How Long Does It Take For A Fridge To Cool? (Find Out Now!)

Kirstin Harrington
by Kirstin Harrington

Commonly used appliances like refrigerators can last several years before needing to be replaced. Eventually, the day will come where you’ll need to purchase a new fridge. Did you know you shouldn’t immediately put food in a new refrigerator?

It takes 3-24 hours for a fridge to cool down to a safe level. The FDA states that it takes 12 hours for a fridge to cool your food to a level that is safe to consume. Set your fridge temperature to 37 degrees Fahrenheit to cool it quickly and to the safest temperature.

Putting food in your newly bought fridge too early can cause bacteria to grow. Today we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about doing it right. Plus, I’ve added a handful of popular fridge problems that you may be facing as well.

Why Isn’t My Fridge Getting Cold?

It can be really frustrating when you notice your fridge isn’t getting cold. You likely have hundreds of dollars of food in there, or you just spent a pretty penny on the fridge itself. Here are the main causes behind what’s stopping it from reaching a low enough temperature.

The Door Isn’t Closed

I know what you’re thinking, “I’m sure I closed the door!” I’ve been there myself, and guess what, you did close it! One of the main reasons a fridge isn’t reaching the proper temperature is because the door wasn’t shut properly.

Whenever you take something out of the fridge, double-check that the door not only shuts but is sealed closed. I like to go as far as giving it a little push after I close it to ensure that it’s not open. When the door is left open, even the slightest amount, the refrigeration process can’t begin.

If you find that the fridge door isn’t sealing, you have another issue on your hands. Maybe the sealing strips need to be cleaned or replaced. You can have a professional come in and take a look to diagnose the issue.

The Refrigerator is Unplugged

Another popular reason why your fridge is getting warm inside is that it isn’t plugged in. This might seem like common sense, but refrigerators do come unplugged from time to time. One easy way to check this without pulling the entire appliance out is to check if the lights come on when the door is opened.

If they don’t, it’s likely a power problem that’s causing all the issues. Wiggle the fridge out gently and check to see if the cord is plugged in. If it is, look for fraying or possible chew marks from mice or rats.

Thermostat Troubles

If the thermostat is turned way down, your refrigerator might not cool itself down. It’s important to keep a close watch on the thermostat to make sure it’s at the proper temperature. When the air in the fridge is too warm, that’s where the thermostat comes into play.

It will start the refrigeration process until the inside air reaches the proper temperature. It’s never a bad idea to ensure that the thermostat is working correctly.

Poor Air Circulation

The last reason you might be facing a warm fridge is poor air circulation. If the air isn’t circulating properly, the thermostat can’t tell the condenser that it’s cool downtime. Check to see if the air vents are blocked by anything.

We can easily disrupt the air circulation without even knowing it. If you have things like cereal boxes or baking sheets on top of your fridge, they could be blocking the air vents. Keeping these clear is the best way to ensure the best air circulation possible.

How Long Does It Take For a Fridge to Cool?

Once you buy a new fridge, it’s crucial to get it to the proper temperature before putting any food inside. If you do it too early, you’ll possibly have to throw out all of your groceries. In general, a new fridge can take anywhere between three and 24 hours to reach the right temp.

It’s suggested that the inside of a refrigerator should be between 37 and 40 degrees. The freezer should fall between zero and five degrees for food storage. Lastly, don’t overpack your fridge or freezer, as this can affect the temperature and cause food to go bad.

How Long Should A Fridge Run When First Plugged In?

When you first plug your new fridge in, you might wonder how long it has to run. The compressor runs the majority of the time the appliance is plugged in. When it’s first put to use, you’ll find that it’s running 80% to 90% of the time.

This is thanks to the compressor cycling and consuming a lot of energy. You can expect everything to settle down around three hours after plugging it in. Make sure you don’t put food in until at least the four-hour mark.

Troubleshooting Common Fridge Issues

There are a handful of issues you might run into with your refrigerator. In the event that you face or are facing any other problems, I wanted to cover the most popular ones for you. Let’s take a look at the annoying issues fridges give us.

The Freezer Isn’t Getting Cold Enough

If your freezer isn’t reaching a low enough temperature, you’ll run into problems fast. All of your perishable food will quickly become spoiled or go stale. The first thing you’ll want to do is to check the temperature settings to see if something is in the wrong place.

If you can’t hear any sound coming from the evaporator fan, there’s a sign something is wrong. When the fan is working well, but there’s still an issue, take a look at the compressor. It may need to get cleared out in order for the freezer to cool down enough.

Water is Leaking Out

One of the worst things homeowners can face is water leaks. Whether they’re in the bathroom, the roof, of the kitchen, they’re a pain. If you find water near the floor of your refrigerator, there are some things you can do.

The first thing you’ll want to look at is the defrost drain. It could be blocked, and if it is, water will leak. You’ll be able to find it on the back wall of the freezer, and it can be cleaned using warm water.

The defrost tube can easily get clogged with ice, which causes it to leak. If flushing it with warm water doesn’t help, you’ll have to remove it or call a professional.

The Fridge is Freezing Your Food

It can be frustrating when your fridge is freezing food. The obvious thing to do is to check the thermostat to make sure it wasn’t switched to a colder temperature. Another culprit could be the gasket on the door.

Make sure it’s properly sealed and that the air damper isn’t malfunctioning. One of the stranger things that can cause food to freeze in the fridge is if there isn’t enough. Putting a decent amount of food in the fridge helps regulate the temperature.

The Interior Lights Aren’t Working

A refrigerator is no good if the lights aren’t working. While the lights don’t actually make the fridge function properly, it can be hard to see what’s available in the evening hours. It’s a good idea to unplug your fridge and replace the light bulb if you notice it’s out.

Freezer is Cold, But Fridge is Warm

If you notice that your freezer is working fine, but your fridge is warm, there are a few things that could be the culprit. Be sure to check the evaporator coils and the fan to ensure they’re working properly. Take a look at the thermostat and temperature dials to see if they’ve been adjusted.

Cost of a New Fridge

Refrigerator prices can vary a lot depending on what you’re wanting. There are plain old units that have two side by side doors or ones with the freezer on top or bottom of the appliance. You can even shell out a bunch of money for a smart fridge.

Here’s what you can expect to pay for the average price at the most popular big-name stores.

Fridge Style Best BuyHome DepotLowes
Smart fridge$2,400$1,500$2,400
Horizontal split $500$600$800

Related Questions

Will an empty fridge get cold?

Yes, an empty fridge will get cold. In fact, they can get colder than ones that are full. A new refrigerator needs to be empty in order to reach the proper temperature. What you can do to prevent the fridge from getting too cold when you first get it is to place a few jugs of water inside. This keeps the cooling mechanism from going into overdrive. 

Is it bad to run an empty fridge?

While empty refrigerators are less efficient, you still need to keep it relatively empty at first. They don’t take too long to get to the right temperature, and you’ll be able to put food inside in no time. Don’t leave it empty for longer than 24 hours because it can negatively affect the compressor. 

How many hours a day should a refrigerator run?

It can vary quite a bit from one fridge to another, but on average, it will run for around eight hours each day. Some refrigerators are more eco-friendly and have ways to have a shorter run time. This can save you money on your electric bill in the long run.

Kirstin Harrington
Kirstin Harrington

Kirstin is a passionate writer who loves helping people learn new things when it comes to home improvement. When she's not behind a keyboard, she enjoys DIY projects, crafts, spending time with her pets, and making videos. She hopes that with all she writes, someone is finding a solution to their home improvement needs.

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