What Happens If You Overfill A Fridge?

Fridges are meant to be full of food, but just how full should a refrigerator be? Is there no such thing as an overstuffed fridge? Anyone worried about overfilling their refrigerator needs to check out the research we've done on this topic.

You will dampen its air circulation when you overfill your fridge and potentially block air vents. These factors may contribute to earlier food spoilage and poor energy efficiency. To avoid these issues, please keep your fridge about three-quarters full at all times.

If you've ever wondered whether your fridge could get too full, you've got to check out the pointers below. In this post, we'll take a closer look at just how much space your food should take up in this essential appliance.

Different kinds of properly arranged fruits and vegetables inside the fridge, What Happens If You Overfill A Fridge?

What Happens When You Overfill A Fridge?

Experts at the UK's Food Standards Agency warn that overfilling your fridge could cause air circulation and temperature regulation issues. Since there's more stuff blocking the flow of air, it may increase your fridge's internal temperature.

You could also inadvertently block air vents with too much food clogging your fridge. Yet again, this will reduce air circulation, which hampers overall efficiency. 

Different kinds of vegetables and fruits inside the fridge

The Food Standards Scotland division reiterated these findings in a 2019 report on overstuffed refrigerators. According to researchers, food in full fridges have a higher chance of spoiling than non-stuffed fridges. 

Appliance owners should check their refrigerator brand's manual for how much food to put in their unit. You could also call the company directly to figure out how much food to put in your fridge. 

To learn more about why you should avoid overfilling your fridge, be sure to watch this quick video:

Can You Put Too Much Stuff In A Refrigerator?

There is such a thing as "too much" food in a fridge. It is best if you keep your fridge at about three-quarters full at all times. Anything above this may degrade your fridge's performance. 

Is An Over-Full Fridge Less Energy-Efficient? 

A woman looking inside her fridge for food

According to The New York Times, your fridge's fullness isn't the critical factor influencing your energy bill. It's better if your fridge is almost full than nearly empty.  

The benefit of having a moderately full fridge is that food can easily retain and transfer their "coolness." So, any time you open your fridge's door, your food will remain relatively cooler than in a barren environment.

The caveat here is that you have just enough food to improve cold transfer without disrupting the fridge's natural air circulation. 

Besides a fridge's fullness, a few significant factors affect your energy expenditure.

For instance, homeowners should consider where their refrigerator is located in relation to heating appliances like an oven. If possible, your fridge should point away from these devices to avoid taking in extra heat.

It's also imperative to strategically open and close your doors. The longer you hold your refrigerator open, the harder it will work to cool off your food. 

Homeowners should also be wary of any leaks in their fridge's seals. Interestingly, you could check the health of your fridge door's seal with a crisp dollar bill. Follow the instructions in the video below to learn more:

FYI: A few refrigerators have hi-tech screens so you can see what's inside without opening the door. While this technology is new, it may be a viable energy-saving strategy.

You could learn more about which fridges have the "coolest" reputation in our guide to the "Best Refrigerator Brands on the Market." 

How Full Should Your Fridge Be?

Lots of eggs and other vegetables with fruits inside the fridge

Most appliance experts recommend keeping your fridge three-quarters full at all times. This amount of food tends to provide excellent cold transfer without restricting airflow. 

While the "three-quarters rule" works in most cases, figuring out this ideal level will depend on your fridge's size. If you're having trouble figuring out your fridge's capacity, you should check out your unit's official manual. 

Better yet, you could check out our review of the "What is the Average Volume For A Standard Fridge?" for expert tips on storage capacity. 

Do Fridges Work Better When Full?

Fridges work best when they're almost full—the keyword being "almost." Aim to keep your fridge about three-quarters full at all times for peak performance.

Since full-ish fridges contain pre-chilled food, it's easier to keep the internal temperature down each time you open and close the door. However, that's provided there's enough space for air circulation.  

Is It OK To Have An Under-Full Fridge? 

An open and empty fridge

Interestingly, under-filling your fridge could harm your unit's efficiency. Although less food won't pose problems for air circulation, it will make it tougher for your fridge to maintain a cool temp every time you open the doors. 

The more cold food is in your fridge, the more likely the internal temp will remain around 37° F even after you open the door for a few seconds. You just have to ensure there's enough space for proper air circulation. 

If you find you always have too much space, you may want to consider downsizing your fridge. For the max energy efficiency, it's best to have a fridge you'll always keep about 75 percent full. 

Find out more on this Amazon link. 

What Part Of The Fridge Is Coldest?

Gorgeous red and shining yellow lemons in the fridge

Finding the coldest part of your fridge largely depends on its design. For instance, fridges that store ice on the top will have the coolest shelves near these chilly cubes. In all other cases, it's more likely the bottom compartments are the coldest. 

As you may remember from middle school science class, hot air always rises. Therefore, in the majority of cases, you'll find the coldest parts of your fridge at the bottom. 

Please check your fridge's official manual to determine where the extra-cold compartment is. If you're having trouble locating this area, be sure to give the manufacturer a call. 

Of course, you could also use a refrigerator thermometer to test which compartments have the coldest temps. 

Find out more on this Amazon link. 

Is It OK To Overfill Your Freezer? 

Unlike the fridge, it's OK to fill your freezer to the max. Some people recommend keeping ice trays in the freezer if it's not already packed. 

While you shouldn't overfill your fridge, it's safer to pack this unit tighter than your fridge—provided it's not disrupting air circulation. 

A crucial benefit to having a full-packed freezer is that food won't spoil as quickly in a power outage. 

Where Are A Fridge's Air Vents? 

A woman scratching her head because fridge is full

Most refrigerator models have vents connecting the freezer to the main fridge compartment. These vents allow the frigid air from the freezer to circulate through the fridge in a loop back to the freezer section.

Often, you'll find these vents along the top and bottom of your fridge unit. However, there's no set place for these vents, so you should double-check your appliance's manual for specific guidance.

Once you find your fridge's air vents, be extra careful about storing food near them. Even if your fridge isn't over-full, you could dampen airflow by placing items directly in front of these vents.  

To learn more about the basics of fridge airflow, you should watch this brief tutorial. 

Should You Buy Another Fridge For More Space? 

A woman and her child placing Tupperware's filled with vegetables and other fruits inside the fridge

People who constantly complain about overstuffing their fridges may be better off with a bigger fridge model. However, it's best to try and declutter your fridge before opting for another unit.

Yes, a bigger fridge can improve energy efficiency if your fridge is always cluttered. But just because your fridge always seems over-full doesn't mean it's truly overstuffed. 

You may not be using your fridge's space efficiently in many instances. Please check out the popular video below to learn how to maximize your fridge's space:

Consider researching a larger model or an extra mini fridge if you're still having issues with an over-full fridge. Using these appliances will give you extra space, which will ensure your food stays fresher longer. 

Find out more on this Amazon link. 

Please Avoid Overfilling Your Fridge!

Different kinds of properly arranged fruits and vegetables inside the fridge

Having too much food in your fridge isn't great for its longevity or efficiency. The less space air has to travel around your fridge, the more likely you won't enjoy optimal air circulation. This poor circulation could hasten food spoilage and increase energy consumption.

To keep your fridge humming along for the long haul, it's best to keep it about three-quarters full at all times. Following this simple hack will ensure you're getting the most use out of your fridge. 

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