Chest freezers provide additional room for food storage, and keeping one in a garage prevents homeowners from using much-needed floor space within a home. However, sometimes people have problems running a chest freezer in the garage.
A chest freezer may not work in a garage due to external temperatures that are too hot or too cold, an improper circuit, dirty condenser coils from dust buildup, or a defective thermostat from exposure to regular temperature changes.
This article addresses seven reasons why a chest freezer may not work in a garage and what homeowners can do to remedy those problems, so read on.
1. The Garage Temperature Is Too Cold
A standard garage isn’t as well-insulated as other parts of a home. Air from the outdoors enters the room through the large garage doors and affects the temperature inside.
Those living in cold climates or areas that experience harsh winters may have issues with garage chest freezers shutting off during the cooler months.
Chest freezers, especially newer models, are sensitive to ambient temperature. If the air temperature surrounding the appliance dips below freezing, the freezer may improperly sense that it’s reached the desired cooling temperature and shut off.
The compressor won’t kick on until the thermostat detects an increase in ambient temperature. As a result, the chest freezer stops freezing.
How To Fix?
One way to prevent a chest freezer in the garage from randomly shutting off when temperatures drop is by insulating the area around the freezer.
Build an insulated cubby space for the appliance or set up an insulated corner. This method requires a bit of money and effort, but it’s the best way to prevent future problems relating to external temperatures.
Alternatively, you can switch to an outdoor chest freezer. These freezers are marketed as “garage ready” and designed for placement in environments that aren’t temperature-regulated.
If you don’t have the time or finances to build an insulated space for your freezer or don’t want to upgrade to an outdoor appliance, you can add a thermostatic controller. This device allows you to control the temperature of the chest freezer manually. They’re often used in homebrewing applications, but they’re also helpful in maintaining the temperature of a chest freezer during the colder months.
For a tutorial on installing a thermostatic controller on a chest freezer, check out this YouTube video:
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2. Garage Temperature is Too Warm
Chest freezers in a garage that’s too warm may act up just the same as in a garage that’s too cold.
When outdoor temperatures reach or exceed 90°F (32.2°C), poorly insulated spaces, such as a garage, may see temperatures soar as high as 110°F (43.3°C). Excessive temperatures may force the condenser to work harder.
Maintaining freezer temperatures in high-heat environments puts extra stress on the internal components of the appliance, especially the compressor and thermostat. This stress leads to premature wear and tear and increases your electric bill as the device runs more often and draws more power.
How To Fix?
As with cold temperatures, the best way to fix this problem is by insulating the space in the garage around the chest freezer. It’s the best long-term solution. However, this fix isn’t in most people’s budget.
Instead, you can install a ceiling fan to cool the freezer and keep it working optimally. An oscillating floor fan behind the freezer may work as well, as long as it’s pointed in a direction that keeps the condenser coils cool. Keeping the coils cool allows for better heat transfer when the coils convert the gas refrigerant into a liquid.
Note: If you live in a particularly humid area, you may consider using a dehumidifier. Excessive moisture can lead to rust on the exterior of a chest freezer and damage internal parts.
3. Improper Circuit
If your chest freezer regularly shuts off or trips the circuit breaker, it could be due to an improperly wired circuit.
Dedicated circuits protect appliances from electrical surges and overload fires and protect consumers from potentially fatal electric shocks. If you have a chest freezer in a garage, it must have a dedicated outlet and circuit.
Placing a garage chest freezer on a random outlet isn’t advisable and could be dangerous.
How To Fix?
Ensure the space where you have the chest freezer has a dedicated 120-volt, three-prong outlet nearby with a grounded branch 15- or 20-amp circuit breaker.
Anything less than this will cause the freezer to trip the breaker as it draws too much power regularly. The breaker switches off to prevent overloading the circuit. If you allowed the device to operate on this circuit, it would draw more current than the line could handle, leading to an electrical fire.
If you don’t have a dedicated, grounded outlet in the garage suitable for your freezer, you’ll need to have an electrician wire one. Otherwise, you’ll need to find an alternative location to place the chest freezer with a dedicated outlet that matches the required voltage.
4. Condenser Coils Are Dirty
Chest freezers in garages that require more maintenance than inside the home. These appliances are more likely to come in contact with extreme temperatures, dust, and debris, so you must take regular care to ensure they’re clean and in good working order.
Condenser coils are particularly susceptible to dust and debris buildup. When these components become dirty, the freezer cannot work well.
These coils transform the gas refrigerant into a liquid which runs through the system to cool things down. Dirt, however, can reduce the ability to make that conversion efficiently, and the system is forced to work harder.
How To Fix?
Here’s how you can clean your condenser coils.
- First, access the back of the chest freezer, and locate the coils.
- Use a can of compressed air to blow away any dirt and debris.
- Use a soft brush to get in between the coils and loosen any stuck-on grime.
- Get your vacuum cleaner and suck up the dirt left behind.
Repeat this process once every three to four months for a garage chest freezer and at least once every six months for indoor freezers.
For more information on cleaning a chest freezer’s condenser coils, check out this YouTube video:
5. Defective Cold Control (Thermostat)
Although condenser coils are more likely than a thermostat to fail on a chest freezer; the thermostat may be to blame. Thermostat issues are especially likely regarding garage chest freezers, which are exposed to regularly changing temperatures that may affect the thermostat.
You may notice your chest freezer getting too cold and frosting everything over or not getting cold at all. These are both signs of a faulty thermostat.
How To Fix?
Before working on the chest freezer, you should check the thermostat for continuity using a
Check your appliance’s manual for the model number before ordering to ensure you get the correct part.
To install a new thermostat:
- Unplug the chest freezer. Remove the control knob by pulling it off the front or side of the freezer.
- Unmount the back covering on the freezer. Behind the covering is where you’ll find the thermostat.
- Locate the thermostat. Using your index finger and thumb, pinch the tabs holding the cold control device in place and pull it out of its housing.
- Look at the wiring. Make a mental note of their placement or take a photograph.
- Disconnect the wires. Pull the bulb out of the back of the freezer and pull the thermostat out.
- Push the new thermostat into place and reconnect the bulb. Attach the wires, then snap the thermostat into place.
- Put the back cover back on the freezer. Reattach the control knob and plug the freezer in.
Here’s a video that explains how to replace the thermostat on a chest freezer:
When a garage chest freezer begins to fail, it’s likely due to extreme temperatures, an improperly wired circuit, dirty condenser coils, or a defective thermostat due to regular exposure to temperature changes. Fortunately, each situation has a simple fix to have your chest freezer up and running again.