Cleaning Refrigerator Condenser Coils

Refrigerator Condenser Coils

The other day, my 4-year old son was playing in the kitchen and accidentally launched a brand new $1.50 Ferrari under the refrigerator. It was imperative that I retrieve this Ferrari immediately.

I popped off the lower front grille and started swooshing a ruler back and forth. In the process of trying to retrieve the famed car I was stunned to see that the underside of the refrigerator had turned into a fuzzy dungeon off lost receipts, pieces of food and a crap-ton of dust. As I slid the ruler back and forth, I managed to push the car further back into the fuzzy dungeon. And this point, I realized I was going to have to move the whole darn refrigerator.

No problem, I thought. It’ll just take a minute … sigh.

That 2-minute job turned into a 2-hour job. The fuzzy dungeon of paper receipts from years past and pieces of food were of such quantity, it would be a mistake to simply re-cover it by pushing the refrigerator back in place after retrieving the car. It was time to clean.

I got the vacuum out and started sucking up all that I could via the front grille. In doing so, I discovered something … there’s a water pan under the fridge! For some reason I had assumed this was a relic of the past and newer technologically “advanced” refrigerators didn’t require one. Luckily, it was totally dry and appeared that it had never been wet in the past, but that got me thinking. I know there’s a fan somewhere under here too. When the refrigerator is “on” I can feel warm air coming out the front.

So I started sucking up more of the fuzzy dungeon and discovered there is a “W” shaped wire mesh condenser cooling coil too! Unfortunately, I couldn’t gain complete access to the cooling condenser, so to finish the job I had to empty the refrigerator and tip it just enough to gain access (this is what took the better part of two hours).

Come to realize, the fuzzy dungeon that forms on the condenser coils under the refrigerator can greatly, and negatively, impact the performance of your refrigerator. The purpose of the coil is to remove heat from the coolant and conduct it to the air. Well, if the air can’t interact with the grille because of the debris, then the refrigerator has to work longer and harder to remove the heat and thus cool the refrigerator. It ends up wasting electricity and can burn out the compressor much earlier than designed.

It’s probably a good idea to clean the underside of the refrigerator once every couple years. This was the first time I had cleaned mine since moving into the new house 5 years ago. Man, it was incredibly nasty. Since the cleaning, I’ve noticed the refrigerator runs for a much shorter period of time.

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