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Chest Freezer Not Freezing the Bottom? How to Fix It

So, you’ve been freezing food for future consumption only to find it spoiled because your chest freezer is freezing the top and not the bottom? Disheartening, right? But why would a chest freezer not freeze the bottom?

A chest freezer won’t freeze the bottom if it is overloaded, the gasket is damaged, or the thermostat is defective. The issue could also be due to dirty condenser coils, defective evaporator and condenser fan motors, frozen evaporator coils, a refrigerant leak, or faulty user control board.

If you are struggling with a chest freezer not freezing the bottom, we have all the possible causes explained in this article. Better yet, we give you all the fixes for the annoying problem alongside every likely cause. Read on to resolve your issue! 

Why Your Chest Freezer Is Not Freezing the Bottom

A chest freezer in a home is quite convenient. It helps ensure you have enough storage space for all your food. However, if your chest freezer is not freezing the food all the way to the bottom, your stored food will go to waste.

Before throwing in the towel and retiring your chest freezer, find out if any of the above issues could be causing problems in your freezer and how to resolve it. We’ll start from the simplest to the most complex.

A Word of Caution: Please read the safety information provided in your chest freezer user manual before attempting any fixes. Also, always call a professional to assess and repair your chest freezer if you are not comfortable fixing it. 

Your Chest Freezer Gasket Is Damaged

The chest freezer gasket or door seal is the lining inside the freezer door. When intact, the gasket helps maintain the right freezer temperatures by keeping warm air out and cool air in. 

If the gasket seal is cracked, damaged, or does not close tightly, warm air will find its way into the freezer. Cool air could also escape from inside the freezer. This disrupts the even distribution of temperature inside the freezer. It also causes the compressor to cycle more frequently.

How To Fix a Damaged Chest Freezer Gasket

Open the chest freezer and assess the door seal for damage or cracks. If you identify any, have the damaged gasket replaced.

If the gasket has no signs of damage but still lets out cool air, perform the ‘dollar bill test’. Take the following steps:

  1. Place a dollar bill between the freezer and the door seal. 
  2. Pull out the dollar bill. With a tightly closing freezer door, you will feel the tightness as you pull out the bill. 
  3. Repeat the test in different positions on the freezer door. 

If the paper pulls out easily at any position, the freezer door is tilted at this point, and you need to have it realigned. To fix this, seek the services of a professional freezer technician.

Watch this quick video to learn how to do the “dollar bill hack”.

Your Chest Freezer Is Overloaded

An overloaded freezer holds more food than the recommended capacity. If this is the case, the freezer:

  • Takes longer to freeze food items. 
  • Does not freeze the food properly. 
  • Some parts of the freezer stay warm and don’t freeze.

Packing your freezer to the brim also clogs the air vents. As a result, the warm air in the freezer causes the freezing ice to melt.

How To Resolve Chest Freezer Overload

This is simple — avoid loading your chest freezer with more food than recommended. Although it is said that your freezer works better when full, that does not mean you should overload it. Besides, there should be enough room for air to circulate. 

According to Haier Appliances, when loading a chest freezer, the rule of thumb is 15-20 lb (6.80-9.07 kg) of food for every cubic foot. For example, if you have a 14 cubic foot chest freezer, you should store between 210-280 lb (95.25-127 kg) of food inside the freezer.

Your Chest Freezer Thermostatic Control Is Defective

A faulty chest freezer thermostat can cause the freezer to shut off the compressor before reaching the required freezing temperature. This means the temperature in the freezer will not be evenly distributed, and the bottom may not freeze.

Chest freezer thermostats become faulty if they are stuck in the open position or the spring gets loose, thus opening more often. 

How To Fix a Defective Chest Freezer Thermostat

To detect whether your chest freezer thermostat is faulty, test it for continuity. If you do this when the freezer is at room temperature, the thermostat will show continuity. However, a functional thermostat should not indicate continuity when the freezer attains the recommended freezing temperature. 

