Clean Your Refrigerator Fan-cooled Condenser

Condensing unit
Condenser and fan-motor

Clean your refrigerator fan-cooled condenser if it has gathered dust and dirt after months of operation. However, how often you clean it depends on the cleanliness of your environment air. A dusty enviroment means frequent cleaning.

Your refrigerator that has a fan-cooled condenser will work perfectly within its designer’s parameters when it’s new. But over time, its efficiency decreases. The amount of electricity it runs on to cool the same amount of stuff you pack in it increases.

The reason is because dust and dirt gradually cover the fan-cooled condenser tube. This hinders normal heat exchange that happens at the condenser.

In this article, you learn the few simple steps of how to clean your refrigerator fan-cooled condenser.

How the government protect consumers

For a start, the Federal Trade Commission sets energy standards to protect the consumer interest. Manufacturers must place Energy Guide and Energy Star Labels on their electric consumer products. The labels inform the consumer that the said appliances are compliant. So, a compliant appliance should run on the government’s (Bureau of Standardization) recommended minimum electricity.

If you’re planning to buy a refrigerator appliance, and electricity consumption is a concern, check the labels to verify that it’s compliant.

Condenser

Condenser tube (refer to the main photo above) is the refrigerator’s external heat exchanger. At the condenser, refrigerant dumps heat it collects from inside the refrigerator. This happens in the process called the refrigeration cycle.

The fan enhances heat transfer by blowing low-temperature air across the condenser fins. Besides, it removes the heat that the compressor and condenser dissipate.

Condenser tube’s outer surface should be clean and free from dust in order for it to allow efficient heat transfer. However, the air that moves across the condenser carries fine dust and dirt that sticks on the condenser tube surface. This gradually forms a layer of dust insulation that impedes heat exchange.

So, if the refrigerator isn’t completely broken down but cooling ineffectively, clean your refrigerator fan-cooled condenser.

Although calling in a qualified refrigerator technician would be your first option, a few DIY can save you bucks.

Let’s use the G420 showcase picture below to aid us in explaining the simple maintenance procedures. The main photo above is a pull-out of the below showcase’s condensing unit. It has the compressor, condenser, and fan. It exists on the lower part of the refrigerator.

Clean your refrigerator fan-cooled condenser
Showcase refrigerator with a fan-cooled condenser

To work on the condensing unit, you don’t need to remove the whole assembly as it’s done in the main photo of this post. 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 in your  home toolbox:

1. Remove front cover

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.

A rectangular ventilation plastic or metal sheet covers condensing unit assembly from the lower front. Arrows 1 to 4 shows the position of the screws holding the plate in place. Some refrigerator models have only two screws.

Unscrew the four screws using your screwdriver – in most cases, the screws are cross notched. You’d need a Phillips screwdriver to unscrew.

In some models, cables connecting the 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 would have more dust on it though.

2. Remove rear cover.

The rear cover is a rectangular grill vent. It’s also fastened with screws on its four corners. Unlike the front cover screws which are concealed in some models, you can easily see the rear cover screws. After removing the rear cover, you get the best view of compressor and fan.

How to clean Your refrigerator fan-cooled condenser

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. As you clean the condenser with the brush, the dust and dirt settle on the iron sheet that’s carrying the condensing unit components.

On dirtier condensing units, you’ll find pieces of paper and light waste that the fan pulled in.

Clean your refrigerator fan-cooled condenser and the fan from the rear side because you can access them easily thus.

The drain pan could also be full of accumulated dirt. If it has screws holding it in place, unscrew and remove the container. Most of them are made of plastic. Wash it in soapy water.

4. Blow dust.

To blow dust using an electric hand 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 hand blower pressure. Do this from both sides you removed the vents.

After blowing dust, you may use a damp cloth to wipe off the remnant dust on the condenser and its surrounding. But if you have the technical know-how, give the condenser a water-pressure wash. However, don’t do it if you have no technical skills. You can accidentally flush water where it isn’t needed.

Conclusion

While a showcase refrigerator condensing unit is accessible from the lower front and back of the refrigerator, some chest refrigerator condensing units are accessed from the sides. You can also apply this same procedure to clean your chest refrigerator fan-cooled condenser.

And 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. So after you’ve done the cleaning, adjust it to the maximum level to test whether efficiency has improved.

Arrows L1 and L2 point to screws holding the neon light plastic cover. If the light isn’t functioning and you’d like to find out what’s the matter, remove the cover. It’s not a complex process. In most cases, two screws hold the cover into place. If you remove the cover and the light source is the fault, changing it is as easy as changing your house light bulb or fluorescent tube.

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