What causes a freezer to stop freezing?

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If your freezer has suddenly stopped freezing, you may want to know what causes a freezer to stop freezing as you try to troubleshoot it.

The good thing is that some of the causes are very basic and you can quickly troubleshoot them yourself (and keep the typically hefty fee you could have paid to an appliance engineer while saving your expensive food from getting spoilt).

Below we explain the various reasons why a freezer may stop freezing to help you try and get it back in business.


What causes a freezer to stop freezing – basic causes

In the first batch, I will take you through the reasons that are, generally speaking, the simplest to check for and tackle…


Reason #1- Programming error

If the onboard computer develops a problem, it may make it stop freezing abruptly.

Remedy: Try to reset the freezer (for the most part, unplugging it then plugging it back in after 30+ seconds will do the trick) then see if the contents of the freezer will start to freeze once more.


Reason #2- The door is not sealing tight

The second reason why the freezer stopped freezing is the door- if it is not sealing tight due to worn seals, the freeze can develop issues.

Remedy: Check and fix/replace the torn seal (gasket). Also, make it known to the members of your family that opening the freezer door too often(or failing to fully close it) can lead to freezing challenges.


Reason #3- Temperature readings are just off

Sometimes the readings could just be off – maybe you set the wrong temp- making the freezer struggle to freeze properly.

Remedy: Adjust the set temp (follow manufacturer’s recommendation) and see if it will kick in once more.

Reason #4- Ice buildup

The other culprit that is often blamed when a freezer stops freezing is accumulation of frost(for freezers without an automatic defroster) on the coils.

It normally occurs over time and will ultimately start to block the fan- remember the fan helps circulate cool air inside the freezer so its obstruction may lead to freezing difficulties.

Remedy: Unplug the appliance and leave it unplugged until the ice buildup (all of it) has melted. You can also defrost the coils manually using a hair dryer if they are badly defrosted and leaving it, for example, overnight does not clear the ice buildup.

Quick Tip:  There is a chance the fan has stopped running at all – it may be burned out or its motor won’t run. This may eventually cause freezer problems since there is nothing to circulate cold air in the freezer. Be sure to listen out for the fan and fix/replace the entire fan or the motor, if needed.

Important: Don’t forget to check if the defrost drain is clogged if you own a self-defrosting refrigerator– if it is clogged, water in the feeding line will probably keep refreezing over, time and again. This may ruin the lines and the fan.


Reason #5- The freezer may have been overfilled with goodies

Back to the topic of having cold air circulate well inside the freezer- an absolute necessity for proper freezing.

Now, that won’t happen if you have just overloaded the freezer with food (so do not rush to conclude that the freezer has malfunctioned if it has stopped freezing).

Remedy: Always space out food reasonably in the freezer. Also avoid placing food items right up against cooling vents.


Reason #6- You have set it to the incorrect mode

In some models, it is possible to set the freezer to demo mode, which is not designed to freeze food.  

Check if you have accidentally activated the demo mode- this is very common in Samsung freezers- and change to the right setting.


Reason #7- Dirty Evaporator Coils

Procedures that are key to proper freezing -evaporation and exchange of heat-are hampered if the evaporator coils are engulfed in dirt.

Remedy: Check and clean the coils and see if it will resume freezing (perhaps you can use a vacuum along with a soft brush for cleaning).

What causes a freezer to stop freezing? –Other potential causes

Below we look at the causes that are altogether a little complicated to sort out:

Reason #8- Defective parts

The answer to the question “What causes a freezer to stop freezing?” cannot be complete if the issue of faulty parts is not mentioned.

You see, the following parts play a critical role during the freezing process and the freezer function is likely to act up if they are fried (or not operating as intended):

  • Temperature sensor.
  • Main control board.
  • Start relay (for the compressor).

Remedy: Run continuity tests on each of the parts (with a multimeter) and replace the damaged component, if necessary then see if all will be back to normal.


Reason #9- Issues in the refrigeration system (or the compressor)

Something may have gone wrong with the refrigeration system – bear in mind that the refrigeration system is at the center-of-activity when it comes to the whole freezing process.

But the first thing to check is the compressor- it drives the refrigerant hence the freezer will end up not freezing efficiently if its seals are weak (or it has other problems).

To add, the biggest sign of compressor fault is strange noises (listen if it is making funny noises).

Another way you can tell if you have a troubled compressor is if you notice it cycling on quite frequently (more than usual).

If you have not yet found what made your freezer stop freezing, the final thing you should do here is checking for a probable leak (in the unit’s refrigeration system).

A musty odor (behind the appliance) is the telltale sign you should be on the lookout for if you suspect a leak.

Quick Tip: Fixing defects in the refrigeration system is not an easy task and it is one of those instances you may want to seek the help of an experienced technician.




Now that you have learned what often causes a freezer to stop functioning, try to correct whatever you feel is the issue yourself, if possible.

It is better than waiting days for the technician to come in (and ending up paying a huge fee for what may, sometimes, be just a minor issue).



How to prevent ice buildup in freezer – 10 great tips

Everything in freezer covered in frost? Here is what to do


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