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How To Deal With Refrigerator Moisture

Dear Mr. HandyPerson, My refrigerator has heavy moisture on the outside, and I don't know why. (I've read the literature.) Rust spots are happening. It's a new refrigerator (energy-saving), and I would appreciate any help Joan Enfield, Conn.
Dear Joan, Get out that owner's manual and read it again, Joan. Somewhere in there you will probably discover, as Mr. HandyPerson did about five years ago with his new, energy-saving refrigerator, that there is a setting for maximum energy savings. But there's also a warning that it can cause condensation to appear on the exterior surfaces of the refrigerator in some cases. Because he no longer has access to the manual (he moved), Mr. HP can't recall off the top of his head why this occurs, but it may have something to do with ambient humidity. The solution is to turn off the switch (or control setting) for maximum energy saving. Mr. HP has gotten quite a few letters about this problem in recent years, as people have increasingly turned toward energy-saving appliances, including some from people who called appliance-repair services that also didn't know the cause of the problem. Check your manual carefully. There's usually a troubleshooting list of potential problems and what to do about them somewhere in there. You'll probably find a note about the exterior condensation and how to stop it. Whenever there is a rapid number of innovations, in this case a fairly dramatic increase in energy efficiency, there are bound to be a few glitches in the first years (such as early low-flow toilets that were low-flow but didn't flush decently). With luck, this condensation problem should be ironed out soon. Mr. HP recently purchased an energy-efficient refrigerator and it does not have either a "maximum energy-saving setting" or a condensation problem. For some other recent models that do, there is a way to stop it by changing the refrigerator's temperature and humidity controls. If you can't find the information in the manual, most refrigerator manufacturers have a toll-free consumer help line that should help clear up the problem. Dear Mr. HandyPerson, You recently wrote about the removal of non-slip tub decals. I have a similar but different situation. I have a rug with rubber backing, and the backing is stuck to the wood floor in several places. I've pulled and scratched with my fingernails to get all I can up, but there are still patches remaining. What can I use to help loosen it from the flooring and not ruin the floor's finish? Jane Timberlake, N.C. Dear Jane, Although Mr. HandyPerson is, for safety reasons, a fan of non-slip rugs in bathrooms, on steps and on wood floors, he sure wishes rug makers would figure out a more durable backing that doesn't tend, over time, to deteriorate and stick to the floor and create the situation you describe. Some backings get stuck to the floor and can damage the finish of wood floors, while others simply disintegrate gradually into a messy powder. While fingernails are one of the basic, useful human tools, they may not be the best tool for this. If the finish on the wood floor is generally in good condition, try wiping a little mineral oil on a small section and use the edge of an old credit card to scrape away the stuck-on residue. Buff off any oil after each section you clean. When you have all the rug-backing residue removed and the mineral oil thoroughly buffed so the floor is not oily, some parts of the finish may be slightly dulled. If so, you can probably spiff them up using a little No. 0000 steel wool, clear Old English oil, and a lot of clean, soft rags to buff the dulled areas. Use the steel wool and Old English oil gently because putting a lot of muscle into this can remove the finish. To avoid this problem in the future, make sure to check nonslip rugs whenever you clean or vacuum them to make sure the backing is not starting to disintegrate or stick to the floor. For small, washable rugs like bath mats, the end of their useful life usually becomes evident in the washer when small pieces of them start to fall off.

Share your home repair problems, interesting questions, funny experiences and useful tips by writing to Mr. HandyPerson, c/o Universal Press Syndicate, 4520 Main St., Kansas City MO 64111.

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