Winter is finally over. While you’re opening windows, cleaning the garage, sweeping cobwebs, and shaking rugs, don’t forget your appliances! Keeping them clean will make them run more efficiently and add years to their lives. Now is the best time to clean the coils on your refrigerator, because it will need to work at peak form when the high temperatures of summer hit.
For this annual maintenance, you’ll need:
- About 1/2 hour
- A vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool
- A bright flashlight
- A coil brush
- A 1/4-inch nut driver, 5/8-inch nut driver, or Phillips screw driver
Your favorite hardware store will have all of these items. This brush is my favorite because it’s inexpensive and versatile.
Start by pulling out the fridge and unplugging it. Clear off the top and sides of the fridge to prevent things from falling off. Remember magnets, calendars, and pictures. If you have wood floors, I highly recommend using a set of tracks to protect your floor.
Some newer refrigerators have what look like leveling feet in the front corners. These are brakes that prevent the fridge from rolling toward you when you open a door or drawer. Raise the brakes off the floor before moving the fridge.
Pull the fridge out a bit and take a peek behind it. Pay attention to the water line so you don’t pull it tight. When you can reach the plug, go ahead and unplug the fridge.
With the fridge unplugged, (that’s the third time I told you) remove the screws holding on the cover in the back. The cover is usually cardboard or metal. If it’s metal, be careful of the sharp edges. Sometimes the water line goes through the cover. In this case, rotate the cover clockwise and place it to the side without disconnecting the water line. You should be able to see the coils now.
You don’t see them? Not to worry – you needed to get back here to unplug the fridge anyway! Your coils are in the front. Go to the front of the fridge and gently remove the long plastic grate across the bottom. Peek through the openings to see the coils.
Get the vacuum cleaner with the crevice tool. Start by removing the biggest chunks. If you have pets or if you smoke in your house, you’ll be surprised how much dust and lint your coils can collect in a short time! Don’t get too rough with the crevice tool; forcing things could damage the fan or the tubing. You won’t get all the dust; you only need to get most of it. *
Now bend your coil brush to fit the coils. Some coils are round, and you’ll want to reach all sides and underneath. Some coils are square, and a 90-degree bend in the brush allows you to get between the layers.
Brush away, loosening all the dust you can find. You can also brush the fan blades, but be careful – they can be extremely sharp, even if they’re plastic.
Clean up with the vacuum cleaner. Give the fan blades a flick to ensure they rotate freely. Replace the cover. The cover must be in place; it directs the airflow to ensure proper cooling of the coils. So replace the cover (that’s the second time I told you) and plug in the fridge. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t start up right away; many are programmed to wait about five minutes before restarting. Once it’s running, be sure the fan is blowing. Roll the fridge back, ensuring you don’t roll over the water line or the cord. Set the brakes in front and pour yourself a cold one! **
*If you’re an over-achiever: There will be places you can’t reach with a brush or crevice tool that still harbor lint and dust. You could reverse your vacuum cleaner hose to blow the dust free. Use caution, as this is very messy. Make sure you don’t have any uncovered food or dishes in your kitchen, and don’t say I didn’t warn you. But you’ll sleep better knowing you have the cleanest refrigerator coils on the block.
**If you’re an under-achiever you should skip immediately to pouring yourself a cold one and calling All City Appliance. We’ll take care of your fridge at a very reasonable price while you relax.