Opening the Refrigerator/Freezer Door
- Should not cause circulation fans to go on/off. (Check to see if the fan runs with an open door. If it does not, press down the door plunger switch and listen to detect if the fan goes on. Some models have two door plunger switches – one for the light and another for the fan motor.)
- Should not activate any tones or digital readouts (e.g., ‘door ajar’ icons, cabinet temperature, or settings).
- Should not affect defrost cycle. (Defrost cycle should not be dependent upon the number of times you open the door and how long you keep it open.)
- Light in refrigerator cavity should be deactivated, either by unscrewing the bulb or taping down the light switch. Check to make sure there are no other lights (e.g., door lights) that turn on when the door is opened. See CAUTION about disabling door switches below.
CAUTION: Disabling Door Switches
- Taping or otherwise holding down the door plunger switch to avoid these problems will cause the refrigerator to operate less efficiently (the cavity temperature will be higher than expected). In hot, humid climates the compressor may run continuously, which may shorten its operating lifetime. Always remember to remove the tape or other hold-down devices once Shabbos/Yom Tov ends.
- Numerous models are now using magnetic door switches instead of the mechanical spring plunger switches. If you already own such a model, you may disable it by locating the switch with a strong magnet and then taping the magnet over it. The magnet must be flat enough to not interfere with the proper sealing of the door gasket when you close the fridge.
- To locate the switch, check the outside top of the refrigerator. You may find either a plunger switch or a magnetic switch somewhere along the refrigerator’s inside frame, around the sides or at the top of the fridge.
Freezer “Whoosh” Sound: The Science of Air Density – It’s Not an Issue
There are times when you may hear a “whoosh” sound when closing your freezer door. The reason for this sound has a simple scientific explanation. When the freezer door is opened, cold air escapes from the freezer and is replaced by warmer, lighter (i.e., less dense) air. When the door is closed, the warmer air trapped inside cools and becomes denser. The newly cooled air takes up less space than when it was warm and creates a vacuum inside the freezer. This vacuum then causes outside air to be sucked into the freezer through the door gasket to restore the equilibrium inside the freezer, creating the telltale “whooshing” sound.
This process does not present any halachic problems for Shabbos or Yom Tov.
General Recommendations for Refrigerators
- Simpler is better.
- Test the unit at the store before purchasing.
Automatic Ice Makers
Remember to lift the hanger bar to an off position before Shabbos or Yom Tov to ensure that nothing is activated by removing ice.
Ice and Cold-Water Dispensers
These should not be used on Shabbos or Yom Tov because they directly turn on a valve and/or motor.
These are problematic for Shabbos and Yom Tov because the refrigerator is illuminated when one approaches it.
If you are using an app on your smartphone to control your refrigerator, it is recommended that you turn off your smartphone before Shabbos/Yom Tov to preclude any communication between the appliance and the phone.
Assisted or Automatic Door Openers
These can currently be found on the market and may involve electronic components that should not be used on Shabbos or Yom Tov. Test these features by unplugging the refrigerator to see if the opening-assist changes. Alternately, check to see if this feature can easily be deactivated.
Temperature and Open Door Alarms
These may present Shabbos and Yom Tov issues. Check to see if they can be disabled.
These are located on the outside of the door and should be avoided. The display may change when the door is opened.