How To Clean Refrigerator Coils

Ocean Appliance
October 3, 2022
Refrigerator Repair

What are refrigerator coils?

Refrigerator coils, also called condenser coils, contain the refrigerant that cools the air inside. Refrigerator coils are susceptible to dust accumulation since they are exposed to the air and not enclosed in a sealed housing. 

Dirty refrigerator coils can prevent your refrigerator from cooling properly. Dirty coils also cause your refrigerator to run less efficiently, which can lead to it using more electricity than it should. This guide outlines the best way to clean your refrigerator coils and get your fridge running optimally. 

Supplies to clean the coils:

  • Dust mask
  • A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment
  • A coil cleaning brush or a paintbrush to get into small crevices
  • A flashlight to help you see the coils
  • Can of compressed air
  • A cloth or rag

Disconnect the fridge from the power

Unplug the refrigerator. If the electrical outlet is behind your refrigerator, you might need to move the appliance from the wall to accomplish this. 

You do not need to be concerned about food spoiling because the coil cleaning takes only a short time (15 minutes or less) and the doors stay shut, preserving your cold goods.

Locate the refrigerator coils

Your refrigerator coils can be found in two places. On older models of refrigerators, the coils can be found mounted on the back of the fridge. When it comes to newer models, the coils are most often at the base of the fridge at the front and behind a grill that snaps off. 

You can identify the refrigerator coils by sight quite easily; they are metal tubes, wound in a U-shaped grid pattern. 

Pull the refrigerator away from the wall

You need to pull your refrigerator away from the wall if your coils are located on the back. Most refrigerators have wheels on the bottom to allow them to be moved easily. If yours does not have wheels, you may have to use a furniture dolly or enlist help lifting and moving it.

Put on your dust mask

You will be using a vacuum cleaner to get rid of most of the dust, but cleaning refrigerator coils is still a dusty business and you want to avoid inhaling the dust. 

Use your vacuum cleaner 

Using a brush attachment, vacuum over all the coils to remove the most easy-to-access dust and debris. While you are doing this, it also makes sense to vacuum the floor around the vacuum, as keeping the area around the coils clean helps them stay clean for longer. 

Use a condenser brush or paintbrush to get between the coils

You can purchase a specially made tool for cleaning in between condenser coils from a DIY store. Its cylindrical shape allows you to easily fit it between the spaces in the coil grid, and its long handle allows for easy access for hard-to-reach areas. 

In order to remove dust from the coils, combine moving the brush back and forth with gently twisting it. 

As you brush, keep the vacuum running. A good system is to hold the condenser brush with one hand and the vacuum nozzle with another. This ensures that any dust that comes off the coils is vacuumed up right away. 

If you were not able to get hold of a specialty condenser brush, you can achieve much the same result using a small paintbrush. Just ensure it is narrow enough to fit between the coils. It is important to be gentle when cleaning the coils and not to force anything between them as this could cause damage. 

Use compressed air

In most cases, the steps that are already listed in this guide are sufficient. However, if you can still see dust that you were not able to access, you may wish to use a can of compressed air to clean the hard-to-reach spots. 

You can purchase a can of compressed air from your local DIY or hardware store. In order to use it, aim at the hard-to-reach areas and spray the compressed air at the dust. This should cause the remaining dust to be blown away from the coils. You will then be able to vacuum up the last bit of dust and debris from the floor. 

Put everything back together

Clean up any stray dust that may have fallen on the floor with a vacuum. You can also use a clean rag or cloth to wipe up any dust that might have gotten onto the front or sides of the refrigerator. 

 If your coils were located underneath the fridge, replace the grill (it should snap on with ease). If you moved your refrigerator, then put it back into place. You’re set to go once you reconnect the power to your refrigerator.

Maintaining clean coils

Now that you have cleaned your refrigerator coils, make sure to keep them clean in the future. In order to ensure your fridge is running at peak performance, the coils should ideally be cleaned once a year. 

If you live in a house with pets, you may find that cleaning the coils twice a year is necessary due to the additional hair and dander that is spread by animals in the house. 

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