Why Your Freezer Is Not Keeping Ice Cream Frozen

December 2, 2021
Refrigerator Repair

A freezer that does not keep your ice cream frozen is frustrating and annoying, especially on a hot summer’s day. So, why is the freezer not keeping the ice cream frozen?

Well, ice cream is less dense than other frozen foods, so melted ice cream usually means your freezer either has a minor cooling issue or it is an indication that a freezer component is failing and needs to be repaired or replaced.

Fortunately, if the basic steps do not fix the issue, with this guide and a little DIY knowledge, you should be able to find and replace the part of your refrigerator or freezer that is responsible for the issue.

So, let’s get into it!

1. Is the temperature set correctly?

You have probably already checked that the temperature is set correctly, but in case you haven’t, ice cream requires a freezer temperature that is below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a dial or slider control, the highest number or position should be the coldest temperature setting.

Be aware that when adjusting the temperature, or if adding or removing hot or cold items, it can take 24 hours for the freezer temperature to stabilize.

2. Are the freezer vents blocked?

For the freezer to work properly, air needs to be able to circulate, which will not happen if the freezer’s vents are blocked or frozen over. Therefore, rearranging your freezer, throwing out forgotten, now freezer-burnt food, and defrosting any ice buildup around the vents could be all that is required to stop your ice cream from melting.

3. Is the freezer too empty?

If your freezer consists of your ice cream and a couple of other items, you may need to put some more food into the freezer to help it stay at its optimal temperature.

To keep the temperature stable and to ensure there is sufficient airflow, most freezer manufacturers recommend keeping your freezer 70-85% full.

A freezer that is 70-85% full causes less cold air to escape and less warm air to enter when the freezer door is opened. Having other frozen items in the freezer also helps keep the temperature down.

4. Is the outside temperature too hot or too cold?

The location of your freezer could be causing the ice cream to melt. Freezers located in places like garages can be hindered by the outside temperature.

Most freezer manufacturers advise that the outside temperature should not rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit or fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the outside temperature is too low or too high, moving the freezer or providing some ventilation could solve your ice cream problem.

5. Is the door seal defective?

The freezer’s door seal (gasket) ensures that the cold air stays inside and the warm air stays out. Even a minor door seal tear can cause the freezer to struggle to keep the temperature cool and stable.

If your freezer door seal has cracks, tears, or gaps that stop it from securely sealing, replacing the door seal will improve the performance of your freezer.

A test you can do is to close the door on a dollar bill and then see if you can easily pull the bill out. If the bill comes out easily, your door seal likely needs to be replaced.

6. Is frost buildup restricting the airflow?

Like having too many items in the freezer block the ventilation, if there is too much frost or ice buildup in the freezer, the vents and evaporator coils will be prevented from working properly.

To ensure your freezer works correctly, frost and ice buildup must be removed from the freezer. If your freezer does not have an auto-defrost function, you will need to remove all the items in the freezer and disconnect the power for 8-12 hours to allow it to defrost.

7. Do your condenser coils need a clean?

Condenser coils are located at the base or rear of the refrigerator and are responsible for keeping your freezer cold. Over time, dirt and dust can build up on the condenser coils, which causes the coils to overheat and struggle to keep the freezer temperature at an optimal level.

Depending on your refrigerator, its condenser coils will either be located underneath or at the back of the appliance. If the coils are underneath, a condenser coil cleaning kit, which comes with a special brush for cleaning under the refrigerator, can be used to clean the coils. Coils located at the back of the refrigerator can be cleaned by removing the rear access panel. A brush or vacuum attachment can be used to clean the coils.

8. Is the evaporator fan defective?

The evaporator fan draws air over the evaporator coils to remove heat from the air. Depending on the refrigerator model, the evaporator fan and motor is usually located on the back wall of the freezer compartment.

If the evaporator fan or motor is defective, the temperature will rise in the freezer, and your ice cream will melt. An evaporator fan that is failing will usually cause the fan to become louder and make unusual high-pitched noises.

To check that the evaporator fan is not broken and the motor is working, remove items from the freezer and remove the panel around the fan. You should be able to see or hear if there is a problem, but the evaporator fan motor can also be tested with a multimeter for continuity. If there is no continuity, the motor will need to be replaced.

9. Is the start relay defective?

The start relay is attached to the refrigerator’s compressor. The start relay’s function is to provide power to the compressor. If the start relay is defective, the compressor may work occasionally or not at all, which will cause the freezer temperature to be too high to freeze your ice cream.

The start relay can be found by removing the refrigerator’s rear access panel. If you have experience with refrigerator repairs, the start relay can be removed and tested with a multimeter to determine if it has failed and needs to be replaced. If you are unsure, checking and replacing the start relay is best left to a trained refrigerator technician.

10. Is the compressor failing?

The last most likely cause of your freezer not cooling sufficiently is a defective compressor. The compressor is the most important part of the refrigerator, as it circulates refrigerant throughout the system, which keeps everything at the desired temperature.

If you have noticed that the compressor is making more noise than usual or is not working at all, it will need to be checked and potentially replaced. Compressor repairs can be dangerous and difficult, so it is best to contact a trained technician who specializes in refrigerator compressors.


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