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Why food freezes in your refrigerator — and how to stop it

Have you ever put milk, eggs, fruit, vegetables, meat or other items into your refrigerator, only to discover that your fridge is freezing food? While this problem is somewhat rare, it can happen – and when it does, you’re left with food that needs to be thawed. If you need help preventing this issue, our guide provides solutions.

Why is my refrigerator freezing everything?

Food freezing in the fridge can be triggered by a handful of causes, including everything from a faulty temperature sensor to blocked air vents, a leaky door seal and more. 

A refrigerator is designed to keep food cool for safe storage and should not freeze anything, so how do you fix a refrigerator that freezes everything? If you notice that your food freezes in the refrigerator, it may be caused by the following issues:

How to keep your refrigerator from freezing food

Troubleshoot your way through the topics below to find out what’s causing your refrigerator to freeze foods and how to fix it. Select a link below to jump to a topic.

Close-up of temperature setting control panel in refrigerator Close-up of temperature setting control panel in refrigerator

1. Temperature settings

The optimum refrigerator temperature range for storing fresh food is between 38 - 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If your food is freezing, then it is possible that your fridge’s temperature setting was accidentally set too low. This is a common problem that can lead to your refrigerator freezing food.

Reset your refrigerator’s temperature

If your refrigerator is too cold, locate the temperature controls and adjust it accordingly. Not sure which temperature is correct? Consult your user guide or owner’s manual.

You may find that your refrigerator is set at an ideal setting for cooling foods, but your temperature sensor could still be off. To manually check your refrigerator's temperature, place a glass of water on the top shelf of your refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove the glass and test the water temperature with a cooking thermometer. If the thermometer reading isn't within 2 degrees of your set temperature, or the recommended temperature range, your refrigerator’s temperature sensor may be faulty and in need of replacing. 

Close-up of food in refrigerator Close-up of food in refrigerator

2. Blocked air vents

Refrigerators use air vents to circulate cold air and ensure a consistent temperature throughout the storage area. In order to ensure the proper temperature, you need to allow room for proper air flow between the freezer and refrigerator compartments. If food is blocking these air vents, it will be exposed to more cold air and may freeze over time. (Blocked vents can also make it harder for your freezer to maintain temperature.)

Rearrange your food

Make sure that the food in your refrigerator isn’t touching any of the air vents. You can also try to distribute food more evenly throughout the refrigerator. To learn more about how to store food in your refrigerator, check out our Refrigerator Organization Guide Guide.

Open double doors of refrigerator Open double doors of refrigerator

3. Leaky door seals

The seals around your refrigerator and freezer doors help keep cold air in. If one or both of these seals are leaking, your refrigerator will work harder to maintain a constant temperature. Unfortunately, this can lead to a refrigerator that’s too cold – and frozen food.

Check your refrigerator’s door gasket

If you suspect that your refrigerator’s doors may be leaking, take some time to clean and inspect the door seals. If they are torn, warped or worn, replace them immediately. You’ll not only keep your refrigerator from freezing food, but you’ll save energy as well with these replacement parts from Whirlpool.

Close-up of full refrigerator ice bin Close-up of full refrigerator ice bin

4. Ice maker settings

A refrigerator ice maker being put to good use shouldn’t cause freezing in the refrigerator compartment, but a dormant icemaker may be a problem. An ice maker that’s left on but disconnected from the water supply can cause the compartment to cool to freezing temperatures as it continually tries and fails to make ice.

Adjust ice maker settings

If you don’t plan to use your ice maker then turning it off may help prevent overcooling in the refrigerator. Most refrigerator ice makers can be turned off by flipping an on/off switch located near the ice maker or by lifting the metal feeler arm up and into the off position. If your refrigerator features a touch screen menu, you may need to navigate through its settings to turn off your ice maker.

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My fridge is still freezing. What should I do?

If you haven’t had success using the steps above, it may be time to schedule service for your refrigerator so a professional can take a look. If your refrigerator needs to be replaced, we can help—our Refrigerator Buying Guide can help you discover the right refrigerator for your kitchen. If you’re having the other issue and your fridge isn’t staying cool enough, learn how to troubleshoot it.

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Whirlpool® Refrigerators of all configurations feature purposeful innovations designed with family-focused homes in mind. Find the best fit for your family as you browse French door, side-by-side, bottom freezer and top freezer refrigerators from Whirlpool brand. Looking to improve your kitchen in other ways? Check out our upright freezers and chest freezers today.

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