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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Kelly's Korner - The Mysteries of the Refrigerator

Hey, All,

One of the most mysterious appliances we use everyday is the refrigerator/freezer.  We pretty much take this appliance for granted that it will keep our food cold or frozen.  But how does it do that?

Well, without going into a huge physics lesson, when a compressed gas gets released it cools rapidly.  Have you cleaned your keyboard lately with a can of compressed air?  That can gets really cold really fast, huh?  Kinda the same thing happens in your fridge.

condenser coils
The coolant is a special chemical that alternates between a hot liquid and a cool gas.  This coolant, as a liquid under pressure, is pumped through the pipes by a compressor.   From the compressor, the liquid coolant travels through the condenser coils where it releases the heat it has drawn from inside the refrigerator.

As it hits an expansion valve, the sudden drop in pressure makes the coolant expand where it rapidly gets cooler and turns into a gas.  As this cool gas travels through the refrigerator evaporator coils located in the freezer section of the fridge, it absorbs the warm air from inside the refrigerator and freezer.  It then goes back to the compressor where it is squeezed into a hot, high pressure gas.  When it hits the condenser coils, it cools back to the liquid form and starts the sequence all over again.
evaporator fan motor
damper assembly
Clear as mud, right?  Then, to complicate matters, inside your freezer section is a little motor and fan blade (normally called an evaporator fan motor) that blows the cold air from the evaporator into the freezer section.  This cold air travels through the wall into the refrigerator section via the damper assembly. This damper assembly has a little flapper door that you can adjust via your control panel to regulate how much cold air comes in.

So, now you know everything there is to know about refrigeration, right?  Wrong!!!!  And, on that note, I am going to leave this for another time with my least favorite three words:


Have a great week!

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