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How to Find and Clean Your Refrigerator's Air Filter



While refrigerators keep our food fresher longer, they can’t stop the rotting process completely. In other words, if you leave fresh meat, produce, or dairy products in the fridge long enough, they’ll eventually spoil and start to smell bad. And, as it turns out, the traditional method for keeping foul refrigerator odors at bay—leaving a bowl or open container of baking soda inside—doesn’t really do much.

Fortunately, most newer refrigerators come equipped with a built-in air filter to help minimize strong smells. And like the hidden-but-hardworking filters inside your washing machine and dishwasher, your fridge’s air filters also need to be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis.

What does an air filter do in a refrigerator?

Like any other air filter you have in your home, the one in your refrigerator also removes contaminants from the air—in this case, mineral buildup, as well as food, dust, and mold particles. A refrigerator air filter’s most noticeable function, however, is deodorizing the air inside the appliance. If you’ve ever opened a refrigerator door to grab a drink, only to be hit with a wall of stinky, stagnant air, you probably understand the air filter’s appeal and necessity.

How do I know if my refrigerator has an air filter?

Most refrigerators manufactured in the past decade have air filters, although they began appearing in some models years earlier. The easiest way to find out whether your refrigerator has an air filter is to check or look up the owner’s manual. If yours does have an air filter, the manual will also show you where to find it, the type of filter it uses, and how and when to clean or replace it.

Where is the refrigerator air filter located? 

The location of a refrigerator’s air filter varies, depending on its manufacturer and model, but they’re most frequently found near the rear wall at the top of the refrigerator compartment. Other locations include the inside of  the air vent grille, underneath the bin in the door panel, or other spots along the fridge walls.

Can you clean and reuse a refrigerator air filter?

While some refrigerators use disposable air filters, others have filters that can be cleaned and reused. The easiest way to find out which kind you have is to check or look up your fridge’s owner’s manual. If that’s not an option, pull out the current air filter and look up any serial numbers or other markings you can find, or call the manufacturer’s customer service line, and a rep should be able to help you determine what kind of filter you need, and whether it’s reusable. 

How to clean or replace a refrigerator air filter

Once you’ve figured out where your refrigerator’s air filter is located, and whether the filter is reusable or disposable, you can get started. Keep in mind that the process may differ slightly depending on your refrigerator’s manufacturer and model, but here are some general instructions:

Here’s how to clean a reusable refrigerator air filter:

  • Locate the compartment housing the air filter, and then pull, turn, or lift the filter out, removing it completely.

  • Gently tap the filter on a garbage can to dislodge and remove as much of the debris as possible.

  • Use a vacuum attachment and/or soft-bristled brush to carefully remove any remaining debris.

  • Fill your sink, or a bucket or basin with warm water and a few squirts of a mild dishwashing liquid. Place the filter in the soapy water so it’s submerged completely. Let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Pull the filter out of the water and rinse it off with warm water from the sink. If there’s any remaining debris, use a soft-bristled brush to gently remove it, then rinse the filter with clean, warm water.

  • Allow the filter to air dry completely.

  • While the filter is drying, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe down the area inside the refrigerator surrounding the air filter, as well as the inside of the housing compartment.

  • When the filter and the compartment are completely dry, pop the filter back into place, and replace the housing compartment.

Here’s how to replace a disposable air filter:

  • Locate the compartment housing the air filter, and then pull, turn, or lift the filter out, removing it completely. Dispose of the used filter.

  • Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe down the area inside the refrigerator surrounding the air filter, as well as the inside of the housing compartment.

  • Look at the new air filter, and locate the side marked “front.” If you still have the packaging from the new filter, you can check for installation instructions if it’s unclear which side is the front.

  • Place the new filter inside the housing compartment with the side marked “front” facing outward.

  • Replace the housing compartment. 

How often should a refrigerator air filter be changed?

Regardless of whether you can clean and reuse refrigerator’s air filter or you need to replace it, the general rule is to take care of it every six months. Some refrigerators have a light that turns on when the air filter needs to be cleaned or replaced, so keep an eye on that, as well as the calendar. Lastly, listen to your nose: If you’ve noticed that your fridge smells worse than usual—and there’s no obvious culprit—it may also be a sign to clean or change the air filter.

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Use This Infrared Thermometer to Find Where Heat Is Escaping Your House



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When it’s cold outside and you’re paying to heat your home, you don’t want to feel a chill breeze whipping through your living room—especially if its source is a mystery. Perhaps you’ve already insulated your electrical outlets, installed weatherstripping around your windows and doors, and caulked all the holes, gaps, and cracks you could find, but still can’t detect the draft.

