Troubleshooting a Chest Freezer That Doesn't Cool

An open chest freezer.
  • 2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 150
What You'll Need
Condenser brush
Vacuum cleaner
What You'll Need
Condenser brush
Vacuum cleaner

A chest freezer is a great item to have in your home. You might not have space for it in your kitchen, but a chest freezer kept in the basement or in the garage is excellent for storing frozen food. Problems occur when the chest freezer refuses to work properly. If it’s won’t cool properly to keep the food frozen, you need to take action quickly before the food is ruined.

Defrosting System

If the freezer is definitely running but won’t get cold, you’ve already eliminated one of the possible problems such as power shortage. If a freezer is not cold enough, it could be due to a build-up of frost on the coils of the freezer. This will prevent it from cooling properly.

One sign that this could be the cause would be the presence of frost or ice on the inside of the freezer. It could be on the walls, the lid or even on the freezer floor. Where this happens, it can often mean a problem with the self-defrosting system which should kick in around four times a day.

If one part of the self-defrosting system isn’t working, the freezer will still attempt to cool although it won’t do it as efficiently as it should. This will gradually lead to a build-up of frost on the evaporator coils, which in turn can mean that the fan that circulates the air isn’t able to draw air over those coils. You’ll still find some cooling occurring as the coils themselves are cold, but it will be very limited.

To check, you’ll need to empty all the food from the freezer then turn the thermostat off and leave the lid of the chest freezer open for 48 hours to allow the appliance to completely defrost. Turn the thermostat back on to its proper setting and see if it cools properly

If it does, then you know the problem lies in the defrost heater, the defrost timer or the defrost thermostat. Unless you are comfortable working on appliances, consult a professional to fix the problem.

Lid Gasket

One reason for the chest freezer not cooling properly could be the lid gasket. If it’s not making a proper airtight seal, the chest freezer won’t cool in the proper manner. Check the gasket to make sure it’s tight, fits properly and that nothing is stopping it from closing fully. Make sure that none of it has perished. If there is a problem, you’ll need to replace the entire gasket.


The condenser on a chest freezer needs to be cleaned periodically. The coils can become coated with dirt, dust, hair and other debris. If the coating is too thick, they won’t cool efficiently which results in a problem. To clean them, use a condenser brush along with your vacuum cleaner to remove all the debris

Refrigerant Level and Compressor

Other things that could be causing the chest freezer not to cool are a faulty compressor or a low level of refrigerant. In both instances. you’ll need specialized equipment to check and repair. If you’ve eliminated the other possible causes, the best solution is to call a professional.

Hopefully this troubleshooting guide showed an easily fixed problem. Now you should have a chest freezer that does cool!