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How to set up and control the proper temperature of a fridge?

Fresh air regulator on the cold position

Article of Serge, a local appliance technician from Ottawa, ON. Serge Appliance Repair.

Did you know that even the slightest increase in the temperature inside your fridge can lead to spoiled food because of harmful bacteria propagation? So, setting the correct temperature inside your refrigerator is a must.  Besides maintaining your family’s well-being, this procedure can save you money on your fridge’s energy consumption and provide a long-life cycle for your fridge.

So, in this blog’s article, let’s consider tips for daily refrigerator use.

Why is Selecting a Proper Operation Temperature in a Fridge Crucial?

Modern refrigerators have various operation controls. Modern electronic controls are more precise and smarter and provide the best energy performance. In some models, there are even separate operation control indicators for each shelf that help to deliver customized operation temperatures depending on the products stored on them. But simple mechanical thermostats are used in a lot of low-cost appliances. They do their work, too. Affordable prices and low repair costs are their advantages. Look at this page if you want to know more about refrigerator repair costs in Ottawa.

Even in the most compact fridges, there can be various temperature zones. For example, in a No-Frost two-chamber fridge with a bottom freezer, the coolest zone of the main chamber is usually on the top, where cold air exit vents are placed. So, you can keep dairy products and fresh meat in the zero-temperature drawer closest to these vents.

Almost every type of fridge has middle shelves for prepared dishes that require staying cool or packaged food. The lowest shelves are for beverages and (often separated) for vegetables and fruits.

In the freezer, the temperature is always much lower than in the main chamber. It is important not to pack your freezer too tightly as it can affect the temperature and may not freeze properly. To get the food to freeze well, you must provide cold air circulation. Wrapping the food up and chilling it in the refrigerator before freezing it is a good idea. 

There are also several standard rules about the temperature zones in a fridge:

      • The coldest space in the main chamber is not only the upper shelf but also zones that are closer to the back wall. The closer the zone to the cold air vents, the lower the cooling temperature.

      • Do you know where the warmest place in the refrigerator is? You can be sure that it is on the door shelves! You shouldn’t store there any product that requires a low temperature to stay fresh.

    So, selecting and setting the correct temperature for each product takes a bit of common sense.   

    Here are some tips for daily use of your refrigerator that you can utilize to provide its best performance.

        • Sort your food and place it on the shelves accordingly. Products you do not intend to use right away should be placed near the back wall, while those you want to use and prepare to eat right away should be stored closer to the front.

        • Never put hot food directly into the fridge. Leave it to chill before putting it in. Some items can be kept in a cool oven overnight if fridge space is problematic. Then, you can easily warm up your dish and serve it. The hot temperature is the best sterilizer. No microorganisms live in the range after cooking. Keep the oven closed, and don’t worry about the food’s freshness. 

        • Do not keep fruits and vegetables on higher shelves. Keeping raw meats near dairy products and cooked dishes is also unadvisable. Uncooked products contain more bacteria and can contaminate the cooked ones.

        • Do not leave the fridge door open. The more often you open the door, the more the cold air escapes.

        •  Some products, such as bread, cooking oil, flour, sugar, other dry goods, and canned goods, should not be stored in a fridge. So, do not try to put all your food in your fridge. Think about how to arrange it and which shelves to store it to maintain the most optimal temperature inside. 

      Freezer’s temperature

      What about the temperature in the freezer? In a freezer, you should have lower temperatures (the perfect level is 0 F/-18 °C). The approved temperature from the FDA is between 17 and 23 degrees. When you want to store frozen meat, you can keep it in a freezer for up to 6 months at -23 °C, yet only for a couple of weeks if the temperature is higher. So, when you do not have to store products for months, you can select a higher temperature for your freezer to save on electricity. You can adjust your refrigerator temperature levels manually.

      Summer days

      Remember that your fridge temperature should be increased on hot days. It can work without interruption, using long cycles to maintain the selected temperature. Besides, it can heat its outer walls, which is OK as it removes heat that way. Why do we need to adjust the fresh food section of the refrigerator to a lower position in summer? Suppose you don’t use air conditioning in summer, and the ambient temperature is much higher. In that case, lowering the fresh food section temperature could be helpful to prevent a temperature drop when you open the door.

      How do you measure the temperature in the fridge correctly?

      If you don’t have an electronic control refrigerator showing the actual temperature, you can determine the temperature with a thermometer. It shouldn’t be higher than 40 F/+4,5 °C. If your fridge is of a modern type, it dispenses cold air using Multi-Flow technology. This innovation provides a perfect distribution of the cold air from the freezer by using a system of canals and vents. This way, you can select a temperature closer to freezing, like 2-3 °C. Every adjustment should be made gradually. You must give your refrigerator 24 hours before checking the result and ensure no food is frozen.
      Better to use an electronic thermometer. Put the sensor into the glass of water and check the temperature after a few hours. When the sensor is in the liquid, you will see the actual temperature in the fridge. If not, the temperature will increase quickly while you open the door. The air temperature in the fridge will change during the day. The most important influence is the defrosting cycle when the fridge melts the frost on the evaporator in the freezer. But this cycle occurs only 2-3 times daily for about 20 minutes. That is why you always check the temperature when you hear that the fridge is working, so it is out of the defrost cycle. Another rule of thumb is to provide several probes for 1-2 days to exclude all accidental influences and to know the mean value.
      If you don’t want to follow all these rules, then I will tell you one simple method for choosing the optimal temperature in your refrigerator. The lower the temperature in the fridge, the better your food will keep fresh. So, try to decrease the temperature using the fridge thermostat by one position daily. If you see that some food is frozen, turn the thermostat knob one step back. 

      What is the best temperature setting in the refrigerator? 

      The coldest possible temperature is the best. And how to provide this optimal temperature in the fridge? In this short article, I want to show you one of the common misunderstandings I see in my appliance repair practice in Ottawa. In short, there are two temperature regulators in refrigerators. Usually, they are “freezer” and “refrigerator.” Whether you have an electronic digital control or a mechanical one, you must understand that in most models, when you turn the “refrigerator” control, you adjust the running time of the refrigerator compressor. This is the main control of the fridge. The bigger the setting, the colder the temperature and the longer the fridge compressor will run. But which temperature will the thermostat measure: in the freezer or the fresh food compartment? Usually, in the refrigerator. We need to understand that cold air is produced in the freezer in most makes and models of refrigerators. A fan blows over the evaporator and distributes the cold air to the freezer and the refrigerator. The refrigerator compartment is only the chamber receiving the cold air from the freezer through the small vent. There is a slide that closes and opens the vent. Sometimes, it is a mechanical slide, and sometimes, it is an electrical damper.

      As an appliance technician, I would like to share with you one of the most common mistakes people make when they try to regulate the temperature in their fridges. The freeze usually has three settings: cold, coldest and recommended.

      You must understand that setting “coldest” will be colder in the freezer but “warmest” in the refrigerator compartment. This regulator is a distributor of cold air. When you set it to the “coldest,” you close the airflow to the refrigerator. So, it will be the maximum cold in the freezer. Picture below.

      The “cold” position of the slide. The entire flow to the fresh food (refrigerator) chamber.

      The entrance of the cold air in the freezer.

      The exit of the cold air vent in the refrigerator.

      You can watch my full video about this issue using this link.

      Serge Appliance Repair Ottawa and Gatineau.

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