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Freezer Troubleshooting & Repair

What Is Wrong With Your Freezer?

It doesn't work at all
It's not cooling
It cools poorly or it's all iced up
It's noisy
It doesn't cycle off
Icemaker not working
Learn more about freezers
Freezer parts

Note: Most chest and upright freezers require manual defrosting. These freezers have significantly fewer components therefore fewer problems than self-defrosting freezers.

It doesn't work at all

Does the light inside the freezer work? Or, can you hear a fan, motor, or other sound coming from the appliance? If so, the freezer is still working. Go to the specific problem you are having with the appliance. If not, try adjusting the thermostat to a colder setting. If your freezer still doesn't work, read on.

To check to see if power is getting to the freezer, plug a lamp or other device into the same outlet as the freezer. If there's power, check the fuses or circuit breakers. If that's not the problem, contact a qualified electrician to restore power to the outlet.

If there's power to the freezer but it still doesn't work at all,there may be a problem with one of these:

  • Wiring
  • Thermostat
  • Defrost timer
  • Compressor
  • Overload and/or relay

The problem with your refrigerator can be difficult to pinpoint without a clear indication of a specific defective component. At this point, we recommend that you see help from a qualified appliance repair technician.

It's not cooling

If the freezer seems to be doing nothing, see the "It doesn't work at all" section,above. Otherwise, check these:

  • Is the thermostat knob turned to the proper setting?
  • Is the compressor motor running? It's a football-sized case with no apparent moving parts on the outside of the freezer at the back near the bottom. Is it humming or making any kind of continuous noise? If it is, but your freezer is still not cooling at all, there may be a serious problem with one or more of these areas:
    • The compressor
    • The condenser
    • The evaporator

You can't service these yourself. You need to contact a qualified appliance repair technician.

If the compressor isn't running but you do have power to the freezer, there may be a problem in one or more of these areas:

  • The compressor
  • The overload and relay
  • The defrost timer

For information about these components, read about freezers in the How Things Work section of our website.

It cools poorly or it's all iced up

If your freezer cools but doesn't get cold enough, it may have a problem in one of several areas. To better understand the proper operation of a freezer,read about freezers in the How Things Work section of our website.

In a self-defrosting freezer, poor cooling often results from a heavy frost build-up on the evaporator coils. You can't see these coils without removing a panel inside your freezer. But if you see any frost or ice build-up on the inside walls, ceiling,or floor of your freezer, it's a sure sign of frost build-up.And that's a sign of a problem with the self-defrosting system.

Freezers should self-defrost three to four times in 24 hours.But if a component in the self-defrosting system fails, the freezercontinues to try to cool, instead. Eventually, so much frost buildsup on the evaporator coils that the circulating fan can't drawair over the coils. There's still some cooling because the coilsare frozen. But with no air flow over the coils, the cooling isquite limited and the freezer isn't as cold as it needs to be.

An easy (though often inconvenient) test of whether the problemis with the self-defrosting system is to remove all of the perishablefood from the freezer, turn the thermostat to Off, and leave thedoor open for 24 to 48 hours. (Keep several towels handy in casethe melting frost and ice overflows the drip pan). This "manually"defrosts the freezer. When the frost and ice build-up has completelymelted away, turn the thermostat back to a normal setting. Ifthe freezer then cools properly, it indicates a problem with oneof these components in the self-defrosting system:

  • The defrost timer. To test this, manually advance to the defrost cycle. The unit should advance itself out of the defrost cycle in about 45 minutes.
  • The defrost thermostat (or bi-metal switch). This thermostat allows current to pass through it at temperatures of 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit and prevents current from passing through it at 40 to 60 degrees (depending on its design). This is difficult to test, though, because it takes a prolonged, very-cold temperature to turn it on.
  • The defrost heater. You can test this for continuity using an electrical meter.

It's noisy

Noise can come from these areas:

The inside of the freezer
The outside back of the freezer
The bottom of the freezer

The inside of the freezer

Your self-defrosting freezer uses a circulating fan to move the air throughout the freezer. It runs whenever the freezer is cooling and the door is closed. The fan is located in the freezer section, as follows:

  • If the freezer is on the top, the fan is on the back wall, either near the top or bottom, in the center of the freezer.
  • If the freezer is on the bottom, the fan is on the back wall, near the top of the freezer.
  • If the freezer is on the left, the fan is on the back wall, either half way up or near the top.

Over time, the fan may become noisy—chirping, squealing, or even groaning. To determine whether the fan is causing the noise, open the freezer door and hold in the door switch. If the noise is louder when the door is open, the evaporator fan motor is the noisemaker. These motors can't be serviced. You need to replace it.

The outside back of the freezer

This area has one component — or two, if it's a self-defrosting freezer:

  • The compressor is a black, football-sized case with no apparent moving parts on the outside of the freezer at the back near the bottom. It has black or copper-colored tubes and various colored wires attached to it. If the compressor is noisy, there's probably no repair that will reduce the noise. You need to replace it, which can be quite costly.
  • The condenser fan, if it's noisy, may have lint or debris on its fan blades that's causing the noise. Try cleaning the fan blade. If that doesn't work, you need to replace the fan.

Thebottom of the freezer

Noises here are almostalways actually coming from the back of the freezer, see the "Theoutside back of the freezer" section, above.

It doesn't cycle off

The thermostat cycles the freezer on and off. The cooling system runs as long as thetemperature inside the freezer is higher than the set temperature.If the temperature inside the freezer is cold enough, but thethermostat doesn't cycle off, the thermostat may be defective.If so, you need to replace it.

Work on these areas of an appliance may require help from an appliance repair person or other qualified technician.

find appliance parts quickly.
This easy-to-use search will help you find appliance parts quickly.
Begin by entering your appliance model number.

Where can I find the model number?
The model tag is usually in a visible location, on the front of
the appliance (not on the back). Example: LSQ8243HQ0

Warning! To avoid personal injury or even death, always disconnect your appliance from its power source — that is, unplug it or break the connection at the circuit breaker or fuse box — before you do any troubleshooting or repair work on your appliance. Also, because some components may have sharp edges, use caution while working on your appliance.

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