What Are the Causes of Refrigerators to Freeze Up?

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Icing in a refrigerator can cause malfunction of the equipment, cause food to spoil and even make a mess in your kitchen due to melting ice dripping into the floor. This is a nuisance that is sometimes a simple fix but may also require the expertise of a refrigeration repair technician.

Because refrigerator freezing problems have various causes, it is important to know what is causing your particular problem so that you can get it fixed quickly.

Thermostat Malfunction

A defective thermostat is a possible problem if the food in your refrigerator is freezing. If you have adjusted the temperature higher on the control knob and food continues to freeze, it is likely that the thermostat is not properly reading the internal temperature and is therefore ineffective at regulating the proper level. This repair is likely to involve a call to a technician who specialises in refrigeration repair, according to the Repair Clinic website.

Temperature Settings

Sometimes freezing in your refrigerator can be an error on your part. If your food is freezing or liquids are turning to ice, take a close look at the temperature setting to make sure that it isn't turned down too far. Most models have a recommended setting that works well.

To be sure that you have the temperature control knob turned to an appropriate level, use a thermometer to measure the temperature inside the unit. Ideally, a refrigerator should stay between 1.67 and 5.56 degrees Celsius. If the reading is close to 35, you may want to turn it up slightly.

Evaporator Coil Icing

Although the freezer's job is to freeze the items you put in it, the freezer itself is not supposed to freeze up. This can happen on refrigerator-freezer combination units as the evaporator coil begins to malfunction. Frost builds up on the coils and causes poor cooling inside the refrigerator. If a sheet of ice regularly forms inside the freezer on the floor, ceiling or walls of the unit, this is an indicator that the evaporator is freezing up.

This problem is typically caused by a component of the automatic defrost system. Taking out the perishable foods and turning the thermostat off to allow for manual defrost is a short-term cure for this problem. If the coils freeze again, there is a problem with the refrigerator and a technician will be needed.

Defrost Drain Blocked

If ice is forming inside the main refrigerator compartment, especially in the floor of the unit under the vegetable and meat drawers, there is a good chance the defrost drain is blocked. When a freezer on top of a refrigerator goes through one of its daily defrost cycles, the water drips through a drain into a pan. If ice forms in the drain hole, the water spills over and usually ends up trickling down into the refrigerator. This extremely cold water streams to the coldest part of the refrigerator at the bottom and freezes on the surface. With use, the ice melts and sometimes runs right out the door into the floor of the kitchen. The drain can be cleared using a piece of metal wire to remove the blockage.