Among all the household appliances ever invented, the refrigerator is probably one of the things humans are most thankful for. Since keeping our very perishable food fresh, cold, and extending its shelf life has never been made this easy thanks to the existence of what most people consider as our kitchen’s best friend. However, just like living organisms; this cooling agent went through an evolutionary upgrade over the years before it has turned up to the version we’ve come to appreciate nowadays. So let’s take a walk down memory lane, and find out how refrigerators have changed from its roots to the most recent models of the decade.
Before we check out the various refrigerators through the years, it’s only proper that we first introduce the main man behind this ingenious invention. And it's none other than an acclaimed inventor who goes by the name of Jacob Perkins. Born and bred in the state of Massachusetts, Perkins' passion for tinkering and inventing various machinery was taken from his extreme curiosity with everything mechanical. and, it doesn't come much as a surprise that this mechanical engineer and physicist was given credit for various inventions throughout his life including machinery for nail cutting and heading, the bathometer, and many others. But his most notable creation was creating a refrigeration machine that is used for cooling via a vapour-compression mechanism. And this has become the backbone of our refrigerator appliances nowadays.
Even before machinery has ever existed, the very concept of using a low temperature to extend the shelf life of food was already practiced through more primitive yet effective means. If you're an outdoorsy kind of person or had the chance to go camping; you have probably noticed that some people would place wine or champagne bottles in a net and immerse it by the riverside. This cooling technique was made famous by older civilizations way back and has been practiced by generations even to this day. But the low-temperature concept made a revolutionary stride from ancient civilizations to this century, and here's how.
If you think that the earliest civilizations were already settled with just salting, sun drying, and smoking as a means to preserve and keep their perishables alive and edible then think again. The Egyptians were already clever enough to make use of the frigid night time temperature to cool down their food. They would store their food in large clay jars, you know like the ones you see archaeologists unearth in some Egyptians' tombs. And they would place it outside or on top of their roofs during night time.
Meanwhile, the Greeks and Romans were known for their ice houses which resemble that of a hobbit house from the Lord of the Rings film that has been dug from the side of a hill. The moist soil will then keep the inside of the structure cool like in caves. And then they would painstakingly collect large chunks of ice from nearby bodies of water that have solidified and store it in the ice house which acts as a natural icebox.
During the late 1700's, a professor from the University of Glasgow; namely, William Cullen first came up with the concept of vaporization as a means of artificially creating cold temperatures. The Scotsman then created a miniature skeletal refrigeration machine to prove his theory. Sadly, he never got around into making a larger version of it, but his concept became the base for all of the succeeding inventions leading to our current cooling appliance.
Around the year 1805, Oliver Evans used Cullen's concept but tweaked it by using vapor instead of liquid to produce the same cooling technique. The American inventor then proceeded in creating the first refrigeration machine. But sadly, it was still just a prototype, which is why the title of being named the Father of Refrigeration went to another American inventor named Jacob Parkins instead. And it happened a few decades later around 1834 when Parkins successfully came up with the very first workable refrigeration system through vapour-compression using ether. However, despite getting the patent for this machine, Parkins refrigerator failed to cater commercially.
This failure to meet the public's demand for a cooling device led to the creation of the first iceboxes. Unlike the ones we use nowadays that are made from Styrofoam, these were made of wood and had an inner lining of tin to help keep the block of ice-cold for more extended periods. But it turned into a flop just because people were not that keen on buying ice blocks all the time and continuously replacing the melted one. It's not precisely cost-efficient and practical that time, mostly when money was hard to come by. I mean, would you.
It wasn’t until when the early 1900's rolled in that commercialized refrigerators were finally produced. The Frigidaire Company, a startup business created by William Durant, started making refrigerators that have compressors below. And the well-known Kelvinator Company brand created its version that has a more "futuristic" touch by installing an automatic control system.
But it was the General Electronic Company and their Monitor-Top refrigerator in 1927 who successfully catered to the public's taste, and about a million units were sold. This started the stable market for what is to become one of the must-have kitchen appliances at present. Their version solely uses two chemicals as refrigerants; methyl formate or sulfur dioxide.
For the past years since refrigerators were developed, the main chemicals used for coolants were either sulfur dioxide, ammonia, or methyl formate. And it was during 1928 when Charles Kettering partnered together with Thomas Midgley, Jr. and created Freon. And it's the game-changing chemical that will soon kick out these three toxic compounds from the refrigeration appliance race. But it took a while before it was eventually used for the cooling kitchen appliance, with Frigidaire leading the pack around 1935 when it released their version that’s all Freon.
