Last summer when the fan motor on my air conditioning unit kicked the bucket, I didn’t notice anything was wrong until I opened my freezer and realized my food was thawing. The kitchen was really hot, and my poor refrigerator was working overtime.
And you could hear it.
Coincidentally, my dad (and appliance savant) swung by my house to check up on the first-time homebuyer.
Upon hearing my potential food waste disaster, he asked, “Have you ever cleaned your coils?” without skipping a beat.
Blogged about it? Yes. Actually did the work myself? No.
You’d think he was shearing a lamb with the amount of thick, linty material he undearthed from my fridge’s nether regions.
But you know what? My refrigerator breathed an audible sigh of relief before quieting itself and resuming cooling. Because my condenser coils were so clogged with dust and debris, my refrigerator wasn’t able to properly cool itself down. This problem certainly was exacerbated by my broken AC, but I’m confident I would’ve been fridgeless in a matter of hours without help from my dad.
>>Read this a post for info on how to clean your refrigerator coils
Manufacturers say that most people don’t need to regularly clean their refrigerators’ condenser coils.
But, you should clean the condenser coils on refrigerators in greasy, dusty environments — and homes with “significant pet traffic” (which just sounds like a kitten parade, right?) — every two or three months.
What’s that? Cleaning stuff is a pain in the butt? Yeah, well so is replacing stuff. Regular maintenance not only ensures your refrigerator runs efficiently (aka for less money) but it will help it run for longer.
I’m betting it’s been about the suggested time span (times 10?) since you have cleared out what lies beneath, so here’s a refresher course:
1. Unplug refrigerator or disconnect power. (We don’t need any heroes, people.)
2. Take off the kick plate, or “grille.” How you do this depends on the configuration of your fridge (e.g. top freezer, side by side), but the “wiggle and pull” method seems pretty universal. For more help, consult your Use & Care manual or (do what I do and) ask a family member for help.
3. Clean the kick plate, the open area behind it and the front surface area using either a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment or, my sister’s favorite, a baby bottle brush duct-taped to a stretched-out coat hanger.