Temperature issues with a refrigerator can lead to food safety problems in a short amount of time. Has the temperature inside your refrigerator warmed to the point that the food is tepid to the touch? There are a few potential causes with the fixes ranging from simple to complicated to the point that you might want to call an appliance repair technician.
What are some of the problems that can cause tepid temperature in a refrigerator – and how can you or a tech fix the problem?
Improper Temperature Setting
The most obvious cause is an improperly set thermostat. Check the thermostat and turn it colder, if necessary. If the indicated temperature doesn't seem to match the actual temperature in the refrigerator, consider calling in an appliance repair tech to check on your temperature sensors.
If you have the manual for the fridge and own a multimeter, you can test the temperature sensors yourself. Look in the manual to find out where all of the sensors, also called thermistor, are located inside the fridge. The number and location of the sensors can vary widely between models.
Allow the sensors to warm up to room temperature before testing with the multi-meter, which you want to set to read in ohms. Consult your manual for what reading you should receive on a room temperature sensor then test the sensor again after it is submerged in ice water.
Frozen Evaporator Coils
Evaporator coils become cold as refrigerant cycles through and the coils then disperse that coldness into the refrigerator. Most newer model refrigerators are frost-free models, which means the unit has a heater to keep the evaporator coils from freezing up. But if you have an older model refrigerator, evaporator coils could still be your culprits.
You can manually defrost the fridge by removing all of the food then leaving the fridge and freezer both hanging open for a few hours. You will want to put down a few large towels both under, in front of, and inside the fridge to catch all of the water from the melting ice.
Don't want to deal with the manual defrosting process yourself? Call in an appliance repair technician like Kaylor Appliance & Refrigeration Service.
Suffocating Condenser Coils
Condenser coils release the heat generated by the refrigeration process. The coils line either the back or underside of the refrigerator and require air circulation to help release the heat without overheating. If the condenser coils aren't receiving enough air circulation, the inside of your fridge can warm up.
Check to make sure your unit's coils aren't pressed tightly to a wall if the coils are in the rear. If the coils are on the bottom, make sure you don't have anything under the fridge like a collection of cat toys or a forgotten towel that could impede the air circulation to the coils.