My refrigerator runs way too much - is this because it doesn't seem to be level? It doesn't seem to be any other reason.

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  • Are there any other symptoms: frost on the inside; freezer or main compartment too warm; temperature setting not making an impact; freezer or main compartment too cold? – mhoran_psprep Feb 7 '12 at 11:10

A fridge motor is controlled by a thermostat - a device that reacts to temperature inside the fridge. So fridge motor starts/stops are completely agnostic to whether the fridge is level, the only practical consequence of fridge being non-level is extra noise.

The most likely reason for fridge motor running too often are the following:

  1. loose gasket around the door - as the fridge gets older the gasket loses shape and no longer seals the interior letting cold air out and warm air in. This is addressed by replacing the gasket.
  2. users putting hot stuff in - the fridge has to run for a long time to cool down a glass of hot water or a hot pan, only room-temperature or colder stuff should be put into the fridge to avoid that
  3. users opening the door too often
  • 1
    regarding hot stuff in fridge: From a food-safety standpoint, food shouldn't spend more than two hours total between 40–140°F. When avoiding putting hot stuff in the fridge, keep this in mind. (As long as the air in the fridge stays below 40°F with the hot stuff in it, its safer to put the 140°F food straight into the fridge than to let it first cool to room temperature on the counter). Search Seasoned Advice/Cooking.SE for details. – derobert Feb 9 '12 at 19:40
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    @derobert: From my experience if the pan is closed with a tight lid it can cool safely to room temperature - no bacteria will get onto food. The typical scenario for me is the following: I fry something about 10PM, close it and leave it till next morning, then put into the fridge and it stays there for a week without any intent to go bad. – sharptooth Feb 10 '12 at 8:50
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    First off, "no bacteria" is a pretty amazing claim; I assume you didn't actually send it to a lab to test that. Instead—you've observed that you didn't get sick. And indeed, if there is only a 1 in 1000 chance of it, even if you did it every day, you'd probably not notice (who'd notice one additional stomach bug every few years?). But 1 in 1000 is 300,000 cases per day in the US—and remember, a small percentage of people do die from food poisoning. – derobert Feb 10 '12 at 9:33
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    @derobert: Okay, then "food safety" is an amaizing claim as well - one can't guarantee that with all precautions no evil bacteria get inside human body. It's all about balance - and from my experience more or less healthy people have no problem with the scenario I described - just fry it thoroughly. – sharptooth Feb 10 '12 at 9:53

Some additional reasons a fridge may be running too much, beyond what sharptooth posted::

  • Thermostat may be set very low: check recommended temperature level for the kinds of food you want to store.
  • Thermostat or temperature sensor may be damaged or in need of maintenance.

Also, I know it's recommended for a fridge to have a certain amount if clearance behind, around, and underneath. If it is too close to the back wall or there is a bunch of junk under/around it preventing proper circulation, it can adversely affect it. I am not sure if this will cause it to run more, or just be less efficient.

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    +1, yet if there was a problem with thermostat or its sensor the most likely side effect would be overcooling stuff - up to freezing sometimes. – sharptooth Feb 8 '12 at 6:43

If it's an old refrigerator, the sealed unit could be leaking refrigerant. In this case, it's probably time to buy a new refrigerator.


According to this info some low energy designs rely on long run times. I suggest to check the actual power usage of the device during a couple of days.


  • This is a very useful link, but could you integrate this information into your answer, and provide guesses about if it being level matters? – Pigrew Sep 11 '13 at 3:24

If you've noticed a change in performance, the coil is dirty; you've got to clean it. At the very least it's time to take the faceplate off the bottom and give it a wipe. Check the back side too, which is also guaranteed to be covered in fuzz.


To answer the other part of the question: Being absolutely level is not required. If it's more than a few degres you might want to check with the manufacturer to get actual specs for this model, but the designers are very aware that nothing in a house is perfectly square or level after a few decades.

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