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How Much Space Between Fridge And Wall?

Your refrigerator is one of the most essential appliances in your home. It's important to properly maintain and install your refrigerator in order to avoid any future issues and repairs. However, many people might not know that one of the most important parts of refrigerator installation and care is giving your refrigerator enough room to circulate air.

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You should have at least one to two inches of space between the sides of the refrigerator and the wall, in addition to two inches of space behind your refrigerator and the wall. Your refrigerator should also have one inch of clearance on the top. This clearance prevents overheating and gives your fridge enough space to effectively circulate air.

Modern side by side Stainless Steel Refrigerator in a grey wall, How Much Space Between Fridge And Wall?

Why Do Fridges Need Space Between the Wall?

Both mini-fridges and regular-sized refrigerators need to be placed a couple of inches away from the back and wides of the wall. This is because having a fridge too close to the wall does not give adequate circulation to disperse hot air from the condenser coils in the back of the fridge.

fridge at blue wall

The Importance of Condenser Coils

Condensor coils are located in the back of the refrigerator. They are responsible for cooling the refrigerant that will help cool down your food within The refrigerator, as well as condense it into its liquid form (hence the name condenser coils).

These condenser coils are located on both mini fridges and regular-sized fridges in the back of the unit. As seen here on a mini-fridge, condenser coils have a unique shape that resembles a winding, turning road and "U" shaped coils. 

Male technician repairing refrigerator indoors

However, although many modern refrigerators now have condenser coils in the back, condenser coils on older models like the one show here have a compressor compartment located at the very bottom of the fridge. You can access this compartment and the coils by opening up the grille at the very front of the fridge and accessing the coils here.

For fridges like these, it isn't necessary to have clearance in the front of the fridge (since you will be accessing it from the front anyway) but you still need clearance room on the sides and top of the fridge. 

Clearance Space Needed for Your Refrigerator

It's important that you not only give your fridge clearance on its back side, but also the left and right sides and top of the fridge. Giving space on all sides will allow your fridge to circulate air all around. It will also help keep away dust and prevent it from building up and leading to overheating and costly repairs.

To find the space needed for your fridge, make sure to check with your specific appliance manufacturer, as they will have different minimum requirements. For instance, GE appliances need at least:

  • 1/8" to 1" inch of space between either side of the fridge and the wall
  • 1" of space on the top side of the fridge
  • 1" to 2" of space in the back (arguably the most crucial area)

However, the requirements might be different for other refrigerators. For instance, Samsung requires refrigerators to have:

  • More than 2 inches, or 50 mm, of space between the back of the fridge and the wall
  • More than 2 inches, or 50 mm, of space between the sides of the fridge and the wall

When To Move your Fridge

two movers using hand truck while transporting refrigerator in apartment

It's important to know when to move your fridge in order to prevent repairs, extend the life of your fridge, or simply improve your kitchen's functionality. Below are some of the signs you need to move your fridge and use the appropriate clearance measurements to do so.

Showing Signs of Overheating

If your refrigerator has no space to circulate air, this can lead to your condenser coils failing to cool your refrigerant and overheating issues. There are various signs of overheating issues, including:

  • Higher energy bills and costs
  • Loud noises coming from your fridge
  • Not cooling your food enough
  • Working harder than it needs to stay cool

If moving your fridge away from the wall and giving it more room to circulate air doesn't work, it's best to contact an appliance repair specialist to take a look at your fridge.

Humid Environment

Even if you give enough space for your fridge, you should consider giving your fridge more room to circulate air if you live in a particularly humid environment. Humid environments make it difficult to circulate air, leading to excess moisture in the air that can damage your fridge over time.

Trouble Accessing your Fridge

If you notice your fridge doors don't open wide enough or it's difficult to clean around your fridge, it's time to move your fridge so that there is enough space for you to access your coils and your food.

Many people don't realize that leaving food inside of your fridge also makes it difficult for your fridge to cool evenly. It's always best to declutter, in addition to giving your fridge enough room to do so.

How to Care for Your Fridge and Condenser Coils

In addition to giving enough space to your fridge, there are other ways you a new ensure your fridge remains functional for as long as possible. This includes:

  • Cleaning your condenser coils. This condenser coil cleaner on Amazon can do wonders in helping clear away dust and debris that accumulates on your fridge's coils. Around 70% of all fridge repairs are done simply because of dirty condenser coils damaging the fridge. 

  • Declutter your fridge. You should also make sure to remove any old food or items in your fridge, since this reduces its ability to cool the rest of the food you need, making it work harder.
  • Don't store it in direct sunlight, since this can lead to it overheating and needing to work harder to cool than if it was stored elsewhere. 
  • Don't place it directly on carpet. If your fridge is located on carpet, this can also prevent it from cooling down efficiently, since carpet is good at retaining heat. Place your fridge over a plastic pad or elevate your fridge.
  • Place your fridge on a level floor in addition to giving it adequate space. This will prevent components and refrigerant from shifting around inside of your fridge. 

How to Plan for your Fridge Delivery

two movers in uniform using hand truck while transporting refrigerator in apartment

Before you plan for your fridge, make sure to take measurements of your kitchen area. Make sure your fridge is not directly touching the stove, since this can lead to it overheating too. Also, make sure to follow the requirements of your fridge's manufacturer, such as those listed above. 

Allow for anywhere between one to two inches of space behind the wall, on the sides, and on the top of your fridge. If there is not enough space, opt for a smaller-sized refrigerator, or try to redo your kitchen and plan to move the fridge to another area.

Although this might seem like an unnecessary step, it's important to help prevent your fridge from overheating, leading to costly repairs in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Modern side by side Stainless Steel Refrigerator in a grey wall

It's important to follow your fridge manufacturer's recommendations for spacing. Never skimp on these requirements, since they will allow your fridge's condenser coils to adequately expel hot air and cool down your refrigerant. This means you'll have a great working fridge come summertime.