How to stop your fridge from freezing – key checks to prevent ‘overcooling’ and save money
Matt Tebbutt says that tomatoes shouldn’t be kept in the fridge
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The fridge runs for 24 hours a day, seven days a week in most households, making a sizeable dent in your annual energy bill. While larger and older models consume more electricity than newer or smaller appliances, the cost of running a fridge can significantly increase if it is not working efficiently. According to one refrigeration expert, accidentally freezing items in your fridge can happen for several reasons, all of which are known to drive up energy usage. Luckily, they can all be prevented by making just a few simple checks.
Though the freezer is where frozen items are meant to be stored, accidental fridge-freezing is actually quite common, yet few of us know why it happens.
According to Omar Idrissi, a specialist at ADK Kooling, fridge items can freeze over for “a plethora of reasons”, not just the temperature of the appliance.
He said: “Frozen food can be a minor inconvenience or a big frustration. It can cause your product to go bad or can even pop compressed cans open when the liquid freezes, which is a situation no one wants (to clean up).”
Why is my fridge frozen?
The cold air in your fridge comes from the evaporator coils located behind the freezer compartment.
The fridge is a separate space, where cold old air circulates between the two compartments through an opening.
Omar explained that in all refrigerator units, a “damper” regulates the size of the opening, while a fan controls circulation.
Though both are monitored by a temperature-sensitive thermostat, other factors can still affect exactly how cold your fridge is.
The temperature setting is wrong
The most obvious cause of a frozen fridge is setting the inside temperature too low.
This should always be the first thing you check if you’re struggling to stop refrigerated food from freezing.
While some people naturally think to set their fridge to the lowest temperature, the Government Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommended that the optimal temperature to keep your fridge is actually 5C and below.
Anything above this can foster a breeding ground for some harmful bacteria, and anything below can begin to affect the texture and quality of some foods.
Omar said: “If you are unable to find the temperature controls on your fridge unit you can use a thermostat to take a reading of the fridge.
“We advise to leave it overnight for an accurate reading, especially if the fridge is prone to be opened and closed throughout the day.”
The seals are broken
Keeping the fridge door closed is the only way for your fridge to work properly, but just because the door is shut doesn’t mean it is actually airtight.
Seals around refrigerator doors are another key area to check if you experience freezing issues.
Omar explained: “Every domestic and commercial refrigerator door features a secure and protective seal to ensure the fridge door gets fully closed – in order to maintain the inside temperature.
“If your fridge seal is damaged or missing, it might cause air to leak out causing the fridge to work even harder to stay cool – which in the long term will have a negative impact on your energy costs as more electricity is used.”
Mould and even the smallest tear in door seals can be problematic, so it is always important to get them replaced as soon as possible.
The “coils” are dirty
Coils are a part of all refrigeration and cooling appliances and play a crucial role in the working order.
In most cases, heat exchanging coils or condenser coils are visible on the outside of a refrigerator, while the evaporator coils are located inside.
Omar said: “The refrigerator coils serve to act as a heat exchanging medium between the refrigerant fluid and its surroundings.
“If they get dirty and or covered in dust, the refrigerator again has to work harder than usual to sustain the set freezing temperature.
“In some models, this can lead to overcooling, thus everything will be frozen.”
Unfortunately there’s no quick fix for this issue, so any repairs should be saved for a qualified service technician with the proper training and equipment.
Regular cleaning can prevent this kind of damage and save you money on costly repairs too.
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