Why Is My Refrigerator Hot to the Touch

Why Is My Refrigerator Hot to the Touch?

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Last updated on July 28th, 2023 at 08:33 am

Have you touched your fridge before and immediately pulled back your hand because if it stayed on a little longer, it might burn you? Well, while it’s normal to have a certain level of warmth from the sides and bottom, a fridge that’s hot to the touch is not a sign of a healthy fridge, something is wrong. So, if you’ve been wondering, ‘why is my refrigerator hot to the touch?’, here’s a couple of reasons to look into:

Best Refrigerator for the Money: Galanz Bottom Mount Refrigerator with True Freezer

Cost, quality, and sustainability are everything you need to consider when buying the perfect refrigerator. Galanz Bottom Mount Refrigerator with True Freezer checks all these boxes and then some. Talk about value for money. This appealing Bepop blue appliance isn’t limited to the kitchen. It’s perfect for your office too.

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  • It has an ideal width (20.79”) that allows it to fit in minimal spaces
  • Has a large capacity (24.1” length) to fit all your food and beverages
  • Contains a manually adjustable thermostat control
  • Comes with a low-energy consumption compressor
  • Contains removable slide-out glass shelves
  • Contains a bright interior LED light for visibility

Best Refrigerator for Home: Kenmore 36″ Side-by-Side Refrigerator with Freezer 

The Kenmore 36” refrigerator is perfect for any home. Its slim build also fits in small apartments, condos, and single-family homes. This fridge’s sizable door bins and dairy shelves accommodate tall items that you can store and pick up easily.

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  • Contains side-by-side doors that keep items accessible and organized
  • Contains dual-pad ice and water dispenser
  • Clear built-in window to monitor ice levels
  • Varied storage options (shelves and bins)
  • Contains a clear plastic humidity-controlled crisper drawer for fruits and vegetables

Best Refrigerator for Garage: BLACK+DECKER Single Door Mini Fridge with Freezer

Want to keep your drinks cold while you work on messy garage projects? Or store your chicken and rack of ribs for Sunday family barbecues? A garage fridge should do the job. Not any fridge is suitable for the garage. All the qualities of the Black and Decker single-door mini fridge with freezer make it the ideal choice.

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  • Has a large capacity and door storage
  • Its compact size saves space
  • Energy efficient (70 watts)
  • 12.8” wide and 4.3” tall freezer
  • Operates quietly
  • 2-year warranty for compressor and 1-year warranty for parts

Best Refrigerator for Large Family: Frigidaire 4-Door Refrigerator with Adjustable Freezer Storage

A large family means a ton of grocery shopping which requires a large refrigerator. The Frigidaire 4-door refrigerator with adjustable freezer storage will save you extra trips to the store for more grocery staples like eggs and milk. Also, if you’re into batch cooking, you can store your meals safely in the large freezer.

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  • Comes with a 4-door design for organized storage
  • Contains 4 pull out freezer bins and 2 pull out freezer drawers
  • Gallon size door bins so you can store more
  • Contains an external digital display control panel
  • Twin tech dual evaporators for optimal preservation
  • Contains 2 adjustable glass shelves
  • Contains crisper drawers for fresh fruits and vegetables
  • LED lighting

Best Refrigerator for Small Kitchen: FRIGIDAIRE 2-Door Apartment Size Refrigerator with Top Freezer

No space? No problem. You’ll need a small fridge for your small kitchen. But don’t fret. We’re not talking about a mini-fridge here. The Frigidaire 2-door apartment size refrigerator is a large-capacity kitchen appliance that holds lots of food while taking up minimal space. 

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  • Contains 3 adjustable spill-proof, slide-out glass shelves
  • Contains two front mount adjustable leveling legs 
  • Contains storage bins to hold smaller items
  • Crisper bin to keep fruits and vegetables fresh
  • Contains an accessible and adjustable thermostat

Why is My Refrigerator Hot to the Touch?

1.      Dirty Condenser Coils

A build-up of dirt on the condenser coils will prevent the compressor from working properly and consequently your fridge won’t be able to cool off effectively. The dirt will insulate the coils and the gas refrigerant moving through them will not dissipate heat easily. This will cause overheating of the compressor and soon the entire fridge.

2.      Refrigerator Heat Exhaust

Refrigerators have a vent underneath that dispels warm air – it’s called a heat exhaust. Sometimes, it will release hot air, causing the fridge to feel hot to the touch. The heat exhaust is the tail-end of a duct connected to the coils which happen to be colder within the fridge and hotter on the outside. This heat exhaust helps you notice excessive heat dissipating from the back of your fridge.

