10 Reasons Why Your Outdoor Fridge Is Not Cooling (And How To Fix It)

If you have your outdoor fridge plugged in and it's not cooling, there are 10 most common reasons why. Some involve solutions that you can fix yourself while others will take an expert to solve.

It is not uncommon for people to have refrigerators outdoors. Some people love having the extra storage space they offer when keeping one in the garage and others may place one in the barn, enjoying the convenience of not having to run out for lunch or grab a quick drink. Unfortunately, keeping your refrigerator outside can cause a whole slew of troubles. 

Luckily, most of the problems you run into with a refrigerator not getting cold can be corrected with simple DIY solutions. Keep reading this article for help figuring out why your outdoor fridge is not cooling down and the tips and tricks you need in order to fix it.

Why Isn’t My Outdoor Fridge Getting Cool? 

While it is possible that your refrigerator isn’t working because you need a new one. There are also a lot of reasons that can be fixed with a few simple steps. Here is a list of 10 reasons your fridge may have stopped cooling things down and what you can do to fix it.

Temperature Control is Not Set Correctly

Often you will find that the reason your fridge is not keeping your food cool enough is that it isn’t set to a cold enough temperature. 

The temperature can be changed on purpose or by accident. If someone (like your kids) has access to it, they can easily mess with the thermostat in your refrigerator. However, it is most likely it is done totally by accident when a milk carton or some other food item pushes against it.

How to fix it:

To solve the problem, you simply have to reset the thermostat back to the proper settings. The rule of thumb is to have your temp set at around 40°F for optimal performance. 

Remember, this is not going to solve the issue right away as it does take time for the temperature to drop; you may need to wait overnight before seeing any serious results.

Icy Evaporator Coil

Over time, ice will build up over the evaporator coils (which is what produces the cold air) and fan, producing an insulation effect and causing the coils to stop cooling the inside of the fridge. While you still may get some cooling action, the results won’t nearly be enough to be fully effective.

How to fix it:

You can correct this situation in one of two ways. You can manually thaw the ice off of the coils and fan, or you can choose to set your refrigerator on automatic defrost. (which some older models may not have.)

Dirty Condenser Coils

The condenser coils are essential for keeping your refrigerator running correctly, and it is what keeps the cold air flowing through. If these coils get covered up in dirt and debris, it will halt the process, and your refrigerator will stop keeping things cold.

A dirty condenser coil of a refrigerator.
If these coils get covered up in dirt and debris, it will halt the process.

How to fix it:

This can actually be a pretty quick fix, only requiring the use of a shop vac and a few minutes of your time. Simply pull the refrigerator away from the wall and carefully suck up all of the built-up cobwebs and dust that has been collecting over the years. 

Dirty or Broken Door Seals

There are magnetic seals that line the perimeter of your refrigerator and freezer doors in order to keep them tightly sealed and locked in the air. If the seal is dirty or damaged, air can begin seeping out, not allowing your refrigerator to get as cool as it should.

How to fix it:

If the seal is just dirty with caked-up food and grime, use a sponge or washcloth and gently clean the entire magnetic seal on the door and the portion of the refrigerator where the seal connects. If the magnetic strip is broken, you can purchase a new gasket and replace it, creating a better seal. 

5. Not Enough Refrigerant

The refrigerant is a vital part of your refrigerator and is key to keeping things cold. It cycles through multiple processes going from a liquid to gas, absorbing heat, and cooling the inside of the refrigerator down.

The only way you could be lacking refrigerant is if there is a leak somewhere. If you feel this could be your problem, it is critical you locate the problem immediately, as this component can be toxic.

How to fix it:

If your temperature problem is a direct issue of a refrigerant leak, you first need to seal the coil and repair the area where the leak is coming from. Next, you can purchase refrigerant and closely follow the instructions to refill your fridge.

While it is possible to correct the issue yourself, it may be a good idea to call in the professionals for this one.

6. Not Enough Food Stock

There is a lot of work done by your refrigerator to keep the entire box cold. It is much easier for the fridge to do its job when there are a lot of items inside requiring less work as the food takes up a lot more room.

A woman looking at her empty refrigerator.
It is much easier for the fridge to do its job when there are a lot of items inside.

How to fix it:

You can solve this problem by adding more things to the refrigerator. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the store and stock up on a bunch of things you do not need or will not use. You can get storage containers and refrigerator fresheners that can help fill up some empty space.

7. Issues With the Condenser Fan

If the condenser fan is not working properly or at all, then there is no way for the refrigerator to function as it should. The condenser fan is a crucial part of the condenser itself, so if the fan is dirty or stuck, your fridge will stop working. 

How to fix it:

A lot of times, the condenser fan will stop working if the motor becomes clogged up with dust and dirt. You can quickly check this yourself by manually spinning the blades to see if you can loosen them up. 

