Why is My Refrigerator Temperature at 50 Degrees? How To Fix?

Refrigerator temperature at 50 degrees is a serious threat to food safety. Explore what's causing the high temperature and how to fix the issues in our article.

Our refrigerators preserve our foods and beverages, but they can only do so under optimal temperature settings. 

Refrigerator temperature at 50 degrees is a cause for serious concern. Common reasons include- blocked air vents, damaged condenser coils and fan, incorrect temperature settings, defective thermostat, dirty back unit, faulty compressor, etc. – the possibilities are endless.

There’s no way you can identify and troubleshoot possible causes all by yourself. You definitely need our help! So, keep scrolling below to explore what happens if fridge is at 50 degrees and what steps you can take to resolve it.

Why is My Refrigerator Temperature at 50 Degrees? How To Fix?

Why is My Refrigerator Temperature at 50 Degrees? Causes & Solutions

In order to figure out why is your fridge only 50 degrees, you need to access the back cooling unit of your fridge and examine the crucial components such as the condenser coils, evaporator fan, thermistor, air vents, temperature thermostat, control board etc. 

Let’s begin diagnosing them one by one:

Assess Thermostat Setting: It’s a good idea to check the thermostat setting first before anything else. It’s possible that it has been accidentally adjusted to a higher temperature.

Make sure it’s set to the recommended temperature of around 37- 40 degrees Fahrenheit (2-4 degrees Celsius) for the refrigerator compartment. If there’s no improvement even after you’ve adjusted the temperature settings, perhaps the thermostat is defective and needs repairing.
Check Condenser Coils: Dust and debris can accumulate on the condenser coils, especially if you don’t clean up regularly. Often, rodents, insects and bugs infest these coils and hinder heat exchange. This can cause the refrigerator to overwork and fail to maintain the desired cold temperature. 

Therefore, clean the coils regularly to ensure proper ventilation. Use bug sprays, insecticides or simply a vacuum cleaner for efficient cleaning.
Examine The Vents: Check for obstructions in the air vents inside the refrigerator and freezer compartments. These vents can often be obstructed with frost buildup or simply dust and debris. Blocked vents can disrupt airflow and lead to uneven cooling. Cleaning air vents therefore is crucial.

You should also rearrange food items to allow proper air circulation. Keep food containers at least 2 inches away from the vents to ensure proper airflow. Never overload your fridge as it restricts warm air and moisture to go out.

Now, how will you understand if your vents are blocked? Stick your hand behind the refrigerator for a minute. Do you feel cool air blowing? If you feel little-to-no airflow, it’s likely that the vents are blocked.
Search For Refrigerant Leak: Exposure to moisture and certain chemicals can cause corrosion on the refrigerant lines, leading to leaks. Manufacturing defects, physical damage and poor maintenance can also lead to leakage.

A refrigerant leak can cause a drop in cooling efficiency. If you suspect this issue, it’s essential to call a professional technician to locate and repair the leak.
Check Refrigerator Compressor: Yes, your refrigerator could also be at 50 degrees because of an overworking or faulty compressor that’s causing overheating and cooling issues.

If you hear the refrigerator compressor making weird noises, running constantly or turning off and on more frequently than usual, you might need to replace it. But before replacing it, you could also try resetting your fridge compressor to see if it performs better.
Check Evaporator Fan: Check whether there’s too much frost build up on your evaporator coils, or the fan above the coils isn’t running. If it’s dirty, clean the fan. If it’s defective, call a repairman. If the fan motor is frosty, try to scrape the frost off using a non-sharp object or use a hair dryer to thaw the ice buildup.
Examine Door Seals: The fridge door gasket could be damaged due to mold and mildew, dirt and debris, strong chemical cleaners, misalignment etc. Worn out door seals can result in cold air escaping from the refrigerator. Here’s how you can inspect the seals. 

1. Open the fridge door.
2. Take a dollar note and hold it in place where the door gasket and refrigerator meet. 
3. Now, close the door.
4. Pull out the dollar without opening the door.
5. If you feel resistance when removing the dollar, that indicates the seal is still working. However, if the note slips out easily, you should perhaps replace the door gaskets.
Reduce Overloading: This is a very common scenario especially in big households where lots of foods are cooked everyday and stuffed in a regular-size refrigerator. Remember, overloading your refrigerator can impede airflow and cause temperature to go higher. Remove any excess items or clutter to allow for better air circulation.
Go For a Reset: Yes, resetting your refrigerator will ‘reset’ all saved temperature settings so you’ll get to set the temperature correctly from the beginning.

Moreover, if your fridge was at 50° degrees due to some technical glitches or software-related issues, resetting will resolve those as well. Some refrigerator models feature a dedicated reset button. If yours doesn’t, simply unplug the appliance, wait for 10 minutes and then plug it back in.
Ensure Proper Ventilation: Shift your fridge location if it’s too close to nearby walls and cabinets for better airflow. If it’s in direct exposure to the sun or too near to the stove or oven, all of these factors can cause your fridge not to cool properly and the temperature inside keeps rising.

Usually, manufacturers recommend at least 1 inch of clearance behind and above a unit, and ½ inch to each side.
Ensure the Refrigerator is Level: If the appliance is not leveled and leaning in the wrong direction, its doors may not seal tightly enough to keep cold air in, causing higher temperatures inside.

You should adjust the front legs of your refrigerator with an Allen wrench or adjustable pliers. If the floor underneath is uneven, you may use wooden blocks or Styrofoam to adjust accordingly.
Seek Professional Help: Even after following everything we have suggested above, if your refrigerator continues to be at 50 degrees, it’s advisable to call a professional technician for a more sophisticated in-depth diagnosis and troubleshooting.

