Freezer Not Working but Fridge Is [Causes and How to Fix]

It’s common for the freezer to stop working, even though the fridge still works. Fan failures, dirty condenser coils, or control problems are some of the issues that can lead to your freezer not getting cold enough. What are the causes and fixes for a freezer not working, but the fridge is?

5 common reasons for the freezer not working but fridge is:

  1. Air Leaks
  2. Defective Automatic Defrost System
  3. Busted Evaporator Fan
  4. Dirty Condenser Coils or Faulty Condenser Fan
  5. Defective Temperature Sensors

Read on to learn more about common freezer problems, what it means to the durability of your fridge and how you can avoid further damage through proper maintenance.

Freezer Not Working but Fridge Is

freezer not working but fridge is

Probably the most worrisome of all when it comes to refrigerator problems is when the freezer stops working. Or when it no longer creates enough cold temperature to keep food from spoiling. Here are some of the most common problems of the freezer and how to properly manage them:

1. Air Leaks

You will know there are air leaks in your refrigerator if:

  • You see that the entire freezer compartment has a frost build-up.
  • It’ll also feel too warm to keep ice cream fully frozen.

The problem here is that warm air may be leaking into your refrigerator. Then, this spoils your stored food quicker instead of preserving it.

To check for air leaks, you need to check all door gaskets and replace any damaged ones. If there are no damaged door gaskets, but the freezer door slumps on its hinges, it creates gaps between the gasket and the door openings. Adjust the door hinges to ensure the door is properly locked in place and no warm air can get through.

2. Defective Automatic Defrost System

Frost build-up that is not typical to your freezer could signify that the automatic defrost system has malfunctioned. When working as it should, the defrost system automatically melts frost every 8 hours from the evaporator coils. If frost builds up on the back compartment wall and evaporator coils, cool air will not be able to pass through the air paths, leading to your freezer not cooling enough.

If you find that the automatic defrost system is no longer working, it might be best to replace the defrost heater, defrost sensor or other components relative to the defrost system your refrigerator has.

3. Busted Evaporator Fan

An evaporator fan is a small device that blows cool air into the freezer and refrigerator. As soon as you hear the compressor run, the evaporator fan should turn on too. And if not, you might need to check the wiring or electronic control board. 

Faulty wiring could also be the reason for a busted evaporator fan. To check, be sure to have unplugged your refrigerator first for safety. You will need a multimeter to help you diagnose wiring problems as this essential tool measures AC/DC Voltage, resistance, and currents as well as provides alerts in the event of short circuits or improper wiring. 

There will always be diagnostic tests you can do to check if the evaporator fan is working, but if it still does not run under normal circumstances, then it is time to replace the part.

4. Dirty Condenser Coils or Faulty Condenser Fan


Dirt and dust build-up on condenser coils are threats to the cooling capacity of your freezer. Cleaning these coils as part of your routine maintenance is important to keep your refrigerator working in top shape. But again, be sure to unplug the refrigerator before cleaning condenser coils to avoid accidents.

The same goes for your fridge’s condenser fan – if you find that your freezer is not cooling enough and the other parts seem to be working, then it must be the condenser fan already being faulty. The refrigerant will not cool effectively if the condenser fan is busted. Immediately replace this part if it does not run when activated.

5. Defective Temperature Sensors

This one might seem like an easy fix, but it is one of the worst problems to cause a freezer to stop working properly. Defective temperature sensors or thermistors will affect not only the freezer’s cooling function but the refrigerator in its entirety.

The thermistor provides information to the electronic control board, which will then monitor and control your fridge’s cooling. If the sensor is broken, the electronic control board will receive the wrong signals, which can cause your freezer to either be too cold or just not cold enough.

To diagnose this problem, check if there are any wiring damages or loose connections after unplugging the refrigerator for safety. If the wiring harness looks okay, then the thermistor might have a problem with its resistance.

Get your multimeter and check this by placing the thermistor in a cup of ice water. Typically the resistance should be about 27,000 ohms, given the water temperature is around 32 degrees. Any reading by the multimeter that is off by upwards of 10 percent means you have a defective temperature sensor. 

Safety Tips for When Freezer Not Working but Fridge Is

refrigerator working but freezer not freezing

No matter how good and safe you think you are at fixing common home appliances, it is still best to strictly follow safety protocols, especially when working with electricity. Here are some safety tips to remember when DIY fixing your defective freezer or refrigerator:

  • Check if you have properly unplugged the refrigerator
  • Use protective gloves when handling wiring
  • Make sure there are no water spillage in the work area
  • Read and follow the instruction manual carefully
  • Use tools such as a multimeter to help diagnose faulty wiring or sensors
  • When in doubt, call an expert

After troubleshooting mechanical problems in your fridge, other things you can try is to check if parts such as the fridge door and gaskets are aligned or not. 

So again, if you run into the problem of the freezer not working but the fridge is, what causes this and what are the solutions?

  1. Air Leaks
  2. Defective Automatic Defrost System
  3. Busted Evaporator Fan
  4. Dirty Condenser Coils or Faulty Condenser Fan
  5. Defective Temperature Sensors

Other symptoms common to refrigerators include water drippings on the floor, ice maker not making ice, frost build-up on the freezer, freezer not cooling at all, or just outright fridge is not running. For older refrigerators, door hinges may be loose, and gaskets may have already started sagging. Not to mention dust and dirt buildup, especially when routine maintenance is not followed or done.

Conclusion – Freezer Not Working but Fridge Is

We all want to save a few bucks when it comes to small repairs in home appliances. After all, instruction manuals are included in your appliance purchases for a reason. When you find your freezer is not working, but the fridge is fine, some common problems you may want to check are:

1. Air Leaks are typically caused by old and torn door gaskets or loose door hinges preventing the freezer of the fridge door from closing properly and letting hot, moist air penetrate inside the freezer. 

2. Defective Automatic Defrost System – unusual frost buildup in your freezer could be a tell-tale sign that the defrost system is no longer working. Be sure to check the defrost heater or sensor and replace it if needed.

3. Busted Evaporator Fan – the fan should work as soon as the compressor runs and if not, check the wiring using a multimeter to ascertain if it is already defective

4. Dirty Condenser Coils or Faulty Condenser Fan – dust and dirt build-up in the condenser coils poses a huge risk to the overall health of your fridge and freezer. Be sure always to clean the condenser coils as part of routine maintenance to keep your fridge running smoothly.

5. Defective Temperature Sensors – this is one of the biggest issues in freezer problems. A defective thermistor provides wrong temperature information that can lead to either over freezing or your freezer not cooling well enough.

All these constitute some form of a mechanical problem, which requires safety in troubleshooting at home. Suppose you find that any one of these top five problems occurs, best to consult the instruction manual first before troubleshooting.

Here are some quick safety tips to help you:

  • Unplug first before checking any part of the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Use protective gloves if you handle wiring problems on your own.
  • Clean any water spillage or droplets before starting troubleshooting measures.
  • Read through the instruction manual and go back to it as you go along the repair.
  • Have a multimeter ready in your toolbox.
  • If the problem persists after troubleshooting, find an expert to help.

Remember that it always helps to be extra careful when handling electrical appliances such as a refrigerator. If all else fails and nothing seems to be working, maybe it is high time you look for a replacement for your refrigerator, which could be costly at first but will save you time and effort in repairs in the long run.

Related reading:

Refrigerator Leaking Water – How to Fix

Kenmore Refrigerator Icemaker Not Working: How to Fix

Whirlpool Fridge Not Cooling [9 Causes and Fixes]

Fridge Compressor Is Running But Not Cooling