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Why the Back of Your Fridge Is Hot

Why The Back Of Your Fridge Is Hot

We rely on our refrigerators to keep our food chilly and prevent spoilage.

A broken refrigerator can mean hundreds of dollars in the trash, especially as food gets more expensive. As such, you may be concerned about noticing that the back of your fridge is hot.

Luckily, the back of your fridge being warm is not usually a cause for concern. Instead, it is a sign that your refrigerator is working properly. However, the back or sides of the unit being excessively hot can signal a problem.


The component you likely feel the heat emanating from is the coil, which draws heat out of the air inside the fridge and then expels it out of the back.

If your coil is retaining too much heat, you may:

  • Have insufficient air circulation.
  • A clogged fan.
  • Leaking refrigerant.

Next, we will tell you everything you need to know about what causes the back of your refrigerator to be hot, how a refrigerator works, and when to worry.

Reasons Your Refrigerator Could Be Too Hot

If your refrigerator is very hot to the touch, then you might have a problem. To work properly, the refrigerator relies on fans, a gas known as refrigerant, and enough space around the unit.

1. Lack of Air Circulation

Lack Of Air Circulation

The easier issue to spot and fix is that your refrigerator is not getting proper air circulation. This could be because it is too close to the wall, or something stuck behind it is blocking the exhaust.

Resolving the Issue

  • Ensure all objects are removed from behind the fridge, especially near the bottom.
  • Ensure 4 to 6 inches of clearance between the unit and the wall. This allows hot air to escape.

2. A Clogged Fan

A Clogged Fan

If you have a clear way for air to circulate in the refrigerator, you should consider whether the fan works properly.

The fan provides momentum to propel hot air away from the fridge. You’ll notice a heat buildup if it has become clogged or has a bad motor.

Resolving the Issue

This can usually be resolved in a couple of minutes.

  • While the unit is unplugged, clean off the fan blades with a damp cloth so that it can spin freely.
  • If necessary, lubricate the spinning part of the fan.
  • Plug the unit back in.
  • Test the fan by feeling for a draft with the fridge running.

3. Leaking Refrigerant

Leaking Refrigerant

This is the last option on the list because it is the hardest to fix. Refrigerant is the substance that the coil is filled with, which transports heat from inside to outside the unit.

If the coil is damaged, this substance can leak out and cause the unit to work poorly.

Signs of damage to the coil include:

  • Irregular shape
  • Cracks
  • Wiggle

Resolving the Issue

Unfortunately, this issue is too complex for a layperson to fix. Calling a maintenance specialist or replacing the unit are your only options.

How Hot Is Too Hot?

How Hot Is Too Hot

Some heat near the back of the refrigerator is normal, which begs the question. How hot is too hot?

The back of a working refrigerator should be between room temperature and pleasantly warm (like when you enjoy being next to a campfire).

Any temperature that causes discomfort or burns you is too hot.


This is perfectly normal if your fridge is warm on the back or sides. A refrigerator works by moving heat from the inside of the unit to the outside with a compressor. Therefore, you expect a slightly elevated temperature around the unit.

However, any fridge that is hot enough to burn you is too hot. This is caused by a failure of the unit to disperse the heat it removes from the inside and is usually caused by poor airflow or a damaged coil.

Troubleshooting steps include ensuring enough space around your fridge for air to circulate, cleaning the fan, and inspecting the coil for signs of leaking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is the Inside of My Fridge Hot?

Usually, a fridge that isn’t staying cold is due to the same reasons listed above but has become so severe that the unit has failed. You can also check that the fridge is receiving adequate power and that the seal on the door is airtight.

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