Understanding How Your Freezer Works and Troubleshooting Problems

Are you experiencing problems with your freezer? Before you can properly pin-point the problem, you’ll need to understand how your freezer works, including what part or parts are responsible for what function. By reading the explanations below, you can determine where you have a problem and if you possibly need a replacement. Even if you’re not comfortable doing repairs yourself, knowing where you believe the problem is can be helpful for a technician.

Automatic defrost

Does your refrigerator with a built-in freezer have an automatic defrost feature? Brands like Kenmore (Sears), Summit, Whirlpool, Northland, Sub-Zero, Bosch, and others have this feature. If it doesn’t appear to be working, you’ll want to examine the thermostat, the defrost timer, and the defrost heater.

Freezer thermostat

The freezer thermostat is responsible for controlling the temperature inside, keeping your food cold. These can be dial-controlled or electronic, utilizing numbers or letters that correspond to specific temperatures. If you’re having freezer problems, and suspect it’s an issue with the thermostat, you’ll need to hold down the “unlock” button for several seconds. This will allow you to adjust the setting. Toggle with the setting, but not that it can take up to 24 hours for the setting to take effect. If changes don’t take effect, you may have a thermostat issue.

Door Gasket

Note that if your freezer appears to be malfunctioning, it could be due to corrosion or blockage of the door gasket, which keeps things sealed internally. Make sure nothing in your freezer is blocking the door to keep it from shutting all the way. Make sure all those living in your house ensure that the freezer is shut all the way. Sometimes people think they have a problem with their freezer and it turns out, a son or daughter got hungry in the middle of the night and decided to sneak some ice cream, not realizing that when moving things around, a box of popsicles or a bag of chicken was moved and is now preventing it from closing all the way.

Defrost timer

Make sure to turn the center knob of your defrost timer counter-clockwise to your time zone. The main knob should be set in the opposite direction, clockwise, until the defrost timer clicks. This clicking noise signifies the defrost timer is set and running. If it isn’t, you’ll want to call a technician.


Your condenser is the radiator-looking device in front of the fans. A dirty condenser can lead to a lot of common problems with freezers, including iced evaporator coils and even compressor failure, so it’s important to properly maintain it. If it’s dirty, clean it.


If your freezer won’t cool, you need to check the evaporator fan. Unplug your fridge first and foremost. Certain freezers won’t have fans and instead have coils. Check the fan and see if it’s dirty. Coils can get clogged too, so check those if you have one with coils. Clean them. Try spinning the fan to see if it’s stuck. You’ll also want to check the vents in the back of your freezer as well to be sure no ice is blocking it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nine − 3 =