Freezer Cold But Refrigerator Warm? Here’s How To Fix It

A refrigerator with lots of food inside

Are you frustrated because your freezer is cold, but your refrigerator is warm?

If so, you might be concerned that your food is going to spoil in the refrigerator. So let’s figure out what the issue is, so we can address it quickly.

If your freezer is cold but your refrigerator’s warm, first make sure you haven’t overfilled the fridge. Then check that there’s good airflow around the refrigerator and the vents are clear. Inspect the evaporator fan, and also the coils at the rear/base of the fridge.

Keep reading to learn more about how to solve this issue!

Fixing A Warm Fridge And Cold Freezer: 5 Simple Steps

To make things easier for you, in this section, you’ll find step-by-step instructions that will help you get rid of the issue.

#1 Grab Your Gear

There are several materials you need to collect if you want to fix a refrigerator that is warm. These include: 

After you have collected all of these materials, it is time to take a closer look at what you need to do to fix a refrigerator that is warm.

#2 See How You Packed the Freezer

The first thing you need to do is take a closer look at how you have packed the freezer. You may not realize that the way you load the freezer could have a significant impact on the temperature in the refrigerator.

You see, if you have a single evaporator freezer/refrigerator, the fridge section gets its cold air from the freezer. There is a vent (usually a damper door), through which air is forced by the evaporator fan motor.

Unfortunately, if food is blocking this vent, you’ll have an airflow issue that is likely the cause of the warm temperature in the fridge.

A Freezer Packed with Frozen Food
When you pack your freezer with too much food, the air will not flow through the refrigerator

If you want to fix this issue, you need to remove some of the items from your freezer. Then, you may want to move them to the refrigerator instead. Or, you may want to simply consume them.

Once there is enough room for the air to flow, allow 12–24 hours to achieve proper cooling again. Leaving the doors shut during this time will help speed up the process.

#3 Clean the Vents in the Freezer

As you start to rearrange the items, you need to take a closer look at the ability of the air to flow from the freezer to the refrigerator.

If you take a look at the vents, and they look like they have a bunch of debris all over them, then you need to clean them. You may want to combine some cleaning solution with a spray bottle and spray down the vents. Then, clean them with a microfiber cloth.

In my opinion, using warm water is best for this task. That way, you don’t have to worry about the water freezing the instant it hits the vent.

If there is ice all over the vent, it is not going to work properly. Make sure you wipe down the vent thoroughly with a towel when you are finished. That way, you know the vent is clean, and you know the air is flowing smoothly.

If you have done this step and the refrigerator is still not working properly, it is time to move on to the next option.

#4 Take a Closer Look at the Evaporator Fan

There are a lot of refrigerators that use a fan to move cold air from the freezer to the refrigerator. As the air moves from the freezer to the refrigerator, it will warm up slightly, but not so much that it causes your food to spoil.

If the evaporator fan is not working correctly, you may have a lot of cold air in the freezer, but the refrigerator may appear to be a bit warm. Therefore, you need to take a closer look at the evaporator fan to make sure it is working correctly.

Please get your manual to figure out where the evaporator fan is located. Don’t forget to make sure the fan blades are properly installed!

In general, the evaporator fan is located behind the wall of the freezer. If you look in the back of the refrigerator, you should be able to find the evaporator fan.

Checking the Evaporator Fan of A Fridge
Check the evaporator fan, it might need some cleaning or a replacement

You need to test the fan to make sure it is spinning freely. There might be a few screws that you need to remove to access the evaporator fan.

If the evaporator fan is still not spinning, you may need to replace it. In this case, you should call a professional who can take a closer look at the evaporator fan for you.

That way, you can figure out if there is something wrong with the motor, or if there is something wrong with the blades.

#5 Have You Defrosted the System Recently?

If you do not defrost a refrigerator and freezer from time to time, your freezer may start to create ice in the wrong location. This could include the vents and the evaporator coils.

If this happens, the cooling ability is decreased because the evaporator fan isn’t able to pull air across the evaporator coils any longer and can’t circulate the cold air between the cabinets.

Therefore, you need to remove the ice from the interior of your system if you want your freezer and refrigerator to work properly.

Your refrigerator probably has a defrost system that includes a timer, which could be integrated as part of the electronic control board. The system should run several times per day and it’s main purpose is to remove frost from the freezer and the refrigerator where it is not warranted.

If the defrost system is not working properly, then you could have a lot of ice on the inside of your system.

If you do not have an automatic defrost system, then you may have to defrost it manually. This means that you need to remove all the items from your freezer and refrigerator, place them to the side, and then unplug the entire system.

As the system warms up, the ice will melt. During this time, you need to put a bunch of towels around the bottom of the freezer in the refrigerator. That way, you don’t end up with a miniature flood on the floor of your kitchen.

This process can be sped up by allowing a fan to blow warmer air from the room into the freezer space. Allow 12–24 hours for the fridge to fully defrost.

After the system has defrosted it completely, you can plug it back in again. Please allow 24 hours with doors closed before returning food to the unit.

If your freezer doesn’t have an automatic defrost system, you need to manually defrost your appliance from time to time to allow the evaporator coils and the vents to work properly. 


That about covers it!

In general, you want your refrigerator to be cool, but you do not want it to be as cold as your freezer. Ideally, your freezer should sit around 0 °F and your refrigerator should sit between 37 °F and 38 °F.

Remember that there is a system that is supposed to take the cold air from the freezer and pump it into the refrigerator.

The first thing you need to inspect if your refrigerator is warm is the way in which you packed the freezer. If there are too many items in the freezer, the refrigerator might not be able to cool properly.

After this, you may want to take a look at the defrost system and the evaporator fan. You might need to defrost your system, and you may need to inspect the evaporator fan.

If you have done all of this and your refrigerator is still not working, then it may be time to reach out to a professional. That way, you can figure out what is wrong with your system and what you need to do to fix the problem. 

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more