If gunk isn’t the issue, then the condenser fan may need to be replaced. There are many videos online that can help you do this, or you could call in the pros.

8. Electric Isn’t Powerful Enough

If the power supplies leading to the outdoor fridge aren’t powerful enough, you may not be getting the best performance out of your appliance.  Refrigerators require a lot of power to run properly, and if the electricity isn’t strong enough, the fridge will not be able to cool things down.

An electric buld supplied with low electricity.
It requires a lot of power to run properly.

How to fix it:

Make sure your refrigerator is located in an area that has a good connection to a powerful outlet. You also want to check that the plug fits into the outlet perfectly and that there is nothing wrong with the outlet itself. 

9. Your Fridge is Uneven or too Confined

In order for your refrigerator to run at maximum performance, it needs to be totally even in the location it is sitting. It also needs space on both sides, and the back cannot be pushed up against the wall.

If your outdoor refrigerator is on an unlevel flooring or it does not have enough space to “breathe,” it will never be able to reach peak performance.

How to fix it:

If there are no flat surfaces outside where your refrigerator is located, then purchase a piece of plywood and make a level area you can put the fridge. Also, be sure the refrigerator has room on both sides and that the back is at least a few inches away from the wall.

10. It’s Too Cold to Cool Your Fridge (Or Too Hot)

One of the biggest reasons outdoor refrigerators tend to stop working is because the air outside is colder than the air inside. Your refrigerator relies on warmer air in order to create cooler air inside the box. If it is too cold outside, the fridge will stop working.

On the other hand, if it gets too hot, like 105°F or hotter, your refrigerator is going to have to put in overtime in order to keep your items cold. 

How to fix it:

There are a few different ways you can protect your refrigerator from the cold weather while still keeping it outside. You can add insulation to the walls of the fridge, place it near a window or in direct sunlight, and protect it from all the elements, mainly rain, and snow. 

To keep your fridge safe during critically hot days, keep your fridge OUT of direct sunlight, place it in a space that will provide proper shade and air circulation, and try to avoid opening the fridge door frequently. Once the food is already cold, it is easy to keep it cold. Only once it starts to warm up inside the box does the appliance have to work hard to do its job.

When To Call in The Professionals

Although it is preferable to be able to fix refrigerators ourselves, sometimes calling in the professionals isn’t going to be an option. Working on appliances can be a tricky job and even dangerous when you don’t know exactly what you are doing.

A professional fixing the refrigerator.
It is also a good idea to get the assistance of a pro if there is trouble.

If the problem is related to a broken fan motor, the compressor needs to be replaced, or the thermostat isn’t working, a pro is the best way to go. They have the experience, education, and tool to diagnose these issues properly and fix them without causing further complications.

As previously mentioned above, it is also a good idea to get the assistance of a pro if there is trouble with refrigerant leaks or broken coils. 

Lastly, if you looked into everything listed above and none of them seemed to do the trick, a professional may be required in order to identify the problem. 

Pros and Cons Of Keeping an Outdoor Refrigerator

There are many great reasons for keeping a refrigerator outdoors, and there is nothing wrong with it as long as you are doing it right. However, sometimes these things can become a lot more trouble than they are worth.

Here are some of the pros and cons of having an outdoor fridge.

Pros of Having an Outdoor Fridge

Many people enjoy having outdoor refrigerators because they make for extra storage space, especially for bigger families. Sometimes you need more items every week than what you can pack into a fridge, usually resulting in frequent inconvenient trips to the store. 

To solve this issue, families will purchase a second refrigerator and place it in the garage to store more items and reduce grocery shopping.

A person opening a refrigerator.
If you have an outdoor kitchen and enjoy hosting BBQs and other backyard get-togethers.

Another bonus to having an outdoor fridge is using it for soda and beer storage. Having a fridge specifically for drinks is ideal for anyone with a workspace or “man cave” in the garage. 

These fridges are also fantastic to have if you have an outdoor kitchen and enjoy hosting BBQs and other backyard get-togethers. Having an outdoor refrigerator will be great for these events providing a cold area for beverages and also keeping side dishes and condiments cool.

Cons of Having an Outdoor Fridge

Most refrigerators are not well equipped for extreme temperatures in either direction on the thermometer. If it becomes too hot or too cold, your fridge isn’t going to be able to function properly. This usually means added expenses to find a solution for temperature control.

Another issue you may face with outdoor refrigerators is the extra dirt, dust, and debris floating around in the air, creating a lot of problems in all of the working parts. With extra natural elements, things can get stuck in the coils, clog the fans, destroy the gaskets, etc.

Summing Things Up

Having an outdoor refrigerator can be beneficial to many homes, however, it is crucial to keep them stored safely to avoid serious complications. Hopefully, if your refrigerator isn’t cooling items properly, one of our suggestions above will do the trick.

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