Does High Humidity Affect Refrigerator Ability To Cool?

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Refrigerators tend to be dry environments (ever noticed how green leafy vegetables will dry out if left in the fridge for a long time, especially if you haven’t stored them in the vegetable compartment?) Ideally, a refrigerator’s humidity levels should not exceed 50%, and a little moisture shouldn’t cause alarm. However, moisture buildup can be a problem.

High humidity affects a refrigerator’s ability to cool by straining the compressor and reducing its lifespan. The compressor will then need to work harder to keep the fridge and its contents cold, increasing energy consumption. 

The rest of this article will discuss how high humidity affects a refrigerator and how to control excess moisture in a fridge. Let’s get started!

How High Humidity Affects a Refrigerator’s Cooling Ability?

High humidity translates to an increase in moisture levels inside a refrigerator, which means the fridge will have to work harder to keep food cool. This places pressure on the compressor, leading to higher energy consumption. High humidity also increases the refrigerant pressure, reducing its efficiency.

Refrigerators ideally should operate in ambient temperatures ranging between 50°F and 95°F (10°C and 35°C). Anything above this strains the fridge’s ability to reach desired temperatures. 

Humidity will always be lower in colder temperatures because cold air does not hold as much moisture. As such, cool environments are the most ideal for a refrigerator.

How Does a Compressor Work?

The compressor is a vital refrigerator component whose job is to spread the refrigerant throughout the system. The act of “compressing” the refrigerant gas raises its temperature, and when this gas is cooled into a liquid, it absorbs heat (this cooling takes place in the condenser, another crucial part of your refrigerator).

Here’s a video that describes how a compressor works in more detail:

Factors Affecting Humidity Levels in a Refrigerator

Certain aspects will either raise or lower humidity levels in a fridge, eventually affecting its ability to cool. Some of these factors include:

Fridge Contents

Certain foods may contribute to higher humidity than others. For example, the effect of a still-warm pot roast is different from that of a cold milk carton. The heat from the pot roast will increase the internal temperature of the fridge, leading to higher humidity. 

Read: How To Fix The Frigidaire Refrigerator Ice Maker Clicking Noise?

An Open Door

Leaving your fridge door open can raise the temperatures inside your fridge. Even though newer models employ mechanisms to control condensation levels, an open door still exposes the inside of your fridge to warmth and additional moisture. 

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A faulty door seal can also allow warm air to enter the fridge. A properly functioning fridge should have a door with unbroken seals.

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Read: Why Does My Refrigerator Compressor Click But Won’t Turn On? Troubleshooting Steps

Clogged Air Vents

Every fridge has air vents that help circulate air inside it. If you store food in a way that blocks these vents, air won’t circulate properly, leading to humidity and condensation buildup. 

Fridges also need space for air to flow freely around them on the outside. If you back your fridge up against a wall, chances are that there will be little to no air circulation around the fridge. This will cause it to heat up, subsequently increasing its humidity levels.  

External Environment

A fridge belonging to someone living in a hot and humid area may be prone to higher humidity levels than someone who lives in a colder region. Furthermore, fridges can experience fluctuating humidity levels depending on the season. 

Also, little to no air conditioning can raise ambient temperatures, leading to higher humidity inside your fridge.  

Read: What You Need To Know About FRIGIDAIRE Gallery Refrigerator Problems?

Is High Humidity Completely Bad for a Refrigerator?

High humidity doesn’t always spell doom for refrigerators. Generally, a fridge needs to have average humidity in order to prevent the compressor from overworking. However, some vegetables require high humidity for storage. They include:

  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Green beans 
  • Peas
  • Eggplants 
  • Carrots

The vegetable compartment inside your fridge is designed for high humidity. This section often has a lid and settings you can tweak, allowing you to set the humidity higher or lower depending on your needs. Additionally, opening the compartment lowers humidity, while closing it raises it.

How Can You Extend the Lifespan of Your Refrigerator?

Keep It Clean 

Clean and defrost your fridge regularly to help extend its lifespan. Most, if not all, fridges have a defrost button. When pressed, any ice will slowly melt away, allowing you to clean the fridge more easily. Do remember to disconnect the refrigerator from the power source when cleaning. 

You also want to ensure that you keep the front grills clean. These grills work by permitting unrestricted airflow to the condenser. If lint and dust build up on the grills, the condenser will struggle to remove heat from the fridge’s interior. This will increase the inside temperature and, eventually, raise humidity levels. 

Read: Frigidaire Refrigerator Troubleshooting Guide

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Keep It Away From Heat

Some kitchen floor plans may force you to place your refrigerator next to your cooker. This is not a good practice because the heat your cooker emanates increases the temperature of your fridge, leading to high humidity, more energy consumption, and a very strained compressor.

Adjust Energy-Saving Settings

Modern refrigerators now have settings that increase energy efficiency, lower energy consumption and also help reduce carbon footprints. However, depending on the settings, you may unknowingly increase the condensation and, subsequently, the humidity inside the fridge. 

Newer refrigerator models have anti-sweat heaters that work to reduce condensation. However, because these heaters consume energy, your energy-saving settings may include turning them off. To prolong your refrigerator’s lifespan and reduce condensation, ensure your energy-saving options do not interfere with the anti-sweat heaters.

Check Your Thermostat

A faulty or wrongly adjusted thermostat can raise the humidity levels inside a fridge. The thermostat is responsible for how cold or warm a fridge gets. 

You may accidentally adjust the thermostat to a setting that increases the humidity in the fridge. To prevent this, check the thermostat setting regularly. If you’re unsure how to read the thermostat, a general rule is that the higher the number, the colder it is.

This is especially important because food can quickly get spoiled with the wrong thermostat settings. You might assume that your food is automatically safe because it’s in the fridge, but if the conditions are too humid, it can go bad instead.

Don’t Immediately Place Hot Food in the Refrigerator

In your excitement to keep food fresh, you may have developed the habit of placing hot food in the refrigerator. Here’s why that’s not a good idea: 

When you place hot food in a fridge, the heat emitted is too much for the fridge to cool immediately. The hot food releases hot vapor that condenses and raises the humidity levels in the fridge. Subsequently, this will raise the fridge’s temperature, causing the compressor to work extra hard to keep the fridge cold. 

Food doesn’t need to be completely cold before placing it in the fridge, but allow most of the heat to dissipate first. 

Conclusion

High humidity impacts a refrigerator’s ability to cool by making it work harder to counter the effects of the increased temperature and humidity. With the tips mentioned above, you can reduce high humidity levels inside your fridge and keep it working in the best possible condition.

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