Freezer Repair Guide
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1. Why doesn't the freezer work at all?
2. Why doesn’t my freezer freeze?
3. How do I clean my freezer's condenser and evaporator coils?
4. How often should I clean the coils?
5. What’s the best way to clean my freezer?
6. Why is there a lot of frost built up inside the freezer?
7. Why does the freezer keep running?
8. Why is the freezer leaking?
9. Do I need to leave a space behind my freezer?
10. Why is it noisy near the bottom of the freezer?
11. Why is it noisy inside the freezer?
12. Why is it noisy in back of the freezer?
13. Why do my frozen foods taste funny?
14. Why does my ice taste bad?
15. Why do my frozen meats look burned?
16. How cold does my freezer need to be?
17. Can I keep my kids out of the freezer?
18. How often should I defrost my manual defrost freezer?
19. Can I pack my freezer too full?
20. Why do I feel cold air when I stand next to my freezer?
21. What can I do to preserve my food during a power interruption?
22. Why won't the freezer door close properly?
23. Why does the freezer rock back and forth when I open or close the door?
24. Why does my freezer door pop open when I close the refrigerator door?
25. How do I repair scratches on my freezer?
WARNING: To avoid personal injury or death, disconnect your appliance from its power source before you start any troubleshooting or repair work. Use caution working inside any appliance.
Are you sure that the freezer is getting power? If you can’t tell if anything is on at all, plug something else into the same outlet, such as a small lamp or hair dryer. If you have power, it’s time to troubleshoot. If you don’t have power, check the fuse or circuit breaker. If you do have power, does the interior light work, or do you hear a fan turning inside? You can try setting the thermostat to a colder setting. Does the compressor kick in? If that doesn't work, you can begin checking the same items that would cause the freezer to freeze poorly.
The first thing to do is to set the thermostat to a colder setting. If that doesn’t work, you can begin checking the defrost timer. Test this by manually advancing to the defrost cycle. You can usually manually advance this timer with a screwdriver. Insert the screwdriver into the advancement pinion and turn clockwise a 1/4 to 3/8's of a turn. The timer should advance out of the defrost cycle in less than an hour.
To test if the cold control is bad, you can temporarily jump the two wires at the cold control. If this jumping gets power to the compressor, the cold control needs to be replaced.
If there is a break in the wiring, your freezer will not work. Testing wiring is a long, tedious process. You need to check each wire with a meter to see if there is continuity. If there is, the wire is fine.
See if the compressor motor is running. The compressor is at the back of the freezer near the bottom. If it’s humming, or making a steady noise, and your freezer is still not cooling properly, there could be a problem with one or more various components. If it is running, but your freezer is still not cooling at all, there may be a problem with the condenser or evaporator coils.
Sometimes you can hear a click-buzz-click sound coming from the compressor. This is the relay/overload at work. If you hear this, power is getting to the compressor. If you do, something is wrong with either the compressor or the compressor starting components. If you have a newer model with solid-state starting components, you may not hear anything at all.
If there is power to the starting components, you may be able to test each part and replace any bad parts. There is also a 3-in-1 unit that may work on your model which replaces all the components in one unit. If the compressor still won’t start, you have a bad compressor and need to replace it. If it does start, wire the 3-in-1 part in permanently. Make sure the one you buy is rated for the horsepower of your appliance. We sell these in our parts finder area.
Sometimes the evaporator coils get frozen over and air can't pass over them. This can result in your freezer not freezing properly. You can manually defrost your freezer by turning it off for 24-48 hours and turn it back on to see if it begins to work properly. These coils can get dirty, and they will not transfer heat or cold very well.
You can use a condenser coil brush to clean the coils periodically. Because the coils exchange heat, any dust, lint, or dirt on them cuts down its ability to exchange heat. We have several different coil brushes in stock and they can be found in the Refrigerator Accessories link on the left.
It’s recommended that you clean the coils at least twice a year, and more often if you have pets. A good way to remember is to clean them when the time changes, spring forward or fall back, or clean them when you do spring and holiday cleaning.
The best way to clean your refrigerator inside and out is with Microbryte Appliance Cleaner or All Purpose Appliance Cleaner and Polish and a soft wash cloth. Both are very good all-purpose cleaners. You can use clean water to rinse off any residues.
Using bleach or ammonia products is not recommended as the plastic parts inside the refrigerator can be damaged by them. Cleaning products with lemon scent are also not recommended as the odor from them can stay in the refrigerator for a very long time and may cause your foods to smell like lemons.
