Freezer Not Freezing Ice Cream

Freezer Not Freezing Ice Cream

nicO and 3 contributors
Last updated on

You may want to take a look at the component diagrams on our How a Refrigerator Works page, which will help you understand where all of the major components are so that you can more easily locate them.

It's also important to perform regular fridge maintenance. Keep it running well with these tips.

Before removing and replacing or continuity testing electrical components, power down the fridge. This will prevent damage to the components and prevent you from being electrocuted.

  • If the fridge is pulled away from the wall, remove the plug.
  • Otherwise, find the fridge’s circuit breaker in your breaker box and turn the circuit off.
  • Check that the lights are off in in the fridge when you open the door

Incorrectly Loaded or Overloaded Fridge

The evaporator fan blows cold air around the freezer. Too much food or incorrectly placed food will block the vents and prevent proper temperature regulation. The refrigerator vents allow for airflow between the fridge and freezer compartments. The following tips may help your freezer maintain a safe temperature:

  • Locate your evaporator fan and move frozen items further away.
  • Unblock the vents. A rule of thumb for frost prevention is to stock enough food to fill the freezer while keeping an inch of space between the food and the walls.

Incorrect Thermostat Setting

If your refrigerator has a knob or dial that sets the temperature, check it out. Verify it is set on cold and hasn't been bumped or shifted positions. Use a thermometer if you don't have a digital thermostat display. The freezer should be around 0°F

Reset Power

You should try to reset the power to your fridge. Make sure it has power at the outlet; if the light inside the fresh food area doesn't come on when the door is opened, this suggests a power problem.

  • Unplug your refrigerator. If the plug is too hard to reach, switch the circuit breaker off.
  • Wait 5 minutes before returning power to the fridge.
  • This will reset your fridge but some modes need to be manually disabled. (see the next step)
  • Monitor temperature over the next 24 hours.



Door seals are gaskets for your fridge, and as they age and fall apart, cool air escapes through the cracks in door seals. Especially check the freezer seals.


Overcrowded shelves can prevent doors from closing properly. If you hear objects moving or resettling each time the doors are open, this is likely the issue. Make sure that bottles in the door or bulky objects aren't in the way.

In freezers where ice buildup occurs, chunks of ice can grow on the door seals.

  • Break the ice with a butter knife, and test that the door closes.

This is a good time to defrost the freezer.


A buildup of ice on the evaporator will cause uneven temperatures. In a single evaporator system, the freezer may still be cold, but the fresh food compartment may start to warm up. The fact that ice cream isn't staying frozen tells you that there is a problem with freezer temperature. If you have a dual evaporator refrigerator, with one in the freezer and one in the fresh food compartment, go to the evaporator in the freezer compartment. The fresh food (refrigerator) evaporator controls that portion, so you don't need to check that unit.

To check this, you will need to remove the evaporator cover in the rear of your freezer. If it doesn't come off easily, don't force it. You can try to run a Forced Defrost Cycle, but it might be easier to just manually defrost the unit.

Use a steamer to remove ice on the evaporator coils. Do not use a heat gun, and avoid a hairdryer, as you can inadvertently warp plastic components unless you use great care. Further, a steamer is faster.

If you don't have one, use large bowls of hot water placed in the bottom of the freezer. along with towels.

In any event, make sure your drain tube is not plugged. This can be a cause of the buildup.

Samsung Refrigerator

Follow this guide to replace the drain evaporator clip to facilitate better heating.

If there is no ice buildup, go to the next step.


At the backside and bottom of your fridge are the condenser and its coils. The refrigerant passes through the coils which dissipates heat during the cooling cycle. As dust and debris pile onto the coils, the fridge becomes less efficient and the compressor must work harder to cool down. In some cases, the compressor may be running constantly in an attempt to cool the fridge.

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  • Pull your fridge out and inspect the coils.
    • Your fridge may have an anti-tip bracket and can only be removed by pulling straight out from the wall.
  • Clean dust off condenser coils and fan with a stiff brush and vacuum.
  • Work carefully during this task and avoid bending or damaging the tubes.
  • The condenser fan draws air over the compressor and through the condenser coils. If the fan motor isn't working normally, then the fridge won't cool properly. It's normally located at the bottom of the fridge and blows air onto the condenser coils.
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  • Check the fan blade for physical obstructions
  • The evaporator fan draws air over the cooling coils and circulates this air within the fridge and freezer compartments. The evaporator fan should be running as long as the compressor motor is running. If your fridge only has one evaporator fan motor, it's located in the freezer compartment. When the fan fails it won't circulate the cold air to the refrigerator. In this event, the freezer may still get cold while the refrigerator stays warm. Likely, you will encounter an ice buildup as well.
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The fact that the freezer is working, but poorly can point to some compressor problems that may be in the early stages. These are less likely than the items mentioned above

Start Relay Failure

The start relay is a small device mounted to the side of the compressor. It provides power to the run winding, along with the start winding, for a split second at startup to help get the compressor going. If the start relay is defective, the compressor may run intermittently or not at all, and the refrigerator will not get cold enough. The start relay should be replaced if defective.

  • Test Start Relay. View this video and verify if your start relay is functioning.
  • Replace the relay if it fails the testing. If it passes, move on to testing the compressor.

Faulty Run Capacitor

If the run capacitor has failed, the compressor might not be able to start and run as it should.

Test the run capacitor first with a capacitance meter; replace it if it's faulty.

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Safely remove the capacitor and discharge with a discharge tool.

You can discharge smaller capacitors with a screwdriver with an insulated handle, but be careful as they increase in size.

Faulty Overload Relay

The overload relay is a protection device in the compressor circuit and is often combined with the start relay. It is plugged directly into the side of the compressor. If the fans are running and your compressor won’t start, or if you hear a clicking sound from the unit, follow the troubleshooting below.

  • Check the overload relay for signs of overheating or arcing.
    • This may be a hot module, burnt, or rattles when shaken.
  • Check for continuity with a multimeter.

Flip the unit over and test again. If there's no continuity, replace the unit.

Faulty Compressor

The compressor is your fridge's workhorse. By pressurizing the refrigerant, the compressor ultimately enables the evaporator to chill air. If the compressor is very noisy when you start it up, that's a bad sign, but give it 90 seconds or so to stabilize and get quieter.

If it isn't running at all (unlikely if the freezer is still somewhat cold)

Test the compressor for continuity. Resistance values vary based on the compressor, so view this video. Values outside of the range or a short to ground will mean replacing the compressor which is a costly repair. If your fridge is more than a few years old you're better off replacing the fridge instead of just the compressor.

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