Explained: Why Is My Fridge Freezing?

Has your cheese frozen? Has your milk been iced? When your refrigerator is freezing everything, there might be a slight problem requiring just your interference and not a refrigerator repair by a professional.

A well-organized fridge that's working properly

Before calling an expert to deal with it, you can first check it by yourself. There are some common problems that don’t need an expert to be solved. Sometimes, there might be a problem with the temperature setting or dusty coils. Of course, it could be something more serious that requires repair. There are things you can do to fix your fridge from freezing your perishables. Here are some troubleshooting tips to see how easily you can do it. And once you’re done… it’s time to defrost your freezer as well!

Why is my fridge freezing? 

A fridge smelling bad is a problem. However, a freezing fridge can be a headache. Whether you place food on the highest shelf or the crisper drawer or the refrigerator door, you’ll end up getting frozen food. Why is this happening? Can I resolve the problem without replacing your fridge? The reasons might be simple enough, and here are the tips to resolve that matter! But first, let’s see why a refrigerator is freezing everything. 

Reason 1: Thermistor and Thermostat problems 

The most common reason why the fridge might freeze foods could be the temperature. You’ll probably have set the temperature too low or too cold. The best temperature range for keeping your fresh foods in the fridge is between 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit  (3-4oC). If you get iced frozen yoghurt and iced cheese, then you’ll probably have set the temperature too low. 

What’s more, the temperature control thermostat, the temperature sensor or thermistor could be faulty. Temperature controls are attached to a control board. If they’re faulty, they won’t signal to the control board to turn off the motors, and it will keep freezing the fridge. If this is the reason, then you probably won’t be able to fix it yourself.

A malfunctioning fridge has frozen all the food

Reason 2: Dusty coils

Another usual problem that can lead your fridge to freeze your food is the dirty and dusty coils. The coils (heat exchanging or condenser coils) are placed at the back and outside part of the fridge. They’re used as a medium of heat exchange between the refrigerant fluid and the surroundings. When the coils get too dirty, the compressor needs to work more to keep the proper freezing temperature levels

Reason 3: Gasket problems

The gasket is the fridge/freezer door seal. It seals in the cold air to ensure that food stays fresh. So, if the door isn’t sealing correctly and is malfunctioning, the refrigerator won’t work the way it should be. There’s a small air leak into the fridge that makes the device try to cool it continuously. While running, condensation will form and lead up to ice building up. The freezer will keep running leading to the fridge freezing your perishables.  

Reason 4: Food storage problems

Many models have a cooling system above or on the top shelf, from where the air comes from. Most of us have the bad habit of placing food side-by-side and too close to the air vent, thus blocking it. When food is blocking the air vent, it prevents proper airflow within the refrigerator, resulting in extra cold food.

Another factor that affects the cooling system of the fridge is the number of items we keep in it. It may sound a foolish reason; it’s absolutely true, though. When the fridge isn’t sufficiently full, then the air will stick at the bottom and the crisper drawer and freeze food. 

Reason 5: Damper problems

The damper is a flap that controls the airflow from the freezer to the fridge. You can usually find it at the top. It opens and closes depending on the fridge temperature. A common problem can be that it is stuck. But if that’s not the problem, then there might be an issue with the evaporator coils. That’s why you might notice frost and ice building up on the back walls

How to keep your refrigerator from freezing food

The most important step is to identify the problem and the cause that leads to food freezing. Once you manage to do so, then you’ll be able to resolve everything. Besides, each problem has its solution. 

 Solution 1: Reset the thermostat

If the temperature is set too low or too cold, then things can be easy enough. You’ll just have to adjust the temperature accordingly. If you aren’t sure about the proper temperature your fridge should have, then check out the manufacturer’s manual. You’ll find there the right temperature ranges. 

But if there’s a matter with the temperature control thermostat, the temperature sensor or thermistor, then things could be more complicated. So, either you would have to check the manual to decode the control, or you might have to hire an expert.  

A woman setting the fridge's thermostat in the right temperature

Solution 2: Clean the coils

Clean the coils! Seems easy, right? It might be a little tricky, though, depending on where your fridge is located and how easy it is to move it.  Coils are located outside and at the back of your fridge. Since they’re in the outer part, they’re exposed to dust and dirt. And I’m sure, most of you have never thought about cleaning them.

What you have to do is to:

  1.  Pull the fridge away from the wall.
  2. Use your vacuum cleaner to remove any dust off the coils. 

Solution 3: Replace the seal

One more easy solved cause for freezing food could be the door seal. A cracked ripped or worn seal doesn’t allow the cold air to stay inside the refrigerator, leading the compressor to work continuously to keep the coldest temperature within the fridge. As a result, the refrigerator compartment gets to freeze, and your food has the same fate. So, the only thing you should do is to replace the broken seal with a new one

Solution 4: Rearrange the items and fill your refrigerator

Since most vents are located at the back wall on the top shelf, it’s possible for you to have placed an item right in front of it and blocking the flow. If that’s the reason, then you should relocate the selves and organisethe items inside your fridge. This way, the air won’t be blown over everything. 

What’s more, an empty fridge can lead to temperature problems, as weird as it may sound. If a refrigerator is quite empty, cold air will end up at the bottom, freezing everything placed in the drawer. Thus, all you have to do is to make sure that 70-80% of your fridge is filled. That way the air will be spread evenly throughout the fridge. 

Solution 5: Check the damper

The dumper controls the air that enters the fridge from the freezer. To check whether there’s a control problem, just keep your hand in front of the vent. If it’s stuck in the open position, then the fridge compartment will have the same freezer temperature. You can just unstick it using a pointed tool. But, in case it’s broken, it isn’t much you can do. You’ll have to replace the entire damper assembly.

Having checked all the above and yet your fridge keeps freezing everything? Then, the time has come to call for professional help. They’ll be able to tell you whether it’s a fixable problem or it’s time to replace your fridge with a new one.

A professional fixing a fridge
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