In addition to our wine cellar in the basement, we maintain a medium-sized wine cooler in our kitchen for bottles that are ready to drink now. Although we keep that cooler set to 13 degrees C (55 F), recently it has been reporting temperatures several degrees higher.
This was perplexing as the device is only a few years old (so the cooling mechanism shouldn’t be failing) and, even during the day when our A/C is off, the ambient temperature is well within the device’s operating range (so the cooling mechanism shouldn’t be overworked). The cooler is a thermoelectric unit, so it doesn’t have condenser coils that need to be cleaned/vacuumed for efficiency either.
On a whim, I pulled the cooler out from the wall thinking that maybe increasing the airflow behind it could help. While I didn’t find that the increased airflow helped, I did find a tremendous amount of dog hair and dust caked to the back of the cooler!
Even though the device doesn’t have coils that need to be vacuumed, it apparently does have vents in the back for circulating out warmer air. When those get plugged up, the warm air has nowhere to go, so vacuuming/cleaning them is apparently important.
After vacuuming the vents, the internal temperature of the cooler began dropping within minutes, eventually reaching 13 degrees C. I had assumed there was no point in looking behind the cooler because there weren’t any coils there – but that’s where the problem turned out to be anyway.
This is a good reminder to challenge my assumptions; when the evidence doesn’t fit those assumptions, they may be wrong. Now I think I’ll toast this solved mystery with a nice, cool white burgundy . . .