While you can always try using a candle to locate the air leaks, that’s not exactly the most precise method. Instead, why not use an infrared thermometer? Not the kind you point at a person’s forehead to take their temperature, but one designed for this and other household tasks. Here’s why it’s worth investing in an infrared thermometer, and a few of our favorite models.

Household uses for infrared thermometers

The infrared thermometers used for finding air leaks look similar to the ones used for medical purposes, but typically are orange and black, or yellow and black, instead of white, gray, or light blue. This is probably a good time to mention that household infrared thermometers shouldn’t be used to take a person’s temperature.

Apart from that, these digital devices come in handy for a variety of household tasks, including but not limited to:

  • Locating air leaks and drafts

  • Checking the temperature of walls, ceilings, and other areas in your home to see if they need to be better insulated 

  • Measuring the temperature of the wall surrounding a circuit breaker box or electrical outlet if you smell or otherwise suspect a potential electrical fire, or faulty wiring

  • Cooking, baking, grilling, frying, and other aspect of food preparation 

  • Automotive temperature measurement 

  • Checking the temperature of metal slides and/or other playground equipment before a child uses it on a hot day

  • Checking the temperature of the pavement in the summer to see if it’s too hot for your dog’s paws

What to look for when purchasing an infrared thermometer

It’s not hard to find a solid infrared thermometer for your basic household needs for between $15 and $25—or even less when they’re on sale. These tend to be easy to use and read. The more bells and whistles one has, the less straightforward operating it becomes, so unless you’re going to use it for a specific purpose that requires a special feature, simpler models are usually your best bet.

There are, however, some differences among the entry-level infrared thermometers that you may want to consider before making your purchase. For instance:

  • Temperature range

  • Adjustable emissivity (to accurately measure temperatures on a variety of different surfaces)

  • Water and/or dust resistance 

  • Rechargeable (usually via USB cable) versus battery operated

The best infrared thermometers for household tasks

To help you take some of the guesswork out of making a purchase, here are some of our favorite infrared thermometers:

Best overall

Inkbird Rechargeable Infrared Thermometer ($24.99)

Though rechargeable infrared thermometers cost slightly more than those that are battery operated; it’s worth it not to have to deal with or pay for AA or AAA batteries, and simply plug in a USB cable instead. Fully charged, the thermometer can last up to 12 hours with backlight, and has a range of -58℉ to 1022℉(-50℃ to 550℃). It’s also easy to operate, with a single button controlling all the settings and functions.

Best budget option

Etekcity Infrared Thermometer Temperature Gun ($14.99)

This solid, basic option gets the job done. It’s battery operated, but the thermometer comes with two AAA batteries, so that’s convenient. It’s temperature range of -58° to 842°F (-50° to 450°C) isn’t as wide as other models, but it should be sufficient for most household uses.

Best for cooking

SOVARCATE Infrared Thermometer ($18.69)

The ability to adjust this thermometer’s emissivity makes it easy to get accurate temperature readings on hot oil, ice, and any other food or cooking surface—as does a temperature range of -58°F to 1112°F(-50°C to 600°C). In addition to two AAA batteries, a meat thermometer with a stainless steel probe is included with the purchase.

Best automotive option

ThermoPro TP30 Infrared Thermometer Gun ($19.99)

This versatile thermometer can be used for any household tasks—including in the garage. The display retains the minimum, maximum, and average temperature of the last scan, which is especially helpful in automotive work, like checking engine temperatures.

Best for construction

Ketotek Digital Infrared Thermometer Temperature Gun ($21.99)

This heavy-duty infrared thermometer with a scratch-resistant UV coating can withstand more than the usual wear-and-tear, while still retaining the sensitivity necessary for cooking.

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Everything You Need to Know About Grok, Elon Musk's Answer to ChatGPT



AI chatbots are suddenly a dime a dozen. Beyond the massively successful and overhyped options (like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard), now Elon Musk’s xAI is getting on on the action. Musk’s AI company has released the first version of Grok, an AI chatbot that the SpaceX leader heralds as a more humorous and free-thought version of ChatGPT. But what exactly is Grok, is it worth paying to use it?

What is Grok?

According to xAI’s website, Grok is an “AI modeled after the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is, of course, an old sci-fi novel (slash radio drama slash TV show slash movie), but the name “Grok” appears to be drawn from a different old sci-fi novel, Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. In that book, “grok” is a Martian word with a definition roughly along the lines of “to know something (or someone) on a truly intimate level.”

