CJ's Mechanical Services Inc. Industry Info

Take simple steps to keep your refrigerator running at its optimal condition.

Most homeowners use their refrigerators every day and rely on the appliances to keep their food safe, but according to Chris Gill, owner of CJ’s Mechanical Services Inc. in Santa Rosa, fridge maintenance is often overlooked and can result in costly service calls that could have been easily prevented. “For one, regularly cleaning the condenser coil underneath your refrigerator will help extend its life,” he says. “Pet hair, dust and debris can build up on these coils and cause refrigerators to become less effective. A lot of people think their fridges just aren’t set cold enough, but the condenser coils are usually the real culprits.”

Worse than spoiled milk and melted ice cream, clogged coils cause refrigerator compressors to work harder over time, which can prematurely wear out the appliances. “Compressors cost up to $600 to replace, but vacuuming that little coil every six months can make a big difference,” says Mr. Gill. “Cleaning the coil is easy—it’s usually found underneath the fridge, directly behind the grill just below the door. Simply remove the plate and use a vacuum with a narrow hose or crevice attachment to clean it out.”

Mr. Gill says this method can also be used to clean the condensing units in HVAC systems. Like refrigerator coils, the condenser coils on these systems can attract dust and hair, which causes them to be less effective and work too hard, leading to compressor failure. Regular maintenance by a professional can help you avoid these issues, but you can also do it yourself. “I recommend unplugging the device, locating the grill or faceplate and removing it to expose the coils,” says Mr. Gill. “You can use a vacuum with a crevice tool to remove the dust, but wiping the coils with a rag will also work.”