Stainless steel french door refrigerator in a kitchen

Guide to the parts of a refrigerator

Want to get better acquainted with the kitchen appliance that never takes a break? Learn about the main parts of a refrigerator, from the compressor to the evaporator coils, and discover what each part does.

Refrigerator parts diagram
Refrigerator compressor part

1. Compressor

The compressor is essentially an engine. Its job is to kickstart the entire cooling process. The compressor pumps the vapor refrigerant (the cooling agent) through the fridge by increasing the pressure and temperature of the coolant as it makes its way through the refrigeration cycle. Typically, you will find the compressor on the bottom or back of the refrigerator.

Refrigerator condenser coils

2. Condenser coils

The condenser coils, located on the back or bottom of your fridge, are the pipes where the vapor refrigerant condenses into liquid form as the compressor continues to increase pressure. As the condensation process occurs, the refrigerant releases heat that is then pushed out into the outside air. This heat is the air that you’ll typically feel coming out from under your fridge.

Maytag tip icon

keep condenser coils clean

Condenser coils work best when you clear away dust every 2-3 months, especially if you have heavy pet traffic in your home.

Refrigerator expansion valve

3. Expansion Device

The expansion device causes a rapid pressure reduction in the refrigerant, transforming it back to a vapor state. Located between the condenser and evaporator coils, its function is to control the release of pressure as the change of state from liquid to vapor occurs.

Refrigerator evaporator coils

4. Evaporator coils

The evaporator coils are where the actual cooling of the refrigerator occurs. As the refrigerant passes through the coils, it absorbs any heat that is in the surrounding air, generally from the food compartment side of the refrigerator. As the coils absorb the heat, they release the cool air felt when opening the refrigerator door. Small vents on the inside of the freezer and refrigerator allow the air to move from the freezer and into the fridge. These coils are typically in a covered part in the back of the freezer.

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keep air vents unobstructed

Keep your air vents clear from food items for maximum airflow throughout your refrigerator. Keeping your air vents unobstructed will also ensure that your food stays at optimal temperatures and does not freeze.

Want to learn more about how the inside of your refrigerator works?

Check out how a refrigerator works if you want a deeper dive on how the refrigeration system works and how each part plays its role. Also, read our guide on how a refrigerator ice maker works to learn more about your fridge’s ice maker. The Info Hub blog also has tips for maintaining your refrigeration appliances, like how to clean an ice maker, how to clean your refrigerator, and how to fix or replace your refrigerator’s light.

Refrigerator in a kitchen with a wrench icon

Explore refrigerator replacement parts for your Maytag® 

Find the Maytag® refrigerator replacement parts you need, or visit Maytag Product Help for additional support to keep your refrigerator at peak performance.


If you need a service call for your Maytag® refrigerator, call our customer service at 1-800-344-1274. Hours of operation: Mon & Tue 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. (EST), Wed-Fri 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. (EST).

Keep it cool, Maytag has you covered

All Maytag® refrigerators are backed by a 10-year limited parts warranty on the compressor for a decade of dependable cooling power. Visit for warranty details.

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