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Why is My Freezer Not Freezing? 9 Possible Causes

Is your freezer not cold enough? Here are some potential causes: 

Some causes of freezer malfunction can be fixed by simply cleaning out the shelves for excess food storage, while other causes may require a closer look.

If your freezer struggles to stay cold for too long, you run the risk of not only spoiling food but also reducing the lifespan of the appliance. When something goes wrong with your freezer’s cooling system, the problem should be fixed right away. Some freezer problems can be resolved on your own or with the help of a professional while others can signal that it’s time for an appliance upgrade. Before you schedule a service call, learn how to troubleshoot these common causes that keep your freezer from freezing.

Close up of an ice maker Close up of an ice maker

Potential Causes of a Freezer Not Getting Cold Enough

Whether you have a chest, upright or combination refrigerator/freezer, there are a few usual suspects for any freezer that’s stopped working. A freezer may not be cold enough due to user error, such as packing in too much food or not properly closing the door. However, parts to your freezer wear out over time and may be affecting your appliance’s freezing capabilities. Many parts are simple to install as DIY fixes, but others can’t be resolved on your own. 

Always check your freezer’s Use and Care Guide for model-specific troubleshooting instructions.

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Is Your Freezer Not Freezing Due to Overpacking?

If your freezer is not working, the first thing to check is if the shelves are packed too tightly. Overstuffed freezers can cause airflow blockage especially when the evaporator fan is blocked. If your freezer is not cold enough, we recommend clearing off your freezer shelves. Make a clearing for your freezer’s evaporator fan by reorganizing food and getting rid of items possibly forgotten in the back of the freezer.

If you’re consistently overpacking your freezer, you would likely benefit from a Maytag® supplemental freezer to keep food overload at bay. If excess clutter in your freezer isn’t the cause (or if your freezer isn’t full to begin with) further investigation is needed.

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Does Your Freezer Have Frost Buildup?

Excess frost buildup on the walls of your freezer can congest the vents and coils that keep your freezer functioning. If your freezer is not working, learning how to defrost a freezer and breaking down built-up ice can release that congestion and allow your freezer to maintain its proper temperature. It is important to note that most modern freezers auto defrost, meaning frost buildup is a sign of parts that need replacing. This is a more complex issue that would benefit from professional evaluation.

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Is Your Freezer Not Working Because of Dirty Condenser Coils?

If you have a combination refrigerator-freezer that isn’t freezing, a very common cause is dirty condenser coils. When coils aren’t maintained properly, it reduces the cooling capacity of your freezer. To clean the condenser coils you can vacuum the coils with a crevice attachment. If you have an upright or chest freezer, the coils are in the walls of the freezer and are not the cause of your appliance’s malfunction.  

Be sure to check your Use and Care Guide for model-specific maintenance recommendations.

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Has Your Freezer Stopped Working Because of the Start Relay?

Your freezer’s start relay provides power to the compressor. If the relay malfunctions, the compressor can’t run and your freezer will begin to thaw. The signs of a broken start relay vary by model, and it is recommended to check your product manual for a proper diagnosis or schedule a service technician.

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Do You Have a Broken Evaporator Fan Motor?

Your freezer’s evaporator fan motor keeps cold air circulating throughout your appliance. A malfunction of this motor stops your freezer’s cooling function. Depending on the model of your freezer, the evaporator fan motor shuts off when the door is open. To check the function of the motor, open your freezer door and manually hold down the freezer door switch. If the motor does not begin to run, it may need to be replaced.

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Is Your Freezer’s Thermostat Out of Order?

If your chest freezer is not freezing, you may want to inspect its thermostat. Typically, most modern refrigerators and freezers have an electronic control and use temperature sensing thermistors to regulate the temperature. Your chest freezer’s thermostat is the control hub of the inner mechanisms necessary to regulate your appliance’s temperature. It controls the compressor, the evaporator fan motor and the condenser fan motor. When there’s a problem with a chest freezer’s thermostat, those parts are unable to do their job in keeping the freezer cold. To determine if the thermostat is the cause of a freezer not getting cold enough, change the thermostat from the lowest to the highest settings and listen for a click. If you don’t hear a click, then it needs to be replaced.

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Is Your Freezer Not Working Due to a Broken Condenser Fan Motor?

If your freezer is not cold, the problem may be caused by a broken condenser fan motor. The condenser fan draws cool air through the condenser and over your freezer’s coils. If this fan is broken, your freezer’s inner temperature will rise, and the compressor will overheat.

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Is Your Freezer Door Not Properly Sealing Shut?

Your freezer door gasket is what keeps the warm air of your home locked out and the cool air of your freezer locked in. If the door is not sealing completely shut every time you close it, that cool air will leak out and your freezer’s temperature will rise. To check if your freezer door isn’t sealing properly, place a piece of paper flatly against the gasket and close the freezer door. Then, tug at the paper. If there is little to no resistance to pulling the piece of paper free from the door, the seals are loose and need to be replaced. Be sure to test multiple areas along the seal. In newer freezer models, there are no tools necessary to replace the gasket. Typically these freezers have wrap around gaskets or gaskets that can simply be pushed into place. If your freezer is an older model, the gasket is attached with screws and replacing it requires a few extra steps.

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Has Your Freezer’s Compressor Stopped Working?

If you’ve checked all the other components of your freezer for malfunction and you still haven’t found the root of the problem, the source may be the compressor. The easiest way to diagnose a problem with your freezer’s compressor is by listening for its routine humming sound. Pay attention to your freezer for at least 30 minutes. If the humming sound doesn’t appear in that time, the compressor may not be working correctly.

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Does Your Freezer Need Repairing or Replacing?

When your freezer stops working to its best abilities, it is signaling to you that a problem needs to be investigated. Though most freezer problems can be quickly diagnosed and resolved, they may also be an indicator that your appliance needs to be replaced. Refrigerators and freezers can last anywhere between 10 to 15 years, and problems found at the end of your appliance's life are a sign that it is time to make an upgrade. Maytag brand offers a variety of refrigerators and freezers to help you make the best choice for your household needs.


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