Your new commercial or domestic refrigerator works perfectly within its designer’s parameters when you start using it. But over time, its efficiency decreases, and the amount of electricity it runs on to chill the same amount of stuff you pack in it increase slightly. One of the reasons its cooling efficiency gradually drops is, dust and dirt cover the fan-cooled condenser tube after three to six months of the refrigerator use. This hinders heat exchange. You can learn a few simple steps of how to clean your refrigerator fan-cooled condenser in this article (DIY).
For a start, the Federal Trade Commission sets energy standards to protect the consumer interest, and manufacturers must abide by the measures. Energy Guide and Energy Star Labels are placed on an electric consumer product to show that it runs on the minimum recommended electricity. If you’re planning a purchase and power consumption is a concern, ascertain the refrigerator (or appliance) you’re buying is compliant before you purchase.
Condenser tube (refer to the photo above), also known as a heat exchanger, is the point where heat from inside the refrigerator is dumped to the outside of the refrigerator. The fan enhances heat transfer by blowing low-temperature air across the condenser fins.
Moving air carries fine dust and dirt which sticks on the condenser tube surface, and this impedes heat exchange.
Condenser tube’s outer surface should be clean and free from dust to transfer heat efficiently.
So if the refrigerator isn’t broken down and not cooling, it only needs basic service and maintenance.
Although calling in a qualified refrigerator technician would be the first option, a few DIY can save you bucks.
Let’s use G420 showcase picture below to aid us in explaining the simple maintenance procedures. The main photo above is the pull-out of the showcase’s condensing unit. It has the compressor, condenser, and fan. It’s in the lower part of the refrigerator.
To work on the condensing unit, you don’t need to remove the whole assembly as it’s done here. But remove the front and rear covers only to allow you enough working space.
The tools you need for this task are common tools found at home:
- A pair of screwdrivers. One 6×150 mm Philips head and a flat-tip
- A two-inch brush
- Electric hand blower
- Home vacuum cleaner (with mini dusting brush at the nozzle tip) – not a must though.
To begin, switch off electricity supply to the refrigerator and remove the plug from the wall socket. This ensures you work on a safe electric appliance.
1. Remove front cover
A rectangular ventilation plate covers condensing unit assembly from the front. Arrows 1 to 4 show screws holding the plate in place.
Unscrew the four screws using your Phillips-head screwdriver. In some models, cables connecting pilot lamp and Liquid Crystal Display (arrow 6) are attached to the cover. You’re not able to detach the cover from the refrigerator body. But you can move it to the refrigerator side to allow you ample working space.
If it’s a refrigerator that has run for three to six months without cleaning the condenser, it has a layer of dust accumulated on the tube and fins. A refrigerator condenser in a dusty environment has more dust on it.
2. Remove rear cover.
The rear cover is a rectangular grill. It’s also fastened with screws on its four corners. Unlike the front cover screws, rear screws are not concealed. You spot them easily. After removing the rear cover, you get the best view of compressor and fan.
3. Clean condenser.
From the front side of the refrigerator, use your brush to clean condenser fins and tube. The fins are originally shiny and clean. But accumulated dust makes them take the color of dust.
On dirtier condensing units, you’ll find pieces of paper and polythene that the fan pulls in.
Clean compressor and fan from the rear side.
The drain pan could also be full of dirt. If it has a screw holding it in place, remove it and clean the pan.
4. Blow dust.
To rid dust off the condensing unit using a blower is messy. First, suck dust using the vacuum cleaner to minimize dust that would billow into the open air while using a blower. After, use the blower to remove dirt and dust hidden between joints. Hold blower nozzle near the condenser surface and, while hovering, flush with the highest blower pressure. Do this from both sides where you removed the covers.
After blowing dust, you may use a damp cloth to wipe off the remnant dust on the condenser and its surrounding. If you have the technical know-how, you can give the condenser a pressure wash. Don’t do it if you have no technical skills.
While a showcase refrigerator condensing unit is accessible from the lower front and back of the refrigerator, chest refrigerator condensing unit is accessed from the sides.
This procedure to clean your refrigerator fan-cooled condenser can also be applied to a chest refrigerator fitted with a fan-cooled condenser.
That’s it. Screw back the covers.
Arrow T points to the Thermostat position inside the refrigerator. Your model may have it at a different position. You’d want to adjust it to the maximum level to test what has changed, in terms of efficiency, after the service you’ve done.
Arrows L1 and L2 point to screws holding neon light plastic cover. If the light isn’t functioning and you’d like to change the tube or find out what is the matter, remove the cover. It’s not a complex process but as easy as changing a faulty light bulb or fluorescent tube at home.