It’s one of the last things any homeowner wants to deal with, especially on a hot summer day: your refrigerator has stopped working, and you’ve already determined that the appliance itself is to blame. While contacting will naturally top your priority list, you may also be wondering: how long will my food last without a functioning fridge?
Understanding a few food storage basics will help you keep your food safe, whether you experience a refrigerator repair problem or a power outage.
The Right Temperature
Food inside the refrigerator should be kept at a temperature of 4.4 degrees Celsius or cooler at all times to keep from spoiling. Freezers should be kept at -17.7 degrees Celsius.
When your appliance loses power, it won’t automatically exceed these temperatures right away. In fact, a full freezer can maintain a consistent interior temperature for up to 48 hours. However, the refrigerator itself will usually only keep food at a safe temperature for about four hours.
Because of this, after your refrigerator has been repaired, you should check both the internal temperature of the fridge and the condition of each food item. If a thermometer reading says that the inside of the fridge is over 4.4 degrees Celsius, then you may need to discard perishable food items.
Generally speaking, meat, eggs, leftovers, or seafood that spent more than two hours at these elevated temperatures should be discarded. Inspect each food item for unusual smells or colors. If you’re uncertain about something, it’s safer to throw it out.
While you should try to schedule repairs as quickly as possible, there are still a few things you can do to help your fridge maintain a consistent interior temperature until a serviceman arrives. Keeping the door closed is by far the most important thing you can do! Each time you open the refrigerator door, you allow the cool air to escape and be replaced by warmer air from outside. Avoid opening the door to keep cool air in.
If you have dry ice or block ice available, you could also place some inside the refrigerator to help it stay cool. If you have space in the freezer, it may also be a good idea to move certain food items there, especially since the freezer can better maintain its cold temperatures when full.
By scheduling repairs as quickly as possible and avoiding going in and out of the fridge when it is without power, you can keep your food from going to waste.