Your Refrigerator, Temperature, and How to Keep Your Family Safe

Does your refrigerator maintain the correct temperature? If not, you could put yourself or your family at risk. Take a look at what refrigerator temperature has to do with your health and what you can do if the interior environment isn’t constant.

How Can Your Refrigerator Affect Your Health?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. Most notably, a fridge that doesn’t cool well can cause food or medication in the appliance to spoil. A warm refrigerator or a fridge that cycles between warm and cold settings due to damage or wear and tear can:

  • Allow bacteria to grow. An overgrowth of bacteria can lead to food-borne diseases. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USAD), bacteria can grow rapidly in temperatures over 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Some bacteria may even double their numbers within only 20 minutes.
  • Make medications unsafe to use. Insulin and some other life-saving medications require cold storage. Temperature fluctuations can leave these prescriptions ineffective.
  • Promote mold growth. The warm, moist environment of a refrigerator on the fritz is an ideal space for mold growth.

Not only can an excessively warm fridge cause problems, but a too-cold appliance can also damage food and ruin medications. If you have concerns about your refrigerator’s temperature, read on for more information on this essential kitchen appliance.

How Do You Know If Your Refrigerator Cools Properly?

It shouldn’t take a food-borne illness to make you realize your fridge isn’t cooling properly. Before you wait for perishable items to become unsafe:

  • Feel the temperature. If the fridge feels warm or your food doesn’t feel cool to the touch, you need to call an appliance repair professional as soon as possible.
  • Smell the food. Even though the smell of spoilage is a late warning sign, it’s something you shouldn’t ignore.
  • Take the air temperature. Use a refrigerator thermometer to take the indoor air temperature. The refrigerator should stay below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Listen to the appliance. Does your refrigerator run constantly? If you hear the hum or buzz of the fridge 24/7, the appliance is working overtime to cool the interior space. This type of issue requires professional diagnosis and repair.

If you’re not sure whether the temperature is consistently cold or not, there are a few different methods you can use to test it. For instance, you can use a smart thermometer that alerts an app on your phone when the interior temperature rises or dips, or you can contact an appliance services contractor to test the temperature.

What Can You Do about a Refrigerator That Doesn’t Cool Properly?

When you know that your refrigerator doesn’t cool properly, you must quickly remedy the problem. Again, you don’t want to wait until you (or someone in your family) get sick to call the appliance service technician.

Whether the fridge feels warm, the food feels warm, your interior thermometer reads above 40 degrees, or the appliance won’t shut off, you need to:

  • Call a qualified service technician. Do not attempt a DIY appliance fix. Refrigerators are complex machines and require the expertise and experience of a professional. Not only can do-it-yourself fixes cause additional damage, but also they may pose safety risks.
  • Remove the food. Take everything out of the refrigerator. Again, unrefrigerated perishables could harbor dangerous bacteria. If the food isn’t cool or is in an appliance that cycles between cool and warm temperatures, do not eat it and throw it out immediately.
  • Find alternative storage measures. If you can’t schedule an immediate service call, place all new foods and medications in a cooler.

The repair technician can determine the problem and recommend a solution. If the damage or wear and tear are extensive, you may want to consider a replacement.

Does your refrigerator need repairs? Contact Capital City Appliance for more information.

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