A working refrigerator is essential for any home. Arguably, the most important appliance in the home, your refrigerator needs a little care and attention to ensure that it keeps functioning properly. One of these tasks is cleaning the condenser coils. Dirty coils not only increase energy use and force the appliance to work harder, but they can also compromise the lifespan of your refrigerator.
Why the Coils Get Dirty
The condenser coils are usually located along the base or at the back of the refrigerator. The coils are used to cool and condense refrigerant, keeping the air inside your refrigerator at the optimum temperature. If the coils are clogged, they are unable to release heat efficiently, which causes the compressor to work harder, using more energy and placing the entire appliance under strain. Unfortunately, condenser coils can accumulate dirt, dust, pet hair and other debris from your home. These particles collect around and on the coils. Even if you are diligent with your cleaning routine, your condenser coils will still accumulate debris and will need to be cleaned at least once every year. While this may be an unappealing task, it will minimize the need for a costly service call or needing to prematurely replace your refrigerator.
Before You Start
If you want to tackle cleaning your condenser coils by yourself, you’ll need a few tools. You can make the task much easier if you have a vacuum cleaner that has a brush and crevice attachment and a special condenser coil cleaning brush. This type of brush is very bendable and designed to fit into the tight spaces around your condenser coils.
Next, you will need to locate the condenser coils in your specific appliance. As mentioned above, the condenser coils are typically at the back of the refrigerator or in the front across the bottom of the appliance. If you are struggling to locate your coils, it should be detailed in the owner’s manual for your appliance.
The final task before you start cleaning is to unplug your refrigerator. You should never work on any electrical devices that are connected to a power supply, so ensure that your appliance is unplugged from the wall socket or that it has been turned off at your circuit breaker. If your refrigerator has an ice maker or water dispenser, you will also need to shut off the water supply to the appliance.
Cleaning Front Coils
If your condenser coils are located at the front of your refrigerator, you’ll need to remove the bottom kickplate. This will usually snap or pull off. You will need to be down on the floor to be able to look under the appliance. Use your vacuum and coil brush to gently remove any pet hair, dust or dirt that may have accumulated around the coils. Clean the kickplate and replace it.
When you’re cleaning the condenser coils, it is also a good idea to clean the condenser fan. This is at the back of the refrigerator, and you’ll need to remove an access panel using a screwdriver. Take care when moving your refrigerator as it is likely to be heavy, so enlist help from a friend and lay cardboard on the floor to protect your flooring. Once the panel is removed, use your coil brush and vacuum cleaner to clean the area. You may also need a soft cloth to brush any debris from the fan. Reinstall the panel and move the appliance back into place. Plug in your refrigerator and turn on the water to check it is running correctly.
Cleaning Rear Condenser Coils
If your condenser coils are at the back of your refrigerator, you’ll need to move the appliance forward for access. As above use your vacuum cleaner and coil brush to gently clean your coils. You’re likely to find that rear coils are not as vulnerable to pet dander and other debris, but they should still be cleaned regularly.
The coils are an important maintenance task to ensure that your refrigerator continues to function properly. If you don’t feel confident tackling this task yourself, a professional home appliance repair technician can help you.