One of the most common problems with refrigerators is a buildup of ice and frost inside their compartments. Typically, that happens because the appliance has a set temperature that’s too low. So, why would a fridge ice up even on the lowest setting?
Check that you’ve set it correctly when you find your fridge icing up on the lowest setting. On some fridges, the lowest setting is also the coldest setting you could choose. Besides that, dirty condenser coils, blocked air vents, and a faulty thermostat could cause the same problem. Lastly, if it has an ice maker without water, turn it off.
As you read through this guide, you’ll find the most likely reasons your fridge is icing up despite being on the lowest setting. Then, you’ll also understand how you can resolve the issue quickly.
Incorrect Temperature Settings
What it is: When troubleshooting your fridge that ices up even at the lowest setting, the first thing to consider are those settings themselves.
Firstly, remember this: there are 2 kinds of fridge temperature settings. The first kind allows you to set temperatures by degree, either Celsius or Fahrenheit. With this kind, the lower the setting, the colder the fridge will be.
Most household refrigerators use this first kind of temperature setting.
The second kind of temperature setting is just a number, typically on a numbered dial. These temperature settings work the opposite way. So, the higher the number, the colder the fridge. You’ll normally find numbered dials on mini-fridges, though larger ones might have them, too.
What’s happening: When you find that your fridge is icing up even though you’ve chosen the lowest setting, you’re likely using those settings the wrong way.
For example, the lowest setting you choose might actually be the lowest temperature available. That would cause the fridge to cool down more aggressively, leading to a buildup of ice inside.
How to fix it: The best way to fix this is to understand how your fridge’s temperature settings work. So, check the user manual for instructions on setting the appliance’s temperature.
You’ll often find that the manufacturer tells you the ideal temperature that’s not too warm or too cold for their appliance.
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Dirty Condenser Coils
What it is: Your refrigerator’s sealed cooling system has several sections, each with a specific purpose. One of those sections is the condenser and its coils.
After refrigerant removes heat from the refrigerator’s compartments, it becomes very hot. Then, it flows to the condenser coils at the back of the fridge, where it releases that heat into the environment.
As a result, the refrigerant becomes cool and removes more heat from inside the fridge.
What’s happening: When the condenser coils get dirty, it’ll become more challenging for heat to escape from the refrigerant. As a result, the cooling system must work extra hard to keep the refrigerator’s compartments cool and meet your set temperature.
Unfortunately, a refrigerator cooling system that goes into overdrive will cool some compartments too much. That will cause the compartments to ice up, regardless of the actual set temperature you’ve chosen.
How to fix it: Thankfully, the fix for this is straightforward. First, you must clean the condenser coils as much as possible and repeat the process regularly.
To do that, grab a vacuum. Use that to remove any loose dust on or around the condenser coils. Then, use a brush to remove any stubborn dust that’s stuck on the coils themselves.
When the condenser coils can release heat efficiently, the cooling system won’t work extra hard anymore. So there won’t be an ice buildup after that.
Blocked Air Vents
What it is: Each compartment in your refrigerator will have several air vents that release cold air. You’ll usually find them on the compartment’s rear wall where the evaporator is.
Cold air comes out of the air vents and circulates throughout the compartment. So, that ensures the refrigerator compartment cools down thoroughly without any warm spots anywhere.
What’s happening: Even though you’ve set the fridge to its lowest setting, a buildup of ice can also form around the air vents. That will happen when you block the vents and prevent cold air from moving out of them smoothly.
That tends to happen when you overload the refrigerator with too many items. With too many containers around, some will push up against the air vents.
As a result, the cold air will concentrate around the air vents and freeze over.
How to fix it: You can prevent blocked air vents in your refrigerator by keeping things organized and avoiding storing too many items inside. That way, cold air can distribute throughout the compartment instead of concentrating at one point and causing it to ice up.
What it is: The thermostat is a component that continuously measures how cold it is inside the fridge’s compartments. From there, the refrigerator will run its cooling system until it reaches your set temperature.
Once the fridge is cold enough, it will stop cooling until it gets too warm. Then, it’ll repeat the entire process to maintain your set temperature.
What’s happening: When the fridge ices up, even when you choose the lowest setting, the thermostat is likely faulty.
When the thermostat stops working correctly, it can’t accurately measure temperatures in the appliance’s compartments. So, for example, the faulty thermostat could cause the fridge to think it’s warmer than it actually is inside.
As a result, the fridge will continue to cool down even though it’s cold enough. That will cause the refrigerator to experience an ice buildup.
How to fix it: Unfortunately, thermostats are not repairable. So, you’ll have to remove and replace it with a new thermostat.
You can find the thermostat inside the refrigerator compartment. Typically, you’ll find that the thermostat combines temperature control and the temperature sensor.
When you locate it, disconnect its wiring and unthread any screws holding it in place. Then, mount the replacement in the same place and reconnect it the same way as before.
Ice Maker Turned On With No Water
What it is: Many fridges these days come with built-in ice makers. These components will receive an incoming water supply which they freeze into ice cubes.
From there, you can take the ice cubes directly from the ice bin or through a dispenser at the door.
What’s happening: The ice maker has a separate cooling system (i.e. an evaporator and a fan) in many refrigerators despite being in the refrigerator compartment. That’s fine because the water will absorb the extra cold air and turn to ice.
However, if there is no incoming water supply, all of that extra cooling has nowhere else to go. As a result, it causes your refrigerator compartment to ice up, even when you choose the lowest temperature setting.
How to fix it: Ideally, you should ensure your ice maker has a supply of water. However, if you can’t or won’t supply water to the ice maker, you should turn it off completely.
That way, the temperature inside your fridge will be exactly as you set it, instead of the compartment receiving excessive cooling from the unused ice maker.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are a few additional questions and answers that’ll help as you troubleshoot your fridge that’s icing up even on the lowest setting:
How Do You Reset A Refrigerator?
You can reset some refrigerator models by pressing a particular sequence of buttons. You can refer to your user manual to see if that’s possible. Alternatively, you can unplug your fridge and leave it alone for 5 minutes before plugging it back in. That would also reset the appliance.
Can You Defrost A Fridge Without Turning It Off?
Yes, you can remove an ice buildup in your fridge without turning it off. For example, you can put a pot of hot water inside the compartment. The steam coming from the pot will melt away any ice. When the water in the pot cools down, you can refill it with hot water to continue the process.
How Long Does It Take To Manually Defrost A Refrigerator?
Depending on how much the fridge has iced up, it could take anywhere from 8-24 hours to defrost your refrigerator manually.