A refrigerator is one of life’s best inventions. It cools food down and keeps it cool so we can save it for later. However, 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, which could repair or replace your fridge for $60, they will only honor that if the fridge fails from normal wear and tear, not lack of maintenance.
In order to keep your fridge running properly, and for a long time, 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, or refrigerant, to cool the unit and consequently your food. There are four main parts and processes to a fridge’s cooling process:
- A compressor takes gas refrigerant makes it into a liquid. It then pushes it through the evaporative coils.
- If you’ve studied physics, you know that immense amounts of pressure causes 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 a warmer.)
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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, as a home warranty company, 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).
2. Remove the panel on the front of the fridge.
3. Using a angled vacuum hose, gently vacuum the evaporative coils.
Start with the front part of the coils. Vacuum the front of the top and bottom evaporative coils.
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.
It’s as simple as that! Remember, if you have a home warranty plan with Landmark that covers your fridge, it’s important to maintain your evaporative coils. If you don’t and your fridge fails, the home warranty 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 $60. Refrigerators are an add-on item for our standard and premier plans for only $55 for a year. They are included in our value and deluxe home warranty plan coverageTo see which plan you would benefit most from, compare our home warranty plans and prices here. Or, explore home warranties a bit more by going to our home page at www.landmarkhw.com.