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Why is my freezer running but not freezing?

Other Common Freezer Problems

Sears Home Services Can Get Your Freezer Back to Working Order

Schedule your freezer repair now!

Call (213) 596-2538
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6 Reasons Your Freezer Is Not Freezing

7 min readUpdated Mar. 08, 2024Terry MehilosFreezer
freezer problems

Explore these common freezer problems and their likely causes, providing insight from Sears' expert technicians. From frost build-up to malfunctioning components, understanding these issues can empower you to troubleshoot effectively and potentially restore your freezer's functionality without professional assistance.


  • Ensure the freezer is not jammed-packed as it can limit air circulation, keeping it 70% to 85% full is recommended.
  • Dirty coils can impair refrigerant cooling, affecting freezer performance, clean them to enhance cooling efficiency.
  • If the compressor fails, the freezer won’t freeze; listen for the compressor hum, if absent, consult a refrigeration technician for repair.

Don’t let your freezer freeze you out. We’ll help identify the likely causes of the most common freezer repairs.

Has your frozen food lost its chill? Is your meat so freezer-burnt it’s entirely white? Is the freezer moaning and groaning like Old Man Winter himself — or worse, not working at all?

When your freezer isn’t freezing, it might not be a catastrophe requiring a repair or all-out replacement. Before calling in the experts for a repair, you can sometimes do a little sleuthing yourself — armed with some inside information from the technicians at Sears.

Here are the most common freezer problems that Sears’ experts see–and the likely culprits behind them.

Why is my freezer running but not freezing?


Ensure there’s sufficient amount of product in the freezer section, but that it’s not jammed-packed. It’s recommended to keep the freezer 70% to 85% full. Too much stuff in there will limit air circulation within the appliance — and too little will cause all the cold air to spill out of the appliance every time it’s opened. Keep things evenly dispersed near the middle of the shelves so as not to block any vents or interfere with proper air circulation.

Frost Build-up

Frost accumulating inside the freezer compartment can block the vents that carry cold air into the compartment. Most freezers today have auto defrost, so check to see if the door has been left open, or if the door seal is worn. You’ll need to have the seal replaced if it’s damaged or torn. If the seal looks okay, a technician should inspect the freezer to determine the problem. If your freezer doesn’t have auto-defrost, you should manually defrost it following the recommendations in your owner’s manual.

Dirty Condenser Coils

Dirty coils won’t cool down refrigerant before it enters the evaporator, resulting in poor cooling performance. Clean the condenser coils if they’re caked with lint and dust. You may need to have a service technician clean the condenser coils if they’re not easily accessible.

Broken Evaporator Fan Motor

A failed evaporator fan can cause freezer cooling problems because it won’t circulate air through the freezer cabinet. You’ll need to have a service technician replace the evaporator fan if it doesn’t run when activated.

Broken Condenser Fan Motor

Freezers with condenser coils may also have a condenser fan that pushes air across the condenser coils. The freezer won’t cool well when the condenser fan isn’t running while the evaporator is operating.

Freezer Compressor Not Working

The freezer compressor is a pump that moves refrigerant through the sealed system, creating the cold air. If the compressor or the compressor start relay stops working, the freezer won’t freeze. If you listen to the freezer for about 30 minutes but don’t hear the familiar hum when it operations, it’s possible the compressor is the problem. A certified refrigeration technician is required if the compressor fails.

Other Common Freezer Problems

Freezer Making Strange Noises

A freezer during normal operation can make a variety of noises from clicking during the ice harvest cycle and sizzling or gurgling during defrost to swishing or whirring sounds from the fan motor.

Diagnosing a noise complete can be very difficult. What sounds like humming on one day might sound like buzzing on another. Loudness is often relative; so what is considered loud at night time might be quiet during the day. And different conditions can cause the freezer to sound different.

The key question to ask yourself when hearing noises is are they any other issues going on with the freezer. If other issues are present, fixing those issues will more than likely also fix the noises.

Water Leaking Under Freezer

The most likely reason water is present under the freezer is a frozen-over defrost drain. If the drain is frozen, it should be defrosted and then cleaned out.

If the freezer has a water hookup for an ice maker and/or water dispenser, the leak could be coming from the house water supply, the water line, or the inlet valve. If the water line or inlet valve are faulty, they should be replaced.

If the water is coming from the freezer itself, it may be due to the condensation pan overfilling. Excess frost on the evaporator coil could produce more water than the pan can hold. This problem might be caused by high humidity areas or frequent opening of the freezer door. A missing access cover might also prevent proper air flow and proper evaporation of water from the pan. If the condensation pan is cracked, it should be replaced.

Freezer Won’t Run

Make sure the appliance has power going to it. Check whether the light inside the refrigerator goes on when you open the door.

If not, plug something like a hairdryer or lamp into the outlet. If that device also doesn’t work, the outlet doesn’t have power going to it. Look for a tripped circuit breaker or tripped GFI outlet. Contact a licensed electrician for more serious electrical problems.

Make sure the appliance has power going to it. Check whether the light inside the refrigerator goes on when you open the door.

If not, plug something like a hairdryer or lamp into the outlet. If that device also doesn’t work, the outlet doesn’t have power going to it. Look for a tripped circuit breaker or tripped GFI outlet. Contact a licensed electrician for more serious electrical problems.

If there’s power going to the outlet, there may be an issue with the main control or user interface boards, or the temperature-monitoring devices such as the sensors, or the thermostat might be bad. Further troubleshooting will be needed to pinpoint and resolve the issue.

Temperature Too Warm

If the freezer is freezing but your ice cream seems to soft, check the temperature setting is correct. The recommended setting for a freezer is 0°F (-18°C).

The freezer should be operated in an environment between 55°F (13°C) and 110°F (43°C). If the environment is too cold, the freezer may not get sufficient run time to maintain its temperature. If the temperature is too warm, the appliance will have a hard time getting the interior down to the desired temperature.

Dirty condenser coils or a broken fan motor can also cause insufficient freezing.

Here are some additional explanations about why the freezer temperature is too warm.

  • Some freezers use a thermistor (temperature sensor) and an electronic control board to control freezer temperature. If the freezer cools but it doesn’t cool down to 0 degrees, a bad thermistor may not be accurately detecting freezer temperature or the electronic control board in the freezer may be inaccurately detecting the thermistor signal.
  • A wiring failure in the thermistor circuit could be interfering with the thermistor signal going to the control board. The freezer won’t cool properly when the control board can’t accurate receive the thermistor signal.
  • Some freezers use a defrost timer to control automatic defrost intervals. A failed timer won’t advance into the automatic defrost mode, so the defrost heating element will never turn on to melt frost off the evaporator fins. The freezer won’t cool properly when evaporator fins are caked with frost.

Sears Home Services Can Get Your Freezer Back to Working Order

While some causes for a freezer troubles are easily corrected, many require more troubleshooting to pinpoint and resolve the issue. There are times when you'll need for calling in the experts. If your freezer isn’t freezing working as it should , schedule a repair with our repair experts today.

For generations, Sears Home Services has been the trusted source for appliance repair. If your refrigerator is not cooling, our refrigerator repair experts are here to help.

Schedule your freezer repair now!

Trust our skilled technicians to repair your freezer promptly, regardless of where you bought it.

Call (213) 596-2538 or schedule online now.

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