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What Causes a Mini Fridge To Freeze Everything?

What causes a mini fridge to freeze everything? Is it due to you leaving food inside for too long, or could it be a faulty unit? It’s a common issue that could even result in unwanted freezer burn.

What Causes a Mini Fridge To Freeze Everything

While many mini fridges have some similarities, there can still be quite a few differences even between fridges made by the same brand. 

Here’s the thing;

Even if you’re not an expert, there are a few things that you can check on your mini fridge to get to the bottom of why everything is freezing up inside. 

After all, even the best mini fridge out there can have issues. 

What Causes a Mini Fridge To Freeze Everything?

Mini fridges may freeze due improper temperature setting, poor seal or ice build up.

Refrigerators are delicate machines. Only one small thing being slightly off can create freezing in areas where you don’t want it to occur. The following are some of the common causes of this.

  • Not enough items in the refrigerator
  • Set temperature is too high or low
  • Freezer air seepage
  •  Leaks around the refrigerator’s seal

Mini Fridge Suddenly Freezing Food?

1. Not enough items in the refrigerator

Refrigerators do a better job of keeping food stored in spaces where there are lots of other items nearby.

The issues can be explained by three or more people huddling together outside during a winter storm. The body generates heat, where coats act as an absorber and insulator of the cold air around the group. Food works the same way in your refrigerator.

Cold air is absorbed by the food itself. When more food is stored, more cold air is absorbed than normal. And the absorption of cold air means that the rest of the air around it doesn’t drop to freezing.

Remember, most of the food in a refrigerator is placed inside at a temperature that’s slightly above freezing. A conglomeration of these items means that your refrigerator has more inside to keep the temperature stable, especially the units that receive air that’s pushed inside from the freezer.

2. Set temperature is too high or low

This is one of the most common reasons behind food freezing. As discussed here, optimal temperatures for a freezer are anywhere between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. For many units, it’s difficult to make things warm without unplugging the refrigerator itself.

Are there two dials in your mini fridge?
Make sure you’re familiar with how they work. On some mini fridges, one dial tell the fridge how much cold air to produce. The other dial may simply operate a baffle inside the fridge that releases the cold air. Check your owners manual.
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On the other side, freezing is very easy to do. Maybe someone accidentally turned the dial when you were placing or adding food inside. Freezers with digital temperature controls could be incorrectly calibrated.

Another possibility is a dial with difficult to impossible to read temp gauges. Some refrigerators don’t have gauges on them at all, where it’s up to the user to decide what’s the best spot to leave it on. Freezing in this case might only stop through trial and error.

3. Freezer air seepage

Freezers are known for seeping air into the refrigerator. In small units, this is almost impossible to avoid since the freezer isn’t completely sectioned off. If you have a cooler that’s built like this, the frozen air may interfere with the refrigerator portion too much.

The causes for this could be a large buildup of ice and a freezer gauge that’s set too low. Freezers can easily overpower slightly warmer air in the exposed coolers section, resulting in the entire unit transforming into a freezer.

4. Leaks around the refrigerator’s seal

Have you ever left the refrigerator door open for too long? This is normal, but leaving it open an inch or two for a spell isn’t likely to spoil your food. But what about leaks from the seal around the cooler? When you notice food suddenly becoming frozen for reasons unknown, inspect the seal for gaps or breaks.

Warmer air seeping inside makes the cooler stay on longer, which may freeze food that’s close to the interior vents. This can directly have an impact on your energy costs, as well.

The causes of freezing might be one or more of the stations described above. So check for all of them to ensure that the problem doesn’t persist any longer.

What’s Freezer Burn?

Freezer burn is the result of food becoming dehydrated inside of a freezer when water molecules adhere to the side of the freezer instead your food. You can read more here.

How to keep mini fridge from freezing everything

Ok, you’ve isolate the problem the next step is try and fix the problem. But before you spend cash for repairs, you can go the DIY route and try some of these simple suggestions

1. Make better arrangements for food

The less you have in your cooler, the higher chances are of food freezing. Try to restock your freezer whenever its contents drop to a couple of items on every shelf. Rearranging the shelves may also help, where more shelves are used or spaced closer together when there’s not much inside.

If you’re going out for vacation or a weekend trip and intentionally are leaving your refrigerator bare, place the food that’s left inside farther away from the cooling vents, such as closer to the veggie and fruit drawers.

food in skillet

2. Set the cooler’s temperature to the correct gauge

There’s no secret to this tip. If your dial is low and the food is freezing, turn it up slightly and wait a couple of hours to see if the freezing has subsided. If not, turn it up a bit further, but not too far. You don’t want the unit to be too warm, but certainly higher than the freezing point.

3. Replace cooler door seal

Refrigerator door seals are also called refrigerator gaskets. To do this, it might be necessary for you to take off the retainer that’s attached to the door. Cooler gaskets are sold in home appliance stores and online. Alternatively, you could place a bit of petroleum jelly around small openings in the old gaskets as a temporary fix.

4. Shave down your freezer’s ice

This applies to people with single-door refrigerators more than anyone else. If yours has a small section with a dial that’s close to the freezer, try turning it a bit, then shaving off any excess ice that’s accumulated. If there’s too much, consider melting down the unit completely and setting the temperature at a level that prevents rapid ice accumulation.

What Causes a Mini Fridge To Freeze Everything…Summary

Are you still having trouble with freezing? There are many reasons what causes a mini fridge to freeze everything.


Don’t go rushing for a new refrigerator just yet. If your unit is still under warranty, you could get a replacement if you suspect that the issue is beyond the solutions that you can solve. But fixes like adjusting your gauge and replacing the seal might be the trick that gets your cooler back to a stable temperature.

More Reading: Is It Normal For Mini Fridges To Get Hot? 3 Tips for OTR Drivers

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