Appliances

How To Clean A Fridge's Evaporative Coils

Written by Whitney Bennett

THE MATERIAL CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE PROFESSIONAL ADVICE.LANDMARK HOME WARRANTY DOES NOT PURPORT TO BE A SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT WITH REGARD TO THIS MATERIAL, AND YOU SHOULD CONDUCT YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND/OR SEEK THE ADVICE OF APPROPRIATELY QUALIFIED PROFESSIONALS WITH REGARD TO YOUR SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES BEFORE YOU TAKE ACTION. LANDMARK HOME WARRANTY ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY, AND SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ALL LIABILITY, FOR YOUR USE OF ANY AND ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN.


You probably can't imagine life without your fridge, but did you know that if you don’t take proper care of your fridge, it can stop working a lot sooner than its intended lifespan? Not only will that mean you have to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars out of pocket to replace it, you’ll probably have to do it a lot sooner than you were expecting! Even if you have a home warranty, if you don't perform proper maintenance on your fridge, you could end up paying a lot more out of pocket to replace it! 

In order to keep your fridge running properly and for its intended lifespan, you have to take care of it. One easy part of maintaining your fridge is cleaning the evaporative coils every 6 months to a year.

What are evaporative coils?

Evaporative coils are located on the bottom or back of the fridge, depending on the model. To best understand what the coils do, you have to understand the process a fridge goes through to cool your food. The fridge uses a chemical refrigerant to cool the unit. There are four main parts and processes to a fridge’s cooling process:

How a fridge works diagram.

Click to download infographic

  1. A compressor takes gas refrigerant makes it into a liquid. It then pushes it through the evaporative coils.
  2. If you’ve studied physics, you know that immense amounts of pressure cause heat. As the refrigerant is forced through the evaporative coils, it builds up pressure and heats up. (This is why sometimes the bottom (or back) of your fridge is warmer.)
  3. The refrigerant, under immense amounts of pressure, is forced into the freezer coils through an expansion valve. This expansion valve expands the pipe the refrigerant is traveling through. When the pressure is lifted from the refrigerant, it cools and becomes a gas. This is a lot like an aerosol can, where the liquid becomes a cold gas as you release it from its pressurized can.
  4. This gas cools the freezer coils, cooling the entire fridge. The gas moves back into the compressor, where it’s turned into a liquid and the process starts over again.

How a fridge works animation. Click to download infographic

Why should you clean your evaporative coils?

The evaporative coils take heat from the refrigerant. As time goes on, dirt, hair, and dust tend to blanket these coils, which makes it hard for them to heat up the coolant.

This is what dirty evaporative coils look like on your fridge.

If the evaporative coils are already hot from being blanketed in dirt and dust, they cannot effectively pressurize the refrigerant. This leaves the fridge unable to cool properly and it usually stops working. In fact, at Landmark Home Warranty, we have seen many customers who have had their refrigerators fail, only to have them start working again as soon as they cleaned their evaporative coils! Unfortunately, some fridges don’t have such luck, and their compressor has burnt out because of lack of maintenance by their owner. When this happens, the owner generally has to purchase a brand new fridge.

How to clean your fridge’s evaporative coils:

If you have a fridge that has coils on the back of your unit, you will have to push your unit away from the wall to clean them. The fridge that we will demonstrate on today has evaporative coils on the bottom of the unit.

1. Unplug the fridge (or turn off its circuit).

First step in cleaning your evaporative coils is to turn off the fridge.

2. Remove the panel on the front of the fridge.

Remove the panel on the fridge to access the evaporative coils.

3. Using an angled vacuum hose, gently vacuum the evaporative coils.

Vacuum the evaporative coils. Vacuum the evaporative coils some more.

Start with the front part of the coils. Vacuum the front of the top and bottom evaporative coils.

Continue to vacuum the evaporative coils. Vacuuming the evaporative coils can improve your fridge's lifespan.

Next, move your vacuum into the back of the coils, getting the side. You can see in this fridge, you couldn't even see the coils until the dirt was taken off of them. 

4. Replace the front panel.

5. Turn the fridge back on.

Before and after of vacuuming and cleaning a fridge's evaporative coils.

It’s as simple as that!

Fridges and Home Warranties

Remember, since most Landmark Home Warranty plans cover the fridge, it’s important to keep your evaporative coils clean. If you don’t and your fridge fails, the home warranty plan may not cover the repair or replacement. However, if you do a reasonable job at keeping your fridge clean, when it fails from old age and normal wear and tear, your home warranty will repair or replace it for a small service call fee. Interested in learning more about what a home warranty covers? Compare Landmark's home warranty plans here. 

​​​​​​​Full infographic of how to clean a fridge's evaporative coils.

Click to download infographic

Appliance Warranty Resources

A Landmark Home Warranty offers warranties that cover your home’s appliances. Learn more about what we cover with our appliance warranty plans and how to maintain your appliances so they run longer.

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