3.      Electric Heater

Some old model fridges like the ones made before and in the 1980s had electric heaters installed. Refrigeration and heating sound like a contradiction, however, fridges and freezers contain these heating systems to prevent condensation and moisture and condensation inside the fridge. When the electric heater is on, your fridge may become hot to the touch.

4.      Poor Ventilation

When the airflow around your refrigerator is insufficient, your fridge may overheat. If your fridge is close in proximity to walls, cupboards, and electricals that produce heat, this will affect its effective dissipation of heat. Items like several magnets stuck on the fridge and other items on top of the fridge can also contribute to overheating.

5.      Electricity Issues

The condition of your home power system can affect the heat in your fridge. If you’re constantly experiencing voltage spikes and power surges, say ‘goodbye’ to your fridge’s long life span. If the voltage goes up to more than your fridge’s capacity to handle, your compressor will overheat and give way.  An electrical issue requires a professional certified electrician to handle it safely.

6.      Faulty Condenser Motor and Fan

When your fridge’s condenser fan and motor cease functioning, the compressor won’t be able to cool down as usual. Instead, it will overheat, then your fridge will become hot as well. Condenser fans usually malfunction because of the accumulated dust. Dust and debris tend to build up on the fan while it’s spinning. This can happen over years.

Is It Normal for a Fridge to Get Hot on the Outside?

Is It Normal for a Fridge to Get Hot on the Outside?

A fridge will get hot or warm on the outside for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s normal and sometimes it’s not depending on how hot it gets. If your fridge feels warm when you touch it, that’s a normal process of heat dissipating from it. However, if your fridge feels hot, that’s a sign of an internal problem. In some cases, your fridge might feel hot in certain spots and not others. That’s still a problem that requires immediate attention.  

Ensure that there’s ample space between your fridge and surrounding walls or other objects. The ideal amount of free space around your fridge should be at least 50mm from the sides and the back. Move any heat sources near the fridge to a safe distance, for example, cookers and heaters, as they may contribute to your fridge getting hot on the outside.

Why Are the Side Walls of My Refrigerator Very Hot?

The sides of some refrigerators will heat up because of the condenser coils that are installed in their side walls. The condenser coils become warm or slightly hot because within them is where the gas refrigerant condenses and liquefies. It then releases absorbed heat and goes right back to the compressor to repeat the process.

For most fridge types and models, it’s normal for the side walls to become hot within the first few hours of use. When a fridge is new, the compressor works harder to dispel the heat from the inside. However, if the walls are very hot it’s possible that the condenser fan has malfunctioned and requires replacement. It’s important to keep the areas surrounding the fridge well ventilated.

Can a Refrigerator Catch on Fire?

Yes, a refrigerator can catch fire. The way most fridges work is the compressor at the back contain a pump and motor. The purpose of these two elements is to push gas through the compressor coils. At some point, the gas cools and liquefies, then soaks up all the heat, and cools the inside of the fridge. That said, there are times the fridge will get hot while the gas is moving through the coils.

This causes contraction of the coils which subsequently traps the gas. When there’s an obstacle to the gas moving properly through the coils, it will burst, causing an explosion and a fire. This is especially true for older model refrigerators that contain limited safety features and a plastic backing that is highly flammable.

Why Does My Freezer Smell Like Its Burning?

If your freezer has a burning smell, it’s a cause for concern. The smell might be caused by the motor overheating, faulty wiring, or a short circuit. The compressor is responsible for powering air circulation throughout the fridge or freezer. If the air is not circulating properly for any reason, the compressor will be forced to overwork and will eventually burn out causing the smell.

When a compressor overworks in a freezer, ice will form on the coils. If you notice this and your freezer is not the type that defrosts automatically, you will need to defrost it manually and do it regularly. Regularly inspect the seals and wiring. If they are faulty, find a certified electrical expert to repair the damage and keep your freezer from causing a fire.

How Long Should a Refrigerator Last?

Why Are the Side Walls of My Refrigerator Very Hot?

A refrigerator is an essential appliance in almost every household and a new one costs between $400 and $1200. This is why it should last a relatively long time. Most new fridges will last 10 to 15 years. Any longer than this and it will stop functioning properly because the internal elements will be worn out. This could lead to energy inefficiency and you’ll end up with higher electric bills. That said, some fridges will only last that long if the owner takes care of them well with regular maintenance.

