A mini-fridge is a convenient appliance for storing some of your cosmetics as well as for keeping your beverages chilled. However, it can become a nuisance if it keeps freezing everything you put inside it. But why is it doing that, and what can you do to stop it?
Here’s how to keep a mini-fridge from freezing everything:
- Make sure the temperature isn’t set to freeze.
- Don’t put too hot or wet food inside the mini-fridge.
- Stop frequently opening and closing the fridge door.
- Replace a loose door gasket.
- Check for a faulty thermostat or thermistor.
- Fix a refrigerant leak.
- Make sure the compressor is functioning properly.
- Check the start relay.
In this article, I’ll give a detailed rundown of all these methods for preventing your mini-fridge from freezing everything. By the end, you should have a clear understanding of what causes your mini-fridge to get freezing cold and the precautions you need to take so that the stuff you put in it doesn’t end up frozen.
1. Make Sure the Temperature Isn’t Set To Freeze
The most common yet often overlooked reason behind your mini-fridge freezing everything is that you have told it to freeze everything. Just like a regular fridge, a mini-fridge has temperature controls. And if you set it to a low temperature, it can easily freeze anything you place inside it.
Now, this can happen by accident.
For example, in most mini-fridges, the temperature control has a dial with markings. With time, the markings can disappear, making it impossible to know if you have set it to high or low.
Similarly, it’s also possible that your kids were playing with the mini-fridge and set it to freeze.
How To Fix
The first troubleshooting step I’d recommend is to check whether the mini-fridge is set to freeze.
Most mini fridges have temperature settings marked between 1 to 5, where 1 is the coldest. As such, if you see that your mini-fridge is currently operating on 1, I’d suggest dialing it up to a 3 or 4 and seeing if the freezing issue continues.
It’s also worth noting that some manufacturers take the opposite route and use 1 to denote the warmest temperature. As such, if you notice the temperature is set to a 4 or a 5 and it’s still freezing, set it to a 2 or 1 and check if that solves your problem.
Similarly, if the markings on the temperature control have faded, just dial it back to the opposite direction and see what happens. Does the mini-fridge get warmer or colder? This should help you understand which direction is colder and allow you to calibrate your fridge accordingly.
2. Don’t Put Too Hot or Wet Food Inside the Mini Fridge
Your mini-fridge will easily freeze if there’s moisture in the unit, as the water vapor will turn to ice crystals and settle on everything you have inside. The most common way moisture enters the fridge is via the food you put in it.
For example, hot food releases water vapor. The same goes for wet food like a bowl of soup or an open bottle of milk – all of this releases water vapor.
And once you place it inside the mini-fridge and close the door, the water vapor gets trapped inside, drops in temperature, becomes ice crystals, and leads to ice buildup on top of the food and the walls.
How To Fix
Stop your habit of putting hot food inside your mini-fridge.
Keep it outside, let it naturally cool down to room temperature and then put it inside your freezer. Also, if you need to put something wet inside the freezer, make sure to store it inside a sealed container. That way, it can’t release its humidity into its surroundings and freeze up everything.
3. Stop Frequently Opening and Closing the Fridge Door
Another way water vapor can enter your mini-fridge is from the outside when you open the door.
If you frequently open and close the mini-fridge door, you’re letting outside air containing water vapor enter your unit and lead to ice buildup. Moreover, since a mini-fridge is small, even little amounts of water vapor can potentially cause this freezing issue.
How To Fix
This simple problem has a simple fix. Don’t open and close the fridge door so often. Instead of taking out 2-3 items at a pace of 1 item every 5 mins, just take them all out in a single go.
The same idea applies when storing items in the mini-fridge.
That said, this technique might not work in all circumstances. Sometimes you do need to access the mini-fridge frequently. In situations like this, I suggest keeping the temperature at a slightly higher level.
Water vapor will only freeze to ice crystals at 32°F (0°C). So, if the temperature inside the mini-fridge is slightly above that, the humidity won’t lead to freezing issues.
4. Replace a Loose Door Gasket
If the door gasket on your mini-fridge is loose, it can cause everything inside to freeze up.
I know this feels kind of counterintuitive. You might think a loose door gasket will cause the cold air inside the mini-fridge to leak out, resulting in warmer inside temperatures. And yes, that does happen in most cases.
However, as the cold air leaves the unit, warm outside air gushes in, which has high humidity content. Furthermore, some models can sense the cold air is leaking, in which case it’ll work extra hard to keep things cool inside.
The extra cooling effort coupled with the increased humidity levels can lead to ice buildup inside your mini-fridge.
How To Fix
First, you need to check whether the door gasket on your mini-fridge is really letting out cold air from the unit. To do this, I recommend trying out the “dollar bill” test because it’s simple, convenient, and effective.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on what you have to do:
- Open the mini-fridge door.
- Place a dollar bill against the door gasket.
