How to Fix a Freezer That’s Not Working?
By Michelle Sonali
Updated: July 30th, 2019
If you’ve ever had a problem with your refrigerator, you know the pain that accompanies it. Finding a serviceman, calling them home, and the whole chain of trying to spot the problem can be tiring. Once you fix it or think that it is fixed, you soon realize that the problem hasn’t actually been fixed or is recurring, this can be draining. To know how to fix a freezer that’s not freezing or cooling, you’ll need to know how a freezer works.
How Do Freezers Work?
All refrigerators that have a combination of a fridge and a freezer or a chest-style freezer. This is regardless of their features like ice makers, optional lights and others, they work the same way.
The freezer compressor squeezes freon or some other refrigerant and then transfers it to the condenser. Once inside the condenser coil, the refrigerant condenses from vapor into liquid as the heat in the refrigerant gets expelled. This is the heat that is felt blowing near the freezer when a cooling cycle is in process. The refrigerant that’s now cooler flows through an expansion valve and into the evaporator. The refrigerant now cools the contents in the warming freezer and absorbs heat inside as the refrigerant turns back into a warm vapor. Finally, the refrigerant that’s now warm returns to the compressor where the cycle restarts.
Solutions to Fix a Freezer That’s Not Freezing
There are many possible reasons for why your freezer may not be cold enough. The minute problems could stem from simple issues like a gap in the seal, if the freezer is set on refrigerator mode, or if the refrigerator/freezer is opened too frequently. The best way to check if there’s a gap in the seal is to place a dollar bill between the seal and the fridge before closing the door. Once the door is shut, try pulling the out bill. If it comes out easily, that means that there’s a gap in the door. First, scrutinize and see if it’s one of these common problems. If not, your refrigerator might need to have a part replaced. One of these repairs mentioned below could help you get your freezer working again:
1. Cleaning the Refrigerator Condenser Coils
If refrigerator coils are covered in dust, it can prevent the freezer and refrigerator from working effectively. In your owner’s manual, you’ll find instructions on how to clean the condenser coils of your fridge. Don’t forget to disconnect the power supply to the refrigerator before you start cleaning the coils. It wouldn’t hurt to go one step further and unplug the power chord. In most fridges, the coils are placed behind the bottom front grill. You can use a coil brush to clean the condenser coils.
2. Change the Refrigerator’s Defrost Sensor
The fridge’s defrost sensor is also called defrost bi-metal termination thermostat. This sensor or thermostat trips if it detects that the evaporator temperature is getting hot enough for it to overheat. When the defrost sensor trips, it terminates power to the defrost heater. Sometimes the defrost sensor trips due to a malfunction. In such situations, frost builds up on the evaporator fins and prevents the refrigerator and freezer from cooling well.
To check the defrost sensor for continuity, you can use a volt/ohm meter. If the sensor shows no continuity at around ) degrees F, you’ll need to replace the defrost sensor.
3. Fix the Refrigerator Defrost System
The automatic defrost system in refrigerators is responsible to melt frost from the evaporator to improve the heat exchange. While defrosting, the compressor stops and the defrost heating element system turns on and melts frost from the evaporator fins. The condensate drips and falls into an evaporator drip tray below the evaporator before flowing through a defrost drain pan next to the compressor. This water evaporates from the drain pan before the next defrost cycle begins. In case the defrost cycle fails, the problem will have to be diagnosed and fixed.
4. Replace the Fridge Condenser Fan
The condenser has a fan that is located next to it in the machine compartment of the refrigerator. The fan helps to cool the hot refrigerant that comes out of the compressor. The refrigerant needs to be cooled before it moves through the expansion device and into the evaporator. The condenser fan needs to be replaced in case it has a defect.
5. Replace the Refrigerator Compressor Start Relay
The start relay is the electrical device that’s responsible for energizing the start windings of the compressor motor when it’s first started. The PTC start relay later closes off voltage to the start windings soon after the compressor starts. This is done so that it continues to run using the run windings of the motor. If the start replay is broken, the compressor won’t get sufficient voltage to operate. Sometimes a failure in the wiring could be the root cause of the problem and repairing the start relay wiring fixes the problem.
6. Change the Refrigerator Evaporator Fan
The refrigerator has an evaporator fan that is mounted on the evaporator assembly. This fan circulates air across the evaporator fins and through the cabinet of cooling. Sometimes this evaporator has a defect which results in the freezer not cooling.
