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I'm a little worried about the reduction in airflow... should I be? And if so, how should I straighten the fins?

radiator fins

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Your efficiency probably isn't harmed too much by this—you still have basically the same area of radiator fins. If you had a fan blowing through the fins (e.g. on a computer heatsink) I might be a little more concerned because active airflow is an important part of the cooling. But how much active air circulation is really going on behind your fridge?

Anyway, if it's bothering you, you can buy a "radiator fin comb" or "fin straightener", which is basically a tough plastic comb that you can use to straighten the fins. They make them in different sizes based on the spacing of the fins, so get a multi-size comb or measure your fins first.

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thanks. I previously had to replace the compressor on this fridge (and it was only a couple years old) and the repair guy said he thought the problem was the quantity of dust accumulating (in combination with a hot kitchen). So ever since I have tried to keep it clean, but at some point someone I asked to clean it mashed the fins rather than using the air compressor. – Michael Bishop Jan 29 '13 at 14:46
+1 for the fin comb. Air circulation is critical to refrigerator compressor functioning. While the damage to these fins do not seem severe, blocked air flow can kill the appliance. – bib Jan 29 '13 at 15:26
oh, and there is a fan actively blowing on it – Michael Bishop Jan 29 '13 at 16:53

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