Why Does Refrigerator Run Every 20 Minutes? (And How To Fix It!)

It’s common for a refrigerator to cycle on and off during the day.

This occurs for several reasons to ensure the fridge is cooling the food and maintaining a steady temperature.

However, there are situations where the refrigerator might start overdoing it. This includes when a refrigerator runs every 20 minutes.

A refrigerator might run every 20 minutes due to a malfunctioning thermometer, broken seal, or restricted space around the appliance. Anytime the fridge feels a drop in temperature, it will go through its cycle. The best solution is to adjust the fridge’s positioning, test its seal, and re-install the thermometer.

It’s also important to note, some newer fridges have temperature settings that need to be adjusted. This can be a reason why the fridge runs every 20 minutes or so.

How often should a refrigerator cycle on and off?

A refrigerator should cycle on and off every 30-40 minutes. This can go up if there are limited items inside the appliance as that reduces the load on the fridge.

With this particular problem, you will want to make sure the refrigerator is not cycling on and off every 20 minutes.

Here is a breakdown of what the potential reasons can be and how to fix a refrigerator that’s running every 20 minutes.

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Reasons Refrigerator Runs Every 20 Minutes

1. Broken Seal

Since a refrigerator’s normal run time is somewhere between 30-40 minutes, it becomes important to test what’s going on when the number drops to 20 minutes.

A common reason is a broken seal that causes cooling to slip out.

You have to account for this to make sure the insulation isn’t letting you down. When a fridge’s seal is broken, the temperature is always going to fluctuate and that can be harmful to the food along with ruining the fridge’s energy efficiency.

Solution: The best solution is to test the seal, find the damaged spot, and then repair or replace the seal. It’s recommended to replace the entire seal to make sure this doesn’t become a prolonged issue later on.

refrigerator runs every 20 minutes

2. Cramped Room

If a refrigerator cycles too often, it might be something as simple as it being set up in the wrong spot.

For example, if a fridge is too close to multiple walls, it is going to get cramped in. This means the fridge is going to heat up and that can ruin its internal temperature.

You have to check for this to make sure the fridge’s location isn’t the real troublemaker.

Solution: Relocate the fridge and make sure it is not surrounded by two or more walls. If this is difficult, move the fridge up a bit to maintain at least a 6″ gap between the walls and the appliance.

3. Malfunctioning Thermometer

This is a reason that does pop up from time to time when a fridge runs too often.

You will want to see what the appliance is reading when it comes to the internal temperature. If it is wrong, this means the thermometer is broken.

When the fridge isn’t getting a good read on the temperature, this can do a lot of damage.

Solution: A malfunctioning thermometer doesn’t always need to be replaced. Start with the basics by resetting the thermometer or readjusting the settings (for newer fridges). For the long term, it’s best to set up a separate thermometer and use it to verify the internal temperature.

refrigerator runs every 20 minutes

4. Too Much Hot Food In The Fridge

This seems like a basic reason but it can have an impact on the fridge’s performance.

Whether a refrigerator runs every 5 minutes or every 30 minutes, it might be fluctuating due to the amount of hot food inside.

If you are filling the fridge with hot food, this is going to naturally increase its run time. The steam coming from the food will increase the temperature inside. The fridge will attempt to regulate its temperature when this happens.

Let it happen and see if it is a prolonged issue once the hot food is removed or cooled.

Solution: This is a waiting game. Just let the hot food cool down and see if the problem persists. If it continues, this means the hot food is not the reason for the malfunctioning fridge.

Final Thoughts

These are the details to think about when it comes to a refrigerator that runs every 20 minutes.

A refrigerator can run every 20 minutes when its thermometer is malfunctioning, the seal is damaged, or it is located too close to the wall. Work your way through all of these issues to see what is causing your fridge to start aggressively cycling during the day.

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