Troubleshooting a Chest Freezer

A chest freezer.

If your chest freezer begins running continuously or out of cycle, it may have a problem. There are ways of troubleshooting misbehaving chest freezers but be aware that there are certain components within the chest freezer that you are advised not to tamper with. Overrunning doesn’t just affect older models. Good maintenance can prevent issues in newer and older models.

How the Freezer Should Work

A chest freezer is a very simple piece of technology. All it contains are a few simple components such as condenser and evaporator coils, a compressor, a relay, and a thermostat. These are the only active components of a chest freezer. The rest of the freezer is just the space used to store the food.

Over Filling the Chest Freezer

It is possible that your freezer is continuously running because it has been overfilled. Always be aware of any level limits inside your freezer and obey any instructions for correct use. Unplug the freezer and defrost it before you do any maintenance or troubleshooting. Remove the contents from the freezer and put them in a substitute freezer to keep them from getting damaged. The inside of the freezer can be wiped clean and this will leave it free of debris when power is restored. Listen for any obvious signs of continuous cycling as you complete this.

Check the Cycling Process

If the temperature inside the freezer is cold enough and the thermostat doesn't cycle off, then the thermostat may be defective. When your freezer is running correctly, the cooling system inside the chest freezer should kick in when the temperature inside the freezer is higher than the temperature it should be at. Your chest freezer uses a circulating fan to move a constant flow of air through the freezer. It will run whenever the freezer is cooling and the lid is closed.

Check the Temperature Control

Check the temperature in your freezer. If the control is not operating correctly, this will confuse the freezer into thinking that it has more work to do and it will run continuously because it thinks it is supposed to. If the control is not working, your freezer will treat its environment as if there is no cold air coming in and it will constantly run.


If your thermostat has an intermittent fault or has failed completely, you can fix that part yourself. You can change the thermostat and replace it with a working one if that is the cause of the continuous running. Remember, however, that some of the parts are not serviceable and you should not tamper with those parts. When you have examined all the parts of the freezer and still cannot establish where the problem is, calling a service technician might be your best option.