Cleaning Out the Refrigerator Coil

Cleaning out the refrigerator coil takes only minutes, and it can save you around $100 annually on energy bills. The coils, located on the bottom of the refrigerator, work by drawing away the heat produced by the appliance. This keeps it cooler, allowing it to refrigerate more efficiently, with out having to struggle with repairing a faulty fuse.

When the coils become dusty and covered in gunk that accumulates when dust and moisture combine under the refrigerator, the coils have to work up to 25 percent harder to keep the refrigerator cooling properly. This raises your utility bills and increases harmful carbon emissions into the environment. Since the refrigerator uses more than 10 percent of the home's energy, you want to keep it running as efficiently as possible. If the refrigerator doesn't have to work so hard, it will have a longer lifespan and fewer malfunctions, so you can also save money on repairs if you dedicate the time to regular cleaning.

The refrigerator coils should be cleaned at least twice a year. Pet owners should clean their refrigerator coils more frequently because, as pet hair accumulates, the coils get dirty faster. It's a dirty job, but it takes only a few minutes. Regular cleaning is well worth the $10 you can save each month.

Cleaning the Coils

First, pull the refrigerator away from the wall, and disconnect the power supply. Working with the coils that are so near the mechanical components of the refrigerator can pose an electrical hazard. The power will not be disconnected long enough to spoil the food or defrost the freezer. Just keep the doors closed to retain the cold air inside the refrigerator.

Remove the kick plate from the back of the refrigerator to reveal the coils. Most kick plates lift right off. If the refrigerator has coils on the back, you may have to unscrew the back plate. If you have trouble removing the plate, consult the owner's manual. Do not try to force the plate to come off.

If the coils are located on the bottom of the refrigerator, clean the condenser fan and the area around it using a long, narrow coil cleaning brush. You can find these at any home improvement store. Paper and other debris can be sucked into the fan, blocking it and causing severe damage to the refrigerator. Be very careful not to bend or dent the fan blades. Refrigerator models with coils on the back, rather than the bottom, do not have fans.

Next, clean between the coils with the brush or the crevice attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Make sure to remove any dust or debris from underneath or behind the refrigerator. The brush is sufficient to clean the coils and fan. Its bristles are sturdy enough to remove caked on grime, and its bottle brush, tapered shape fits snugly between the coils. Do not use a cleaning solution or lubricating oil, as these will attract more dirt and necessitate more frequent cleaning.

When the fan and coils are clean, replace the kick plate or back plate. This is necessary for good air circulation that keeps the refrigerator functioning. Plug the unit back in and push it back in place. In less than 10 minutes, you will have a refrigerator that runs at its highest efficiency, which can save you hundreds of dollars over the refrigerator's lifespan.

Repeat this process at least twice a year. Don't forget to do the same for outdoor refrigerators and freezers. Cleaning out the refrigerator coil and keeping all of your appliances in good, clean condition reduces utility bills and the need for frequent repairs.

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