A freezer thermostat that shows continuity at the recommended freezing temperature is faulty and needs replacement. Call your dealer for the correct spare thermostat and follow these steps to replace it:

  1. Switch off the power and unplug the freezer. 
  2. Find the thermostat control housing and remove the screws plus the thermostat control knob.
  3. Release the defective thermostat and the temperature sensing tube from the housing.
  4. Disconnect the wires while marking where each goes.
  5. Straighten up the sensing tube of the new thermostat and fit it where the old one was in the casing. Consider transferring the insulator of the old tube to the old one if it didn’t come with one.
  6. Screw back the thermostat casing and run the freezer.

Your Chest Freezer Has Dirty Condenser Coils

Condenser coils in a chest freezer send out the heat produced during the cooling process. If the condenser coils collect dirt or debris, their functionality gets reduced. This could mean that the cool air does not reach the bottom of the freezer.

Additionally, dirty condenser coils make your freezer work harder, reducing energy efficiency. As such, manufacturers recommend you clean freezer condenser coils at least every six months.

How To Clean Dirty Chest Freezer Condenser Coils

Depending on the make or the manufacturer, chest freezers can have condenser coils located at the back or underneath the freezer. Different coil locations means different approaches when accessing them. However, the steps for cleaning the freezer condenser coils remain the same:

  1. Switch off the power to the fridge and unplug the power cable.
  2. Remove the base grille (for freezers with condenser coils underneath) to expose the condenser coils.

If the condenser coils are at the back, move the freezer from the wall to reach the coils.

  1. Use a freezer condenser coil brush to remove dirt from the coils. I recommend the Vanitek Refrigerator Coil Cleaning Brush from Amazon.com, especially because it can bend to suit your needs (whether you’re cleaning condenser coils at the back or under the freezer).
  2. Vacuum or sweep the dirt from both the condenser coil compartment and the floor.
  3. Replace the grill (or push back the freezer to its place).
  4. Plug the freezer and switch the power back on.
Note: Some chest freezers have wrap-around condenser coils encased between the inner and outer walls. These do not require cleaning as the freezer walls shield them from dust and debris. A professional is needed if these condenser coils have any issues.

An example of chest freezer condenser coils that don’t require cleaning is the GE NeverClean Condenser model.

Your Chest Freezer Has a Faulty Evaporator Fan Motor

The evaporator fan motor in a chest freezer draws air over evaporator coils to circulate it in the freezer. However, dirt can get into the fan motor and cause obstruction, making the blades not turn.

Alternatively, the motor bearings could get worn out, in which case the fan motor won’t start with the compressor.

A dysfunctional evaporator fan motor will cause your chest freezer not to cool all the way to the bottom or not to cool at all.

How To Fix a Faulty Chest Freezer Evaporator Fan Motor

Assessing and fixing a faulty freezer fan motor is a process:

  • Determine if the evaporator fan motor is the cause of inadequate freezer cooling by manually turning on the freezer door switch — fan motors turn off when the freezer door is open. 
  • If the fan motor does not run when you manually turn on the door switch, the evaporator fan motor is faulty. Proceed to assess the motor itself.
  • Check the evaporator fan motor for blockage or worn-out bearings. 

To check for blockage or worn-out bearings, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the freezer power and unplug.
  2. Find the location of the fan motor behind the coils. You may need to remove a few screws to reach the fan motor.
  3. Remove any debris or dirt blocking the blades, preventing them from turning. 
  4. If nothing is blocking the blades, try spinning the fan blades with your hand. If the blades do not turn freely, the fan motor is faulty, or the bearings are worn out and need replacement.

The final thing to do when fixing a faulty freezer fan motor is to test the evaporator fan for continuity. Do this by setting a multitester to the ohms setting and placing a probe on the terminals. The multitester should show a 0hms reading if your fan motor is good, otherwise, replace it.

Your Chest Freezer Evaporator Coils Are Frozen

A chest freezer contains a defrost heater that turns a few times per day to melt any accumulated frost on the evaporator coils. If the defrost heater is defective, the evaporator coils will frost over and reduce or halt your freezer’s cooling ability, which explains the chest freezer not freezing the bottom.

