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DIY Tips for a Freezer That Isn’t Freezing

Opening the freezer door

There’s never a good time to have an appliance break. However, there are times that are worse than others. For example, having your freezer break down when it’s filled with meat and other expensive food items. Is your freezer running but not freezing your food? When this happens, you will be tempted to immediately call for a repair team to come and help.

While this is a good decision, there are things you can try first to see if you can repair this issue on your own instead of paying someone to do it for you. After all, if you can save time and money, why not do so?

How Your Freezer Works

Before you jump into handyman mode, you should make certain you understand how your appliance works. While there are many types and styles of freezers, all freezers function in the same basic way:

  • The compressor receives a signal from the thermostat that the temperature of the freezer is at or above the target temperature.
  • The compressor squeezes a coolant and then moves the coolant to the condenser.
  • The condenser moves the coolant through the condenser coils.
  • Inside the coils, the heat in the coolant is expelled, usually coming out somewhere on the back of the freezer.
  • Now that the coolant is actually cool, it moves into the evaporator.
  • While in the evaporator, the coolant absorbs the heat that is inside the freezer, making itself warm again while leaving the freezer cold.
  • The coolant then moves back to the compressor again, where it is ready to go through another cycle.

Now, if your freezer is running but not freezing, the problem could lie in any part related to any step of this process. Some of these are things you can fix yourself, while others are things that shouldn’t be considered for DIY. Let’s take a look at what you can safely do yourself.

Close the Freezer Door Tight & Wait

In many cases, food is not frozen because someone failed to shut the door completely. The test — and the solution — for this one is to simply shut the door and wait a few hours, then check again and see if the food is now frozen. If it is, you know what your problem was, and it should hopefully be resolved. However, you should consider that the food inside may no longer be safe to consume.

Check the Thermostat

What is the most likely reason your freezer is running, but the food isn’t getting cold enough to freeze? The thermostat is set too high. This can be because you read the numbers wrong or because the dial was bumped by someone reaching into the freezer. Or, if you have a digital display because a curious someone decided to play with it.

When this happens, the compressor works overtime to maintain the higher temperature, so you will hear your freezer running a lot, but your food will never quite reach the frozen state you need. Just set it to the correct temperature and your problem should be resolved.

Play with the Thermostat

That may sound counterintuitive given the solution above, but if you check the thermostat and the temperature seems right, it is possible that your thermostat is reading the temperature incorrectly. Try lowering the temperature several degrees more than the ideal temperature and see if the freezer is finally able to freeze your foods. If it is, you have fixed your problem, at least temporarily.

Check the Door Seals

You can do this visually to locate any obvious problems. If you see bulges, cracks, or missing pieces, chances are you have found the reason your freezer is not freezing—it can’t seal in the cold. However, not all door seal problems are visually apparent. If your visual inspection reveals nothing amiss, get out a dollar bill. Place this inside the door and gently try to tug it out.

If it does not come out, that spot in the door is sealed fine. If it does, you have a problem. Repeat this in order to check all parts of the door. If there are problems you can easily see, you need to replace the seals.

If there is nothing visually wrong, but it fails the dollar bill test, try cleaning the seals. Chances are some light gunk has built up, preventing the door from achieving a seal. If this isn’t the issue, check if the freezer is level. If not, prop it up or adjust the feet so it is.

When to Turn to a Professional

If none of these troubleshooting tips fix the problem, the cause is going to be in other parts of the freezer that are too complex or too easily damaged for you to fix them on your own. In these situations, the best thing you can do for your own health and safety, as well as the safety of your appliance, is to call in a professional. While it will cost more than DIY would in theory, in practice, it could save you from having to buy a whole new appliance.

When You Need a Professional, Call Chief Appliance

Freezers are complicated appliances. So, since they’re so important to your home, you don’t trust their repair to just any team. Chief Appliance has decades of experience at repairing all types of household appliances. These include deep freezers, standard freezers, and refrigerator/freezer combinations. If you can’t resolve your problem by going DIY, rely on Chief Appliance instead. We’re always ready to head on over and help you.