Refrigerators Electric Consumption – Lower It In 15 Minutes

I recently had a customer ask for my advise about cleaning her refrigerator.

I started to describe the pros and cons of different cleaners that can be used to clean the interior when she stopped me abruptly. “I know all about that stuff ”, she informed me, “I mean the black coil thing on the back”.

So, in response to this common question I offer the following step-by-step directions.

Firstly, the ’black coil thing’ at the rear of the refrigerator is called a condenser. Without too much technical jargon, its job is to dissipate heat into the kitchen. It does this by the condensation of the refrigerant gas. Hence, its name. The condenser tubing is usually seen on the rear of a refrigerator. It is produced in a serpentine form with additional fins running across it for added heat dissipation.

“Heat, I thought we were talking about refrigerators, not stoves”.

You will have to believe me when I say: ‘a refrigerator does not produce cold air’. Rather, its job is to transfer heat from inside the refrigerator cabinet to the outside. While doing this it removes heat from your food and that results in your food becoming cold.

So, who cares! You should. Because a major part in this transferring of heat is the ‘black coil thing’ we have been talking about. Yes, that’s right, the condenser.

Without the condenser our refrigerator would not operate. Therefore, we are going to learn how to do basic maintenance of this part and keep our refrigerator in tip-top shape.

Tools required:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Brush or vacuum brush attachment
  • Cotton rag
  • Light strength household cleaner
  • Garbage bag

This is what you do…

  1. Pull the refrigerator away from the wall and unplug it.
  1. The condenser will be the radiator-looking part on the rear of the refrigerator.
  1. Use a brush or vacuum cleaner to remove any dust buildup on the condenser. Remember, the condenser is made of thin tubing and is full of a high-pressure (130 psig) gas. So be gentle. If you injure the tubing a simple cleaning could turn into an expensive repair.
  1. If you have a pet expect to see a large accumulation of animal fur on the condenser. If a lot of dust or fur is present then clean off with a dry rag and dispose into the garbage bag. We suggest using the dry rag method first to avoid clogging up the vacuum hose.
  1. Next, use the vacuum cleaner to finish the basic cleaning of the condenser. The brush attachment of the vacuum cleaner works particularly well at this point. The brush will allow you to get in between all the fins and remove the dust hiding there.
  1. Finish by cleaning the condenser with a rag dampened with water. Avoid using any cleaner. Since the condensers job is to transfer heat any residue left by a cleaner could impede this process. Under no circumstances use something like furniture polish (example lemon furniture polish) or a dust removal spray. It will leave a waxy residue that will end up attracting more dust. Something that works extremely well is a static duster (not the dusting clothes). If you are not sure what I mean, it is the cleaning device that looks like a cats’ tail attached to a long handle. They are great because they pick up dust without using any chemicals.
  1. Use the vacuum to remove dust from the cardboard cover that is near the bottom rear of the refrigerator. It is covering the area where the compressor and electrical components reside. It will usually have holes in it where dust can accumulate.
  1. Vacuum any dust from the floor and the cavity where the refrigerator normally resides. Vacuum the sides of the refrigerator. If there is a kick plate (floor level grille) at the front of the refrigerator vacuum it also. Hint: Do not remove the kick plate to clean. Some are very difficult to re-install.
  1. Plug in the refrigerator and push back into place.

That’s it…that’s all. The whole process should have taken approximately 15 minutes.

In the space of a few minutes you have accomplished a number of objectives. You have removed a major source of dust from your home; made the refrigerator operate more efficiently; and lowered your electrical consumption.

Even though it is an easy job, it is one that usually gets forgotten. So don’t wait until the serviceman arrives once every few years to do this.

It is a very important cleaning project for the reasons already stated. Therefore, this is a job that should be placed right near the top of your next spring-cleaning list.

About the author: Donald Grummett is an appliance service manager in Ottawa, Canada. In the trade over 30 years as both a technician and business owner. For more information about appliances including FAQ, Stain guide, Recycling, and Newsletter visit Mgservices.ca. Copyright 2004 by Donald Grummett. All right reserved

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