How to Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

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We all know that refrigerators don’t last forever. Refrigerators often last for decades, remaining in a house through several owners and residents. But eventually, a refrigerator wears down. The most common sign that a refrigerator is aging is temperature control. When a fridge stops staying cold, you start making plans. Except that it might not be necessary.

Cleaning Refrigerator Coils

Most people don’t know this, but you can seriously increase the lifespan and performance of your refrigerator by cleaning the condenser coils. Condenser coils are the wrap-around tubes filled with coolant fluid. They generate the cold, or rather remove the heat, that allows the fridge to stay cool and the freezer to freeze. If these coils get covered in dust (and they always do) then their effectiveness is reduced and they can even become damaged over time.

Learning to clean your refrigerator coils can breathe new life into your fridge and we’ll walk you through how it’s done. 

Gather Your Supplies

Always start by gathering your supplies. You’ll want a screwdriver and a bucket of cleaning supplies to handle the epic piles of dust that you are about to encounter. In fact, a vacuum is going to be your most useful tool.

  • Vacuum Cleaner with Hose Attachment
  • Cloths or Towels
  • Condenser Brush
  • Piece of Cardboard

Unplug the Fridge

Because the condenser coils are connected to an electrical system, you’ll want to cut the power first. Unplug your fridge as a basic safety precaution. As long as the fridge says closed, it should stay sufficiently cold for the duration of your cleaning task. If you do need to access the inside of the fridge, then move your cold items together onto the counter where they can keep each other cold and/or put freezer items into a cooler. 

Find the Coils

The next step is to locate your refrigerator’s coils. Your coils will be found somewhere in the body of the refrigerator, but the location and method of access vary from model to model.

Behind the Refrigerator

Older models of fridge tend to have the coils exposed or easily accessible in the back. Pull your fridge out and so you can comfortably work behind it. Remove the backplate if necessary to reveal the coils.

Underneath the Refrigerator, Behind the Kickplate

Other models keep the coolant coils below the fridge, and you can access them by removing the kickplate near the floor. Removing the kickplate is also a way to access other components, including some water filters.

On Top of the Refrigerator

Some models of refrigerator keep the coils on the top of the fridge because the freezer is on top and cold air falls while warm air rises.

Behind the Freezer Back Wall

The last place to look, if you can’t find the coils anywhere else, is behind the back wall of your freezer. Many fridge models tuck the coils right behind the freezer where the cold needs to be the most intense. Look for screws, hex bolts, or clips and twisting clasps that hold the back inner wall of the freezer in place. 

Sweep With a Condenser Brush

Once you find the condenser coils, it’s time to get cleaning. Start with the condenser brush. This is a special type of brush that will help clear the dust, lint, and other debris off of the coils without damaging them. Don’t worry about making a mess, this is a messy job and final cleanup is part of the task. A lot of dust is going to hit the floor. If you’re inside the freezer, consider putting down a towel to catch most of the mess so you don’t have to wipe it out of the frost. 

Vacuum Everything

The second step in this one-two cleaning is the vacuum. Set up the vacuum to intake through the hose, then point that hose at the condenser coils. Suck up all the loose and slightly stubborn debris still on the coils. Then point the hose at everything nearby. Generally clear away the dust, grime, hair, and other crud that has made the coil-compartment of your fridge and the nearby floor so dirty. 

Wipe It Down

Finally, take your clothes or towels and wipe down everything. Wipe the condenser coils, wipe the nearby components, wipe down the fridge, and wipe any remaining dust from the floor. This last step will leave your fridge and your kitchen much cleaner than when you started the task. Consider the potential pounds of dust you just removed from the fridge housing and the kitchen floor.

—Congratulations, you have just cleaned your refrigerator condenser coils. Enjoy a much colder and more efficient fridge for many years. For more great appliance repair tips, contact us today!

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