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How I Saved Money This Month: Cleaning Refrigerator Coils

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"The smartest thing you can do for your fridge is to keep the coils clean. It cuts electricity bills and repair bills."


Clean refrigerator coils
Clean refrigerator coils and save money. All it takes is a vacuum, a brush and 15 minutes. Coils are usually beneath the fridge and accessible from the front. But some — like the ones here — are hidden behind a cover plate in back.

Over the years, I've heard that a dozen times from a dozen appliance experts. Here's why: The coils' job is to dissipate the heat that's removed from the fridge. But gradually, dust blankets the coils, so the fridge has to work harder to shed heat. That means higher electricity bills; I've heard estimates as high as $10 per month in wasted energy. Dirty coils also increase your odds of breakdowns.


So last weekend, I finally gave my 8-year-old fridge its first coil cleaning. It didn't begin well; I couldn't even find the coils at first. They weren't under the fridge where I expected them to be, and they weren't on the back either. So I pulled out the fridge and removed and unscrewed a cover plate. Bingo. From there on, it was a simple matter of sucking up dust with a vacuum. A bendable dryer vent brush ($6 at my local home center) grabbed the dust that the vacuum couldn't reach. Overall, it was a 15-minute job with a huge payoff. 


Manufacturers recommend cleaning coils twice a year. I can't promise I'll do that, but now that I know how quick and easy it is, I won't wait another eight years either.


— Gary Wentz, Senior Editor


DIY Refrigerator Maintenance Projects:

Clean coils that are below or behind the fridge

Fix the most common fridge repairs yourself

How to run a water line to your fridge



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  • Comments
    • by posted on

      The problem with refrigerator coils is the location and shape of the coils. After many years of fighting this problem I finally found a frige where the coils are in the rear of the unit all neatly stretched out. Even if you only brush them lightly once every 3 or 4 years they work perfectly. Those coils in the bottom of the frige only add to the problem because there's usually a fan pulling air through them  and the hot air adds to the load of the cooling system . Look into a unit where the coils are exposed at the rear of the unit and you will never be bothered by lack of efficiecy due to dirt and dust  clogged coils.


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