During the 1940's newer models have a more levelled up look, by replacing the safe-looking older models that have table-top legs with a more solid rectangular refrigerator that has rounded edges. By the 1950's, appliance repair for these kitchen mainstays has become even more complicated with the addition of various innovations such as automated defrosting and built-in ice makers. And it was also considered the decade of refrigerator mania as about 80 percent of American households own this appliance.
By the 1970's the rounded types have been replaced with a more sleek-looking box that has sharp edges. But it wasn't just the design that had a make-over since by this time people have become environmentally conscious after studies showed that Freon was killing our ozone layer and have geared to replacing the CFC compound. Furthermore, energy-saving refrigerators have also started popping out during this decade.
When the new century rolled in, technological advancement in various appliances and machinery has become unstoppable. And with the advent of the digital age, refrigerators have become more futuristic as companies began including computerized systems in the device. The internet has started penetrating the refrigerator industry, with some being capable of connecting with WiFi. Meanwhile, others can now be controlled using just your phones. And what’s more, the newer luxury versions are even voice-controlled.
There are just so many improvements we can give to our refrigerators to make life easier. And who knows what kind of upgrade companies are gearing toward these days for our appliances. There's only one thing we do know. With the additional innovative mechanisms, also means that it has become more of a challenge when conducting appliance repairs for them. Then again, we do love a good challenge.
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If there is one thing that makes the kitchen one of the most attractive places to stay at, it would be due to the presence of none other than the refrigerator. This must-have home appliance is like a treasure trove that contains all of your prized food and drinks, keeping them cold, fresh, and edible for as long as it can. And besides your bed and television, the refrigerator has become one of your go-to things at home when you need some pick-me-up after a long stressful day.
Refrigerators are so valuable that even a slight mishap sends our moms to frenzy and panic. I remember my mom frantically dialing the repairman's number and begging him to come immediately and fix our fridge or else all of our food would go to waste. And refrigerator repairs don't come cheap, especially if the damage begs for a replacement part. However, as challenging as it may seem, you can still try to fix your refrigerator first before calling SOS. And here are some DIY refrigerator techniques you can do if you encounter one of these common fridge headaches.
A little bit of water does sometimes escape from your refrigerator from time to time; however, it is a different story if it's already creating puddles of water on the floor. Two problems often cause excessive water leakage; a broken water supply line or the drainage for your defroster has been blocked off.
A broken water supply line
Your refrigerator’s water supply can sometimes tear or have holes due to clogging in the line. And a simple fix is replacing the tube by a new line which you can easily buy in a hardware store near you. If by chance there is ice build-up clogging the line, let it thaw for an hour or two and you can turn your refrigerator on again. But if the damage is none of the above, then it's probably time to call for help and have your appliance repaired by an expert.
Blocked drainage defroster
Water leakage often happens when you're defrosting, but the water that should have been drained into the tank behind or below your refrigerator starts flowing in other directions. And it's all because your drainage hole is blocked by a build-up of small food debris or by ice. Remove the residue by either fishing it out with a wire or a coat hanger or by running hot soapy water mixture on it.
One of my favorite compartments in a refrigerator is the freezer, just because it’s that one place that keeps your frozen meat and desserts in excellent condition. However, it is a different story if the inside and even the outer rims start turning into Antarctica. You see, one of the most prevalent problems that require a refrigerator repair is excessive ice build-up in the freezer which takes forever to thaw out. And there are several reasons why this happens.
Broken door seal
Just like the main door of a refrigerator, the freezer's entry also has a sealant on its side to keep the extra cold temperature trapped inside the compartment. And due to wear and tear, this seal often breaks or becomes loose. You can try cleaning it out first and drying it thoroughly. But if that doesn't work, then it's high time to replace the gasket which you can either buy from a hardware store or order it from the company that made your appliance. Unscrew the old one, align the new gasket properly, and screw it back in place.
Freezer door left open.
There's a reason why the freezer has its door, and that's to keep the relative humidity of the compartment levelled. But sometimes, either due to laziness or us being in a rush; we often forget to close the freezer door properly. This will cause a sudden spike of humidity which will, in turn, signal the fridge to work double-time in lowering the temperature, causing the excessive formation of ice. Be sure to always close the door properly and make sure that it's sealed tight. If by chance the door is already loose, then you either replace it or tighten up the screws. If by chance these two are not the culprit, then it’s most likely that your defrost timer or even your temperature sensor. And that means it needs its immediate replacement which only a maintenance specialist can do.
