Common freezer problems, faults fixes and cures

Common freezer problems, how to identify them and how to fix them

Dealing with most freezer problems can be a relatively simple task for any person that has a basic knowledge about these appliances. Most commercial freezers are similarly designed and utilize standard components. As a result, troubleshooting freezer faults is generally a uniform process and there is no great variation in freezers of different brands. Components such as the compressor, evaporator, and condenser are present in all freezers. For the most part, you will find that most common freezer faults can be traced to a lack of proper maintenance or incorrect usage. Studying the product manual can help you gain a better understanding of some of the components and parts of the freezer.

My Freezer does not cool

Dirty Condenser Coils can affect the cooling power of the freezer. Ideally, these coils should be thoroughly cleaned every 6 months to ensure that there they are not overcome with dust, dirt or lint. Dirt affects the coils' ability to radiate heat out of the freezer. This eventually raises the temperature within the freezer and reduces the cooling effect.

No cooling power may also be suggestive of an Evaporator Fan Motor failure. In most freezers, the back wall contains a removable panel that houses the evaporator fan assembly. The basic function of this fan is to ensure that air is drawn over the evaporator coils, is cooled, and then circulated back through the freezer. It is necessary, therefore, to ensure that this fan is working properly. Open the panel, and make sure you activate the door switch. (Most freezers are designed to switch off the evaporator fan while the freezer door is open.) If this fan does not appear to be running, this part will need to be changed.

All freezers have a component called a Start Relay that is found on the side of the compressor. This part delivers power to the compressor while it is starting up and also to the run winding. A faulty start relay may prevent the compressor from starting up or the compressor may display a tendency to start and stop repeatedly. In order to restore cooling to the freezer, the start relay should be changed.

The cooling power of the freezer also depends on the functioning of the Evaporator coils. In certain cases these coils get frosted over, which results in a lack of cooling. Under normal conditions, the defrost heater is responsible for melting away any icy deposits that may form over these coils. However, any problem with the defrost heater assembly that prevent it from functioning will result in frost build ups around the evaporator coils. This prevents the flow of air through the coils, and there is no cooling provided to the freezer. In such cases, the defrost system should be analyzed in order to identify the source of the problem.

Another factor to consider is the Condenser Fan Motor. If this motor overheats, wears out, or burns out, it can reduce the cooling effect within the freezer. In other instances, there may be an external object trapped in the fan blades that prevent its unrestricted movement. The fan should be cleaned out and the motor checked for continuity. Usually, the condenser motor is located on the rear surface of the fridge, and is accessed via the panel near the bottom. This component can easily be replaced and is not normally expensive.

The Temperature Control Thermostat regulates the power supply to components such as the compressor, evaporator and condenser fans. Problems with this thermostat will affect the cooling power within the freezer. You can try and turn the thermostat all the way round manually (from the 'Stop' mark all the way round to 'Stop'). If you hear a click at the end of the turn, it indicates that the thermostat is functioning properly. If there is no sound, there is every possibility that the thermostat is damaged. It should be removed and checked for continuity.

In more serious cases, this could indicate a compressor failure. The compressor is the component responsible for compressing the refrigerant and ensuring that it is properly circulated through the condenser and evaporator coils. Any sort of problem within the compressor will usually require servicing from a trained professional.

Other rarer causes of this problem can be defects in the User Control and Display Board, or in the Main Control Board.

My Freezer Keeps Running

Essentially, the running of the compressor is controlled by the thermostat. If the thermostat rates the temperature of the freezer to be below the set temperature, it switches off. In case the Temperature Control Thermostat is defective, it will not cycle off and the compressor remains active. It is also possible that you have set the freezer temperature too high. You may try lowering the thermostat temperature to check if the compressor switches off. If there is no effect, and the freezer keeps running, you are probably dealing with a defective thermostat that should be replaced.

Most new freezers will run almost continually for a period of 24-48 hours while the temperature stabilizes. This is normal behavior. If, the freezer continues to run after this period, this is indicative of a problem. This type of problem may also indicate that the level of the refrigerant fluid within its sealed system is low. In this case, it is advisable to hire a certified engineer to repair this sealed system.

A broken/cracked door gasket or seal may also cause loss of cooling within the freezer. This results in the compressor trying to overcome this problem by running continually. Check the freezer door seal for signs of leaks or breaks. If the seal has any defects, it must be replaced as soon as possible.

This could also be a sign that there is a problem with the Defrost Timer that is responsible for activating the defrost heater. Any type of problem with the Defrost Heater Assembly or Defrost Thermostat will also prevent the proper dispersal of icy build ups on the freezer coils and prevents any cooling. As a result, the freezer keeps running to try and bring down the freezer temperature.

