If you’ve noticed water droplets on the walls of fridges, that’s condensation. That happens when water vapour in the air comes into contact with a surface that has a lower temperature than “the dew point” of the surrounding air.
The dew point is the temperature when air becomes saturated and can’t hold any more moisture. When the air is cooled below its dew point, the excess water vapour condenses into liquid water droplets. That’s why you can get more humidity during the summer – the warmer air can carry more moisture.
Having standing water in your fridge can get be unhygienic, but too much condensation might point to wider problems. So, here’s our guide to finding out why your fridge has condensation problems and what to do about them…
Is condensation in the fridge normal?
Yes, a small amount of condensation is a normal part of cooling. As the temperature drops in the fridge freezer, the air can’t hold as much moisture – so you get condensation on the interior walls of the fridge. But once the temperature levels out, condensation should disappear. And any water should be drained away at the bottom of the fridge cavity. It’s only when you get condensation build up and a musty smell that it’s time to do something about it.
Why is there condensation in my fridge?
If you find yourself asking “why is my fridge wet inside?” it might be time to run through our checklist of common reasons for condensation below and you’ll likely find your answer. We’ll also help you find a fix for each issue too.
Fixing condensation problems
Before we get into some specific causes of condensation, here are some quick things you can do that might take care of the problem.
1. Unblock the drainage hole
Pull out your salad drawer and check to see if your drainage hole is blocked. If it is, you’ll likely find water in the bottom of the fridge. If you’re super organised, you might have kept the drain hole unblocker tool that came with your fridge. But if not you can use a cotton bud, drinking straw or anything long and thin. Then it’s just a case of clearing out the blockage – likely to be food or grease. It only takes a few seconds, but may save you a lot of trouble.
2. Check for ice build-up
If you’re finding ice in your fridge, the solution might be very simple – your fridge temperature is set too low. Your fridge temperature should be between 3°C and 5°C. So, it might just be a case of turning your fridge temperature up. Fridges can be set to the wrong temperature by mistake because many have dials from 0-5 – with 5 being the coldest.
Since people often confuse these numbers for temperatures, it can be easy to have your fridge on power number 4, thinking it’s 4°C. In that case, your fridge will be colder than you think it is – thanks to low fridge thermostat settings. Hence the ice build-up.
Common causes of condensation
If you’ve got a clear drainage hole and your temperature setting is just right, then let’s work through the common causes of condensation until we find the solution for your condensation problem.
Dirty and damaged door seals
If you look right round the edge of your door, you’ll notice a rubber seal. If the seal is either damaged or clogged up with something, it won’t keep the cold air in. Your fridge will then have to work harder to keep the air cool – hence more condensation.
To test if your seals are sealing, try closing the door on a sheet of paper. If you can pull it out without a problem, the seal could be too loose and may need replacing. Or there might be an obstruction in the seals (like some grease or food) which you can carefully wipe away. Fridge door issues should be addressed as soon as possible.
High external temperatures
Over summer months, you might find more condensation in your fridge. If the ambient temperature of the room is high, the compressor in the fridge has to run for longer just to keep the fridge at a cool temperature. As a result, you might get more condensation and even ice build-up. You can combat this by making sure that the air temperature of the room it’s in never goes above 30°C.
Water spills and humidity inside the fridge
If there is a water spill or any liquid in the fridge, it will evaporate and add moisture to the air inside. As the fridge cools down to maintain a low temperature, the air will lose its ability to hold moisture. So, make sure to clean up any spills inside the fridge, or you’ll just add to your condensation problem.
Humidity is generally caused as warm, humid air enters from outside every time you open the door. As the air cools, it dumps more water inside your fridge.
Always close the fridge door as quickly as possible after opening it. Leaving the door open allows warm air to enter and increases the possibility of condensation. Some newer fridges (like this LG Instaview) have smaller doors that allow you to get to things you need most often without having to open the entire door and letting the cool air escape each time.
Overloading your fridge
There are two main problems with putting too much food in the fridge. First, your fridge will have to work too hard to keep cool and you might find a build up of ice. Second, your fridge works by having an air flow that helps keep every area of your fridge cool. If your fridge is crammed with food, the cool airflow will be obstructed, the fridge will get more humid and condensation will start to form.
Preventing condensation problems
Here are some top tips from preventing condensation from happening:
Keep your fridge clean – being sure to clean up spills, wipe seals and make sure the drainage hole is clear.
Keep your fridge in a cool room (make sure the temperature doesn’t get over 30°C) and keep your fridge door closed as much as possible.
Put fruit, veg and salad in the crisper drawers and leftovers in sealed tubs. This will stop moisture escaping from food and causing condensation.
Make sure food is at room temperature or lower before putting it in the fridge.
If your fridge isn't level, water won't flow to the drain correctly. Raise the front floor screws by a couple of turns to change the level of your fridge.
If your fridge has seen better days and you’re thinking about a replacement, why not check out our Refrigerator buying guide?