How to Clean Refrigerator Condenser Coils

Cleaning the condenser coils of a refrigerator is a maintenance task that can extend the life of the appliance as well as save money in operating costs. It takes only a few minutes, and you should do it at least once a year -- and more often if you have pets.

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credit: Debbie Williams
A blanket of dust covers uncleaned condenser coils.

Turn Off the Power to the Unit

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credit: Debbie Williams
Pull the refrigerator out a little if necessary.

Slide out the refrigerator and unplug the electrical cord or shut off the electrical breaker to the unit. Shut off the water supply if it's equipped with an ice maker or water dispenser.

Locate the Condenser Coils

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credit: Debbie Williams
The decorative grill might appear dusty.

Most newer refrigerator models have condenser coils in the bottom of the appliance behind a decorative grill. However, they can be located on the back, either exposed and plainly visible, or near the bottom behind an access panel. Slide the refrigerator out from the wall onto cardboard to protect the floor from dents, if necessary, to gain access to the coils.

Expose the Coils

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credit: Debbie Williams
Snap off the decorative grill and clean it.

Expose the coils by removing the grill or access panel. The grill is normally held in place with spring clips and should easily snap off; however, you may have to remove a couple of screws. Clean the grill with soap and water and set it aside to dry.

Vacuum the Coils

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credit: Debbie Williams
Vacuum the coils to get a large part of the dust.

Vacuum up the dirt and debris from beneath the refrigerator. Remove and clean the water drip pan if possible.

Brush the Coils

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credit: Debbie Williams
Brush between and under each row of coils.

Carefully brush the coils, between and under each row, using a special coil cleaning brush if available, and vacuuming as you go. Continue until the coils are as clean as possible.

Finish the Details

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credit: Debbie Williams
The coils are clean and will be much more efficient.

Clean the motor housing and the fan blades if accessible. Wipe down the sides of the refrigerator while you have it pulled out, and vacuum behind the appliance.

Put the Refrigerator Back Into Place

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credit: Debbie Williams
Finished!

Return the drip pan if applicable and replace the front grill. Plug the refrigerator back into the electrical outlet or reset the breaker. Turn the water supply back on and slide the unit back into place.