Troubleshooting a Leaking Chest Freezer

A chest freezer with the lid open on a white background.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 200-500

If your chest freezer is showing signs of age, it may begin leaking. There are a few methods for troubleshooting faulty chest freezers but knowing some of the obvious signs of why it might leak can be very useful if you need to fix it yourself. Leaking is not limited to older models so be aware that certain maintenance procedures can help prevent leaks in newer models too.

Step 1 - Understand the Components

There are not that many serviceable or changeable parts inside a chest freezer. It contains evaporator coils, condenser coils, a compressor, a compressor overload, a relay, and a thermostat. These are the basic moving parts of a chest freezer but some of them are not serviceable.

The condenser coils condense the water and the evaporator coils disperse excess water caused by the freezing process. The compressor is a heating component that compresses excess water and recycles it through the system.

Step 2 - Defrost

Clean your freezer

Remove the contents of your chest freezer and place them in an alternative area to keep them frozen. Unplug and defrost your chest freezer before you do any troubleshooting or maintenance. Wipe and clean the inside of the freezer so that when you plug it back in it will be free of any grime or loose bits of debris. A clean freezer will also help to promote visibility when it comes to fixing leaks.

Step 3 - Find the Leak

Once you have defrosted your freezer, you need to establish which part of the freezer the leak is coming from. It could be coming from the inside of the freezer and this would indicate a thermostat issue. Alternatively, it could be coming from the freezing unit at the back of the freezer. Water always finds a way to escape so your leak could be restricted to one place but the actual cause could be elsewhere. Locate the drain tube which is normally found at the back of the freezer. You will probably have to unscrew or unclip the backing panel.

Step 4 - Check the Drain Hole

If the drain hole on your chest freezer has become blocked for any reason, you will need to clear it thoroughly to continue getting the best performance from your chest freezer. The drain hole is a component within the lower works of the freezer through which excess water runs to be recycled.

Step 5 - Look for Compressor Issues

Man working on a freezer

Your chest freezer contains a compressor which evaporates the excess water from the freezer. The freezer will defrost excess ice and the water flows down the drain tube to a pan where the heat of the compressor evaporates the water. If your compressor has failed, the leak will be caused by the water failing to evaporate. Have a repair contractor replace your compressor or, if this is not cost-effective, you may need to buy a new freezer.

Step 6 - Consider the Thermostat

If your freezer is not freezing at all and is dispersing water in several places, you may well have a thermostat failure. Check that your freezer is cycling correctly prior to making changes or altering the thermostat. Only if the freezer is not cycling are you likely to need to change the thermostat. If you have checked all the parts of your freezer and you still cannot locate the leak, call in a service technician.