The company says Grok is intended to be used answer almost anything, while also being able to suggest some questions users can ask it. Additionally, the company says that Grok is designed to answer with “a bit of wit” and that the AI has a “rebellious streak,” and warns not to use it if you “hate humor.” Sure. Elon Musk is, after all, famously hilarious.

The product is still in very early beta, and currently it only has around four to five months of training. As such, xAI says that Grok should improve exponentially over the coming months. But how is it right now?

Is Grok good?

Grok is…not the worst AI chatbot that has been released in recent months, and based on how hard Elon Musk likes to push his companies to iterate, it is likely we’ll see some degree of “improvement” in the service in the months going forward. Whether or not that improvement means making the bot more like its premium competitors—ChatGPT and Claude—remains to be seen.

As it stands, Grok is probably on par with what we saw with ChatGPT’s earliest iterations, though xAI continues to claim the service will improve rapidly as it is trained on the content and information freely available on X, formerly known as Twitter, which Elon Musk also owns. (X/Twitter is also, after all, famously filled with accurate information). So far, the company says the chatbot it has shown substantial improvements since Grok-0, the very first iteration of the large language model.

How accurate is Grok?

Because Grok is designed to respond with “wit” and to be “a bit rebellious,” the chatbot is a good deal different than OpenAI’s ChatGPT, or the even more ethically restricted Claude, from Anthropic. According to xAI, Grok was more than 60% accurate across three of the four tests that the company ran it through. However, it’s unclear if that information has been tested and verified by independent parties.

Hallucinations—that is, instances of an AI making up facts or answers—are common with chatbots like Grok. And while Grok is still being trained, as noted, the model learns based on of all the information posted on X, which means it has license to leaf every dumb post sent out by millions of users, including all the ones full of misinformation and bad data. As such, I’d recommend double checking everything Grok tells you, because you never know what kind of “fact” it’s going to pull from a random user of that service.

How much does Grok cost to use?

The Grok waitlist is currently only open to Premium+ subscribers on X. That means you will need to become a verified user on the service, which costs roughly $16 a month. Sure, it’s cheaper than a subscription to ChatGPT or Claude—but consider that both those options have had more training, and also offer higher ethical restrictions. Any intensive use of AI chatbots is probably best saved for those two platforms, or others like them. And as I said, you can’t even try it yet—you’re only able to apply for the waitlist right now—so that monthly payment doesn’t exactly guarantee you access.

Doubts aside, Grok isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and more than any AI chatbot is. The more competition in the AI space, the more every company will have to strive to make their products better, which will hopefully be a win for consumers like you and me. If you’re debating trying out an AI chatbot, though, I’d recommend giving Grok some more time to build up its features.

The fact that Grok can pull data from X is intriguing in theory, but there’s so much dumb data, hateful content, and straight-up misinformation on there, the answers you get from the chatbot might not be be worth taking seriously.

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How to Use Audio Message Transcriptions in iOS 17



The latest major software update for iPhone, iOS 17, ushered in a number of new features including Contact Posters and StandBy. One feature that might have been overlooked is the addition of audio message transcriptions built into iMessage.

Audio messages have been a part of iMessage for a number of years and are a quick and easy way to send info to someone on the fly, or when a message is too long to type out manually. With the new transcription feature in iOS 17, you’ll automatically see a written version of the audio message below the waveform. This is great for those moments when you’re in a loud environment and can’t listen to their audio message right away, but you want to get a quick impression of what it’s about. You know, in case it’s something serious that you really should make time for.

How to use audio message transcriptions in iOS 17

To see this feature in action, try sending an audio message. To do this, open your Messages and open or start a new conversation. Next to where you’d type out your message, you should see a “+” icon. Tapping on that icon will open a pop-up menu that allows you to send photos, GIFs, live locations, and—drum roll—audio messages. Once you tap the audio icon, it’ll automatically start recording your message. (If you don’t like where the audio message option shows up in the new menu, you can rearrange it by tapping and holding, then moving it wherever you like.)

Once you’re done recording and send the audio message, the audio transcript will appear below the waveform. For longer audio messages, the transcript might get cut off behind a “Show More option.” Tap that to expand the audio transcription and read the message in full.

An iOS screenshot showing a transcription of a short audio message

Credit: Sachin Bahal

If you get a particularly good audio message and want to hang onto it, long-press the audio message and tap “Save to Voice Memos.” Keep in mind that audio message transcriptions are automatically enabled once your iPhone downloads and installs iOS 17. At this time, it’s not possible to disable the feature.

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