Help me find a mini fridge that wont leak or make my room cold.
March 11, 2013 4:02 AM   Subscribe

I have had a couple combo mini fridge/freezer's (one was a kenmore) and after a couple weeks they start leaking water and they also make my room cold. I heard large fridges that you have in your kitchen actually make the room warmer so I would like to buy one that uses that cooling system. (and that doesn't leak).
posted by john123357 to Home & Garden (22 answers total)
All fridges will make the room warm. This is an inescapable fact of thermodynamics. The only exceptions would be commercial units with remotely mounted condenser coils, but that is not what you're talking about.

(Although I guess if they are leaking water then the wet things might get cold.)
posted by ryanrs at 4:27 AM on March 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: no it made the room colder within a day, the leaking started later. I live in a cold climate so if the fridge makes my room cold it's real bad.
posted by john123357 at 4:33 AM on March 11, 2013

I guess it is possible the fridge caused a small amount of air circulation, creating a very slight draft. But I don't see how it could have decreased the temperature of the room.
posted by ryanrs at 4:38 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: it definitely made it colder you could feel it as soon as you went into the room ( it was in my bedroom) when I got rid of it the room got warmer.
posted by john123357 at 4:46 AM on March 11, 2013

A fridge works by taking heat out from inside itself and rejecting it into the room. It uses electricity to force the temperatures of the coil and the interior apart. It cannot make the room cooler overall.

However, if the fridge seals suck, a little bit of chilled fridge air might be leaking out and gathering at the floor.

And fridges do not make water. They may condense water out of the air on to the objects in the fridge. THat's it.
posted by notsnot at 5:12 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: so why was it leaking?
posted by john123357 at 5:25 AM on March 11, 2013

If the fridge ran for long enough that the freezer compartment had a lot of ice in it, and then the ice melted, then it might leak.

You could perhaps make this happen by habitually putting warm or hot things into the freezer compartment. Faster if you were putting uncovered containers of warm or hot liquids in there.

Another way to make your fridge leak would be to put leaky containers of liquid in the fridge compartment.
posted by emilyw at 5:28 AM on March 11, 2013

Are these second hand fridges you are buying?

I had one of these small fridges in a very cold climate (Finland) never had either of these symptoms in the room.
posted by infini at 5:29 AM on March 11, 2013

no it made the room colder within a day

If the fridge isn't making the room warmer it is probably not making the interior of the fridge colder. I don't know what happened in your example, but even leaving the door open won't make the room colder - just through inefficiencies of the process, there net result of a fridge working is slightly more warmth than the existing air temperature.

It's possible that cold air at the floor made you feel it was colder, but that can't happen. A fridge just moves the heat from the air inside the fridge to the outside of the insulation (very simplistically). It's not possible it made the room colder.

It sounds more like the freezer section wasn't working at all and so cold water (that was supposed to be ice) was coming into the room and this made it feel colder.
posted by Brockles at 5:40 AM on March 11, 2013

If you don't want to deal with any leakage at all you could always buy a peltier thermoelectric mini fridge. I have one in my basement as a little beer fridge. No compressor and very quiet.
posted by sanka at 5:44 AM on March 11, 2013

oh another hypothesis: Your fridge, unbeknownst to you, was regularly being turned off for long enough to defrost and back on again, perhaps to plug in some other thing.

This wouldn't make the room cold but it could certainly make the fridge leak.
posted by emilyw at 5:44 AM on March 11, 2013

Response by poster: One thing I noticed is with large fridges in your kitchen the air inside feels cold, but with the mini fridges I have have had the air inside doesn't feel cold but it keeps the stuff inside (like milk) very cold so I'm wondering if it uses a different cooling system that doesn't pump out hot air?
posted by john123357 at 5:51 AM on March 11, 2013

The only way to make something cold is to make it less hot. There isn't really such a thing as "cold" - there's just more or less heat.

The ONLY way to cool your fridge is to remove heat. And the only place to put the heat is outside the fridge (because putting it back inside would be silly).

So the engineering details of how the fridge works don't really matter; if the fridge didn't take heat from inside and put it outside, then it wouldn't work as a fridge.
posted by emilyw at 5:57 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

There is no such fridge. If heat is removed from its contents, the heat has to go somewhere. It necessarily goes into the room. If the room is a closed system (discounting drafts, A/C, poorly insulated windows), the room can't get colder.

Feel the coils on the back. They're warm, right? If not, you have a magic fridge.

Do you have a closet, bathroom, or other small space with a door? Put the fridge in there and seal the door gaps with a wet towel. That removes all other variables and gives you the best proof of concept.
posted by supercres at 5:59 AM on March 11, 2013

Any fridge that manages to make a room colder is violating the laws of physics. Period. A broken or poorly sealed fridge could definitely leak, but there is absolutely no fridge that will make a room colder (unless it were somehow blocking a hole in the wall or something).
posted by Diagonalize at 6:34 AM on March 11, 2013

I have have had the air inside doesn't feel cold but it keeps the stuff inside (like milk) very cold

This is because when you open the door to the fridge the cold air escapes much more quickly and readily than with large fridges. Cold air is dense and basically will "fall" out a small fridge, and be replaced with room temperature air. But the milk still feels cold because you actually have to apply more heat to it to get it to warm back up. It'll retain its coolness.

It really sounds to me like you have fridges that aren't closing properly. The cold air is being pumped out into your room, staying at ground level where you can feel it, and the commensurate hot air is rising up to the ceiling, where it's less noticeable. The water on the floor backs this up - even if your freezer was leaking, the water should collect inside, against the seal, until you open it. The fact that it's on the floor without you needing to do anything tells me your fridge just isn't closing.

Check the seals on your fridge and make sure they're closing properly and sealing properly. You should have to exert a little force to get it to open. Make sure also that your fridge isn't stacked in such a way that it opens itself - if you're cramming things in there, it may pop back open again.

As for the water, that's just condensation. Same as leaving a glass of cold water out on on a hot day - the water on the outside of the glass comes from the air. If your fridge isn't closing properly, it'll be condensing humidity in the air, then leaking it onto the floor through the open seal. If you're in a cold climate with windows closed, there's going to be a fair bit of humidity in the room from people's breath.
posted by Jilder at 6:35 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: the door seemed to be closing fine
posted by john123357 at 7:13 AM on March 11, 2013

Closing is one thing. Is it sealing? Run a finger the whole way round the seal, looking for wet spots, places you can feel a draught.

Really, given what you've said so far, it's either a dodgy seal or a violation of the laws of thermodynamics. Your call.
posted by Jilder at 7:47 AM on March 11, 2013 [6 favorites]

Is the fridge located near the room's thermostat? If it is, the hot exhaust from the fridge could be fooling the thermostat into thinking the room is warmer than it really is, thereby shutting off the heat.
posted by penguinicity at 8:23 AM on March 11, 2013 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: The door is sealing well, no wet spots or draught around it and there is no thermostat in that room.
posted by john123357 at 8:55 PM on March 11, 2013

Fridges need to be perfectly balanced. If it's not standing straight, it will perform badly within a year.
Also, I recently learnt that some modern fridges automatically turn off at low room temperatures. Is your room very cold? Then your fridge may be defrosting.
posted by mumimor at 12:50 PM on March 12, 2013

Most fridges (all except absorption style) should lean slightly to the back. Enough so that the door closes on it's own when you let go of it.
posted by Mitheral at 5:51 AM on March 13, 2013

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