Oh, how we love quiet purring machinery in an appliance because that shows that everything is running smoothly and all its components are in top shape. However, if you start hearing some rumbling and rattling noise whenever your refrigerator turns on, then that only means trouble. The not so pleasant noise is often due to loose parts such as the condenser fan, the compressor tubes, defrost timer, or the drain pan.
If it's just the condenser fan, then a little cleaning and dusting are all that it needs using a soft-bristled brush. Meanwhile, if it's the draining pan, then nudge your fridge and turn it around to expose the drain pan. Remove its contents, slide back in place, and screw it tight. But if the trouble lies with either the compressor or defrost timer, then the only way to repair it to replace these parts.
Although your refrigerator is always plugged in, this cooling appliance, like the air-con, has a built-in control timer that turns it on and off from time to time to save electricity and minimize ice build-up. That's because a continually running refrigerator can take quite a big chunk in your electricity expenses if not fixed as soon as possible. And this usually happens if you leave the door hanging open, allowing warm air to get inside. Furthermore, a fridge filled to the brim will always run more than usual to make sure that it cools down all of the food stored inside. But here are the most common component culprits of a continually running refrigerator:
Dirty condenser coils
The condenser can easily be exposed to dirt and debris such as dust and fur. It is usually located at the back of your refrigerator behind the grille. Once you've unscrewed the grille, carefully use a low-powered vacuum and such out all the dirt. Then use a soft brush and dust away from the remaining debris on it. Be sure to clean this up now and then to avoid this problem, or you can also hire a maintenance man who specializes in refrigerator repair and cleaning to do this for you.
Faulty door seal
Notice that white, grey or black rubber at the surrounding your refrigerator's door? That is the gasket that serves a sealant to keep the cold temperature in and the warm air out. As your fridge ages, it undergoes wear and tear, and the gasket is usually the first part that breaks or gets damaged over time. You can unscrew this and replace it with a brand new one. Just make sure to screw it tight when replacing to avoid loosening in the long run.
Fixing your appliance on your own may seem like a daunting and problematic task. Refrigerator designs nowadays are far more advanced with complex machinery and components. However, there are some refrigerator repairs which you can smoothly perform on your own with a little help online. Only, be sure to assess and locate the damaged or faulty parts first before going ahead with your DIY refrigerator repair. In the instance that you're way out of your game with your appliance's problem, then it's the time to call for professional help.
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With the constant innovation thanks to technological advancements and out of this world ideas, our food's shelf-life extending appliance has come a long way from its forefather versions. And nowadays, there are so many different kinds to choose from in the market with varying sizes, shapes, colors, usage, and features. The sheer number of refrigerators available in the appliance store is so many that buyers, especially the first-timers, often find it an overwhelming task to choose which is the best for their needs.
However, besides focusing simply on your purchasing capability, a smart buyer should have a good idea of what he/she wants in a refrigerator and what it can give in return. And since some people buy an appliance like the fridge is akin to entering into a long-term commitment, we've compiled the six basic types of refrigerators to give you a peek into the bigger picture on how each appliance differs from the other.
A double door style, which honestly resembles that of those old school wardrobe cabinets way back, the side-by-side refrigerator is more of an easy access kind of fridge. Compared to the usual horizontal splitting of compartments, this refrigerator is vertically split, wherein one side gives you the freezer while on the other is your traditional fridge compartment. Although both chambers have unequal width, some provide an equal amount of space for both sides.
But since this is a more slender sized refrigerator appliance, expect that you would not be able to fit larger or wider items, especially on the traditional compartment side. Its narrower space also limits the amount of fresh or pre-cooked food you can store inside. Plus, it's one of the more high-end expensive types of the fridge.
What separates the side-by-side refrigerator types from the rest is that it provides you a much larger freezer storage space. So if you're planning to stock a lot of frozen products such as processed meat and desserts, this is the best cooling appliance for you. It's also perfect for small spaced kitchens thanks to its slimmer doors.
If the side-by-side type and the bottom freezer refrigerator had a love child, then it’s got to be the French door refrigerator. The upper half is a double door, two fresh food compartments that are split vertically. Meanwhile, the bottom half is one big freezer that goes all the way to the base of the fridge. But there are also versions where you can get a double drawer freezer compartment below instead.
