Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

My freezer is not cold enough
July 22, 2008 3:52 PM   Subscribe

My freezer is not cold enough. Any tips on how to diagnose or fix this?

I have a reasonably new (6 months old) regular, upright fridge / freezer. For the past couple of days, the freezer has been operating at about the exact same temperature as the fridge (I have a little fridge/freezer thermometer to confirm this).

Before I arse around trying to get a techo out for warranty repair, are there any quick-fix tests I can try? eg defrosting, checking that the fridge is level, smashing it with a hammer, etc?

I've already tried the temperature dial on all settings, and shifted the no-longer-quite-frozen food around the freezer. The manual is completely useless, by the way.
posted by UbuRoivas to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
 
Are you experiencing a heat wave? When operating at full capacity, refrigerators produce, not a fixed temperature, but a fixed temperature differential.

So if it's 80 degrees outside and 30 degrees inside, when it's 90 outside it'll be 40 inside. When the outside temperature comes back down so will the inside.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:16 PM on July 22, 2008


Try rebooting.

Serious. I had a fridge a while back that went on these crazy benders of not doing what it was designed to do - namely, the freezer compartment not actually freezing anything. So every three or four months I took everything out, threw it in an esky/the bin/down my gullet, left the stupid thing turned off for a day (which naturally involved defrosting), then switched it back on and hooray, it would work wonderfully for the next quarter.

That being said, with yours being six months old and still under warranty, just get it replaced. Fridges have been around for, I dunno, a hundred years or something now, and are only really single-purpose devices, so if your manufacturer hasn't figured out how to make their fridges do that one thing, make their lives hell.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:16 PM on July 22, 2008


So if it's 80 degrees outside and 30 degrees inside, when it's 90 outside it'll be 40 inside. When the outside temperature comes back down so will the inside.

Cite please.
posted by found missing at 4:21 PM on July 22, 2008


This happened to me a few months ago. We tried a few quick fixes but in the end we invoked the warranty and a repair man came out. He said that even in new fridges the components in freezers seem to die a lot these days and it's lucky that we called him out when we did because if we had let it go on like this for much longer there was a chance the fridge might have caught on fire or broken down completely.

In short my dear Ubu, my suggestion is to invoke the warranty and stop worrying about quick fixes. I know it is in our blood as Australian men to try and fix things ourselves, but the lesson I learned from the experience I just related to you is that you have a warranty for a reason, and it's to ensure that when your expensive new appliance stops working as it should, someone can come out at minimal/no cost to you before said appliance explodes.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:23 PM on July 22, 2008


Is the unit an automatic defrost? Look inside of the freezer section. Do you see lots of ice built up around the edge of the unit? If you see lots of ice you need do as turgid dahlia suggested, and defrost the unit.

Where are the heat exchange coils on the unit? Most uprights of quality have them down at the bottom of the unit instead of the older/cheaper variant that has them exposed at the back.
Does you home have a lot of pets/dust/particulates in the air? Those will accumulate on the coils, lowering the heat exchange capacity of the unit.
If there is a lot of buildup on those coils, use some compressed are to blow it off or just use your vacuum to suck it up.

Also, the fridges with the coils on the bottom will also have a fan unit usually built into them to get air to get across the coils faster, acting on the same principal as a radiator.

Check your seals on the unit as well. I'm presuming when you say 'regular' fridge you mean one of the cooling areas is directly above another, i.e. the fresh area is above the freezer, or visa versa. If you can feel cold air anywhere around the seal when the doors are closed, they may need to be replaced.

Also, most fridges, regardless of make or model, actually only actively cool the freezer section, and then shunt air into the fresh food section from the freezer section. There are some not cheap fridges that have separate thermostats and controls to cool them independently. If your fridge is one like this, something in that system may have gone awry and it might be better to just replace the thing since it still should be under the manufacturers warranty
posted by ZaneJ. at 4:35 PM on July 22, 2008


Our then-new fridge did this. Turns out there was a design error and a repairman came out with a factory refit kit. Even so, the freezer on that one was mostly a lemon and barely kept stuff frozen. Invoke the warranty.
posted by GuyZero at 4:36 PM on July 22, 2008


updates & clarifications:

Are you experiencing a heat wave?

