Left Refrigerator Door Open Overnight – What will Happen? How to Fix It?

Left refrigerator door open overnight - What will happen

The refrigerator door plays an important role in protecting the cabinet. It keeps the cold air from escaping and prevents insects from getting inside.  The fridge door is designed with the additional rubber gasket, which helps the cabinet completely closed. Suddenly, you find that the refrigerator door is left open overnight. Why? What will happen? And how to fix it?

Common reasons for fridge door left open overnight

The most common reason is that you accidentally forget to close it. Let’s look at some other reasons why the refrigerator door is open.

Insufficient closing force

Maybe the reason is that you closed the refrigerator door but did not close it tightly, causing the door to not stick to the refrigerator wall. If you only use light force to push the door back, the force won’t be strong enough for the door to close tightly.

After using the refrigerator, make sure you close the refrigerator door, avoid closing it too gently to leave the door open.

Too much food in the fridge

Too many foods in the refrigerator will cause it to slam and not close. This condition often appears before and after family parties or holidays.

The rubber gasket does not function properly

Refrigerator rubber gasket has a strong grip function, absolutely protects the refrigerator, like a car door.

After a long time, the food will stick to the crevices, which is difficult to clean. This causes the rubber to harden and oxidize, losing its inherent grip.

Over time, the rubber pad is no longer able to grip, the door will open when closed.

Door hinge is broken

If the fridge door hinge is broken, bent or warped, the refrigerator door will not close tightly. The cause may be that your refrigerator is too old, the hinges are rusty.

Another reason may be that you put too much food on the refrigerator door, causing the door to sag. Also, if you open the door too hard or bend the door backwards, this can break the door hinge.

Need to determine the specific cause
Need to determine the specific cause

What will happen when the refrigerator door is left open overnight?

There are many problems arising from forgetting to close the refrigerator door. It will not only cost you time and money to repair, but also reduce the fridge’s shelf life.

It’s best if can understand how a fridges work. Once you know the fridge’s operation, you will see how does leaving the refrigerator door open affect this operation?

How does a refrigerator work?

With the support from compressor that pumps refrigerant gas to the fridge’s coils, the fridge repeatedly evaporates and condenses an amount of refrigerator gas to create the cooling effect inside the cabinet.

To maintain the internal temperature, thermostat commands the compressor to stop or start running when it’s too cold or too warm. This is why you hear your refrigerator working again after a few seconds of silence.

Further reading: Which Refrigerator is the Best for a Family with 4-5 Members?

Left the refrigerator door open overnight, what will happen?

The consequence is serious or not will depend on the factors like:

  • How many hours was it left open?
  • What was the outside temperature?
  • How big is the opening of door?
  • What is the model of the fridge?

Even though the outcome is not the same for everyone, the following problems may occur when you forget to close your refrigerator’s door:

Consumes more power

The refrigerator has an automatic shutdown function when the temperature inside the refrigerator reaches the required level to help protect the compressor and save electricity.

In case the refrigerator door is open or not closed tightly, cold air escapes. This leads to the refrigerator running continuously, consuming a lot of energy.

Damaged food

When the cold air is released, the temperature inside the refrigerator is not cold enough, leading to the food stored in the refrigerator being spoiled and rancid.

If this is unfortunately the case, you need to check the food and discard the food with signs of spoilage. This will avoid spreading odors through other foods.

Refrigerator is not cold

Frequently opening the door and not closing the door carefully, the cold air escaping will cause the refrigerator to run continuously, damaging some internal components.

If you have closed the door carefully and monitored for nearly 3-4 hours, but you still find that the refrigerator is not freezing, not cold, you need to check the components, or call a professional to repair.

Refrigerator is loud

When the refrigerator runs continuously to provide enough cold internal temperature for the compartments of the refrigerator, it will cause snow to stick to the indoor unit. At this time, the rotating fan will rub against the snow layer, creating a very loud and noisy sound in the refrigerator.

Refrigerator is leaking water

When opening the refrigerator door, the outside temperature is higher than the inside temperature. It does not only damage a certain part of the refrigerator but also make the cooling process works harder and more difficult. When the internal temperature of the fridge increases, the ice in the indoor unit will also melt, causing water to leak.

Further reading:  Does Freezing Spinach Lose Nutrients?

The refrigerator is not running

The most serious problem is when you find out and have closed the door but the refrigerator is not running.

Operating beyond capacity and working capacity, the refrigerator will begin to deteriorate seriously, components in the refrigerator will be damaged, dead and not working.