This innovative refrigerator appliance first came out during the 1990's but became popular nowadays after going through a series of touch-ups and upgraded features. Its sleek and aesthetically pleasing design is a perfect addition to any kitchen. Furthermore, unlike the side-by-side refrigerators, the French door types are spacious enough for your fresh goods and your frozen food to make a favorite for large households. Sadly, the major downside for these types of refrigerator appliances is its super expensive price tag and not easy freezer access for pregnant women and older people.
Considered the most popular in the market, the top freezer refrigerator is the cheapest and most common among all types of refrigerators out there. You can practically find it in most households worldwide, and it's the one that I grew up loving. This classic favorite also carries that original two-compartment design that is horizontally divided with the freezer on the top half and the fresh food space on the bottom. It also comes with a slide-in compartment within the main body dedicated to fresh vegetables and fruits.
Typically the go-to refrigerator, especially by college students, single young professionals, newlyweds, and large families, thanks to its budget-friendly price and spacious compartments. Furthermore, its simple yet stylish design is the perfect fit for any kitchen. However, the big letdown is that it is quite bulky and eats a large portion of your kitchen space so that you can fully swing that huge door open.
The complete opposite of the top freezers, the bottom freezer refrigerators, came out later in the market but also has become a popular option among consumers nowadays. As the name suggests, it typically has the same design as the classic ones except that the freezer compartment is located at the bottom part of the refrigerator appliance. But what separates it from the top freezers is the freezer feature, which opens either via a door or slides out just like a dish rack drawer.
Price-wise, it's also one of the most affordable ones, often coming second to the top freezer refrigerators. The fresh food compartment is also a lot easier to access than the usual bending down movement when reaching for your food. However, this feature is a bit of a con, especially for kids, as it is often too high for them to reach. But then again, who cares if you can easily grab an ice cream or a pop from the bottom freezer, right?
Also known as the classic refrigerator, the compact refrigerators resemble the first-generation box-type versions having only one single door and compartment. However, unlike the older ones, some newer versions have built-in freezers already installed inside. This additional feature allows a compact refrigerator to work in two ways, either for fresh food or frozen foods.
Also, a cheaper type, mostly because of its smaller size, compact refrigerators, is commonly found in hotels or studio-type apartments. These mini refrigerators have become a popular option, especially for small-spaced accommodations and even offices, thanks to their space-saving size. Sadly, the limitations in space only allow a few items for storage.
Last on our list is one of the newer and quite innovative refrigerator designs in the market. The built-in refrigerators are considered the perfect space-saving fridge and often resemble a standard kitchen drawer. It comes in varying sizes and features depending on what you want decoratively, aesthetically, and functionally for your kitchen. But since they are custom-made and require a more sophisticated installment process, built-in refrigerators are very expensive and can put a hole in your pocket. That and the fact that it is a lot harder to maintain or fix if ever problems arise often make this type a not so good choice. Despite that, many kitchen restaurants and even high-class mansions opt for this nowadays as they consider it a better investment, especially if they are designing their kitchen from scratch.
Now that we have shown you the basic pros and cons and features of these major types of refrigerator, it is up to your buyers to think about which one fits best for your needs. And although no matter which one you choose, it will put a serious dent in your pocket. But as well say, refrigerators are that one appliance that you'll never regret investing in in the long run. After all, it not only keeps your food cold and fresh, but it also effectively extends its shelf-life for as long as it can.
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If there is one thing that our mom pounded into us while growing up, it is keeping the refrigerator spick and span. My mother is one serious neat-freak when it comes to our house, especially in the kitchen area, which understandably is her ‘domain.’ She would always remind us, siblings, to keep our kitchen top, stovetop, and refrigerator clean at all times if we don’t want to eat germs and bacteria. And boy, moms definitely know best, particularly when it comes to cleaning.
Refrigerators are our food-keeping appliance, functioning as a storage compartment and shelf-life extender at the same time. Since they deal with food, keeping them clean is our top priority. And here, we have compiled several helpful cleaning and disinfecting tips that you can use to keep your refrigerator spotless.
When it comes to cleaning the refrigerator, using typical kitchen cleaning chemicals is a big NO. These cleaning materials are proven to get the grime off; however, the strong chemical residue they leave on surfaces is too harmful and often toxic once ingested. This is why I would typically use dish washing liquid diluted in water as my cleaning agent.