A frost build-up inside the freezer usually means that there is a problem in the self-defrost system. You may even have damaged door gaskets. When you open the freezer door, you also let in a blast of warm, often humid air. This moisture usually freezes onto the evaporator coils immediately.
Self-defrost freezers are supposed to self-defrost themselves. Every 6-12 hours they turn off the compressor for a few minutes. A defrost heater then turns on to melt any frost build-up on these coils, which allows the frost and ice to melt, then it drains off to the pan underneath. Unfortunately, though, when a component fails, too much frost can build up on the evaporator coils. With no air flow over the coils, cooling in the freezer compartment becomes almost non-existent.
You can manually defrost your freezer by turning it off for 24-48 hours and turn it back on to see if it begins to work properly. If your freezer now works the way it's supposed to, test the three other components in the self-defrosting system, the defrost heater, the defrost thermostat, or the defrost timer.
You can visually inspect some defrost heaters to see if there is a break. If it looks physically broken, then it needs to be replaced. Otherwise, check the defrost heater for continuity.
The defrost thermostat, which is just a bi-metal switch, lets current pass through at factory set temperatures. It also prevents current from passing through at the temperatures set by the factory. The set temperatures for the defrost thermostat vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
You can test the defrost timer by manually advancing to the defrost cycle. You can usually manually advance this timer with a screwdriver. Insert the screwdriver into the advancement pinion and turn clockwise a 1/4 to 3/8's of a turn. The timer should advance out of the defrost cycle in less than an hour.
If, after testing these components, it still does not cool properly, there may be a problem with the refrigerant level and you will need to contact a professional appliance repair person.
Your thermostat controls whether the compressor is running or not. When the thermostat senses the internal temperature is lower than the setting, it turns off. If the thermostat won't cycle off, the thermostat may be bad and you will have to replace it. You may also have the temperature set too high in the freezer. Try adjusting the thermostat to a lower temperature. If this turns the compressor off, you may have had it set too high. With the help of a freezer thermometer, you can find a more ideal setting that will keep your food cold, but not so cold that the compressor is always running. If raising the temperature setting doesn't help, it may be a problem with the thermostat and you will need to replace it.
If your thermostat is working properly, there's a chance that you have low levels of refrigerant in the sealed system. If this is where the symptoms lead you, you need to contact a professional appliance repair person. Only an EPA certified technician can legally work on a sealed system. If you attempt to do work on this system, you will void the warranty.
If this is a new refrigerator/freezer, it will run for a long time, almost constantly, before it gets cooled enough to stabilize the interior temperature. Allow up to 24 hours for it to stabilize.
Another common cause is a leaky gasket. Try putting a dollar bill between the gasket and the frame of the freezer as you close the door. If the dollar comes out without resistance, then you need a new door gasket.
When installing a refrigerator or freezer door gasket, you should allow the gasket to adjust to room temperature before removing it from the carton. When carrying or handling the gasket, you want to carry it by the corners. This will help to prevent breakage of the flexible magnet. Should the magnet be found to be broken, it will NOT impair its effectiveness. If the gasket is deformed or twisted from long storage, you can heat the deformed section with an electric heater, hair dryer, or a 150-300 watt light bulb. Holding the heat source about 1 inch to 3 or 4 inches from the gasket, move the heat source back and forth to maintain even warming. Apply heat until gasket has resumed its original shape. This can also correct an already installed, deformed gasket. Make sure you use caution so as not to damage the inner door panel.
Make sure that the freezer has enough air clearance on all sides. There is a condenser coil on the back or under the back near the compressor that needs to radiate heat away from itself. If it can't radiate enough heat, it will cool poorly and will run for longer periods of time.
Verify that the door light switch is working properly. Push the switch with your finger to verify the light is turning off. If the light stays on, it will actually warn the interior of the freezer. Fix or replace the switch if it is faulty.
Modern freezers start and stop very frequently to maintain an even temperature. They may run for a long time initially. This is especially true if you have just put a lot of warm food in the freezer, or if it is very hot and humid. It can take several hours to get back to the cool temperature you have it set for after putting a large amount of food in it.
If you see water leaking from the freezer, check the drain tube and pan. Maybe the freezer is in a defrost cycle and the evaporation drip pan is overflowing.
If your freezer has condenser coils on the back of it, it's best if you leave an inch or so behind the unit. If there are no coils in back, you can push it right to the wall.
The compressor and fans in the freezer do make a certain amount of noise. If it sounds different than before, try to locate the source of the sound and proceed from there.
