Freezer Compressor Hot To Touch? Is It Normal?

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Freezers are a common appliance in many households nowadays. If you, too, have a freezer at home, you may have noticed that the compressor portion of the freezer feels hot when you touch it. If so, you may be wondering if this is normal or not.

It is normal for your freezer compressor to be hot to touch. That being said, it shouldn’t be scorching hot, either. The way your freezer works to cool anything inside it causes the compressor to heat up. Hence,  the compressor being hot to the touch is nothing out of the ordinary.

Contrary to the compressor, the storage section of the freezer is very cold, which is why it might need to be clarified to note that the compressor is hot. This article will help you understand why this happens and hopefully eliminate the anxiety around the issue.

Why Your Freezer Compressor Gets Hot?

To understand why this happens, you must first understand the working principle of a freezer. The main principle behind the working of a freezer is the thermal expansion and compression of the refrigerant fluid inside it. 

A freezer consists of four main parts:

  • Compressor
  • Condenser
  • Expansion Valve
  • Evaporator 

Compressor

The refrigerant fluid first enters the compressor because it plays a vital role in the freezing process. As the name suggests, the compressor compresses the gaseous refrigerant molecules. This compression increases the pressure as well as the temperature of the refrigerant. 

The compressor applies pressure to the gaseous molecules of the refrigerant to bring them closer and convert the gas into a liquid.

When pressure is applied to any fluid, it increases the rate of collisions between the molecules of the said fluid in constant motion. These collisions cause the emission of heat from the bulk of the refrigerant. 

Hence, your freezer’s compressor tends to be warm or hot to the touch. 

Read: 3 Reasons Why Chest Freezer Is Not Working After Power Outage

Condenser 

After coming out of the compressor, the next component that the heated and pressurized gaseous refrigerant enters is the condenser. The condenser is easily visible –  just look for coils on the backside or the underside of the freezer.

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The purpose of the condenser is to remove heat from the refrigerant vapor. Removing the heat turns the gas into a highly saturated liquid. It reduces the temperature of the refrigerant but keeps the pressure constant. Hence, the refrigerant in the condenser is a high-pressure yet low-temperature liquid.

Read: 3 Possible Reasons Why Chest Freezer Not Freezing At Top – Troubleshooting Guide

Expansion Valve

After the high-pressure refrigerant leaves the condenser, it goes through the expansion valve. The purpose of the expansion valve is to cause the refrigerant to expand. This is accomplished when the expansion valve creates a sudden pressure drop, causing the liquid to boil and transforming the liquid into vapor.

Evaporator 

The evaporator is also shaped in the form of coils hidden behind the inner panels of the freezer. The vaporized refrigerant with a low temperature and pressure flows through these coils spread around the freezer’s walls, which cools the inside of the freezer. 

This gaseous refrigerant absorbs heat from the food inside the freezer and lowers its temperature. Then it flows back into the compressor to repeat the freezing process. 

Read: Why Chest Freezer Not Working After Moving? How To Troubleshoot? 

What To Do if Your Freezer Compressor Is Too Hot?

If your freezer’s compressor is hot, that’s an indication that it’s doing its job, but very high temperatures are unusual. The compressor should be hot to the touch, but that doesn’t mean it should be scalding hot.  

Several reasons may lead to extreme heat from your compressor/ 

  • The compressor coils are dirty.
  • The thermostat has stopped working.
  • Something’s wrong with the other parts of the freezer. 
  • The compressor is damaged. 
  • You’ve run out of refrigerant. 
  • The fridge is placed somewhere warm

We discuss the main causes of compressor failure and potential solutions in this article about the top 5 reasons why your refrigerator compressor is hot.

Issues Caused by an Overheated Freezer Compressor

If your freezer compressor overheats, it can cause several problems. Some of these have been discussed below.

It May Burn You

While handling or cleaning your freezer, the probability that your hand will touch the spot where your compressor is located is very high. If the compressor is scorching hot when this happens, it is sure to burn your hand. The heat can also be extremely dangerous if you have kids who may like to play around the freezer.

Read: Can You Keep A Freezer Outside In The Winter?

It May Become a Fire Hazard

If you check the wall behind your freezer, you may find scorch marks on the wall that the freezer’s compressor faces. These scorch marks are a sign that your freezer compressor is overheating

If the wall the compressor faces is made of wood, the overheated freezer compressor can be a fire hazard.

It May Cause Damage to the Exterior of the Freezer

Many freezers in the market have a plastic build on the exterior. Since plastic cannot withstand high temperatures, the overheated compressor may even cause it to melt. This, in turn, will compromise the structural integrity of the freezer itself.

If this happens to one of the feet of the freezer, which is generally close to the compressor, the freezer may become more prone to tipping over and hurting someone.

Read: Why Chest Freezer Not Freezing? How To Troubleshoot?

It May Render the Freezer Useless

Excessive heat exposure can cause the refrigerant in your freezer to break down chemically. Refrigerant breakdown affects the refrigerant’s cooling abilities over time. If this continues for a long time, the freezer will stop working altogether.

The heat the compressor produces can also affect the refrigeration oils used in your freezer and cause them to break down. The purpose of these oils is to provide lubrication for the compressor to function correctly and to prevent any refrigerant leaks.

Since the overheating of the compressor reduces the effectiveness of these oils, it can lead to premature wear and tear due to friction and refrigerant leaks within the compressor body. Combined, these issues can significantly reduce your freezer’s efficiency and even cause it to stop working altogether.

If these issues go unnoticed for a long time, the temperature inside the freezer may rise beyond the recommended level and cause your food to get spoiled. Consumption of such food can lead to severe gastrointestinal issues. 

How to Prevent Your Freezer Compressor From Heating Up  Unnecessarily?

You can take certain precautions to prevent your compressor from overheating and causing damage to your freezer, turning into a fire hazard, or hurting anyone. 

  • Ensure that the compressor side of the freezer is facing away from direct sunlight or any other heat source.
  • Leave a few inches of distance between the freezer and the wall.
  • Get your freezer serviced to ensure that the condenser coils aren’t clogged up and that there is no fault within the compressor.
  • Replace your freezer compressor every few years to prevent any hazards.

Conclusion

The compressor is a device that compresses refrigerant gas by applying pressure to it, causing the gas to heat up. Hence, your compressor is hot to the touch is perfectly normal.
However, the compressor shouldn’t be scorching hot. While compressors are generally warm, unusual amounts of heat indicate something wrong with your freezer’s components. You may also need to relocate the freezer for safety. If you suspect an issue with the freezer, the best thing is to call a professional and have your compressor replaced.

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