You can also create your own DIY cleaning mixture using common household materials that are as effective but non-toxic. The most common and favorite go-to combo is baking soda and vinegar. Mix half a cup of vinegar with ¼ cup of baking soda and dilute in a gallon of water. It is an excellent disinfectant plus mold removing solution. For tough and hardened stains, using any toothpaste is also a great option.
Meanwhile, for deodorizers, I would generally place a cup of baking soda on a small container and place it around the center or bottom shelf. Most moms would also recommend using activated charcoal, which you can easily buy in your local market. Simply put it on a net bag or even a new clean sock and hang it at the back of your fridge. It could effectively suck up all the bad smells for about a month or two, depending on how large your fridge is and how much food you stock it.
You can still commercially available kitchen cleaning agents but be sure to use the mild ones or those made explicitly for refrigerator cleaning. Don’t use strong-scented chemicals as it could remain on your fridge for a long time and can attach to your food.
All refrigerator appliances have some removable components such as racks, drawers, and shelves in them. They must be cleaned separately, and that means removing them firsthand. If you don’t detach them, then chances are you wouldn’t be able to get off all the dirt and grime, especially those stuck on the nooks and crannies. And since they are removable, they have crevices and spaces in between, which are often the breeding ground of molds and serves as catch basins for spilled liquid such as sauces and beverages.
Use a cotton rag or a soft sponge to scrub and clean out all the removed parts’ grime. You can also use a soft toothbrush to get to the crevices and clean out the racks properly. Place them on a clean surface and allow them to dry out before returning them to the refrigerator.
The water dispenser tray carefully removes it and dumps out the water before cleaning it up. It is quite prone to water spotting and staining as well as dirt build-up. However, a good wipe down of vinegar and warm water solution will help remove all the water mineral build-up.
One of the reasons why your refrigerator’s door loosens over time is due to dirt build-up on the gasket or lining. This will then lead to several problems that can ultimately break down some of your refrigerator’s machinery components. If you don’t want that to happen, then make it a habit to include your gasket whenever you do your regular cleaning schedule.
You can either use the vinegar-baking soda combo solution or just plain diluted dish washing liquid as your cleaning agent. Gently wipe down the gasket or lining with the solutions. You may also use a soft brush to remove all the dirt and debris stuck in between the crevices before wiping it all away with a moist towel. A thin coat of petroleum jelly is often rubbed over the lining to prevent it from drying out and maximize its adhesive characteristic.
More often than not, people love to neglect or forget to include the exterior during their fridge cleaning chore. Sure, it still looks great during the first few months; however, it will eventually accumulate dust and grime over time if not cleaned out regularly. Plus, if you want to keep the sleek aesthetics of your refrigerator’s exterior, then I suggest you do some extra elbow greasing to keep it that way.
A simple wipe down with your refrigerator cleaning solution is enough to keep it spick and span. However, it’s a different story if your fridge’s exterior is stainless steel. Use a damp microfibril cloth to wipe it down, then do another round of wiping, this time with a dry microfibril cloth. You can also use some metal shining solution to help give that extra sparkle and remove all the fingerprints and smudges. But, make sure to choose those that do not leave any harmful residue or scent afterward. You may also use a few drops of rubbing alcohol for more stubborn dirt build-up, just be sure to pat it dry.
If there’s one exterior component that you should regularly maintain and clean, it is the refrigerator coils or condenser coils. These tubes are typically located at the back of your fridge, while some have them placed at the underside. They are responsible for the cooling and heating the refrigerant, the liquid that keeps your fridge cold. Condenser coils are very prone to dirt and dust build-up, which leads to clogging. And this leads to several problems, which include inefficient energy and electricity usage and overworking your condenser.
Be sure to unplug your fridge first before tackling the condenser coils lest you get electrocuted. Use a soft toothbrush or one of those bottle cleaning brushes to remove all the stuck dirt on the coils. Then vacuum or sweep out all the debris from the floor. If you are hesitant to clean them out yourself, then you may call for a professional appliance maintenance technician to get the job done for you.
Allow to air-dry your refrigerator or simply wipe it down with a dry cloth before placing back all the food and containers inside. You wouldn’t want the cleaning residue to get stuck on your food. Furthermore, make it a habit to schedule regular cleaning of your fridge once every two weeks or once a week. This may sound too much; however, since the refrigerator directly deals with the food you eat, keeping it spotless is necessary. Plus, regular maintenance of any home appliance will help extend its life span and keep it working like new for a long time.
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