Recently our refrigerator started to have some interesting problem. The cooling performance was becoming progressively worse by the day. Up until a month ago the weather is quite cool here in Bangalore. So food did not spoil much and we did not notice. But as the weather was warming up we observed the cooling to be not adequate. Eventually milk started to spoil. The place I live is notorious for frequent power-cuts. I wondered if that was to blame. But this never happened before even with a lot of power-cuts. I started debugging the problem and eventually found the cause. It was the condenser coils.


We have a Samsung side-by-side refrigerator. The fridge seemed to be functioning fine. I could hear the compressor running. Yet the temperature inside was only 11 degrees centigrade. Next day it was 13. By default the fridge was set to 4 degrees and the freezer at -20. Yet both were reporting only 13 degrees. There were no weird sounds or error messages or any other alerts from the refrigerator.

My refrigerator

Google is your friend

Naturally I turned to Google for help. Searching for "refrigerator not cooling", I found several helpful hits. One of the recommendation was to clean the condenser coils which I found interesting and something I can do myself. As opposed to filling refrigerant gas which I need to have some one do it. To access the coils, I needed to open the back of the fridge. So I disconnected the power and opened the back. There were some warnings that only a technician should open. But I went ahead anyway.

Warnings behind the fridge

The mess

What I found after opening the back struck me like a ton of bricks. There was a huge mess of gunk stuck to the condenser coils. No wonder the coils are not cooling enough to bring down the temperature in the fridge.

Gunk stuck to condenser coils

Cleaning procedure

I got a hard brush and carefully removed the dust. Remember to wear a mask if you are doing it. The dust is very fine and flies into the air you breathe. It may contain bacteria and allergens. So be careful. We collected 4 times as much mess as you see below.

Dust from the coils (round one of four)

Then I carefully vacuumed the coils and the fan. Then blew compressed air into the coils and fan for that final bit of spanking clean look. Now they look clean according to me. You be the judge.

Clean condenser coils

All fixed now

Before I closed the back panel, I plugged in the fridge for a couple of hours and watched the temperature go down to the set range. Yay! Everything is working as it should. Finally I closed the panel and moves the fridge to its original location. By the end of it all, I had a fixed fridge and a messy floor :). But at least I am glad I had one very productive afternoon and had fun doing it. Imagine, if I was still working I would be too busy to troubleshoot myself and would have called Samsung service. Where is the fun in that!