Trying to determine whether refrigerator is okay or not.

About a year ago, I noticed that the inside of my late 80's Hotpoint refrigerator was sweating a lot and it seemed that it was running warm in the refrigerator section. Freezer was fine, I had pulled the back panel and checked the freezer coils, no ice on them. I got a new barebones model from Home Depot and set the old Hotpoint out in the gargage. I fired it up a couple of times since then just to verify the freezer was still working.
I was thinking of seeing if I could sell it or give it away as a fixer so a couple of days ago I gave it a good cleaning and also plugged it in.
Well, now I find that at the midrange setting of both the freezer and fridge sections, the freezer is right at about 0 deg and the fridge is at 40 which is what I gather is considered optimal. None of the sweating I saw a year ago. I.e., it seems to be operating normally.
I'm not strong on refrigerator theory, but what could be a reason why it seemed to be exhibiting symptoms and after a year of mostly collecting dust now it isn't? Is it possible that sitting empty isn't a valid test of whether it's working well or should it not matter?
Thanks for all input
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James wrote:

Checked the door seals?
Lou
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40 is not optimal, but the maximum you want to see. 35-36 is better.
An empty fridge is not the ideal situation for testing. The sweating is cause by moisture condensing and is more likely to happen in warm damp weather and around the door, especially if the gasket is starting to leak. Since appliances don't fix themselves, conditions have either changed or you've not given it enough time for the sweating to start. Load in some jugs of water and see if it makes a difference.
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Okay, moving the dial about one number highter gets it within that range. Apparently the refrig is capable of it.


I wonder if having cleaned the gasket and mating surfaces - was enough to make the difference. However, I seem to recall there was sweating on the inside walls of the refrig too. No evidence of it now. I'll try the water jugs.
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Another way to see if it is working get one of those recording thermostats and leave it in the fridge for a while. Where my dad used to work they had ones that would run for a whole week and continuously record the temperature on a circular graph paper. They probably have electronic ones now.
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