Call an appliances professional. 1-800-299-9470

Anatomy of Appliances - Refrigerators

Anatomy of Refrigerators Banner

In this installment of's recurring series, Anatomy of Appliances, we will be exploring the inner workings of one of the most convenient and common appliances, the refrigerator! Modern refrigerators have come a long way since the earliest models and rely on intricate mechanisms to keep your food and beverage items cold. Knowing the various components of your fridge can help you keep it running smoothly as well as quickly diagnose any issues you may be experiencing. While the more advanced features can vary from model to model, contemporary refrigerators are generally comprised of similar internal components. Building a comprehensive knowledge of what's going on behind the scenes in the appliances you own can help easily troubleshoot any problems that may arise.

Anatomy of Refrigerators Diagram 1
Anatomy of Refrigerators Diagram 2

Air Damper (Diffuser)

Evaporator Fan

Ice Maker Assembly




Condenser Fan

Defrost Heater

Anatomy of Refrigerators Glossary Banner

Air Damper (Diffuser) - A valve or plate that controls or redirects the air flow from the freezer to the fridge compartments.

Air Damper Control/Thermostat - Thermostat monitors internal temperatures while the Air Damper Controls regulates airflow for optimal temperatures.

Compressor - Compresses vapor from refrigerant/coolant, raising temperature and pressure resulting in hot, high-pressure gas.

Compressor Run Capacitor - Sends electric current to motor windings to start the compressor motor.

Compressor Start Relay - Starts and stops the compressor under the proper conditions.

Condenser - Grill-like coils located on rear of refrigerator, attached to compressor. Expels unwanted heat by condensing compressed refrigerant/coolant.

Condenser Fan - Forces environmental air through the condenser, aids in heat transfer from coil to outside air.

Defrost Control Board - Monitors and controls the refrigerator and freezer defrost cycle. Melts ice that accumulates around the freezer evaporator.

Defrost Heater - Melts frost from the freezer's evaporator.

Defrost Thermistor - Attached to the evaporator coil and measures temperatures during defrost process.

Defrost Drain Heat Probe - An extension of the defrost heater, it transmits warmth from the heater to the area near the drain tube to prevent freezing.

Defrost Drain Tube - Transfers condensate that collects in the drip tray.

Defrost Sensor - Shuts off the defrost heater if it gets hot enough to cause damage.

Defrost Timer - Controls the intervals between auto-defrost cycles.

Dispenser Core Controls - Activates water and ice dispenser components.

Door Gasket - Flexible sealing on the outer edge of fridge to form an airtight seal.

Drain Pan - Collects condensate water from the defrost cycle.

Electronic Control Board - Controls major components via sensors throughout the refrigerator.

Evaporator - Converts cool liquid refrigerants/coolants into vapor, absorbs heat from air in freezer.

Evaporator Fan - Draws air from refrigerator, blows it over evaporator coils. Coolant absorbs heat from the air and blows it back into fridge at cooler temperature.

Expansion Valve - Controls the amount of refrigerant/coolant released into the evaporator, thus controlling and optimizing cooling air temperatures.

Ice Maker Assembly - Contains ice mold and control device. Plugs into wire harness in freezer or ice compartment. Creates and dispenses ice until storage is determined to be full via sensors.

Light Switch - Turns the fridge light on or off by monitoring door position.

Refrigerator Door - Covers the front of the refrigerator interior. Contains shelves for storage.

Temperature Control Board - A circuit board that controls major functions of compressors and fans.

Water Filter - Removes sediment and other impurities from water.

Water Inlet Valve - Controls water flow into the refrigerator.

Water Supply Tube - Carries water from a source to the refrigerator.

Wiring Harness - Collection of wires that connect the various components of the fridge.

Anatomy of Refrigerators Featured Models Banner

There are a wide variety of refrigerator models on the market today who share the same common components listed above. However, each brand strives to take the basic components of a fridge and design their own advanced iterations. In the section below, we will highlight a few models from some of the popular brands and their impressive takes on modern refrigerator technology!

Samsung RF28M958SG

Samsung - RF28M958SG - Samsung's latest 36 inch French door refrigerator lives on the cutting edge of modern fridge technology. This model features a touch screen family hub to make all of your kitchen activities a little easier. Additionally, this model features Samsung's state-of-the-art Ice Master ice maker which produces up to 10 lbs. of ice per day. With convenience in mind, Samsung designed this ice maker to output an elite amount of ice while the space-saving design leaves more functional space within the refrigerator!

Electrolux - EI23BC32SS - Electrolux makes it mark with this 36 inch built-in French door refrigerator. You'll find the IQ-Touch controls to be the pinnacle of convenience as you choose optimal temperature settings on the touch panel. This brightly lit refrigerator offers unmatched storage and shelving as there are limitless configurations to choose from. Also included is Electrolux's signature PureAdvantage filtration system. This filtration system keeps clean, filtered air circulating throughout your fridge, ensuring no unwanted odors transfer between food items.

Viking - FDBB5363EL - Viking has long been known for its well-crafted, high-quality kitchen appliances and this 36 inch counter depth refrigerator from the 5 Series upholds that gold standard. This model provides ample storage space with a total 20.4 cu. ft. in the refrigerator and freezer compartments. Viking's patented ProChill Temperature Management System provides precise temperature control with electronic controls. The system is equipped with a variable speed DC Overdrive compressor which ensures accurate, steady temperature settings while also being the quietest compressor available!

Thermador T30IB900SP

Thermador - T30IB900SP - Thermador holds nothing back with its latest Freedom Series 30 inch counter-depth, bottom-freezer refrigerator. This refrigerator sets the standard for energy efficiency with the new Cool Air Flow technology. This modern fan system optimizes and evenly distributes cold air throughout every inch of the fridge. You'll also find the Auto Door Opening technology to be another example of user-friendly convenience. This technology allows you to customize your personal touch for opening and closing the fridge door and eliminates the need for traditional door handles!

facebook pixel