Test Your Fridge's Efficiency With A Dollar Bill, Here's How

It's not always easy to know when your appliances are slowing down. When you buy a big-ticket item like a refrigerator, you expect it to work without issue for years. Unfortunately, that's not always the case, yet you can easily check your fridge's efficiency by testing it with a dollar bill.

One of the most obvious signs that your refrigerator isn't cooling optimally is that it doesn't feel as cool as it usually does when you open it. You might also notice that food isn't staying fresh — which can be a health hazard resulting in food poisoning. For food to stay safe, the fridge must be kept between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. (via Prevention). Another sign that your fridge may be underperforming is its noise level. If it's making a very loud and unusual noise, or not making any noise at all, it may be malfunctioning. Too much noise may be a compromised motor, but too little noise can indicate a broken compressor. Many times, you simply notice a build-up of condensation, which may mean that your door seal is not sufficient.

How to use a dollar bill to see if your fridge is working efficiently

The first thing to do is check the thermometer on the fridge and make sure it is appropriately set. Thermometers can be mistakenly turned down, and it may just need a simple adjustment. If you find that the temperature is set correctly, then grab a dollar bill to do a quick efficiency test.

The gasket of a refrigerator is the elastic piece of rubber that lines the doors. It's also known as the door seal. When the door seal is compromised, temperatures do not stay constant or steady, and food can easily spoil. To check your fridge's efficiency, take a crisp dollar bill, and place it midpoint in the door seal. Close the door over it — You should see half of the dollar hanging out. First, check that the dollar bill is held firmly by the door. Then, pull the dollar out slowly. The seal should give you some resistance. If you can pull out the bill with ease, your seal isn't doing its job to protect the internal temperature of the fridge.

You may need to replace the gasket if your fridge fails the test

Once you get the hang of it, repeat the same action in several parts of the door seal. Perform the test on the fridge and the freezer. Check it in various spots along the top, bottom, and side of the gaskets. Although the top may be fine, the bottom may have issues sealing correctly, or vice versa. When a gasket isn't airtight, it needs to be replaced.

Other signs your door seal isn't functioning right are when you can visibly see that it's out of alignment or if you have trouble closing the door because the gasket is uneven. Sometimes, the problem isn't the gasket itself but spills and residue accumulated on it. Cleaning this part of the fridge is more important than you may think. When food becomes stuck to the door seal, it can create an unbalance when it closes. To clean a dirty door gasket, add a little dish soap to warm water and gently scrub it with a microfiber cloth. For caked-on food, you may want to use a dish brush or sponge with a mildly abrasive side finish. Rinse and dry the gasket completely. Once dry, try the dollar bill test again. A new gasket may be in order if the dollar still doesn't pass the test. Perform a dollar bill test at least once a year or if you suspect your fridge temps are not optimal.