Yes, but it's also midwinter here. The days have been reaching a maximum of around 20 Celsius :)

Fridges have been around for, I dunno, a hundred years or something now, and are only really single-purpose devices

Yeah. I've never in my life known a fridge to not work as it's supposed to, and they've always lasted for decades, so this is quite a new experience for me.

The seals are OK, and the freezer has been working fine until this week. It's not automatic defrost, and there is a bit of a buildup of ice at the back of the freezer - not a whole lot, but maybe enough to have blocked a crucial vent or something.

Dust could be a problem, so I'll see about cleaning it tonight, and I have another fridge sitting around doing nothing, so I can also transfer food & reboot the thing. If I had my act together, I would have transferred the freezer contents already. If I had my act even more together, I'd know where the hell I put the purchase receipt - it's the only bloody one I can't find in my drawer full of warranty cards & receipts for pissy little things like toasters, irons, reading lamps etc.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:33 PM on July 22, 2008


So if it's 80 degrees outside and 30 degrees inside, when it's 90 outside it'll be 40 inside. When the outside temperature comes back down so will the inside.

In principle that might be how it would work in theory if the compressor operated at 100% constant duty cycle, but in reality nothing could be farther from the truth. Refrigerators would be totally useless if they worked open loop like that. Every fridge has a thermostat that cycles the compressor on and off to maintain a constant inner temperature regardless of the ambient temperature.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:39 PM on July 22, 2008


Every fridge has a thermostat that cycles the compressor on and off to maintain a constant inner temperature regardless of the ambient temperature.

That may be true, but I've never known a fridge to have any kind of setting whereby you can control the exact temperature in degrees. The expensive ones might, but I've always known them to have dials expressed as Low-High or occasionally Winter-Summer, which was why I went out & bought a special standalone fridge thermometer in the first place.

As for this one's physical design, air is blown out beneath the front door, at floor level. I'd assume therefore that the cooling apparatus is beneath the storage compartments, in which case there is a real possibility that dust or other crap has fouled the coils or blocked the airflow somewhat. It's likely that this unit has a single cooling system, as ZaneJ described, which would explain why the fridge & freezer are about identical in temperature.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:57 PM on July 22, 2008


Defrost it, all the way. Many fridges have a connection between top and bottom; when that gets blocked with ice the temperature control gets all wonky (note extensive technical terms here). A mild defrosting may not melt the ice down in this tube; you need to either let the fridge warm totally, or find a way to open the connection with warm water, a piece of wire, etc -- leaving it to defrost is the easiest.

The coils underneath shouldn't be a problem (unless your kitchen is fantastically dirty) -- dust and debris will lessen the efficiency of the fridge, but won't produce the warm freezer that you are having.
posted by Forktine at 7:03 PM on July 22, 2008


This doesn't present as a defrost problem. 98% you have either a weak compressor or a leak neither of which is user servicable. Call for warranty service.

Even if you did have a problem that could be "fixed" by defrosting why put up with that on a six month old system? Don't turn the fridge off or in any way operate it abnormally; the technician needs to see how it functions, or not, as is. This is especially important for defrost problems. I can't count how many times some helpful customer has defrosted their fridge in anticipation of my arrival and by doing so incurred an hour of labour while we waited for the thing to cool off. Guys doing warranty service will just force you to make another appointment.
posted by Mitheral at 7:55 PM on July 22, 2008


Given that Mitheral sounds like a fridge technician, I'm gonna have to go with that advice (although others have also suggested the warranty service, of course).

Now, to transfer the food into the beer fridge, and see if I can find the purchase receipt.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:41 PM on July 22, 2008


« Older Two-part slang request. I'm lo...   |  What could a high school chemi... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.