- Close the door.
- Tug on the dollar bill.
If the dollar bill comes out easily, the door gasket is loose enough to let the air go through. In that case, you need to replace the door gasket with a new one.
To help you out, here’s a 2-min YouTube video on how to replace the door gasket on a freezer:
5. Check for a Faulty Thermostat or Thermistor
Most modern mini-fridges come with a thermostat or thermistor installed to make the unit more efficient and reduce energy consumption.
The device allows the mini-fridge to know when the temperature inside the unit has reached the desired level and then turn off the cooling system.
It’ll also turn on the cooling when the temperature inside rises.
However, the thermostat can malfunction, in which case it sends wrong signals to your mini fridge’s control unit. If it detects and communicates a warmer temperature than it really is, the fridge will try harder to cool everything.
How To Fix
You need to have some knowledge and experience handling electronic circuitry if you wish to diagnose, repair or replace a mini-fridge thermostat/thermistor. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, I strongly urge you to call a technician to help you out.
That said, if you want to do it yourself, here’s a 6 min-YouTube video on how to diagnose and repair a refrigerator thermostat:
The video shows fixing a refrigerator thermostat and not a mini-fridge thermostat. However, the processes are more or less similar. The main difference is figuring out where the thermostat is located.
You can also check the manual or paperwork that came with your mini-fridge.
6. Fix a Refrigerant Leak
Do you notice ice buildup on the interior walls of your mini-fridge? If yes, it might be because you have a refrigerant leak.
Simply put, a refrigerant is a gas that passes through the pipes and coils inside your mini-fridge, captures the heat from inside the freezer, and passes it to the condenser coils, which then dissipates it outside.
In case you’re looking for more detail, I’d suggest that you check out this article on how refrigerators work.
Now, if there’s a refrigerant leak, it’ll reduce the pressure inside the coils carrying the gas. As a result, it’ll be able to capture more heat leading to a greater cooling effect. Of course, this won’t last long as the refrigerant will eventually completely leak out.
Once that happens, your mini fridge won’t be able to freeze at all.
How To Fix
The main problem with fixing a refrigerant leak is knowing there is one.
Because refrigerants are colorless and odorless, you won’t know there’s a leak using your unaided senses. You’ll need a specialized device like the Inficon Refrigerant Leak Detector (available on Amazon.com). It’s highly sensitive and can detect even the most subtle leakage.
Once you know there is, in fact, a refrigerant leakage, call the professionals. They’ll come in, locate the source of the leakage, stop it, and then refill your mini-fridge with the right amount of refrigerant.
That said, if you’re curious, here’s a 5-min YouTube video discussing how to add refrigerant to your refrigerator:
7. Make Sure the Compressor Is Functioning Properly
The compressor is often called the heart of the refrigerator, including mini-fridges, as it helps in circulating the refrigerant, which then cools down everything you have inside the unit.
As the refrigerant captures heat from inside the refrigerator, it turns into a gas. The gas then flows into the compressor, which pressurizes it into a liquid.
This liquid then moves to the condenser to lose heat and become cooler. After that, it goes to the evaporator, capturing the heat from inside the fridge, which makes the refrigerant hotter till it becomes a gas.
The gas then passes to the compressor, and the cycle continues.
Now, if the compressor is faulty, it can continually flow the refrigerant through the coils. As a result, the temperature inside the unit will drop drastically, and everything will begin to freeze.
How To Fix
A compressor that’s functioning normally will run a couple of times in an hour. You’ll know it’s working if you keep an ear out for a subtle humming noise that comes on for a few minutes. However, if you notice that your unit continually lets out a humming sound and there’s a freezing problem, the compressor is likely faulty.
Repairing a compressor is difficult and something that an expert should do. As such, I highly suggest that you call a technician or take your mini-fridge to a support center.
8. Check the Start Relay
The start relay is in charge of powering the compressor on your mini-fridge and tells when the compressor should come on and when it should turn off.
So, as you can imagine, if there’s something wrong with the start relay, or any associated circuitry, it can tell the compressor to run indefinitely, or at least more than necessary. This will inevitably lead to a freezing issue.
You can use a multimeter like the OWUYUXI Digital Multimeter (available on Amazon.com) to check if the start relay is working properly.
Here’s a 4-min YouTube video on how to test the refrigerator compressor start relay to help you out:
How To Fix
If you find that the start relay is faulty, you’ll need to replace it. If you have experience handling electronic appliances, you should be able to do this by yourself. To give you an idea of the process, here’s a 5-min YouTube video on how to replace the start relay on a fridge:
That said, if you don’t want to risk it, you should always unhesitatingly call the experts to help you out.
When your mini-fridge is freezing everything, it can be frustrating. However, if you follow the tips in this article, your fridge should be back to normal in no time. Then again, if nothing works, it might be time to get a new mini-fridge.