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Home Maintenance Tip: Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

Posted on August 29, 2014

Other than wiping up spills and cleaning the drawers, perhaps you have never considered performing maintenance on your refrigerator. But, you should. Refrigerators are the second largest energy consumer in your house after your heating and air conditioning system. They can account for as much as 15% of your electric bill each month. A refrigerator with dirty condenser coils can use as much as 25% more electricity.

Cleaning your refrigerator coils is one way to keep your energy costs as low as possible. Refrigerator condenser coils serve to dissipate heat. When the coils are dirty, the refrigerator runs longer and more often. As a result of this extra work, the compressor can burn out. Replacing a compressor is an expensive repair.

To clean your refrigerator coils, follow these steps:

  1. Cut the power to the refrigerator off by unplugging it or cutting off the circuit breaker. You will know the power is off when the light is not on in the refrigerator. Your food will not be hurt by the few minutes the power will be shut off.
  2. Pull the refrigerator out from the wall far enough to perform this task. Many refrigerators are on wheels. If not, slide the feet onto pieces of cardboard and carefully slide the appliance out so as not to damage the floor. Be sure not to pull the icemaker tubing from the wall.
  3. Locate the coils. They are typically located underneath the refrigerator, but may be located on the back.
  4. If the coils are on the bottom, unsnap and remove the grille across the bottom. If the grille is held on by screws, then remove them.
  5. If the coils are on the back, vacuum them. If the coils are on the bottom, use a long-handled brush intended specifically for this task to clean off the dust and dirt. Refrigerator coil brushes can be found at your local hardware store. Alternatively, you can use the long narrow nozzle on the vacuum cleaner.
  6. When clean, replace the bottom grille and move the refrigerator back to its position. Cut the power back on.

You should clean your refrigerator coils one to two times per year. If you have pets, cleaning the coils more often is a good idea. You will save money and prolong the life of one of the most expensive appliances in your house.


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