Refrigerator Too Cold

Photo of a refrigerator temperature gauge

If you think that your refrigerator is too cold, there are a couple things that you can check. Before you start replacing parts though keep in mind that refrigerator controls are extremely well engineered. In the past most refrigerators were controlled with a single contact control that had a capillary tube filled with refrigerant that was very sensitive to temperature. And since the refrigerant inside the tube was highly reactive to changes in temperature it would easily expand or contract to open and close the electrical contacts that supply power to the compressor and fans. I have worked on countless refrigerators over the years and found only a couple of defective cold controls.

Today refrigerators mostly use electronic controls. Electronic controls use a sensor or thermistor to sense changes in temperature. It is difficult for non technical people to determine if the control or the sensor is defective. All that having been said, the odds of you having a defective control on your refrigerator are pretty slim.

Before you start troubleshooting you will want to verify that the temperature in your fresh food section is actually too cold. First thing you should do is invest a few bucks in a basic refrigerator temperature gauge. This way you can move it to different locations in the fresh food section. One day on the top shelf and then one day on the bottom shelf. This way you can determine if the temperature is in fact too cold.

You may find that the temperature on the lower shelf is near 38 degrees and the temperature on the upper shelf near where the air comes from the freezer is too cold. Remember on most refrigerators there is only one cooling section and that is in the freezer. 100% of the air passes through the evaporator in the freezer and some of that air is directed to an air channel to the fresh food section. If a food item is directly in front of that air flow at the point where it enters the fresh food section, it could freeze causing you to think that your refrigerator is too cold.

Controls on refrigerators today are made to be in the center position. Both the refrigerator control and the freezer control. For more on refrigerator controls and what the ideal refrigerator temperature is, click here.

Once a control is adjusted it takes about 24 hours for the temperature in the fresh food section to stabilize. If you adjust the controls to the center position and find that after 24 hours the temperature inside your fresh food section is in fact too cold, it's best to call an appliance service technician to your home that is familiar with refrigeration. By the way not all appliance service technicians have a refrigeration background. In fact, it's becoming more and more common that appliance service technicians do not have a background in refrigeration. If you call an appliance service technician to your home that does not have a background in refrigeration, he is more likely to condemn your refrigerator as unrepairable. So whenever you call an appliance service company for a refrigerator repairman, make sure that he actually has serviced refrigerators in the past.

The reason that you need to call out a serviceman if you are a homeowner or do-it-yourselfer is that there are several things that can cause a refrigerator to be too cold. And one of the things is if the refrigerator is low on refrigerant. So changing the control would be a waste of money. But more importantly with the cost of parts today and the fact that most appliance parts stores will not allow you to return parts once they have been installed, it doesn't make much sense to try and guess. That is unless you enjoy throwing money down the drain.