Why Your Fridge Temperature Keeps Changing (& How to Fix It)

Researched & Written by Craig

Does your fridge have trouble keeping its cool?

Or does it tend to freeze your food solid?

It’s easy to take your refrigerator for granted – that is, until it starts acting up. When your fridge’s temperature fluctuates, you’re suddenly forced to pay attention to it. Knowing why your fridge’s temperature keeps changing can help you instantly fix most temperature problems.

There are six major reasons why your fridge might be changing temperatures:

  • Opening the door releases cold air.
  • Someone is adjusting the temperature settings.
  • The vents are blocked.
  • The compressor coils are dirty.
  • The door seal is faulty.
  • An electrical component has broken.

Quick Fridge Temperature Fix Tips

Make sure your fridge door is able to close completely. Double check the seal to make sure there are no cracks or gaps. If that fails, spot-check the thermostat, rearrange the food in your fridge, or vacuum the compressor coils. Keep reading for more details.

Keeping your fridge in the right temperature range is vital if you want to keep your food from freezing or going bad. Many of these problems are quick fixes. In fact, you can probably take care of your fluctuating fridge temperature yourself.

I’ve ordered the fixes from the simplest to the most difficult to DIY. If you check for these potential problems in order, you’ll get your fridge back to normal in no time.

Ready to fix your fridge? Then let’s go!

Fluctuations from Opening the Door

Every time someone opens your fridge, cold air escapes. If the door is open too long or too often, your fridge will struggle to keep the temperature stable. Your fridge will wind up too warm if the door stays open too long.

On the other hand, frequent opening and closing of the door can also lead to your fridge overcompensating. Your fridge might sense that the temperature is rising and generate a ton of cold air. However, this air is trapped in the fridge when the door quickly closes and the temperature drops too far. The result is a temperature that fluctuates between too warm and too cold.

This is the simplest problem to check. If you’re noticing that your fridge’s temperature fluctuates a lot, try leaving the door shut for several hours. The temperature should stabilize during that time if that’s the problem.

Temperature Settings Adjustments

The next step is to check your fridge’s temperature settings. Your fridge may not be seeing temperature fluctuations – someone else who uses the fridge might be adjusting the thermostat. Check the thermostat settings from day to day to see if it changes.

If your fridge’s thermostat settings are changing, then check with other people to ask why they’re adjusting it. On the off-chance that no one is adjusting your thermostat, then you might need to reset the fridge’s thermostat. That can help shock the cooling system into keeping the temperature stable.

Blocked Vents or Sensors

Blocked vents are a common reason for fluctuating fridge temperatures. In order for your fridge to keep your food cold, it needs to be able to circulate cold air. Blocked vents keep that from happening.

There are multiple vents in your fridge that allow cold air to enter and warm air to leave. When these vents are clear, your fridge is able to keep everything cold efficiently. If they’re blocked, though, your fridge will struggle to keep temperatures stable.

Blocked thermostat sensors can cause the same problem. If food containers are too close to the fridge’s thermostat, they can make the thermostat less effective. Warm food containers by the thermometer will lead to the fridge getting too cold. On the other hand, if cold food is too close to the sensor, the thermostat might let the rest of the fridge stay too warm.

To fix problems caused by blocked sensors or vents, rearrange the food in your fridge. Move food away from the sides and back of the fridge. In particular, move food away from any visible vents on the walls or ceiling. Then let the fridge run for several hours and see if temperatures stabilize.

Dirty Compressor Coils

If your thermostat or food arrangement don’t seem to be the problem, then it’s time to start checking for deeper issues.

In order for your fridge to create cool air, it needs to use a refrigerant system to remove heat from inside. Essentially, a constant cycle of gas compression and evaporation is going on in the inner workings of your fridge. The heat this cycle pulls out has to go somewhere, and that’s what compressor coils are for.

Compressor coils are the winding metal tubes on the back or bottom of your fridge. These coils need to stay clean if they’re going to do their job of releasing heat. Dirty, dusty, or blocked compressor coils will cause your fridge’s temperature to fluctuate wildly. They need to stay clean to let the heat escape, or it just circulates back into the fridge.

Cleaning compressor coils is easy:

  • Unplug your fridge and move it away from the wall so you can get to the coils.
  • Take a vacuum hose with a brush attachment and carefully vacuum up any dust and cobwebs that might have built up on the coils.
  • Take a damp cloth and wipe down the coils gently.
  • Plug the fridge in and confirm that it’s working again.

This should take care of most fridge temperature problems.

Bad Door Seal

The last fridge temperature problem that’s easy to fix is a faulty door seal. If your fridge’s door seal is unreliable, then cold air will constantly be leaking out. That will lead to temperature changes and a fridge that’s constantly running.

The easiest way to check the seal is to look at it. If any part of the seal around the door looks warped, bubbled, or dirty, then it’s probably causing your problem. You can fix the seal by ordering a replacement gasket from the manufacturer site. These seals come with easy-to-follow instructions for repairs.

Broken Electrical Components

Finally, if none of the solutions above solve your problem, then your fridge probably has some broken components. Over time, circuits in the thermostat can go bad or the compressor can wear out. The result is a fridge that seems to have gone crazy for no reason.

If this seems to be the case, it’s usually best to have a professional repair service work with your fridge. Taking apart your fridge yourself can void your warranty, so it’s best to let professionals work on it instead. They will be able to replace the part in most cases. Otherwise, they’ll let you know that it’s time to replace your fridge with something new.

Conclusion

A fridge that can’t maintain the right temperature is seriously frustrating.

Luckily, most fridge temperature changes are easy to fix. I hope these tips have given you some things to try.

If this article helps anyone get their fridge back in working order, then it’s been worth writing!

At Appliance Analysts, we’re working to create super helpful resources for anything related to your home or yard.

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Thanks for reading, and have a great day.

-Craig