Leaving the refrigerator door open overnight is very harmful to the refrigerator
Leaving the refrigerator door open overnight is very harmful to the refrigerator

Refrigerator runs intermittently

According to the operating principle, when the internal temperature has reached the user’s requirements (based on the temperature adjustment button), the refrigerator will automatically turn off to let the components rest. But when the door is open, cold air escapes, the internal temperature cannot reach the set temperature. This causes the temperature of the compression block to start rising and the current through it is also higher than normal.

At this time, the protection relay must disconnect the block for protection, after the temperature drops, the relay starts to trigger the block to run.

If this process repeats in a short time, it will cause the relay to fail, making the refrigerator unable to operate continuously.

You may also like: Why Are the Side Walls of the Refrigerator very Hot?

How to fix the consequences?

The simplest way to overcome this situation is to remember closing the fridge door and check the refrigerator regularly.

If the refrigerator does not close tightly, there are several ways to fix it quickly:

Check the location of the refrigerator: Make sure the fridge is placed on flat surfaces so that the cabinet can stand firmly. With rough floors, the refrigerator door is easy to open and cannot be closed tightly.

With the damaged or deformed gasket: The cold air then flows straight out. The simplest fix is ​​to use a dryer to make the soft gasket adhere to the refrigerator frame. Or if the gasket is seriously damaged and cannot be repaired, replace it with a new one.

With broken door hinges: You can add a silicone lubricant to the hinges of the refrigerator. This will help you open and close the cabinet much easier. Refrigerators that have been used for a long time often have the hinges stuck and cannot be closed tightly.

The above ways will definitely help you quickly overcome the problem and help prolong the life of the product. In case of damaged parts or components inside the refrigerator, do not attempt to fix it.  You should ask a professional to repair it.

The simplest way to overcome this situation is to remember and check the refrigerator regularly
The simplest way to overcome this situation is to remember and check the refrigerator regularly

Related questions

How long can the fridge door be left open without spoilage?

This question can be asked by many people but there is not an exact answer for it. Because it depends on factors such as how much food, what type of food, fridge model, outside temperature, how big is the opening of the fridge. The differences in these elements will give different answers.

In additional, some fridges have features and functions to keep food cool longer than others. However, the average time that a fridge door be left open without spoilage is 1 to 4 hours.

How long until food turns bad when the fridge door is left open?

Normally, if your fridge is left wide open overnight while the ambient temperature is warm, the perishable foods including fruits and vegetables, fresh meat will go bad in about 2 or 3 hours. At this time, the temperature inside the fridge rose above 40°F (4°C). In this case, you should throw the food away.

If the fridge door was left open just a little, the food is still chilled, it seems like your food is safe. Once the temperature remains at 40°F (4°C), you are lucky not to discard the food. The items at the back of the fridge are safest as it’s the coldest part. For food in the fridge door, you need to check to make sure it is fine.

What foods can you save after the fridge door is open too long?

You should check the smell and texture of food when the fridge door was open overnight.  Once you find any item that has the unusually mushy, soggy, moldy, and slimy, you should discard it.

There are condiments such as mayonnaise, tartar sauce, and horseradish can stay good for 8-10 hours if the temperature doesn’t excess 50°F (10°C).

Here are the foods will stay safe even if the temperature is over 40°F (4°C):

  • Eggs
  • Butter, margarine
  • Hard cheeses, processed cheeses
  • Fruit pastries and pies, fruit juices, canned fruits
  • Fresh, dried, and candied fruits that are as a whole, not cut
  • Raw veggies, fresh mushrooms, spices and herbs
  • Jelly, relish, ketchup, mustard, olives, pickles
  • Bread, bagels, pancakes, waffles
  • Dressing and sauces

Useful advice

When closing the refrigerator door, close it carefully and check that the door is firmly closed.

Regularly clean the refrigerator to avoid the situation that there is too much food inside that makes the door unable to close.

Do not put too many items on the refrigerator door tray. Regularly clean and disinfect the refrigerator door. Avoid foods that stick for a long time to oxygenate the refrigerator door gasket.

Finally, you need to check the food carefully. If anything goes bad, toss it out. It is better to be safe than sorry.


  1.  What Happen if You Leave The Refrigerator Door Open, Kane Dalin, Oct. 2021
  2. Your Fridge or Freezer Door Was Left Open All Night — Now What, Jen Evansy, Jun. 2020
Jenny Brown
Hi, I’m Jenny. On my blog, you will find helpful advice about using and organizing the kitchen appliances. You will also receive the recommendations on choosing a compact refrigerator or freezer that best fits your demands. Besides, frozen meals from the freezer bring many incredible benefits because they ensure freshness, deliciousness, and full nutrients. Many helpful tips from experts on frozen meals will also be found.