My old fridge freezer is on the fritz.
Everything is warmer than it should be.
When I turn the unit off and on again it cools for a while but then stops. So we know the cooler is working.
I suspect the thermostat is gone. Is this easy to replace? Does anyone know of anything else that it could be? I'm reasonably hands on. But taking the back off things gets me nervous.
The unit is 13 years old. But until now has been working perfectly. I don't want to throw something so big away, if it's only a little issue.
Leave 2 inches of clearance at the back, top, and sides of the refrigerator.
Heat has to go somewhere. If the refrigerator is in too tight of a space, the heat will be unable to leave the refrigerator and will stick around, keeping it warmer than it should be. A 2 inch gap on the top, back, and sides is enough to allow air to circulate the heat away from the fridge.
Keep food 2 inches clear of the vents, and your fridge at least 2/3rds stocked.
Similar to the outside of the refrigerator, you need air circulation inside the refrigerator as well, or the hot, moist air will have no way to leave the compartment. The vents in the back of the refrigerator need the same 2 inches of space that the outside does, to allow the heat to be sucked out through them.
For the rest of the refrigerator, the more stocked you can keep it (at least 2/3 full) the easier it is for the fridge to keep cool, since food is much easier to keep cold than air is. (This is especially true when you open the doors and all the cold air whooshes outside and gets replaced by warm air.)
Here's some tips for stocking the refrigerator:
- The more containers that can be sealed and stacked, the better. Not only will this help keep moisture levels down, it also helps keep things organized, which means you spend less time with the doors open.
- Put fruits and vegetables in the crisper drawer(s). This will give you the same benefits as using containers with lids and help them last longer.
- Keep the most perishable food away from the doors since that is the area that gets hit with warm air every time you open the doors.
- If you've still got a bunch of open space, add some water bottles.
Keep your fridge cool, inside and out.
It almost goes without saying, but remember to adjust the settings on your fridge and set the temperature lower. You can also use settings like Power Cool to give it that extra oomph. Summer months are often much warmer than winter months, so the effect of opening the doors to get food out is that much stronger on the fridge. Having it colder in the first place can help negate that effect. For instructions on how to set Power Cool on your model, or set temperatures for compartments like Cool Select or FlexZone, see your user manual.
Similarly, don't make your fridge work harder than it has to. Keep it in a climate controlled area, out of direct sunlight and away from other heat sources like an oven or cooktop. Also, an environment that's too cold (below 55 degrees Fahrenheit) will cause the refrigerator to struggle, which can actually reduce cooling performance.
And finally, avoid putting hot food in the refrigerator. This can actually lower the shelf life of any other food you put it next to as it can heat up to room temperature again before the fridge is able to cool the compartment back down. It's like if you took everything else out of the fridge for a few minutes, just to put the hot item in. It's much better to let the item cool off first before you put it inside the fridge.
Keep it clean, especially the seals around the doors.
The seals on the doors are what keeps the heat out. If they get dirty, even the slightest bit, they can fail to create a vacuum seal, which leaves a hole for warm air to constantly get in. You'll want to keep the seals clean to prevent this.
Ideally you should give the seals a quick once-over every month or so (using a damp cloth with mild detergent), but as long as you're doing a thorough clean annually it should be fine.
You can test if the vacuum seal is working using a dollar bill. Put it halfway in the door and then close the door on it. If you feel slight resistance when you pull it out, the seal is working. If the bill slips out easily, clean the seals. If it still slips out easily after that, or if you notice during cleaning that the seal is warped or damaged and you're unable to push it back into place, this will require service.
Note: New refrigerators that are not level left to right may fail the dollar bill test because the doors are not aligned correctly. See our guide for leveling the refrigerator.
Keep the doors shut.
Every time you open the doors, all the cold air in the fridge leaves immediately and warm air comes inside instead. You can reduce this effect by keeping your refrigerator well stocked so it has less empty space, like we mentioned earlier.
Our Family Hub refrigerators (and some other models) have cameras on the inside of the doors, which allow you to view what's inside the refrigerator without opening the doors (or even remotely, like while you're out shopping). If your model has internal cameras, simply add it to SmartThings to take a peek inside with your phone. (Family Hub models can just use View Inside on Family Hub.) Try to get in the habit of browsing this way instead of standing with the door open.
Another helpful tip is to stay organized, such as using sealed and labeled containers that can be stacked, and keeping fruits and vegetables in their assigned drawers. The less time you spend looking for things, the less the doors stay open.
And finally, if your model has a separate compartment for a Flex Zone, keeping the most common items like snacks and beverages in it can reduce how often the doors are opened for other compartments.
Check for an error code or blinking display.
In most cases, if something is actually defective in the cooling system, your fridge will show an error code.
If your fridge's internal self-tests pass but your fridge detects that the compartment is too warm anyway, it will blink the temperature display. Some models will also chime.
If neither of these things are happening, we're pretty confident that your refrigerator does not need service, although the previous steps may help you to keep it even cooler.
Don't forget, if you've made a change in any of the previous steps, make sure to allow 28 hours for the fridge to achieve the set temperature. If after 28 hours the fridge's display is still blinking, this will require service.
Check if your food is spoiling.
FoodSafety.gov has an extensive chart for how long food stays good when stored in the fridge or freezer.
If you have performed all of the previous steps and your food is spoiling before it should, this will require service.
If the troubleshooting steps did not help above then service is required. I would recommend reaching out to the country in which your product was manufactured/purchased for assistance with the appropriate troubleshooting for your product: https://www.samsung.com/us/common/visitlocationsite.html
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