If you want your fridge to last you as long as possible, it’s essential that you perform regular maintenance on it. Part of this maintenance involves cleaning out your fridge’s condenser coils.
The condenser coils are an important component of your refrigerator; without them, the refrigerant that circulates inside the sealed system of your fridge can’t be cooled properly. Dirty condenser coils can lead to increased energy bills in the best case and spoiled food in the worst case.
In this article, we’ll be going over in greater detail what your condenser coils do and how to properly clean them. We’ll also be sharing with you some general tips about maintaining your fridge that you may wish to know if you want to get the most life out of it.
Let’s get into it!
What Do My Fridge’s Condenser Coils Do?
In order to explain what exactly the condenser coils in your fridge do, it helps if you know what the other major components of your refrigerator are and how exactly they work together with the condenser coils to cool your fridge.
Aside from the condenser coils, the most important parts of your fridge are:
Refrigerators work by circulating refrigerant inside them. The cooling process involves changing the refrigerant from a liquid state to a gaseous state through evaporation. When the refrigerant evaporates, this removes heat from the air inside the fridge.
The thermostat is basically the switch for everything. It monitors the temperature inside your fridge and if the temperature starts getting too high, it lets the fridge know to start the cooling process.
The cooling process begins with the compressor, which is what actually moves the refrigerant throughout the fridge. You can think of the compressor as being like a kind of pump.
The refrigerant is hot, high-pressure gas when it leaves the compressor, however, so it has to go through the condenser coils. The condenser coils condense the refrigerant, cooling it and turning it back into a liquid, although it retains its high pressure.
The refrigerant then passes from the condenser coils to the evaporator via the capillary tube. This reduces the pressure of the refrigerant, which in turn lowers its boiling point, meaning it evaporates at a lower temperature.
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As the refrigerant makes its way through the evaporator, it absorbs any heat from the air inside the fridge. As it does so, it starts to evaporate. By the time the refrigerant makes it to the end of the evaporator, it’s a warm, low-pressure gas again. Then, the refrigerant flows from the evaporator into the compressor, and the cycle starts all over again.
This is why the condenser coils in your fridge are such an important part. Without them, there would be no way to cool off the refrigerant after it has absorbed heat.
Not only will this leave your fridge unable to keep your food cool, but it’ll also cause you to waste energy since the thermostat will be telling the compressor to keep running due to the higher temperature inside the fridge.
How Do I Clean My Condenser Coils?
Fortunately, if you do need to clean your fridge’s compressor coils the process of doing so is usually pretty easy. If you know what you’re doing, you can probably have the whole thing done in less than 20 minutes.
It’s worth noting that not all Whirlpool refrigerators need to have their condenser coils cleaned regularly, while the condenser coils on other Whirlpool models can only be cleaned by a certified repairman. Check the owner’s manual that came with your fridge if you’re uncertain of what your fridge requires.
As for how often you should clean your condenser coils, this depends on how much stuff is in your home that can clog the coils up.
In general, you should try and clean your condenser coils once or twice a year. However, if your home is particularly dusty or you own a dog that sheds a lot, you should consider cleaning your compressor coils more often, since it’s likely that they will get clogged up more quickly.
Here’s what you need to do to properly clean your condenser coils:
1. Disconnect the Power
First, you need to disconnect your fridge from its power supply. You should never attempt to clean your condenser coils with the fridge still plugged in, as this can be a serious safety risk.
As for how to disconnect your fridge from the power, you can either unplug it or flip the circuit breaker for your kitchen.
2. Remove the Grille Covering the Condenser Coils
Locate the grille that covers the condenser coils. Depending on what kind of fridge you have, this grille might either be located on the front of the fridge or on the back. If your fridge is located in a cubby area, you might have to move it out to access the grille.
The grille might also be located inside the fridge, in which case you can access it by opening the fridge doors.
Once you’ve found the grille, you can remove it. To do so, push in at the top of the grille while pulling up on it from the bottom. The grille should pop right off of the fridge.
3. Clean the Coils
Now, to actually clean the condenser coils. The best way to do so is to use a vacuum cleaner with fine bristles that won’t damage the coils.
You can also use a soft brush to clean your condenser coils, and Whirlpool actually sells a brush designed specifically for this purpose. You can find this brush on the Whirlpool website by searching up part number 4210463RW.
Make sure you thoroughly remove all of the dust from the coils and also clean the areas around the grille and coils to prevent them from getting clogged up again so quickly.
4. Put Back the Grille
Once you’ve cleaned the condenser coils to your liking, it’s time to replace the grille and restore power to the fridge. The grille has support tabs that line up with metal clips on the fridge; once you’ve lined everything up, just push the grille back into place. You’ll know it’s secured when you feel it snap in.
Now you can plug your fridge back in or switch the circuit breaker to the kitchen back on, and move the fridge back into its original position if you did have to move it. Congratulations, you’ve successfully cleaned your condenser coils!
Other Fridge Maintenance Tips
Cleaning your condenser coils isn’t the only thing that will keep your fridge running, however; there are other things you can do to extend the longevity of your fridge. Here are the other things you should try and maintain:
Clean Your Condenser Fan
Not all fridges have a condenser fan, but if yours does, it’s a good idea to clean it whenever you clean your condenser coils. The purpose of the condenser fan is to send air over the condenser coils, which helps them cool the refrigerant inside more quickly.
Over time, the fan can get clogged up with dirt and dust, causing the fan to stop. You can use the same brush or vacuum that you used to clean the condenser coils for cleaning the fan.
Clean Your Door Gaskets
The gaskets are the rubber bits that run along the outer edges of your fridge’s doors. The purpose of the gaskets is to create a mostly airtight seal around your fridge’s door, which helps keep everything inside cool and makes your fridge more efficient.
If juice, syrup, or other sticky stuff is allowed to dry on the gasket, this can cause the gasket to stick to the fridge, which in turn can cause the gasket to tear the next time the door is opened. If you do spill anything on the door gasket, just give it a wipedown with warm water (but don’t use detergent as this can damage the gasket).
Make Sure Your Freezer Vents Are Unblocked
Inside your freezer, there are vents that help air circulate inside. If your freezer is overfilled or if the vents are otherwise blocked, this can affect the freezer’s ability to actually keep your food frozen.
Do your best to prevent any crumbs or other debris from getting sucked into the vents, and also try to avoid filling your freezer up beyond 3/4 of what it can actually hold. This will give you enough space to allow the air inside the freezer to circulate freely.
Clean Your Drip Openings
The drip openings allow any water that has accumulated inside your fridge to collect in a drip pan located underneath. If you let the drip openings get clogged, water will start accumulating inside your fridge, which will eventually leak out when it gets filled up enough.
The location of the drip openings will vary depending on what kind of fridge you have, so check your owner’s manual for more information regarding that. Once you know where it is, check it every so often to make sure nothing is clogging it.
Adjust the Temperature Controls
Adjusting your temperature controls isn’t maintenance per se, but it can help your fridge run more efficiently which will save you some money on your power bills. In most cases, you don’t need to run your fridge at full blast to ensure that your food is being stored at the right temperature.
The temperature of your fridge should be kept between 38 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit, while your freezer should be kept between 0 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit.