Does it always seem like the ice cream in your freezer is melted or gooey? Nobody wants to eat warm ice cream, not to mention the potential health problems it can cause. Unfortunately, this common issue is almost always caused by a malfunctioning freezer.
Your freezer isn’t freezing ice cream because the door gaskets are worn, the condenser coils are frosted over, the freezer is overfilled, or the fans are blocked. Additional causes include a faulty thermostat (or an incorrect temperature setting) and higher external temperatures around the freezer.
Throughout this article, I’ll show you why your freezer isn’t keeping your ice cream cold and what you can do to fix or prevent it from happening.
1. Worn Freezer Seals
Angi explains that the most common reason that food thaws in the freezer is because one or more of the gaskets are wearing out. For example, all freezers have door gaskets that wrap around the entire door. If this gasket loosens from its adhesive or gets bent from misuse, it won’t be able to retain nearly as much cold air.
How To Fix?
If your freezer seals are warped or bent, you must replace them. If they’re slightly lifted from the door, you can replace the screws or the adhesive.
Follow these steps:
- Use a putty knife to remove the old freezer door gasket (and a screwdriver if there are screws).
- Remove the leftover adhesive with rubbing alcohol.
- Align the new door gasket as recommended by the manufacturer, then peel the adhesive to reveal it.
- Press the gasket on the freezer door and screw it into the door if necessary.
Note: Having too many items in the fridge can lift the seals. Make sure you can close the door completely before replacing the gasket. You might just need to move some items around to achieve a more secure seal.
2. Frozen Condenser Coils
Frozen condenser coils are quite common in old freezers because the condenser fan is blocked or the drain hose isn’t letting moisture out of the freezer. Check the drain tray below the freezer. If there’s no moisture and the coil is frozen, the freezer won’t be able to cool itself as efficiently.
How To Fix?
Here’s how you can fix frozen condenser coils:
- Unplug the freezer, then pull it out from the wall.
- Remove the rear panel, flush the drain line with hot water, and empty the drain tray.
- Use a blow dryer to heat the condenser coil, then slowly rub it with a sponge to remove the frost and debris.
- Vacuum the condenser coil once you’ve removed most of the frost.
- Place the rear panel on the back of the freezer, then plug it in.
Under proper maintenance, your freezer’s condenser coil shouldn’t freeze more than once every several years. Review my helpful chest and upright freezer maintenance checklist to ensure you’re preventing as many expensive repairs as possible.
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3. Overpacked Freezer Shelves
Adding too many items to your freezer can cause multiple temperature issues. For instance, anything warm will increase the temperature until it cools down. Putting a bunch of groceries in the freezer at once will take a while for them to freeze. Furthermore, you could risk blocking or putting too much pressure on the compressor.
How To Fix?
Organizing your freezer is a crucial part of preventing unwanted temperature fluctuations. As a general rule of thumb, make sure nothing is pressed against the back of the freezer, which is where most of the air circulates. The freezer can’t keep anything frozen long enough if there’s too much pressure.
Another suggestion is to check for lanes of optimal airflow. Do you feel cold air moving around everything, or does it feel like the back is cold and the front is warm? A freezer should never be packed beyond the recommended capacity. Otherwise, it’ll thaw your ice cream, meat, ice, and other items in the freezer.
4. Blocked Fans
Most freezers have circulation fans and compressor fans. If either of these fans is blocked, the air will stagnate, which means the refrigerant can’t circulate, and the food (including your ice cream) will thaw. Similarly, clogged or broken fans can prevent your freezer from staying cold throughout the day.
How To Fix?
Try these suggestions to ensure you’re not blocking your freezer’s fans:
- Locate each fan and make sure nothing is within two to three inches (5.08 to 7.62 cm) of them.
- Remove hair, food particles, and other debris from the fan vents as soon as you notice them.
- Turn off the power, then remove the panel over the fan to check if anything is wrapped around its blades.
- Check the fan’s wiring to make sure the terminals are secure and the wires aren’t damaged. Don’t forget to check the other side of the fan’s wires at the control board.
- Use a
multimeterto ensure the fan is getting 120v to 220v, then do the same for the control board.
5. Incorrect Thermostat Settings
Freezer thermostats are placed behind the door in the freezer or the fridge. If you bump the thermostat while putting items in the freezer, you could accidentally increase the temperature. You also might risk disconnecting the wires from the thermostat, which stops it from monitoring and adjusting the temperature accordingly.
How To Fix
SF Gate reports that a lot of homeowners aren’t aware of their freezer’s actual temperature settings. Most freezers have thermostats that say ‘one through five’ or have random knob notches. Either way, there’s no temperature listing. This setup can make it very confusing when you’re trying to figure out why your freezer can’t keep your ice cream cold.
Check your manufacturer’s guidelines to check each setting. For example, many freezers have their highest setting at 32 °F (0 °C) and their lowest setting at 0 °F (-18 °C). However, these temperatures can vary, not to mention how much they’re affected by an overcrowded freezer.
6. Hot External Temperature
According to Flamingo Appliance, your freezer shouldn’t be in a room that’s hotter than 110 °F (43 °C). Scorching temperatures can make your freezer work harder than it should, which results in long-term damage. It could also make your freezer overheat, which is the opposite of what it’s trying to achieve.
How To Fix?
Unfortunately, there’s no real solution to hot external temperatures aside from relocating your freezer, getting a new one with higher temperature resistance, or turning down your home’s thermostat. The good news is that this usually only happens to freezers that are left in the garage or stored outside.
You could insulate your garage if you want to avoid overheating or damaging your freezer. Doing so pays dividends because it prevents heat from getting into your home while protecting most of your appliances. However, it could be a bit too expensive if you’re only doing it to stop your freezer from melting your ice cream.
Although melty ice cream might seem like a huge annoyance, it’s only the start of a failing freezer. I advise finding the problem mentioned above, then applying all necessary solutions to repair your freezer as quickly as possible. This process will prevent it from needing much more expensive repairs down the road.