Freezers are integral appliances in any home. They keep your food frozen for when you need them and store favorite snacks like ice cream, pizza, and hot pockets. But, unfortunately, they’re susceptible to malfunction like any other appliance. So, what causes a freezer not to freeze, and what can you do?
A freezer may not be freezing because of bad door sealing, compressor or fan failures, or an electrical issue. Cleaning the condenser coils is likely called for in your owner’s manual as a first step to troubleshoot this. Past that you’ll like need a service technician.
Don’t panic if your freezer isn’t keeping your food frozen. In some cases, you can quickly resolve these issue with cleaning. Other situations require replacement parts and repair. Either way, we cover everything you need to know to understand, diagnose, and prevent freezer problems in the article below.
Sometimes, your fridge can be cold as ice and your freezer as hot as the Sahara desert. Whether you have an attached freezer or a separate unit, this issue can be frustrating, concerning, and expensive.
Fortunately, acting fast and determining what’s causing your freezer to malfunction can save you time, effort, and money.
Before we get too far, take note of the light: if your freezer isn’t freezing and a light is blinking, you may want to look at our dedicated article for that problem first. But now let’s get into some of the reasons your freezer may not be freezing:
Air Is Escaping (Door Not Closing/Sealing Properly)
You might have a cold freezer but can’t keep your vegetables, ice cream, and microwave snacks frozen.
In these cases, the first component you should inspect is the door. A food product may block the door from closing and allow cold air to escape the cabinet.
On the other hand, older or faulty models can have issues with the door seals that cause the temperature to fall.
You can inspect your freezer door seals by sliding a piece of paper between the door gaps. Next, close the freezer door and see if you can pull out the paper. If you can pull out the piece of paper, your freezer door seals must be fixed and require maintenance.
If your freezer door seals aren’t the issue and your cabinet is clean, you may have issues with the condenser coils. The condenser coils inside a freezer can develop a build-up of dirt, dust, and debris over time.
This build-up places stress on the motor and can eventually cause it to break down. Fortunately, you can easily clean the condenser coils and start to resolve the issue.
Before you start to clean the coils, ensure the unit is unplugged. Next, slide the unit away from the wall and locate the condenser coils.
Depending on your model, the condenser coils are typically near the base of the appliance or on the backside.
The condenser coils are typically easy to find and look like U-shaped metal tubes. You’ll also notice a grill covering the coils that can be easily removed. You can use a condenser coil brush (on Amazon) to ensure the job is completed successfully.
Be sure to remove as much build-up as possible and leave no nook or cranny unturned. Afterward, use a standard vacuum to suck up any leftover debris and food products that may have fallen.
Cleaning the condenser coils is a part of routine freezer maintenance and should be finished bi-yearly to keep your appliance working smoothly.
The compressor is another common culprit behind freezer problems. The compressor may not work long enough due to overheating, faulty relays, or broken motor connections.
These issues cause the compressor to run for short periods, and you may notice your fridge is cold but not your freezer.
In these cases, you can feel the compressor, which will typically feel very hot or make some ticking noises.
To resolve the issue, you’ll need to troubleshoot the compressor and related components. The fan could be causing it to overheat and may need replacement or repair. Buzzing and ticking sounds can be caused by internal windings.
Call a professional service technician to diagnose and resolve the problem if you can’t identify the issue.
A more significant problem that can cause a freezer to malfunction is issues with the evaporator fan and internal components. For example, if it’s failing, you might notice infrequent high-pitched sounds coming from your evaporator fan motor.
If the evaporator fan isn’t working correctly, you can unplug your freezer and remove and clean the fan blades.
Ice can develop on the evaporator fan blades and prevent your freezer from circulating enough air to keep everything frozen. You can also inspect for bent fan blades when cleaning the components that need to be replaced or repaired.
On the other hand, if the fan blades are spinning as expected and the fan isn’t running, you may need additional maintenance. In these cases, you may need to replace a faulty motor or repair damned connections between the motor and thermostat.
Understanding how your freezer operates when diagnosing issues and troubleshooting is helpful. A comprehensive overview can give you a better idea of what’s causing the problem and what needs to be worked on.
So, how do freezers work?
Most models use a cooling pipe filled with liquid coolant that evaporates quickly. The cooling process includes compressing, condensing, and evaporating the chemical through the freezer’s internal system. The inner components include the following:
- Condenser: This changes the gas coolant into liquid refrigerant.
- Compressor: This component pumps the gas to various parts of the freezer.
- Evaporator: The evaporator transfers the heat inside the freezer to the condenser.
- Filter: This filters dust, debris, and other particles from the refrigerant and accumulator.
- Accumulator: The accumulator houses extra refrigerant, as some chemicals are lost during the process.
Like any other appliance, you want your freezer to operate correctly and smoothly. These maintenance tips will keep your food frozen and prevent your freezer from breaking down, extend its longevity, and save you expenses.
Consult Your Owner’s Manual
Instruction manuals are often overlooked, especially for appliances like freezers and refrigerators. However, familiarizing yourself with the maintenance instructions for your model can help you diagnose and resolve issues.
You’ll have a better idea of how your freezer works and what to do to keep it in tip-top shape.
Inspect the Freezer’s Thermostat
Be sure to inspect your model’s thermostat periodically. The thermostat should read zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius).
If your model is consistently outside this range, it may not be in optimal condition.
Most freezers have built-in thermostats, but you can use an external thermometer to read the temperature if needed.
Freezers can accumulate dust, debris, food particles, and other grime. It’s tempting to overlook these issues, but like any other appliance, keeping your freezer clean is vital to ensure it works smoothly.
You can clean your freezer’s interior with a damp washcloth and a few drops of liquid soap. Be sure to wipe off the freezer doors, shelves, drawers, and any removable components.
Afterward, you can dry the interior with a clean towel. If you want to sanitize your freezer, you can use a mixture of 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water.
You’ll want to consult the owner’s manual for the best results, as some models have specific instructions or drainage plugs.