Should I Unplug My Fridge If It’s Not Working? The Simple Answer

When the refrigerator stops working, it is always a stressful situation. Should you unplug the fridge if it stops working?

Unplugging the fridge can get it working again. When the inside of the refrigerator freezes over, it can stop air from circulating. In turn, this. The refrigerator and the attached freezer from cooling. It is possible to melt the ice by unplugging the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Along with the possibility of defrosting the refrigerator, there are also some other issues that may be corrected when you unplug the refrigerator. It might also be a safety issue.

If the refrigerator has been leaking and there is any standing water in the area, you should unplug the refrigerator. Even better, you should turn off the breaker in the breaker panel and lock the panel so no one can turn it back on.

Otherwise, unplugging the refrigerator (or switching off the breaker) and plugging it back in again can reset the refrigerator in many cases. It can help to solve many of the smaller glitches that may occur with the refrigerator that has a lot of electronic gadgets on it.

You should be aware that it is not typically recommended to restart a refrigerator but unplugging it is another suggestion altogether. Unplugging the refrigerator and plugging it back in will sometimes reset the settings, making it necessary for you to start back at square one.

In addition, if you have unplugged the refrigerator and it starts working again after the ice melts, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have fixed the problem. There may be other issues that are leading to the problem and it will simply show up again.

The following are some of the reasons why a coil may freeze.

Humidity – When humid air leaks into the freezer, it can lead to ice condensing on the freezer coils. The defrost cycle will remove some of the humidity but if there is too much because of a bad seal, then it will not be able to keep up.

Defrost Timer – This little gadget turns the defrost heater on and off a number of times throughout the day. It keeps the evaporator coils free of ice but if it is not working, it will not turn on and the ice will continue to accumulate.

Defrost Thermostat – One other possibility is that the defrost thermostat is not working. It indicates when the defrost timer will turn on the heater, but if it is sending the wrong temperature, it may not turn the heater on.

If you unplug your refrigerator and it starts working again, keep a close eye on it to make sure the problems don’t occur. If it is smooth sailing from that point forward, you have likely fixed the problem with an easy solution.

How Long Can A Refrigerator Stay Unplugged?

If you unplug the refrigerator with food in it, you want to ensure that it is plugged back in before the food goes bad.

The general recommendation from the USDA is to throw away any food that has been left in an unplugged refrigerator that remains unopened for more than four hours. If you have food in the freezer, it will last for two days if it is full and for 24 hours if it is half full.

Food safety is certainly a consideration when you unplug the refrigerator. That doesn’t mean, however, that it is the only time you need to consider how long to leave a refrigerator unplugged.

If you are unplugging the refrigerator for long-term storage, it will have a limited lifespan. Like many appliances, refrigerators are meant to operate so if it is unplugged and in storage for months, it may break down on its own.

If you have to unplug the refrigerator for long-term storage, make sure that the doors are propped open slightly. This will keep any bacteria and mold from accumulating inside of the refrigerator and causing problems.

The general recommendation for long-term storage of refrigerators is 42 days. This is just a general guideline, however, because the faster you can plug the refrigerator back in again, the better.

Will A Refrigerator Work After Being Unplugged?

If you have your refrigerator unplugged, there may be some concern as to whether it will work when you plug it back in again.

For the most part, any refrigerator that is working properly prior to being unplugged will continue to work properly after it is plugged in again. There is no need to be overly concerned if you had to unplug the refrigerator temporarily to move it or to do some work on it.

There are some things to consider, however, when it comes to unplugging a refrigerator. For example, if you unplug it because you are experiencing problems with the refrigerator and are trying to reset it, simply plugging it back in does not mean it is going to work again.

There may also be other issues that are causing the refrigerator to have problems. These are not always going to be fixed by simply unplugging the refrigerator and then restarting the power.

Here are a few of the issues that could cause the refrigerator to have problems.

Electrical Outlet – Although electrical outlets typically last a very long time, there are instances in which they may stop working. You can test an electrical outlet by plugging in a lamp or another item to see if it works.

Breaker Box – If the breaker trips, it will not send power to the refrigerator. Even if you unplug the refrigerator and plug it back in, it will not work until the breaker is reset.

In the case of electrical outlets or breaker issues, it is important to understand that they may be part of a bigger problem. If the breaker continually trips or if the receptacle burns out, you should contact an electrician and have them look at the wiring in your home.

Of course, there are also many internal issues that can result in a refrigerator not working. These can include dirty coils, blocked vents, or if the thermostat is adjusted improperly. These issues must be addressed individually, as simply restarting the refrigerator will not stop the issue from happening again.