My Freezer is not working

If there is a distinct lack of freezing efficiency in your freezer, you can first try and lower the thermostat setting. If this has no effect, you should check the defrost timer. You can manually activate the defrost cycle by advancing the timer. Once this cycle has been activated, leave the freezer. Typically, the timer should move past the defrost cycle after an hour.

Sometimes, it may be necessary to check the cold control of the freezer. This is usually accomplished by jumping the wires located at this control. If power is transmitted to the compressor after jumping, this indicates a defective cold control, which should be replaced. Additionally, the wiring in your freezer should be checked for continuity to ensure that there are no bad wires.

 You should also inspect the compressor motor to ensure that it is running. If there is a steady sound or humming emanating from the compressor, but there are problems in the cooling delivered by the freezer, this could point to a problem with other components such as the evaporator or condenser coils. If the freezer evaporator coils are completely frozen, air will not be able to pass over these coils and there is no cooling effect delivered to the freezer. In such cases, there may be little choice but to defrost the freezer manually. Turn off the freezer for 24-48 hours and allow these coils to completely thaw out. Switch the freezer back on to check if the problem has been rectified.

If there is an audible clicking sound within the compressor, this is indicative of a problem with the Start Relay. In such cases, power is being supplied to the compressor, however, a malfunction in the start relay or compressor is preventing the freezer from functioning.

Problems associated with the evaporator fan motor or the condenser fan motor will also cause loss of cooling and will force the compressor to run without a break.

My Freezer Leaks Water

This type of leak is primarily caused when the water inside the defrost drain freezes. As a result, any defrost water that is formed subsequently has no place to go and will overflow. Usually, this water leaks out and accumulates at the freezer bottom. If your freezer has a built-in ice making unit, you should check the pipe supplying water to this unit for leakages. Also check the junction where it is connected to the water inlet valve.

My Freezer Defrost Drain is not working

Most problems associated with lack of draining in the defrost drain occur when this drain is frozen. Primarily this is caused when the Drain Strap is damaged or has been broken. Certain types of freezers may have an aluminum or copper strap that extends from the defrost heater to the defrost drain. This ensures that the heat generated by the defrost heater is conducted into the defrost drain. This simple device prevents ice building up and blocking the drain. In order to rectify this problem, the drain strap should be put back in its original position.

My Freezer Coils keep frosting up

Most commonly, this problem is caused when the fridge or freezer door gasket (or seal) is damaged or cracked. This prevents the freezer door from sealing off completely and can eventually result in the evaporator coils icing over. Gaps in the gasket allow air from a room to enter the freezer. This air is usually humid and will contain a high concentration of water vapor. When this makes contact with the evaporator coils, it has a tendency to condense into water and will eventually freeze. This formation of ice may be too much for the defrosting system to handle and the evaporating coils will ice over.

If the freezer door gasket is in perfect condition, this could indicate a defrosting problem, which is usually related to a problem with a component such as the Defrost Thermostat, Defrost Heater Assembly, or Defrost Timer.

My Freezer Indicator Light is not working

To remedy this situation the indicator unit will have to be replaced. Usually, this type of problem occurs when the indicator has burned out.

Only the Top Shelf in my Freezer freezes

This type of problem can usually be traced back to a faulty freezer door gasket. Leaks in the freezer door allow humid, room air to enter the freezer, condense and then freeze. This warm air from the room tends to rise before condensing on the top shelf. As a result they tend to form ice on the top shelf first.

This situation could also be indicative of a more serious type of problem where there is a sealed system leak on the top shelf. This is a rare but expensive problem, and in most cases the freezer will have to be discarded.

My Freezer Runs Intermittently

If the freezer appears to cycle on and off abruptly constantly, this could indicate a problem in the power supply. Test the voltage at the electrical outlet to ensure it is functioning correctly. This may also indicate problems with parts such as the start relay, condenser fan, overload protector or compressor motor.

My Freezer is Noisy

Sometimes a freezer can get noisy simply because it is not installed on a level surface. Ensure that it is placed on a flat surface before testing for other issues. This noise may also be caused if the Defrost Water Pan is loose or has not been properly installed. Other common issues that lead to this type of problem are malfunctions in the evaporator motor, condenser motor, or the internal compressor.

My Freezer has a bad odor

Check for any spillages within the freezer and remove all food articles from the freezer. The freezer interiors may be cleaned and deodorized with a mixture of hot water and baking soda or white distilled vinegar. Make sure you clean the freezer door gasket with this solution as well. Remove the breaker strips and make sure that the insulation is not wet.


Disclaimer: The information provided has been prepared as a guide only and the steps taken are likely to vary for different appliance models. We strongly recommend using a qualified engineer to undertake major repairs and fault finding.


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