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Why Does My Fridge Freeze Food?

The last thing you want to see when you open your fridge is ice. Or reach in to grab a piece of fruit only to discover it is semi-frozen. Or have to drink ice-cold juice from the fridge. 

Your fridge is meant to keep foods and drinks cold, not freeze them. That’s what the freezer is for. Why do fridges freeze food, and what can you do to prevent it?

Why Does My Fridge Freeze Food?

There are several reasons your fridge may be freezing food: you could have chosen the wrong temperature, the temperature sensor could be malfunctioning, the air vents could be blocked, or your door seals might be damaged.

You can try to troubleshoot most of the issues that could be causing your fridge to freeze food yourself. Some of them are very easy to fix, while others may require the help of a professional. You may also need to replace your fridge entirely, but let’s hope that’s not the case.

Here’s what could be causing the freezing in the fridge, and how you can fix it: 

The Wrong Temperature Setting 

The optimal temperature for refrigerators is somewhere between 1.6-3.3°C (35-38°F). You could go a little bit higher too, without risking any food spoilage. 

If you have accidentally set your fridge to the coldest setting, this innocent mistake could be the cause of your freezing food. 

The solution is simple. Check to see what setting you have chosen for your fridge. You are aiming for a setting in the middle. If your fridge goes up to 7, you want it at 3.5. If it goes up to 9, look for roughly 4.5. If your fridge is currently at a 7 (or a 9), just put the dial back where it needs to be. 

A Faulty Temperature Sensor 

If the temperature dial is already where it needs to be, but your food is freezing, do a simple test. 

Put a glass of water on the top shelf of the fridge and leave it there for 24 hours. Then take the glass out and use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature of the water. If it is not within 2 degrees of the temperature you have set, the temperature sensor is probably off.

You won’t be sure this is the case without calling a repairman in. They may be able to replace the sensor, which won’t be too costly an expense. 

Wrong Ice Maker Settings 

If you have an ice maker, it could be the cause of the freezing food. If you’ve left it on, but have disconnected the water supply, the fridge will keep trying to make ice. This will lead to freezing temperatures that can be the culprit behind your problem. 

Check your ice maker to see if it’s on if you aren’t using it regularly. If yes, switch it off. Wait a day or two to see if this helps the freezing in the fridge. 

Blocked Air Vents 

Your fridge uses air vents to circulate cold air between its two compartments. If you place an item directly next to the vent, it will be exposed to a lot of cold air, and will freeze over time. It will also make it harder for your freezer to maintain the right temperature, so your compressor will have to work extra hard. This will reduce the lifespan of your appliance, and likely increase your electricity bills.

You’ll know this is the cause of food freezing in the fridge if only certain items are freezing while others appear to be fine. Items that are placed closest to the vents will be the coldest, so the simplest thing to do is to rearrange your fridge. 

Don’t place anything close to the vents. Put items that need to be kept coldest near the bottom, and items that can tolerate slightly higher temperatures near the top. 

Faulty Door Seals 

If the seals of your fridge aren’t working as they should, warm air will be entering it. This will cause the fridge to work overtime to maintain proper temperatures, and it can overdo it in its eagerness to get it right. 

Check your door seals by closing the fridge as you normally would, then running your fingers around the entire seal. Is there any air leaking? Is there a spot where the seal isn’t holding? Come back in a few minutes and check again. Is one spot colder than others? Check again in an hour. 

Clean your door seal with some warm water and dish soap. Dry it completely and see if that has fixed the problem. Sometimes a stray bit of food or some grease can prevent the door from shutting properly. 

If your door seals are worn or torn, you can replace them for a reasonable price. It will also extend the lifespan of your fridge

The Fridge Is Too Empty 

If you’ve noticed that only food at the bottom of the fridge appears to be freezing, it’s probably because the fridge isn’t full enough. 

A well-stocked fridge will absorb more of the cold air. Items will help keep each other cool, and the fridge will use less energy to maintain the right temperature. When the fridge is nearly empty, the cold air will sink to the bottom and freeze anything you have put there. 

The simple solution is to keep your fridge more stocked. Don’t go overboard of course. Only buy food that you know you will eat while it’s still good and fresh. If your current fridge is too large for your needs, you can consider getting a smaller one. 

The Coils Are Dirty 

Your fridge has coils on the back that help it do its job. When they get dirty and dusty, it won’t be operating as well as it should.

If you aren’t already in the habit of regularly cleaning the coils (which you should do roughly every 6 months, or more often if you have a pet), do it now and see if that helps the fridge maintain its temperature better. 

The Damper Is Faulty 

If you have a fridge freezer, it will have a part called the damper. It regulates the amount of cooled air that is distributed from the freezer to the fridge. 

If the damper is malfunctioning, it may push too much cold air into the fridge, freezing your food. 

There is no way for you to know this is the cause of your problem by yourself, so you will need to call in a professional if all of your other efforts have not been able to uncover the cause of the freezing food. 

What To Do If Your Fridge Is Still Freezing Food 

If you’ve checked all of the above and your fridge is still freezing food, it’s time to call a repairman. There may be something wrong with the compressor, or it may be time to replace your fridge

If you notice food freezing in the fridge and there’s also a loud humming sound, call for help sooner rather than later. You don’t want to rush the purchase of a new fridge just because your old one has suddenly broken down. 

Wrapping Up 

If your fridge is freezing food, run through the possible causes I’ve listed here. If none of them turns out to be the culprit, call a professional to check your fridge out. Hopefully it’s a simple fix! 


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