How To Fix Frozen Chest Freezer Evaporator Coils

If your chest freezer evaporator coils are freezing due to a faulty defrost heater, you’ll need to replace the defrost heater. 

To check the defrost heater:

  1. Locate the defrost heater at the back of the freezer. The defrost heat presents as an exposed metal rod, an aluminum coated metal rod or a wire coil in a glass tube. 
  2. Disconnect the power wires to the defrost heater, ensuring you label where each wire goes.
  3. Use a multitester to detect continuity in the heater by setting the tester on ohms and placing a probe on each terminal. A zero reading means the heater is working. Otherwise, you need to replace it.
  4. If that’s the case, contact your dealer for a correct replacement and fit it back where the old one was.

Note: A defrost heater may fail to work if covered with rust. In that case, clean the heater rod and replace it to see if it works.

If your chest freezer defrost heater has continuity and is working fine, but the coils are covered with frost, leave the freezer unpowered for 24-48 hours. This will allow the ice to thaw. Afterward, restart the freezer.

Your Chest Freezer Condenser Fan Motor Is Malfunctioning

The condenser fan motor draws air to cool the compressor and condenser coils. If it malfunctions, the chest freezer temperature rises, and cool air is not evenly distributed throughout the freezer. 

How To Fix a Malfunctioning Chest Freezer Condenser Fan Motor

Assess if the condenser fan motor is working by:

  1. Accessing the condenser fan motor at the back of the freezer and manually turning the blades to see if they rotate freely. If this does not happen, the condenser fan motor is faulty and you need to replace it. 
  2. Testing the condenser fan motor for continuity using a multitester. If the condenser fan motor doesn’t run, but the multitester shows a 0 ohms reading, the fan motor is receiving power. However, the component is faulty and needs to be replaced. 

Watch this step-by-step video on how to replace a bad condenser fan motor by RepairClinic.com.

Your Chest Freezer Has a Defective User Control and Display Board

A freezer user control and display board controls the temperature inside the freezer. Not every freezer has one, though. If your’s does and you have checked all other possible causes of your chest freezer not freeing the bottom, the issue could be the user control and display board. 

How To Fix a Defective Chest Freezer Control Board

A defective control board is a rare cause of chest freezer problems. However, if you have eliminated all other possible causes, then this could be the problem.

That said, fixing a defective chest freezer control board is not a user troubleshooting issue. You need to call in a professional to determine that all other freezer components are working well before replacing the user control board.

Your Chest Freezer Has a Sealed System Leak

A chest freezer sealed system leak, or refrigerant leak compromises your chest freezer’s cooling ability such that the freezer only cools partially. 

While refrigerant leaks are extremely uncommon, they could be the cause for a chest freezer not freezing the bottom if all other issues are ruled out. Besides, refrigerant leaks can be poisonous if inhaled.

How To Fix Chest Freezer Refrigerant Leak

A refrigerant leak is strictly a qualified fridge technician issue. Have a technician assess your chest freezer if you have ruled out all other possible causes of your chest freezer not freezing the bottom.

If the professional detects a refrigerant issue, he will most likely advise you to replace your chest freezer with a new one. Repairing and refilling a freezer sealed system is a costly option, and you are better off buying a new freezer altogether.

Final Thoughts

A chest freezer keeps your future food supplies frozen for use as needed. Unfortunately, your food storage will go to waste if your chest freezer only cools partially and does not freeze the bottom.

There are several causes for a chest freezer not freezing the bottom. If it’s just about overloading or cleaning dirty condenser coils, you can easily fix these. 

Nonetheless, we recommend you consult a professional technician whenever you have doubts about an issue with your chest freezer. A bad freezer problem fix is as good as no fix at all!

Author

  • Chris Hewitt

    Chris is a Texas-based freelance writer who loves the outdoors and working in his garage. When he's not enjoying the Texas sun, he can be found tinkering with all sorts of things in his workshop.