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Why Is There Ice Buildup in My Fridge?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

Don’t Panic if There’s Ice Buildup in Your Fridge

No one likes ice buildup in the fridge. It’s not only a pain to have to remove the ice every time you need to get something from the fridge, it also negatively affects the refrigerator’s performance, leading to increased energy bills. So, you’re wondering, “is there a way to stop ice buildup in my fridge?”

Read the rest of the article and we will tell you how.

Common Causes of Ice Buildup in a Refrigerator

Why is there ice buildup in your fridge? A thin layer of ice forming in the fridge is completely normal. But if it is too much, almost the same amount as the ice in the freezer itself, then there might be something wrong with your appliance. Learning about why there’s a wall of ice in the back of the fridge will help you fix it and prevent it from happening again. So, here we’ll discuss some of the most common causes of ice buildup in a refrigerator:

Excessive Moisture in the Air

In most cases, there’s ice buildup in the fridge due to damp air. It means the air inside the refrigerator has too much moisture. When it’s like this, the moisture condenses on the cold parts of the appliances resulting in ice buildup. The good thing is that you can easily stop the excess moisture in the air and prevent it from ruining your refrigerator.

Refrigerator ice buildup diagnose and repair
If your refrigerator has excessive ice buildup, try these DIY tips to fix it.

Fluctuations in Temperature

The constant fluctuations in temperature are also one of the common causes of ice buildup. It happens when the fridge experiences regular freezing and melting cycles, which creates an actual ice palace inside the appliance. When the air inside cools and warms constantly due to the freezing and thawing cycles, the moisture in the air condenses and freezes in the coils of the selves. It becomes a thick layer of ice crystals that make it hard for the fridge to keep a normal appearance.

Moisture Dripping From Food

If there’s ice buildup in the fridge even if you didn’t put any ice in there, the possible culprit is the food and other items inside the appliance. It could be that the moisture that dripped from these items condensed on the fridge’s cold coils. As time passes, the water that condensed turned into a significant ice buildup. It doesn’t seem like a big issue, but the more ice that builds up, the harder the refrigerator works and the more it uses energy. This can result in your utility bills increasing more.

Our resident home repair guru, John Turpin, has provided a list of common reasons your washing machine might be making weird noises or sounds, along with some suggested solutions and DIY tips to get them solved.

Other Possible Causes

Besides those we mentioned, other potential reasons why ice is building up at the back of your fridge include:

  • Faulty door gasket
  • Clogged drain tube
  • Problems with the sealed system
  • Air leaking into the refrigerator
  • Overcrowding in the fridge

Overcrowding is also a common cause of ice buildup. The cold air is unable to circulate correctly inside the fridge when there are too many items inside because there’s not enough space between them. In this situation, you don’t only have to worry about ice buildup but also about reaching and taking out the items inside. You can avoid this annoyance and prevent ice buildup by making sure you don’t overcrowd.

Why is there ice buildup in my refrigerator DIY fix
For proper refrigerator cooling performance, it’s important to keep ice from building up too much.

How to Prevent Ice from Building up in your Fridge?

Now that you know what’s causing the ice buildup, you have another question that needs an answer – “how do I stop ice buildup in my fridge?” Continue reading to know how you can prevent ice from constantly building up in your refrigerator.

Defrost Excess Ice

Let’s start by defrosting the excess ice. Empty the appliance and set the temperature to the warmest level. Make sure to put a pan at the bottom of the fridge as well as towels that will help absorb the water from the melting ice. Before putting back the foods you removed, make sure that all drawers and shelves are completely dry.

Keep the Fridge Closed

The simplest method to prevent ice from building is just keeping your fridge closed. When you open the fridge door, cold air leaves and warm air enters. This creates condensation on the refrigerator’s inside surfaces, which will eventually become ice. If you keep the fridge door closed, you can prevent this from happening. Also, regularly wipe the inside of the appliance to remove any condensation.

Set the Thermostat on the Right Level

Ice is certain to build up if your thermostat is set too high. When it’s set high, the refrigerator works extra hard to keep your desired temperature. As a result, condensation happens and as you know by now, ice builds up. Prevent this by setting the thermostat to the correct level, which is around 40F or below.

Refrigerator Ice Buildup Excessive Moisture
Be sure to not overstuff your refrigerator, check the seals, and set the correct temperature to prevent too much ice buildup.

Make Room Inside

As mentioned before, ice buildup occurs when the fridge is overcrowded. And as we also said, making sure there is space between the items inside will help prevent the ice from building up. As such, it is important that you make room inside the fridge, keeping it ice-free and running more efficiently.

Check the Seal

Broken door seals or gaskets also contribute to ice buildup since this means the door doesn’t close properly. Therefore, checking for frost patches or wetness on the gaskets is one way to avoid ice from forming. If there are any patches, cold air might be escaping while warm air gets inside the fridge.

Keep the Fridge Clean

Last but not least, keep the fridge clean. Ensure that you clean off any dirt and debris from the vents, cooling fan, and condenser coils of the refrigerator. In doing this, you can avoid condensation from happening, and thus, no ice builds up that could ruin your appliance.

Ice Buildup in Refrigerator FAQs

Is Ice Buildup Bad for the Fridge?

A layer of ice on the side or rear of the refrigerator is normal. It is a completely normal process involved in keeping the food inside the appliance from spoiling. At the coldest point of temperature, water condenses as a result of the cold air being unable to hold warm water. This means that ice buildup is not necessarily bad for the fridge unless it is too much. In that case, the ice can affect the refrigerator and prevent it from running effectively.

Should I Remove the Ice from my Fridge?

Yes, you should remove ice from the fridge. It’s recommended to do so regularly, at least twice a year. Check frequently and remove any big chunks of ice you see that may have built up at the back of the refrigerator. While removing ice, you should also take the opportunity to give your refrigerator a thorough clean.

How Do I Get Rid of Ice Buildup in the Fridge?

Most modern refrigerators are frost-free, so you shouldn’t be worrying about ice buildup constantly. These appliances don’t need to be defrosted manually. But if you have an old refrigerator or simply want to defrost your new fridge manually, you can do so by following these instructions:
1. Remove food items first, storing them in a cooler environment in the meantime.
2. Turn off the power and remove the shelves or drawers from inside the appliance.
3. Keep the refrigerator door open to further speed up the defrost process.
4. Place a pan or something similar at the bottom of the fridge to hold the water as the ice melts.
5. Once the ice has melted completely, remove the pan and start cleaning the fridge.
6. Make sure to wipe and clean it thoroughly before putting back the drawers and shelves.
7. Plug the refrigerator back and set the thermostat at the right temperature.
8. Check to make sure it’s in the correct temperature and no ice is building.
9. Put back all the food items you removed.

Hire a Local Refrigerator Repair Pro

After you’ve tried the above DIY tricks to investigate, diagnose, and repair your refrigerator that has excessive ice buildup, you can consider contacting a local appliance repair pro using the phone number or form on this page.

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