A large refrigerator can bring up to 11 cubic feet of frozen-food storage space to your kitchen. If its freezer is not cold enough for ice cream, that can be a sign that your fridge isn't operating properly. Ice cream is not as dense as other frozen foods, so it thaws readily and acts as an early-warning system before your other foods have a chance to spoil. There are several troubleshooting steps you can take to identify the cause of the problem.
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Proper Appliance Placement
If the ice cream is soft in your freezer, and the freezer itself is in your garage or "man cave," the ambient temperature could cause performance problems for the appliance. Maytag says you should not place a refrigerator in a spot where the temperature will climb above 110 degrees Fahrenheit or fall below 55 degrees. GE sets its low-temperature limit at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Review your appliance's manual for the acceptable range for your refrigerator.
Since temperature extremes aren't usually the issue in your kitchen, ventilation may be the culprit. Check your manual for the amount of recommended clearance the unit should have for air circulation, and ensure that your fridge's position meets this requirement.
Check Your Temperature Settings
If your freezer is not keeping items as cold as you'd like, adjust the temperature control to a lower setting. Up to 24 hours may be required for the freezer to reach the new temperature, so wait awhile before you check your ice cream's firmness again. If you recently added warm or hot food to the freezer, the compartment may need a full 24 hours to stabilize its temperature.
Blocked Freezer Vents
Your freezer may fail to cool properly if the air circulation vents inside the freezer compartment are blocked. If you have difficulty locating the vents in your freezer section, refer to your owner's manual for information. Once you've located them, rearrange the food in your freezer to allow air flow in that area. This is easiest if your fridge's freezer has a rack. If it doesn't, you can purchase freestanding wire racks at any department store. Measure your freezer compartment, and choose one that's of similar width.
Excessive Door Opening
If you open the freezer door repeatedly in a short period of time, considerable amounts of cold air can escape from the appliance, and the freezer's temperature will drop. This can also happen if you fail to shut the door completely or if a food item blocks the door when you try to close it.
You should also check the freezer compartment's seal. Closely inspect the seal along its entire circumference, including opening the fridge door so you can see it from underneath. If it has pulled away from the door at any point, attempt to re-seat it in its track. If it won't, you'll need to replace the seal.
Freezer Not Full
Freezers that don't contain a lot of items may not cool as well as those that are reasonably full. Items in the freezer stay cold and help the freezer maintain a steady temperature. If you don't have enough food to keep the freezer relatively full, freeze some bottles or containers of water to help improve freezer performance.
When to Call a Professional
If you have tried all of these troubleshooting steps and the freezer is still not operating properly, reach out to the manufacturer for further suggestions. If you can't resolve the problem, and especially if your refrigerator's temperature begins to rise, it's time to call in a professional repair person or simply replace the fridge.
Ann Frederick has been a professional writer since 1993. She began her career as a television news producer and then transitioned into public relations, working for local, state and federal government agencies. Her professional awards include a silver ADDY. Frederick holds a Bachelor of Science in communications from Florida State University.