top of page

How Does a Refrigerator Work?

As you may know, according to the laws of physics - cold is the absence of heat. A refrigerator doesn't actually cool things, it removes the heat from them. But then you probably don't want a physics lesson.Simply put, a refrigerator is a system containing a chemical compound that boils at a very low temperature. Many people call it freon. Even though freon hasn't been used for years, it is easier to say than R134a. The system is run by a compressor. The refrigerant begins in a liquid state, and is pressurized to the point at which it evaporates. At this point, the refrigerant turns to gas and instantly drops in temperature, down to about -15 degrees Fahrenheit.

This takes place in the evaporator coils in the freezer compartment, where the heat is consumed. That heat is then carried out of the freezer and down to another series of coils called the condenser coils, where a fan blows off the extracted heat. Since the R134a has risen in temperature, it returns to a liquid state. Once the liquid has been cooled to an efficient temperature, the refrigerant is ready to be pressurized and go through the system again. Both coils need to be unobstructed. The evaporator coil - in order to absorb heat and allow cold air to circulate throughout the refrigerator. The condenser coil - in order to allow air flow through and cool the R134a. The evaporator coil in difficult to get to, and can be blocked for various reasons. The condenser coils on the other hand, are usually easy to access, and get blocked by dust, dirt, and pet hair.

What You Can do Yourself to Save Money Before you Call

-Check the Condenser Coils

The condenser coils are frequently located on the bottom of the fridge in the front. Many user manuals will have instructions on how to clean them. Most are accessible without any tools. A good vacuum with a hose attachment, and a brush (from Trible's, Home Depot, or Sears) can save you a visit from us. Not only that, but cleaning your condenser coils twice a year will make your refrigerator more efficient and last longer.

Check the Food in the Freezer for Frost

The biggest indication that a door has been left open is frost on the food in the freezer section. It this is the case, wipe off the frost and make sure the door is closed. The fridge should return to normal in a few days. If there is frost on the BACK WALL, that means there is a problem with the defrost system. Unless you are familiar with these circuits, you will need a visit for a diagnosis and repair.

Make Sure all Vents are Unobstructed

All Refrigeration systems rely on air circulation. Most generate cold air in the freezer section, and transfer that cold to the fridge section. If anything is blocking that air pathway, the freezer will be cold, but the fridge will be warm.

If you have checked these things and the temperatures in your refrigerator or freezer are still too warm or too low, please call. We will be more than happy to help. 443-847-8434.

If your Combination Refrigerator Freezer is outside and seems broken!!

A common question we hear pertains to operating a refrigerator in the garage or other unheated space during cold weather. Bottom line, refrigerators and freezers don't cool efficiently when operated at temperatures below, roughly, 45 degrees (F). The first reason is that the outside temperature may get low enough that the thermostat inside the refrigerator never gets warm enough to activate the compressor and so the freezer warms up to the outside temperature. Another problem is that if it gets too cold, the refrigerant pressure becomes too low to generate the necessary cold and so the freezer only chills down to the outside temperature.

Call us at 443-847-8434

Servicing Carroll,Howard & Baltimore Counties

bottom of page