How to Clean Refrigerator Coils

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Your refrigerator gets used a lot, especially in summer when you keep the ice maker running on full. Therefore, it’s important to clean components like the condenser coils regularly to keep them running well. When the coils get dirty, it can reduce the efficiency of your appliance by making the compressor run more than it should. This can adversely affect your fridge and will result in higher energy bills.

It’s a good idea to clean the coils a couple of times a year. You will need a small brush, a damp cloth, and a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to clean the coils. Or, you can use a small brush if you don’t have a vacuum cleaner.

Simply follow our step-by-step instructions below. We then finish the guide by answering people’s most common questions about cleaning condenser coils.

Step 1 – Pull the Refrigerator Out

The first step is to pull your refrigerator out from the wall so you can access the back of your appliance. If the condenser coils are accessible from the front, you don’t need to pull the fridge out from the wall. However, if your refrigerator doesn’t have wheels, you might need somebody to help you.

Step 2 – Switch the Power Off

The next step is to switch the power off. This can be done by unplugging your refrigerator or turning the circuit breaker off that powers it. Unplugging the power from the socket will also allow you to pull it further out from the wall if necessary.

Step 3 – Locate the Condenser Coils

The next step is to find the condenser coils, located either at the back or front of the refrigerator, behind a grate.

  • If on the back, simply look for a metal grid-like structure. In some cases, there might be a cover over them that needs to be removed.
  • If on the front, take off the bottom grate/cover found under the door. Once removed, set it aside out of the way.

Step 4 – Clean the Coils

The coils will be covered in dust. The easiest way to remove the dust and other loose debris is to use a vacuum cleaner. You can use a small brush with soft bristles if you don’t have one. Use the brush to clean off any loose dust and debris, and then you can use a brush and dustpan to clean it up off the floor. In some rare cases, the coils might be frosted over.

Here’s how to clean the condenser coils:

  • If covered in frost, leave them for 20 minutes to defrost. You can then wipe up any excess water. Once dry or if they aren’t covered in frost, you can proceed with vacuuming them.
  • Use your vacuum cleaner to remove any loose dust and debris. This can be done by putting the brush attachment on the hose. If you have coils at the front bottom of your refrigerator, the brush attachment might be too big, so use the hose.
  • Once the coils are clean, vacuum around the floor under the fridge.
  • Once you’ve vacuumed or brushed off all the dust, the final cleaning step is to give it a good wipe-down with a damp cloth. If you come across any loose dust or debris, you can use a small soft bristle brush to remove it. 
  • Once clean, finish by vacuuming the floor.

Step 5 – Turn Your Refrigerator Back On

Now that your condenser coils are nice and clean, the final step is to turn your refrigerator back on. Start by putting the grate/cover back on and then plug your refrigerator back into the power socket. You can then turn it on and start using it again.

Refrigerator Condenser Coils FAQ

How Often Should I Clean My Refrigerator Condenser Coils?

It is best to clean your refrigerator condenser coils at least twice a year. However, they will need to be cleaned more often if they are prone to get covered in dust. This is especially true for older homes that attract more dust.

Where Are My Refrigerator Condenser Coils Located?

Your refrigerator condenser coils are located in either the back of your appliance or the bottom front. If located at the back of your fridge, you can locate them by gaining access to the back of your appliance. If they are in the front, they will be behind the grate you can find at the bottom of your fridge under the door.

Can I Vacuum My Refrigerator Condenser Coils?

Yes. Vacuuming refrigerator condenser coils will not damage them. Just be careful not to press the vacuum cleaner hose into them with any force. If you don’t want to use a vacuum cleaner, you can use a small brush with soft bristles.

When Do I Know My Refrigerator Condenser Coils Are Dirty?

Sometimes when your refrigerator condenser coils are dirty, your compressor will operate more than normal. This is because it has to work harder to keep your refrigerator cool. If your compressor is staying on for longer than normal, check the condenser coils.

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