You can keep your fridge working well for long by vacuuming the condenser coils at least twice a year and cleaning the fridge door gaskets regularly. Avoid using the top of the fridge as storage as this affects its ability to dispel heat. If you notice after about 10 years of properly maintaining your fridge that your food is going bad quickly and your electric bills are soaring, it’s time to get a new fridge.

Refrigerator Not Cooling? How to Fix a Warm Fridge

Can you fix a refrigerator that’s overheating? Absolutely. Fixing a hot refrigerator is sometimes not as difficult as it sounds. Most of the hacks you can do at home easily. However, for more complicated issues, you will need a trained fridge technician. If they can’t fix it, you may simply need to buy a new refrigerator.

1.      Clean the Coils

Using a duster, clean the condenser with simple strokes. After this, use a vacuum to suck up all the dust and debris. Sometimes, the coils also have grime on them. To remove it easily, use a cloth dipped in soapy water or a gentle but firm brush. Ensure that at this point, the fridge is unplugged. When you’re done cleaning, use a dry cloth to wipe the coils.

2.      Switch the Heater Off

If your fridge is one of those models with an electric heater, the best thing for you to do is to turn it off when you notice that the fridge is getting abnormally hot. By leaving it on, you risk damaging internal elements and even causing an explosion.

3.      Give Your Fridge Breathing Space

Your fridge was designed to store items inside it. However, many homeowners have turned the top of their fridges into a small storage area which is a mistake. Remove all the items sitting on top and at the sides of your fridge. If it’s near a wall, pull it away to give it sufficient ventilation. Adequate ventilation means the fridge will release heat easier.

4.      Call a Professional

So you’ve done everything you can do to fix your hot fridge but nothing seems to be working. Before you go ahead and buy a new fridge, how about calling in the big guns, the professionals who are trained and experienced to handle these issues. They’ll thoroughly investigate the cause of the overheating and apply an effective solution. Sometimes this is the best choice.

5.      Buy A New Fridge

Can a Refrigerator Catch on Fire?

When your fridge reaches the point of no return, it means you’ve tried everything and even called the professionals who can’t provide a solution. This happens especially if you’ve had your fridge for about 10 years or more. Buy a brand new one with great features that will last a lifetime. Make sure that it comes with a reasonable warranty. Most manufacturers offer 1 year, but if you can find a better one, great!

Is 45 Degrees a Safe Temperature for a Refrigerator?

No, 45 degrees is not a safe temperature for a refrigerator. Anything above 40 degrees F is the food safety “danger zone.” In this zone, harmful bacteria can quickly multiply.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the recommended fridge temperature is below 40°F while the recommended freezer temperature is below 0°F. Aim to stay within temperatures of 35°F and 38°F ( 1.7°C to 3.3°C) for your fridge.

This temperature range is perfect because it’s close to the freezing point (32°F) without necessarily freezing your food. When temperatures get warm, bacteria multiply fast. Anything above 40°F is too warm for a fridge and a disaster waiting to happen in terms of tummy problems from bacteria like E.Coli and Salmonella.

How to Test a Fridge Thermostat

The thermostat is one of the internal elements that keep a fridge working properly. Its work is to regulate the temperature inside. If the temperature in a refrigerator is higher than it should be, your food will start going bad and you’ll throw lots of money down the drain. Here’s how you know if your fridge thermostat is broken:

1.      Fridge Constantly Running

Part of the thermostat’s work is to alert the power source as soon as it reaches the right temperature so that stops running. If your refrigerator thermostat is faulty, that message won’t reach the condenser and the fridge will continue running. Sometimes you’ll observe continuous humming from your refrigerator or you’ll notice that your energy bills are on the rise.

2.      Not Cool Enough

When you notice that the inside of your refrigerator is not as cool as it should be, you might have a faulty thermostat. You can check by manually reducing the temperature by a degree or so, then wait for the fridge to automatically come on. If the thermostat doesn’t start then you’ll know it’s broken.

3.      Freezes Everything

You may notice frozen patches in your tomatoes or lettuce. A drink in a cup may have an ice sheet form on top of it. This is a sign that the temperature in your refrigerator is not being regulated properly. You can test by increasing the thermostat by a degree or two, then check again after 24 hours for progress. If there’s no change, the thermostat needs a replacement.

4.      Food Going Bad

Sometimes a cup of milk will go bad before expected when it’s in the fridge. But if your perishable food is all consistently going bad before it’s expected to, there’s a problem with the thermostat. When it’s faulty, the temperature may increase and get too warm for the fridge, causing the food to get spoiled.

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