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I feel that my refrigerator is under-performing. I have the thermostat set to the coldest position, waited 24 hours, and with a thermometer it reads 4c on the lowest shelf, and between 8c and 9c at the top shelf.

However, when I checked another fridge, that measured around 4c at the bottom, and 5c at the top.

Do some fridges show bigger temperature differences top to bottom than others, or dies it sound like I have a problem?

So far I have:

  • Checked that the light is not staying on.
  • Checked that the door seal does not have any splits.
  • Checked the condenser coils at the back of the unit - they are very clean.
  • Switched the unit off for a few minutes and then back on in case that resets anything.

The integrated freezer (which is underneath the refrigerator) seems to be working perfectly.

Do I need to call someone out, or is there anything else I could check myself?

  • What's in the fridge? – Joe Phillips Oct 29 '15 at 14:41
  • A variety of foods and drinks. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing hot, and the fridge is not over-full. – Laurence Frost Oct 29 '15 at 15:14
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    Cold air sinks, this is how it is. Most fridges get around this by having the cold air from the freezer enter at the top of the fridge section and drift down. Other fridges have a fan move the air up. Could be a poor design of your fridge or it could be an active section of the fridge is not working. Like the fan to move the air or the damper that lets the cold air in from the freezer. If you can, lookup the service manual. In there should be a trouble shooting guide. See if that gives you any thing to look at. – diceless Oct 29 '15 at 15:28
  • Is the other ("good") fridge a top or bottom freezer? – JPhi1618 Oct 29 '15 at 15:39
  • The good fridge is an American style, so the freezer is actually on the side. – Laurence Frost Oct 29 '15 at 16:06
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Another cause of this temperature difference can be over-filling of the refrigerator. Refrigerators rely on air movement for heat (cold) distribution. If overfilled, this can impede air movement.

  • If the freezer section is packed with food it can also cause problems because the cold air for the fridge is often circulated from the freezer. Once when I was sharing a house with several roommates our freezer got filled Tetris-style with every inch of space occupied. Our fridge got up to like 50 ºF and the freezer actually got even colder (like -20ºF if I recall correctly). – Hank Oct 29 '15 at 19:38
  • Thanks for your reply. The fridge is not over-stocked so airflow should not be an issue. – Laurence Frost Oct 30 '15 at 10:55
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It may be meant to work that way: not every food requires the same temperature.

Meat requires a cold environment, cheese and vegetables prefer higher temperatures.

Since you have the freezer on the bottom and it works well, I would say everything is within expected range.

Maybe try to increase the setting and check what you get. I guess the upper shelf will rise less than the lower one.

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    I seriously doubt that a properly-functioning fridge has temperatures up to 9 ºC (48 ºF) when set to the coldest setting. – Hank Oct 29 '15 at 19:39
  • Thanks for your reply. It's on the coldest setting already. – Laurence Frost Oct 30 '15 at 10:54

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