How to Clean Refrigerator Condenser Coils

/ Commercial Refrigeration, How-To / November 20

Refrigeration units are the lifeblood of any restaurant, cafeteria or commercial kitchen. If your refrigerator or freezer isn’t operating efficiently, you’re throwing money out the window in terms of spoiled products and missed sales.

Cleaning the condenser coils and fan is one of the easiest refrigeration maintenance tasks you can do yourself, and it helps your unit run more efficiently. Try to do it at least every three months or whenever you notice significant buildups of dust and grease. Allowing a large accumulation of dust and debris can lower a unit’s efficiency, which uses more power, costs more money in operating costs and can shorten the lifespan of your equipment. It also can lead to a compressor failure, and that can cost a lot in repairs.

Here are some easy instructions for how to clean refrigerator condenser coils and the unit’s condenser fan.

What You’ll Need:

  • Stiff brush

  • A vacuum

  • A screwdriver

  • Degreaser (if necessary)

  • Fin straightener (only if coils are bent) 

Cleaning the Condenser Coils & Fan

  • Step 1. Remove items from fridge/freezer – Before you get started, remove all the perishable items from you unit. Place them into another unit or cooler to keep them from spoiling.

  • Step 2. Shut off power to unit – Unplug your unit or depower it from the circuit breaker.

  • Step 3. Locate the condenser coil and fan – Some models have coils in the front on the bottom or top of the unit. Older units may have coils across the back of the unit. Check the owner’s manual for more information.

  • Step 4. Remove the cover or grate – Most units have a grate covering the condenser coils. Remove it to access the coils. The grate may snap on and off easily, or it could be held in by screws.

  • Step 5. Brush off dust or stuck-on debris – Using a stiff brush, gently clean the coils and fan. Take care not to damage the coils.

  • Step 6. Vacuum the coils and surrounding area – Use the vacuum cleaner to remove any dust on or near the coils. Make sure to do this carefully to avoid damaging the coils.

  • Step 7. Clean off grease (if necessary) – Allowing grease to accumulate could damage the coils. Whenever there is a large buildup of stuck-on grease, use an OEM degreaser to remove it. Consult your owner’s manual for proper degreasing instructions and recommended cleaners.

  • Step 8. Straighten any bent fins (if necessary) – If any of the condenser fan fins are bent, use a fin straightener to correct them.

  • Step 9. Reattach the grate – Once everything is clean, reattach the grate back on to the unit.

  • Step 10. Prepare the unit – Plug the refrigerator/freezer back in, and restock the unit with its items.

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