The evaporator in a normal refrigerator is a key element to the unit's ability to cool. If the evaporator is not working, refrigerant will not flow through the lines as necessary. This means that your refrigerator motor will need to work hard to maintain a constant, cool temperature. Of course, this ultimately means that you are wasting money and shortening the lifespan of your refrigerator. Luckily, you can clean your evaporator on your own to make sure it is running at maximum efficiency. This article explains how to access and then clean your evaporator coils.
Finding the Evaporator
The evaporator is located on the back side of the refrigerator, but the access panel is usually on the inside. This means you need unplug your unit and take a bunch of stuff out to access the evaporator. So, you might need to plan ahead and put some of your perishables into a cooler or another refrigerator while you are working on it. The access panel is usually vented, but these vents can be clogged with frost. Most panels can be easily taken off by just removing a couple of screws. Once the panel is removed you should see a small fan and the metal evaporator. It has aluminum tubes that have smaller, grill-like coils attached.
Cleaning the Evaporator and Fan
Cleaning the evaporator is very easy, but you might need to wait for it to completely defrost. It is a good idea to set absorbent rags next to the frosty coils so the liquid gets soaked up as it melts. If there is no frost present, there is a still a good chance that there will be dust in between the coils. It is a little difficult to clean in between the narrow coils. A hose vacuum that is kitted with a brush attachment might work. Alternatively, you can use a handheld brush to knock all the dust off and then vacuum it up.
Regardless of how you do it, any cleaning of the coils will be beneficial. While you have access to the evaporator compartment, you also want to wipe down the fans. Also, if there are any components that are rusty, you should probably replace them. Of course, this will have to be done by professional appliance repairmen (such as one from Anderson's Appliance Repair Service). But, rust can spread, so it should not be left alone.
When you are done cleaning, you can quickly put everything back together, plug in your unit and start restocking your refrigerator.