7. Examine the Refrigerator Temperature Control Board
The refrigerator temperature control board or the electronic control board controls the functions of the compressor and other components that are vital in a fridge. It is located in the machine compartment beside the compressor and behind a panel at the back of the refrigerator. To check if the temperature control board is faulty, there are certain diagnostic test procedures that are provided in the refrigerator tech sheet. If the temperature board isn’t controlling the components properly or has stopped functioning, it will have to be replaced.
8. Change the Refrigerator Temperature Control Thermostat
The temperature control thermostat or the cold control thermostat has a sensor tube connected to it that checks the temperature inside the refrigerator cabinet. This cold control thermostat is located in the control housing. It regulates the temperature inside the cabinet by turning on and shutting off the compressor on the basis of the temperature sensed by the sensor tube. If it ceases to sense the temperature properly or if it stops cycling the compressor properly, it will prevent the freezer from cooling properly and will need to be replaced.
9. Check the Refrigerator Thermistor
One of the reasons for a refrigerator not cooling sufficiently is a faulty thermistor. The thermostat sends information about the temperature to the thermostat. A broken thermistor would cause a malfunction in the temperature of the freezer or refrigerator.
10. Examine the Refrigerator Defrost Timer
The defrost timer controls the intervals between automatic defrost cycles in the refrigerator. It is an electro-mechanical device and is responsible to run and move the control components in the refrigerator. The control contacts in the defrost timer proceed into the defrost cycle for the defrost cycle to begin. As the cycle begins, the compressor stops and the defrost heater comes on for a fixed period of time. This melts the frost off the evaporator fins. This enhances efficient heat exchange across the evaporator. After the specified defrost cycle ends, the defrost timer contacts switch back so as to allow regular cooling in the fridge.
If the defrost timer does not move forward when activated, you’ll need to replace it. Malfunctioning of the contacts in the timer could also result in the defrost heater constantly energizing or not energizing at all. It will have to be replaced even in a situation like this.
11. Adjust the Refrigerator Door
The refrigerator or freezer doors swing on hinges. Over time, these hinges get damaged and start sagging. This allows the cold air from the freezer or refrigerator to escape outside and allows warm moist air into it. This creates excess frost that could result in the drain tube freezing. You will need to repair the hinges or tighten them to ensure that the doors work properly and are aligned.
12. Check the Refrigerator Compressor
Sometimes, the refrigerant does not get compressed. The most common reason for this is a malfunction of the start device and/or overload on the motor. If the compressor seems to be in a working order but does not start, you will need to replace the start device and/or overload. Whereas, if the compressor is locked up or it runs but doesn’t compress refrigerant, you will need to change the compressor.
Home Warranty for Your Refrigerator
It is always advisable to consult with a professional when it comes to refrigerator repair. If the technician does not have sufficient knowledge and experience about refrigerators, it could lead to a series of callbacks and sometimes even multiple replacements before the right problem is attended to. Running your home without a refrigerator can be really difficult, especially if you have just stocked your freezer with different meats. The loss from spoilage can amount to a lot of money. And if the problem keeps recurring, it could drive you nuts! Buying a home warranty policy is a very good solution for your home as it covers the repairs and replacement of a range of home systems and a list of everyday use appliances, not just your refrigerator. A typical home warranty policy covers 10 home appliances. Home warranty companies offer their customers a list of prescreened contractors as well, this reduces the burden of the homeowner in sourcing a contractor for their home.
Homes that are less than 5 years old or that have appliances that are lesser than 5 years old don’t need a home warranty policy as most manufacturer’s warranties extend up to 5 years. However, for any home that is older than 5 years, a home warranty policy could be a savior. On an average, homeowners spends 2% of the cost of the home on maintenance and upkeep. If you still aren’t sure about whether or not your home needs a home warranty policy, you can use our Home Maintenance Calculator to help you out with your decision. The Home Maintenance Calculator helps one calculate the approximate cost of maintenance of a home. All you need to do is enter a few details like the age of the home, the age of the systems, appliances and a few other questions. The calculator also offers you a list of home warranty companies that offer policies that would cost you less. Before you buy a home warranty policy, don’t forget to check out the top home warranty companies page and also the awards page. You can also get a free quote from a home warranty company of your choice by giving us your ZIP code and the email ID on which you’d like to receive the quote.
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