We are so used to freezers being reliable that when they suddenly malfunction, we have a hard time accepting the resulting inconveniences. Sometimes a manual defrost is due, and though inconvenient and messy, it’s a better scenario compared to a defective refrigerator component or a damaged compressor.
Freezer Cooling System
The cooling system of refrigerators and freezers all have the same mechanism. The compressor releases a refrigerant (i.e., Freon) to the condenser. The condenser coils transform the refrigerant from vapor to liquid while releasing heat. It is the same heat you feel blowing near the freezer while it is in a cooling cycle. The cooler refrigerant flows into the evaporator through an expansion valve. From the evaporator, it absorbs heat from the freezer and cools its contents. The refrigerant then turns into a warm vapor, returns to the compressor, and repeats the cycle.
A disruption in the cycle will stop the freezer from cooling, but there are many factors that contribute to this problem. Before you call a repair service and say goodbye to your hard-earned money, do basic troubleshooting and simple repairs to eliminate minor troubles.
1. Reset the thermostat knob to the proper setting
The temperature setting in your freezer was probably raised accidentally and if that is the case, the fix is obvious. A defective thermostat will fail to send power to the refrigerant system, and the freezer will not cool. To check if the thermostat is working properly, rotate the thermostat from the lowest to the highest setting. If you hear a clicking sound, then the thermostat may not be the problem. Examine the thermostat for continuity using a multimeter; if it fails the test, replace the thermostat.
2. Test the defrost timer
Make sure to unplug the freezer before testing the defrost timer. Locate the defrost timer and manually advance the defrost cycle using a screwdriver. Turn the advancement screw clockwise until you hear it click. This advances the cycle to the next mode. Wait for about 30 minutes to an hour and check if it has resumed cooling. If it does not advance, the defrost timer probably needs to be replaced.
3. Clean the condenser coils
As your refrigerator condenser coils dissipate heat, dirt and dust accumulate around the coils. You need to clean the condenser coils every 6 months for an optimum operation. Rear-mounted coils must be cleaned once a year. Brush the coils or use a vacuum to remove dirt build-up. You can also use warm soapy water for stubborn debris. Make sure not to drip water on the freezer components. After an hour, plug the freezer back in and wait for it to cool.
4. Test your freezer’s door seal
A faulty door seal causes the freezer to stop freezing. Insert a dollar bill between the door and freezer and see if you can pull the dollar bill with the door closed. If you can easily pull the dollar bill without resistance, then the seal is probably damaged or dirty. A dirty door seal simply needs to be cleaned. If the door still does not seal properly, the seal may need to be replaced or the door realigned.
5. Check if the evaporator coils are frosted over
The defrost heater is responsible for melting away any frost that accumulates on the evaporator coils. If the frost heater is defective, frost will continue to accumulate over the evaporation coils. Test if the defrost heater is working using a multimeter. If it does not have continuity, you need to have it replaced. Dirty evaporator coils may also have trouble transferring heat or cold efficiently.
6. Examine if the compressor is working
The compressor can be accessed at the bottom of the freezer. It emits a humming sound or a steady noise that indicates that it is working. If you hear a clicking sound, it means the compressor is overheating or in overload. If you don’t hear the clicking sound but the freezer is still not cooling, then something could be wrong with the compressor or its starting components. Test each component for continuity and replace the defective parts. In addition, a start relay that smells burnt must also be replaced.
7. Check if the condenser fan motor is running
Check if the fan blades are spinning freely. Obstructions can stop the blades from spinning, and motor bearings get worn out over time. If the fan motor does not have continuity, replacing it may get your freezer back in shape.
8. Keep Your Freezer Relatively Full
This may sound strange, but your freezer does its job much more efficiently when it must keep a lot of items cold. In fact, if you don’t keep a unit well-stocked, you’ll increase your related utility costs by a significant amount. You’ll also make the appliance work harder and increase the likelihood that premature breakdowns will occur. At all times, shoot for a freezer level that’s a minimum of two-thirds of maximum capacity. If you don’t tend to keep that much frozen food around, you can shift certain types of items (e.g., bottled water or leftovers) over from your refrigerator compartment or standalone refrigerator. Remember to evenly balance the distribution of anything you add to your freezer. That will allow you to maximize efficiency and decrease the appliance workload.
If you have any questions about the best approach to freezer maintenance, you can call on the professionals at West Coast Chief Repair. Every day of the year, we help residents of the region’s many communities keep their major appliances healthy and trouble-free. You can also turn to us if you’re experiencing freezer-related problems that potentially call for a limited repair or a complete unit replacement. Call us today for more information and advice.