Sometimes you can hear the refrigerant moving through the tubes. Does is make a gurgling sound? Freezers also have a fan that circulates air around the freezer compartment, and over time the circulating fan bearings may start to fail. The fan will wobble as it turns and make sounds. You can open the freezer door, hold in the door switch, and listen to it for a moment. If the noise is louder when the door is open, the problem may be a worn out fan. The fan is located behind vents in the back of the freezer compartment.
There are two major moving parts in back of the freezer. One source of noise is the compressor. If the compressor is too loud, you will need to contact a professional appliance repair person. Another source of noise is the condenser fan motor and blade. Check for dirt or dust build-up on the blade and fan motor. If this area is dirty, clean it up with the power off. Also, if the fan blade is metal, make sure that it is not hitting anything and that it is attached securely to the motor. If the noise is still coming from the motor, you will need to replace it.
Frozen foods can absorb other odors if not sealed properly. If not sealed properly, you can also get what's called freezer burn on your frozen foods. Use baking soda to help reduce bad odors and tastes.
Just as your frozen food can absorb odors, so can the ice in your freezer. Use baking soda to keep down any odors.
Simply put, freezer burn is when the food in your freezer gets dehydrated from the freezer unit sucking out the moisture from the food. This is because the food wasn't wrapped tightly enough to prevent evaporation of the moisture in whatever you're freezing. It’s still okay to eat, but it probably tastes yucky. The best way to prevent freezer burn is to seal food very well in sealed storage bags before freezing.
The operating temperature range of most residential freezers is between -10F and +10F. The optimum temperature of the freezer is between 0F and 5F. You can check the temperatures in the freezer with the MA-RT1 thermometer. We also carry a Freezer Alarm with Battery to warn you if your frozen foods are in danger of thawing.
If your freezer is not quite cool enough, adjust the thermostat one increment cooler on the dial and wait 24 hours for the temperature to stabilize. If it is a little too cool, adjust it one increment warmer and wait 24 hours for the temperature to stabilize.
Many freezers have built in locks with a pop out key. A pop out key is an assembly that pops the key out into your hand when you turn the key to the lock position.
You should defrost your manual defrost freezer when the ice gets about a ½ inch thick.
Every time you open the freezer door, you let warm air in. By keeping a lot of frozen food in the freezer, which some people call ballast, it helps the compressor to not have to work as hard as it has to if it's nearly empty. We suggest you keep your freezer at least half full, but not jam packed because you want the freezer cabinet air to circulate.
If you feel cold air coming from your freezer when the door is closed, take a good look at the door seal. Odds are that it is not sealing correctly and you feel the cold air seeping out of the cabinet. Seals can get dried out and lose their ability to properly seal the door. You can easily replace this seal. Look on our website for a new door seal.
What can I do to preserve my food during a power interruption? A full freezer will keep its cool for many hours. Try to avoid opening the door more than you have to.
If the door won't close properly, make sure nothing is blocking the door. Check the door seal and make sure it's not twisted or coming off. Make sure no part of the seal is bunching up in the opening.
Sometimes the hinges go out of adjustment. You can sometimes loosen the hinge, re-seat the door properly, and tighten the hinge again. Sometimes there are little plastic spacers on the hinge or hinge pins. They can wear down and prevent the door from closing properly. You can usually determine what the exact problem is with a close visual inspection.
If your freezer rocks when opening or closing the door, the first thing to check is the leveling legs. If they all touch the floor as you open and close the door, maybe the flooring is not strong enough to properly support the freezer. Look to see if the floor bows or flexes as you move the door back and forth.
This is because the freezer and refrigerator compartments are connected via air channels or baffles. When you slam a door hard, it creates a pressure wave by compressing the air in the cabinet and forces the other door open. This can also work in the reverse order.
You want to make sure the gaskets are sealing properly, and that the gasket is clean and lubricated. If you need to lubricate the gasket, you can use some paraffin wax or Vaseline, which are very soft substances. Rub the wax or Vaseline along the surface of the gasket to cover the whole thing. If needed, wash the gasket first with some baking soda and water and let it dry thoroughly before lubricating it.
You want to make sure that the leveling legs cause the refrigerator to tilt slightly backwards. This will help to keep the door from popping open, as well as making sure the door closes if you don't actually push it shut. You can also add some heavier items to the freezer door compartment to add some extra weight. This may help to keep the door from popping open. The freezer door is more likely to pop open than the refrigerator door as it is much lighter.
There are many colours of touch-up paints available to repair scratches in your appliances.