How Long Can a Fridge Be at 50 Degrees? 

If your refrigerator temp has been at 50 degrees or more for a long time, you could be wondering how long can food be kept at 50 degrees. More importantly, is food safe at 50 degrees? Can you still eat that food?

Well, it really depends on what type of food it is and its expiry date. While some foods can tolerate temperatures slightly above the recommended range for short periods, it’s generally not advisable to keep your refrigerator at 50 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended time.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises to throw away food that was left in room temperature for longer than 2 hours because bacteria grow between 50°F and 140°F, doubling in amount every 20 minutes. 

When the temperature inside the fridge rises to 50° Fahrenheit (10°C) or above, it enters the temperature danger zone, potentially leading to food spoilage and foodborne illnesses such as salmonellosis and food poisoning.

While food safety guidelines can vary by region and specific food items, it’s generally recommended not to leave perishable foods at temperatures above 40°F for more than 2 hours. 

Foods stored at 50°F may stay good for 24 hours if half-filled or even up to 48 hours if the food was completely frozen. The more cold the food was when you initially put it inside the fridge, the longer it will stay cold and fresh.

If your refrigerator has been consistently above 50°F for an extended period (several hours or more), check the condition of the food stored inside and throw away if necessary.

How Long Can a Fridge Be at 50 Degrees? 

Here’s a list of perishable items that should be discarded immediately if they have been at this high temperature for an extended time, as they may no longer be safe to consume: 

  • Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese)
  • Fresh fruits (berries, bananas, apples)
  • Fresh vegetables (lettuce, spinach, tomatoes)
  • Meat and poultry (chicken, beef, pork)
  • Seafood (fish, shrimp, scallops)
  • Eggs
  • Deli meats and prepared salads
  • Leftover cooked food
  • Homemade sauces and dressings
  • Fresh herbs

Likewise, certain food items may survive at temperatures around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) without immediate spoilage. Here’s a list of some less-perishable items:

  • Canned goods (canned vegetables, fruits, soups)
  • Dried pasta
  • Rice
  • Processed Bread (for a short period)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Vinegar
  • Processed condiments (ketchup, mustard, hot sauce)
  • Unripe fruits (avocados, bananas)

Keep in mind that while these items may not spoil quickly at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they still have optimal storage conditions for taste, quality, and safety.

At What Temperature Does Food Spoil in The Freezer? 

If you own a fridge-freezer and the refrigerator is operating at 50°F (10 degrees Celsius), it’s likely that the freezer section is also experiencing higher temperatures than it should. Most fridge-freezer units share a common cooling system, which means that the temperature in the freezer is influenced by the temperature in the refrigerator section.

The ideal temperature for the freezer section is between 0°C and – 1°C. When the temperature gradually starts to get higher than this, your frozen foods will start to thaw more quickly, the quality, texture, color and flavor of the foods will start to deteriorate.

Moreover, in extreme cases, when the freezer temperature reaches 4°C and keeps rising above, bacteria will grow rapidly and perishables such as – raw fish, seafood, poultry and meat will be spoiled. Eating such foods may cause foodborne illnesses and food poisoning.

How to Prevent Foodborne Illnesses in a 50 Degree Refrigerator?

If you want some exclusive tips and tricks on how to preserve your foods at such a high temperature for as long as possible and reduce spoiling chances, you’re at the right place. Follow these tips: 

Tip #1: Don’t overload your fridge, as crowded shelves can hinder airflow and temperature regulation. 
Tip #2: Since bacteria is more likely to grow inside your fridge at 50 degrees, clean and sanitize the internal spaces regularly. 
Tip #3: Try to eat up or make use of the leftover foods within 2-3 hours. Storing home cooked meals and perishable items longer than that at 50 degrees may be unsafe to consume. 
Tip #4: Consider using a cooler with ice packs or gel packs to lower the temperature and preserve foods.
Tip #5: Use airtight containers, plastic wrap, or resealable bags to seal foods. This way you can prevent dead animal odors and potential contamination through bacterial growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have got some more questions regarding your refrigerator temperature? Perhaps we have answered the queries hovering in your mind below. Feel free to take a look:

What is The Danger Zone in Fridge?

In the refrigerator, the Danger Zone typically falls between 40° Fahrenheit (4° Celsius) and 140° Fahrenheit (60° Celsius).

Can I Use a Thermometer to Check My Refrigerator’s Temperature?

Yes, using a refrigerator thermometer is an easy way to monitor the temperature inside your fridge and ensure it stays within the safe range.

How Often Should I Clean the Condenser Coils?

Aim to clean the condenser coils at least once every six months or more frequently if you have pets or notice significant dust buildup.

How to Test a Refrigerator Thermostat?

Take a glass of water and put a thermometer in it. Keep the glass in the middle rack of the fridge. Wait 5-6 hours before measuring to see what temperature the thermostat is set to.

Can You Check Fridge Temperature Without Thermometer?

Yes, you can. Put a glass or bottle of water in the fridge After 5 hours, take it out of the fridge and have a look at the container. Keep an eye out for condensation, as the faster it appears on the surface, the colder the temperature is.

Final Thoughts 

We understand how frightening it is to see the refrigerator temperature at 50 degrees. But instead of panicking, you can be brave and take the matter into your own hands.

By following the steps outlined above, you can identify and resolve the issues, ensuring that your refrigerator functions optimally and your food stays fresh and safe to eat. If in doubt, you can always consult a professional technician for a thorough inspection and repair.