Why Is My Refrigerator Not Cooling?

Finding a bunch of unpleasant smells from rotting food isn’t a great way of figuring out your refrigerator is not cooling the way it’s supposed to. Unfortunately, this can happen to anyone, and there are a few reasons behind it. Some are simple to fix, but others require professional help. So let’s dive into why your refrigerator isn’t cooling properly and what you can do to remedy that.

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The Refrigerator is in the Wrong Position

The location of your refrigerator can affect how efficiently it cools its contents. For example, an indoor refrigerator shouldn't be placed on a porch or in a garage. The vast temperature fluctuations won’t help it do its job. If it’s too hot out, the refrigerator will work overtime, and if the weather is too cold, the refrigerator might stop working altogether.

Another issue is the lack of clearance around the refrigerator. You should leave at least 1 inch clear behind the refrigerator and ½ an inch on either side so it would dissipate the heat better. 

Lastly, if your refrigerator is placed on a forward-sloping surface, it might have trouble keeping the doors closed. Use a level to determine whether the refrigerator is correctly positioned. If not, use shims to adjust it.

The Thermostat is Set Too Warm

Sometimes, your hand or something you place inside the refrigerator brushes against the temperature controls making them shift. If you have kids around, they might get curious and play around with the thermostat, especially if it’s outside the refrigerator.

In other cases, confusion about whether the lower or the higher setting is cooler can lead you to adjust the thermostat to be warmer than you want it. In most refrigerator brands and models, the higher the number, the cooler the refrigerator, so adjust your settings accordingly.

The Refrigerator is Stocked Incorrectly

Placing items in your refrigerator too close together can prevent air circulation. You can also unintentionally block air vents with boxes or bags if you’re not careful.

That said, sometimes the issue comes down to understocking or overstocking your refrigerator. So as a rule of thumb, always keep the refrigerator ¾ of the way full with even spacing between the items.

Condenser Coils Are Dusty

Your refrigerator dissipates heat by cooling down its metal condenser coils. If they’re covered in dust, pet dander, cobwebs, or any other gunk, the refrigerator won’t be as efficient.

Most condenser coils are placed underneath or behind the refrigerator. Unplug your refrigerator and vacuum clean the area to get any debris off of the condenser coils to increase its efficiency.

Door Gaskets Are Worn or Dirty

Door gaskets are the rubbery borders placed around the door’s perimeter to make a hermetic seal with the refrigerator. If they’re dirty with oils from your hands, dust, or crumbs, they can remain slightly ajar even if you press them in.

Give them a thorough clean with warm soapy water without the use of any scouring pads or harsh detergents. If they still won’t close the door properly, they probably need replacing because they’re too worn.

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