Your freezer is one of the most important appliances in your home, preventing mold, bacteria, and rot from spoiling your food. When it breaks down, a lot of meals wind up going to waste. Fortunately, troubleshooting freezer problems isn’t as hard as it seems. While some malfunctions require a professional, others can be solved on your own.

Freezer Light Won’t Turn On

When the freezer light won’t come on, you probably just need to replace the bulb. If it doesn’t come back on, check the door switch. It might be clogged with grime. Scrubbing it with soap and water should loosen the dirt and help it function better. Use a soft brush to avoid scratching the plastic. If that doesn’t work, call a repairman to take a look at your wiring.

Excessive Frost

Freezers are designed to be cold, so a thin layer of frost is normal. But once the ice gets more than a quarter inch thick, it can create a lot of problems, including:

  • Freezer Burn
  • Odors
  • Reduced Storage Space

Accumulated frost can even prevent the freezer door from sealing tightly. When this occurs, the compressor is forced to run more often, leading to energy loss and damage. Modern freezers have an auto defrost feature that regularly melts and evaporates icy buildup. Excessive frost is usually caused when one of its components breaks down.

In most scenarios, it’s the defrost timer. Test it by turning the timer clockwise until the compressor shuts down. Then close the freezer and check back again in a couple of hours. If the frost is gone, the timer is faulty. Otherwise, you’ll need either a new defrost heater or defrost thermostat. A qualified technician will help you determine which one.

Noisy Freezer

Freezers chill your food by drawing air in through the evaporator coils, which cools the air before it’s blown into your freezer. However, when the coils become dirty or freeze over, the fan has to work harder to maintain circulation. So if there’s too much noise coming from your freezer, pull the unit away from the wall and check the coils. If you’re lucky, they’ll be dirty and you can simply wipe them down.

If they’re frozen, clearing away the ice will solve the problem temporarily, but to keep it from recurring, you’ll have to look for the underlying cause. It could be a problem with the defrost timer, defrost heater, or defrost sensor. But it’s more likely your freezer isn’t level.

An uneven freezer makes it harder for the unit to maintain a strong seal. It also interferes with the defrost cycle, which can lead to icy buildup. Before calling a technician, place a level on top of the unit. If it’s not even, all you need to do is adjust the feet. If that doesn’t solve the problem, call a technician.


The defrost feature generates small amounts of water, which is funneled down the freezer drain. However, in some instances, residual water freezes over and blocks the drain. With nowhere else to go, the water eventually builds up and leaks out through small openings in the back of the unit.

You can either clear the drain by boiling a small amount of water and pouring it into the drain or defrost the freezer entirely. If the problem persists, check your ice maker. The water hose feeding it may have sprung a leak.

Freezer Runs Continuously

Freezing food is expensive. Compressors, the device responsible for chilling the unit, are energy intensive. Running them continuously drives utility costs to an unsustainable level. Thanks to modern insulation, however, they’re normally active only in short bursts.

When they run continuously, it’s usually a problem with the door seals, evaporator coils, or condenser coils. Door seals can sometimes be re-sealed, but in most cases, they’ll have to be replaced. As has been noted, dirty or frozen evaporator coils prevent cold air from circulating. Dirty condenser coils keep the unit from dispelling heat, so the compressor has to run more to compensate.

Freezer Too Warm

When freezer temperatures get too high, most of the time the temperature control just needs to be turned down. The door seals may also have come loose. Alternatively, the evaporator coils could have frozen over or accumulated too much dust. Or there might be too much food in the freezer for cold air to circulate properly. Freezers work best when they’re 70-85 percent full. Remove a few items and see if that helps.

Freezer Won’t Run

There are only two reasons why your freezer won’t run. Either it can’t get power or the compressor has shorted out. The easiest way to determine the cause is to check the freezer light. If it’s on, the unit has power. You can also unplug the freezer and test the outlet directly. Regardless, you’ll need to call a technician to repair the problem.

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