A refrigerator isn’t supposed to freeze food. While having a second freezer can be a positive idea for some, a fridge is meant to cool food and drinks. Did you recently take a gallon of milk out of the fridge and find it icy?
Fridges are capable of getting colder than they are usually set, especially with a freezer. This shouldn’t be, as the two units have separate purposes.
Fridges most often freeze items because the fridge is not set up right, or there is a small hardware problem. Both of these are reasonably easy to fix by taking a look at the inside of your fridge. Let’s dive into more detail about why fridges freeze.
Fridge settings to keep it from freezing
The difference between a cold fridge and a freezing fridge isn’t that big. A fridge should be setup below 40 degrees to keep dairy products cool. 33 to 34 degrees is getting a bit chilly. Below 32 and you’ve got the beginnings of a freezer
Open your fridge and try to find the gauge or switch that controls the temperature in your fridge. You’ll probably have to move food out of the way, and it’s most likely located directly in the back top part of the fridge.
The dial or switch is generally round or vertical. Some of them are located on the side of the back vent. These are also often labeled with either numbers for temperature or a range including coldest and cold.
The temperature might actually be set too low. Turn the temperature up a bit by either turning the dial or sliding the plastic piece on the vent to the right temperature.
This is actually a common problem too, so this is one of the first things to check out.
Broken thermostats or thermistor
A fridge’s hardware including compressor and motors can deliver more cold than you want. A broken thermistor or thermostat can lead to your fridge keeping a continuous supply of cold air when it’s not wanted.
There is a more complicated testing method for a thermostat or thermistor that involves a multimeter and disconnecting the gauge or slide that controls temperature.
Rather than assuming people have the tools and hardware necessary, these methods are more practical though slower.
If your fridge is setup at a temperature that shouldn’t be capable of freezing anything, spot check the vents in back a few times per day to see if they have flowing air. The cold air blowing out of your vents shouldn’t need to blow all that often.
If you did have to turn your fridge up from a too cool temperature, check the fridge after some use and about 24 hours. Try putting a new bottle of liquid or something freezable in there to see if it freezes too.
Time and temperatures can help reveal whether or not the fridge is working properly. If the fan just doesn’t stop or the fridge is cooler than you set, you might have an issue with thermostat.
Check your seals
Believe it or not, leaking air can cause freezing. This normally happens with other problems adding up, but your fridge can run continuously and freeze things when leaking.
With the fridge door closed and the fridge fan running, put your hands around the hands of the fridge. It might feel cold, but especially check for places where you can feel moving air.
A leaky seal can let air out and have your fridge working overtime to compensate. The result can potentially result in producing too much cool air. You might also notice this with a higher electric bill.
Fridge door seals are relatively easy to replace. The hardest part might be peeling the old one off.
Clean the coils
Your fridge’s coils are lines that bring coolant up to the fridge. These can also work overtime and produce too much cold air.
The best way to clean the coils of debris is to safely drag the fridge far enough from the wall. You can then remove any protective cover the fridge might have on the back.
You should be able to access the coils from there. Cleaning the coils is usually as simple as using a vacuum cleaner to remove dust, debris, and dirt from the pipes. This can actually be very helpful for warm and cold issues as overly dirty or icy lines can impact your drive.
If your fridge has more than one vent, it’s possible to accidentally block it and create more cold. A blocked vent can leave the vent open and let in more cold air than expected. This leads to lower temperature and potentially frozen food.
If you have a fridge and freezer combo, the ice cold air from your freezer on top can make your fridge too cold.
Your freezer could be full of frost, and the resulting cool temperatures can radiate into your fridge.
The best solution is to turn the freezer settings down. The freezer might have a defrost mode too. You can also turn your freezer off for a while and let the ice inside melt away, while still keeping your frozen food relatively safe. Another option is to place the frozen food in an ice filled cooler.
This method can be helpful just to clean out your freezer in general. It’s potential to help your fridge is an added bonus.
A variety of problems can lead to your fridge freezing your items instead of just cooling. Learning a little about your fridge and how it decides how much to cool can help greatly in fixing the problem. You’ll want to take a look inside the fridge to know what’s happening, and potentially get help replacing some hardware.
There are also basic tests you can do to see if any changes to your fridge is working. A fridge can readily cool more than you want it to, so setting it up right and maintaining is very important.
Try the above and see which methods work best for you.