The coils cool and condense the refrigerant that cool the air inside a refrigerator. These coils are susceptible to dust accumulation because they are not fully enclosed and remain exposed to air.
Your refrigerator may not cool properly and work harder if the coils are dirty, and dirty coils may also cause it to run less efficiently, resulting in more electricity being consumed. Dirty coils can also reduce the life of your fridge since it is working harder than if the coils were clean. Cleaning the refrigerator coils and performing refrigerator maintenance will extend the life of your fridge.
Remove the refrigerator from the wall
Your refrigerator’s coils should be located on the back of the appliance, not on the wall. A lot of refrigerators are designed with wheels for easy movement.
Unplug the refrigerator power connection
You must move the refrigerator from the wall to gain access to the power cord to unplug the electrical outlet if it is behind it. The coil cleaning should take only 15 minutes or less preserving the coldness in the fridge.
Find the refrigerator coils
On older models of refrigerators, the coils are usually found mounted at the back of the device. On newer models, the coils are usually located at the bottom of the fridge behind a removable grill at the front and back. The refrigerator coils are simple to spot as they are U-shaped grids of metal tubes.
Clean fridge coils
This cleaning process guide provides instructions for how to clean your refrigerator coils and get the refrigerator running smoothly.
The steps to clean refrigerator coils are:
- Slide the fridge out from the wall and be careful of the water line and power cord, do not yank them out!
- Turn off the electricity to the refrigerator and unplug it from the power outlet, be careful of the water line from the wall to the fridge, do not crimp it or pull it out.
- The coils should be in the bottom front of the fridge if you have a newer refrigerator. There may be a plastic panel over the coils. If a panel is there, it needs to be removed. If you have an older fridge, remove the back panel to expose the coils and be careful as the coils can be very hot. (See video below to understand location of coils and cleaning methods)
- Use a vacuum cleaner or compressed air to remove dirt and dust from the condenser coils.
- Use a soft brush to gently clean hard to reach areas on the coils to remove all dirt and dust from the fridge coils.
- Clean the complete area with a vacuum cleaner and wipe up any mess as you will be sliding the refrigerator back into place in the next step.
- Once the coils are cleaned, make sure the refrigerator is plugged in, the water line is not crimped, the fridge is back against the wall, and the coils are cool before you turn on the electricity.
Blow away dirt with compressed air
The best way to clean coils without using any tools at all is to use compressed air from an extension hose attached to your vacuum cleaner. It will work on all types of condenser coils as well as other types of brushes. You can purchase a can of compressed air from a hardware store and use it to blow the dust from the coils. Shoot the compressed air at the hard-to-reach areas in order to blow the remaining dust away.
Vacuum cleaners can be used to clean
A Shop-Vac is the best vacuum type to use for this kind of cleaning. Vacuum all the coils using a brush attachment to remove the easiest-to-remove dust and debris. While you are vacuuming, also vacuum the floor around the vacuum to keep the area clean around the coils for as long as possible.
A brush can be used to get between the coils
A hardware store sells specially made tools for cleaning between condenser coils. Its cylindrical shape allows it to fit between the spaces in the coil grid, and its long handle allows for easy access to hard-to-reach areas.
Brush the coils with gentle twisting in order to remove dust. While you brush, keep the vacuum running. Using one hand to hold the condenser brush and another to hold the vacuum nozzle is a good system. This ensures that any dust that comes off the coils is vacuumed up right away.
A narrow paintbrush can substitute for a specialty condenser brush if you are unable to obtain one. Be gentle when cleaning the coils, and avoid pushing anything between them.
Everything should be put back together
Clean up any dust on the floor with a vacuum, and wipe away any dust on the fridge with a rag or cloth. If your fridge coils are located under the fridge, replace the grill. Once you plug your refrigerator back into power, you are all set!
Keeping your coils clean
It’s important to keep your fridge coils clean for optimum performance. Clean them once a year. If you have pets, you may need to clean them twice a year.