APPLIANCE GUIDES, REFRIGERATION

How To Fix Your Fridge Freezing Up At The Back – Simple Solutions

So, your fridge is freezing up at the back. Is that normal, is it a problem, is the fridge breaking?

Fear not! This is quite a common problem. There are a few simple things to check and fix before you go out and buy a new fridge.

In this post, I’ll explain the most common causes of a fridge freezing up at the back and how to fix them.

Let’s fix that fridge!

In a hurry? Here are the things you need to check!

  1. Temperature Settings: Adjust to between 2.5°C and 5°C.
  2. Bad Door Seal: Check, clean and replace if needed.
  3. Frequent Door Opening: Try not to do it. Close that door!
  4. Blocked Air Vents: Clear obstructions, and clean vents.
  5. Jammed Ice Maker: Clear ice, and ensure the switch moves freely.

Why Is My Fridge Freezing Up At The Back?

Don’t worry, your fridge is most likely not broken. There are a number of reasons why you might have frost or ice developing in a fridge.

Below, I’ve pulled together the most common reasons and given some quick and easy solutions.

However, if your fridge is still icing over after checking these fast fixes, it may be time to call in a professional for fault finding and repairs or invest in a new appliance. 

Fridge Freezing Up On The Back Wall

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1. Temperature Settings are Too Low in the Fridge

If your fridge has its temperature set too low, the cooling system will run too long and start to leave frost inside the unit and freeze your food. Your fridge’s temperature should be set to maintain between 2.5°C and 5°C.

How to fix it:

Look inside your fridge on the sides or near the back for a pair of temperature dials. Most fridges use a number system rather than actual temperatures. Turn up the dial to a warmer setting. Place a thermometer in the middle of the fridge. Let the fridge sit for 24 hours before checking the temperature again. Keep adjusting until the fridge is at the appropriate setting.

2. Bad Door Seal

Every fridge has magnets and a rubber door gasket that seals the door. No room-temperature air should get into the cold fridge when the door is closed.  If you have a bad door seal, warm air is always entering the fridge. That makes the cooling coils constantly run which results in ice buildup inside the fridge.

If you take a piece of paper and place it between the door and the seal with the door closed, the paper should not move. If it does, you need a new seal.

How to fix it:

Replacing a door seal only takes a few minutes and about £50. The rubber gasket snaps into place or may use a bunch of screws and adhesive.

  • Empty the fridge and put the food in coolers to keep it cold.
  • Remove the old seal. You may simply need to pull it out.
  • Clean the door. Use a cotton bud to get into the cracks.
  • Install the new gasket.
  • Close the door and let the fridge reach at least 5°C before putting back the food.

You can order a gasket designed precisely for your fridge or a universal kit. You may need to cut a universal kit to size.

Top Tip: If you need to order some spare parts (in the UK) I always use espares.co.uk

Fridge Door Seal

3. Opening The Door Lots or Leaving It Open

If you have lots of kids or maybe just a single teen, you may be closing the fridge long after they’ve grabbed a bottle of water. Just like a bad seal, an open door makes the cooling system work extra hard. You end up with frost inside the fridge and even around the coils.

How to fix it:

Gently remind family members to close the fridge promptly. If the kids are always looking for cold drinks, a small cooler left on the worktop can help your fridge door stay closed.

Some new fridges are designed with a small outer door that holds popular items and an inner door that helps to maintain a steady temperature for the majority of the fridge.

4. Blocked Air Vents Inside and Outside the Fridge

Today’s frost-free fridges use active air circulation to maintain constant temperature and humidity inside the appliance. If the air vent at the back of the fridge is blocked by boxes and food, frost can collect on it. These obstructions stop the airflow and make the compressor work harder to get cold air moving through the whole unit.

The air intake vents are located at the back of the fridge. Too much dust between the back of the fridge and the wall ends up with the same problem.

How to fix it:

Locate the air vent inside your fridge and freezer sections. Move your food so that you have about 3 to 10 cm of clearance around the vent. If it is iced over, you will need to turn off the fridge to melt the ice.

If you have a blocked air vent on the outside of the fridge, vacuum out any dirt and dust. Use a soft cloth with washing-up soap to completely clean it out.

5. Ice Maker Gets Jammed

Your ice maker is actually a tiny freezer inside your refrigerator section. A small lever on the side of the ice maker acts as a switch. If it is in the empty position, it tells the ice maker to start freezing water and make cubes. If your ice maker gets iced over with the lever on empty, it will keep freezing even with a full bin. This can introduce frost into the fridge. Ultimately, it can damage the entire ice maker.

How to fix it:

  • Empty out the ice bin and remove frost from the switch area.
  • Ensure the switch can move freely.
  • Monitor the ice maker as it makes a new batch of ice.
  • If the switch does not flip up when the ice bin is full, you may need to have the ice maker serviced or replaced.

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FAQs

Should A Fridge Have Ice On The Back Wall?

It is not unusual for your fridge to have a thin layer of ice or frost on the back wall. However, it should not have a thick layer or be completely covered with ice.

If there is a large amount of frost or ice build-up on your fridge’s back wall then you should try one of the fixes above before you call out an engineer or look to replace your appliance.

Why Does My Fridge Ice Up On The Back Wall?

There are a number of reasons, as discussed above. However, it is most likely due to condensation. The back wall of your fridge is typically the coldest spot and this is where condensation can occur.
So any moisture inside the fridge, from warm air entering somehow, will condense and form water which may then ice up on the back wall.

How Do I Get Ice Off The Back Of My Fridge?

The best way to get unwanted ice off the side and back of the fridge is to defrost the entire unit.

  • Empty the fridge of all the food.
  • Unplug the fridge from the wall.
  • Place a bowl of hot water inside the fridge and freezer sections.
  • Fast Tip: Use a hair dryer to speed up the melting process. But not for too long. You can overheat and damage the hair dryer.
  • Wipe up water as the ice melts.

Do not use a knife or scraper to chip the ice off the walls of your fridge. This can damage the walls which can destroy your fridge’s ability to keep cold.

How Long Does It Take To Manually Defrost A Refrigerator?

Depending on how much ice is built up in your fridge or freezer, it can take up to 16 hours for a complete manual defrost.

However, if you have less than an inch of ice around the vents in your fridge section, it should take no more than four or five hours. The walls of the fridge have to warm up in order to start melting the ice. That takes more than just a few minutes.

Remember that it will take several hours for the fridge to get cold enough to safely refrigerate food after you are done.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it! Now you know why your fridge may be freezing up at the back, and more importantly, what to do about it.

It is quite common for a fridge to collect ice or frost on the back wall in small quantities for short periods of time. However, if your fridge is freezing up constantly or has a thick layer of frost there’s probably a bigger problem at play.

Try these quick fixes to rule out any simple solutions before you call up an engineer or go out and buy a new fridge. They could save you some serious money!

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Author

Michael from Kitchinsider.com

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.