Why Your Freezer is Starting to Frost Over

By Lyle Weischwill | Jan. 09, 2024 5:55 am PST

Frost forming inside the freezer image

Excessive frost in the freezer is caused by the invasion of warm, moist air into the freezer compartment. The water vapor in the moist air forms ice crystals on the cold surfaces inside the freezer to create the frost.

When the freezer door or lid is shut and the door and cabinet are properly sealed, little frost will form inside the freezer.

Your freezer won’t remain shut and perfectly sealed forever. Eventually, frost will form inside the freezer. Excessive frost points to problems that need correcting to prevent cooling problems in the freezer. Recognizing and addressing excessive frost issues will help you keep the freezer operating efficiently and smoothly.

Here are the common ways that warm, moist air enters the freezer and causes excessive frost.

Image frost in freezer with the door open

Freezer Door or Lid Left Open

Opening the door or lid of the freezer allows the most air to invade the freezer. When the air is warm and moist, excessive frost inside the freezer will quickly form.

Keep the freezer door or lid shut. Upgrade to a smart refrigerator or freezer that alerts you on your phone or other smart device when the door is left open.

For an upright freezer, make sure that the cabinet is properly leveled with a slight backward tilt so the freezer door swings gently shut when released. Follow the instructions in the owner’s manual or installation guide for your model if the freezer door doesn’t swing shut properly.

Image of damaged freezer door seal

Damaged Door Seal or Lid Seal

A loose, torn, cracked or damaged lid or door seal gasket will allow warm, moist air to enter the freezer. Check the lid or door seal when excessive frost appears in the freezer. Adjust or replace the seal to prevent air leaks into the freezer.

Replacing the door or lid seal gasket can be complicated depending on the type of freezer that you have. If you have a freezer with a door or lid gasket that just pushes into a channel in the door, you can likely replace that part yourself. If lid or door gasket is more complicated, schedule service to have a Sears Home Services Technician replace the part.

Unsealed Food Containers

Loading foods in the freezer that aren’t tightly sealed can allow moisture to escape into the freezer and cause frost. Let foods cool completely before loading them in the freezer and make sure contained are sealed tightly to prevent moisture from escaping.

Leaky Ice Dispenser

For freezers with an ice dispenser, a worn or damaged ice door on the dispenser can allow warm, moist air to enter the freezer. An ice cube stuck in the ice door can cause the same issue. When you see frost buildup around the ice dispenser or ice bucket in the freezer, check the ice door for damage or an obstruction. If you need to replace the ice dispenser door, schedule service to have a Sears Home Services Technician complete the repair.

Image of freezer located in the garage

High Humidity in the Space Where the Freezer is Located

No matter how infrequently you open the freezer door or lid, high humidity in the storage location of your freezer will cause frost. When you have the freezer in the garage during summer, frost buildup will typically appear quickly when you open the lid or door to remove food. When possible, locating the freezer indoors will help minimize frost buildup.

No Automatic Defrost System

When your freezer doesn’t have an automatic defrost system, frost will definitely build up over time. Follow the instructions in the owner’s manual to manually defrost the freezer. Be sure that you replace the drain plug after defrosting the freezer and returning it to service or frost will build up inside the freezer quickly.

Freezer Needs Repair

When excessive frost builds up quickly in your freezer and you’re unable to find and fix the cause yourself, it’s likely time to schedule service and have a service technician repair the freezer. An internal air leak or other malfunction could be causing excessive frost in the freezer.

Image of Sears upgrade page

When the freezer is over 15 years old and in need of repair, you may consider replacing the freezer instead of repairing it. If you decide to replace the freezer, take advantage of special offers and financing available on our Sears.com Upgrade page.

We’ve consolidated all help, financing offers and savings into one location on our Upgrade page to make it easy for you to replace your freezer now. No hassles and no waiting. Check out Quick Delivery options from top brands and get a replacement freezer installed in a matter of days.

Getting an efficient and durable freezer will give you the peace of mind that your food is staying safely frozen without running up your electric utility bill.

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