Can I Unplug My Fridge And Plug It Back In?

There may be times when you have to unplug a refrigerator temporarily. Is it safe to simply plug it back in again?

Generally speaking, it is safe to plug a refrigerator in immediately after unplugging it. If you had to move the refrigerator or if it has been unplugged for an extended amount of time, there may be other considerations. For example, moving the refrigerator on its side may require that you wait up to 12 hours before you plug it in again. 

If the refrigerator has been unplugged for an extended amount of time, it may take up to 24 hours to fully cool again.

One of the most common concerns about unplugging a refrigerator and plugging it back in is if it is being transported to a new location. It is always best to transport a refrigerator upright but that is not always going to be possible.

If the refrigerator has been on its side for no more than 30 minutes, then you should wait 30 minutes after it has been set upright before restarting it. If the refrigerator has been stored for 24 hours or longer, you should wait at least 24 hours before restarting it.

Do you regularly unplug the refrigerator to save energy? You might be harming yourself in the process.

If a refrigerator has been left unplugged for four hours, the USDA recommends that all of the food be thrown away. 

If you are unplugging the refrigerator to save power overnight, you also are not generally saving power but you could be using more power.

For those of you who want to save energy, a better option is to adjust the thermostat to a lower temperature temporarily. It takes a lot of commitment to do this and you still need to be cautious about food spoilage.

The bottom line is, you can unplug the refrigerator and plug it back in again. The only reason why you wouldn’t do so immediately is if the refrigerator had been transported on its side.

Does Switching A Fridge On And Off Damage It?

There may be times when it is necessary to switch a refrigerator on and off. Does this damage the appliance?

Turning a refrigerator on and off quickly can damage the compressor. It is not generally recommended that you turn the refrigerator off by unplugging it or switching off the circuit breaker and then re-engaging the power within a matter of seconds. Switching a fridge on-and-off can damage the compressor by causing it to restart in the middle of the cycle.

It is better to leave the refrigerator off for at least a few minutes before plugging it back in again.

Before you get overly concerned about damaging the refrigerator in this way, it is highly unlikely that it is going to be a problem. First of all, you probably are not going to switch it on and off many times that quickly and secondly, refrigerators can handle at least a little abuse.

As a general rule of thumb, you should wait a few minutes after disconnecting a refrigerator before reconnecting it again. You can even leave it unplugged longer, although you should not leave it unplugged for over four hours or the food inside may spoil.

Leaving the refrigerator unplugged for too long can also cause moisture to build up inside of the unit. This can be problematic, as it could lead to issues with bacteria and mold growth. It could also cause the coils to freeze.

Refrigerators are designed to run constantly. When we have a problem with our refrigerator, we automatically think that a quick restart is in order.

As we will discuss next, resetting a refrigerator may help in some circumstances. It may also be damaging to the refrigerator if it is done in the wrong way.

Can You Reset A Refrigerator By Unplugging It?

Do you think your refrigerator needs reset? Many people try to do it by unplugging it. Is that the right way?

Most refrigerators never need to be reset and manufacturers recommend that you don’t reset them under typical circumstances. If you are experiencing some type of glitch or an issue that may require you to turn off the refrigerator, then it can be reset by unplugging it. Just make sure that you leave the refrigerator unplugged for at least a few minutes or it may not fully reset.

There are a few different questions that you should be asking yourself at this point. It’s not simply a matter of ‘can you reset a refrigerator?’, it’s ‘should you reset a refrigerator?’

Refrigerators have become more and more sophisticated in recent years. Who would have ever thought that they would have Wi-Fi capabilities? That is just part of the technology they have in them today.

When you contact tech support, you are typically instructed to turn something off and back on again to reset it. The same may also be true of the refrigerator.

Typically, refrigerators do not have a reset button because most manufacturers do not want you to reset the refrigerator in this way. Doing so will erase many of the settings and could take you back to square one again.

Rather than resetting the refrigerator by unplugging it, you should look into the specific issue you are having and try to find a way to fix it directly.

If your refrigerator stops working, you may be able to fix the problem by unplugging it. This is especially effective if the refrigerator coils are freezing or if it is experiencing a slight glitch in the technology. Make sure that when you do unplug your refrigerator that you leave it unplugged for at least five minutes before plugging it back in again.


I love doing things around the house. I'm taking my years of experience as a homeowner and a full-time handyman and putting them here for your benefit. When I'm not writing, you can find me on the beach watching the waves come in. Call me Tom or Tommy, it's all the same to me.

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