerator and freezer doors ajar. Never close the doors on an unplugged refrigerator or freezer. Air must be allowed to circulate within the clean interior. This also assures that even a minute amount of moisture from cleaning, will air dry. Since there's a tendency to close a fridge door which is ajar, it's always best to place either a clean towel or other item to prop it open. The same applies to a small interior freezer door.
6. If you're moving to another locale, the same steps will typically apply but note that you should never lay down a refrigerator when transporting it; it should remain in an upright position because of the compressor. And if your refrigerator has been exposed to freezing temperatures during the move, allow it to acclimatize for a few hours before plugging it in.
7. A refrigerator that is being taken out of service permanently usually cannot be taken to a landfill for disposal, unless it has been prepared and certified by a professional technician. Check your local landfill regulations. Also be aware that dumping fees may apply.
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When replacing a refrigerator, always measure the existing space carefully to ensure an easy install. That includes allowing sufficient door swing and overhead space if you have upper cabinets.