Temperature issues inside your refrigerator can leave you with frozen food in the fridge or high temperatures that cause food safety issues. When experiencing temperature issues, make sure you first check that the thermostat or thermostats for both the fridge and freezer are set correctly. You can check your owner's manual for guidance.
If the thermostats are set correctly and you are still having temperature issues, there are a couple of potential causes and fixes. Remember, if you are doing the repair work yourself, unplug the refrigerator before touching anything.
Temperature Too Warm
An overly warm refrigerator can be caused by problems in either the condenser coils or the evaporator fan. The coils are located in either the rear of your fridge or underneath the unit. Condenser coils here work similarly to the coils in a central air conditioning system: refrigerant fuel passes through the coils and the coils strip heat out of the refrigerant. Dirty or broken coils can interrupt that heat stripping and allow the refrigerant to warm up the refrigerator.
Use your owner's manual to locate the condenser coils. You might need to remove a panel to gain access. Visually inspect the coils for signs of dirt buildup. You can clean the coils using a no-rinse cleanser, according to package directions, and following up with a small steel brush, if needed.
Did you see damaged sections of coil? Call a refrigeration repair technician immediately for assistance and leave your refrigerator unplugged, if possible, until the tech gets to your house. Cracked coils can cause a refrigerant leak.
Frozen Food in Refrigerator
Has the food in your refrigerator started chilling a bit too well to the point that your defrosting meat instead becomes frozen again? The problem might be in your thermostat controls, namely the thermostat or control board.
The thermostat is basically the task manager of your refrigerator. This device sends out "get to work" signals to the compressor and fan motor that help the refrigerator fuel and run. If there's a problem with the thermostat, the other devices can receive improper signals and cause the compressor-supplied refrigerant to keep pumping even after the food is chilled.
Working alongside the thermostat is the temperature control board, which is what provides the actual electrical power the compressor and motor need to follow the thermostat's orders. If your frozen fridge food has no other clear cause, the control board might be the issue. This is a test that's better left up to a refrigerator technician as quite a bit of electricity is involved and a damaged control board will need to be replaced immediately.