Reasons a Refrigerator Freezer Stops Working

Most refrigerators come with a freezer, either in a side-by-side, top-mount, bottom-mount or French door configuration. These freezers may have a variety of options, such as quick freeze functions, adjustable racks, bins and shelves, an ice maker and electronic controls. However, if the freezer stops working, there are several possible reasons why.

Power Supply

Verify that the freezer controls are turned "On" if the freezer is not working.

If the freezer compartment is not working, check the power cord.  It should be pushed all the way into a working outlet.

The fuse or circuit breaker may need to be reset or replaced, especially if the household power recently experienced a failure or outage.  Unplug the refrigerator, wait 30 seconds and then plug it back in to reset the system.

Freezer Controls

Many freezers are operated using a control dial located in the upper portion of the compartment.  If the dial is turned to "0" or "Off," the unit will not cool and will appear to be nonfunctional.

Turn the dial to a colder setting to turn it on and begin cooling.  If the unit is controlled from an electronic display, usually located on front of the freezer door, select or press "Freezer," and adjust the temperature using the number or arrow pads to turn it on and set the temperature.

Generally, a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended for most freezers. 


If the refrigerator is self-defrosting, it enters an automatic defrost cycle on a periodic basis.  This defrost cycle usually lasts about 25 to 30 minutes, and the refrigerator and freezer compartments may seem as though they are not working during this time.

Wait 30 minutes, and then check the freezer again for signs of normal use. 

Air Vents

Most freezers have vents in the top, rear or sides of the compartment.  These vents control the entrance and exit of air into the freezer and help control the internal temperature.

If items are pushed up against the vents, the airflow will be blocked and will decrease, creating moisture and temperature issues that make the freezer seem as though it is not working.  Pull items away from the vents, and allow ample space for airflow.


If all efforts to return the freezer to normal function have failed, contact a service center for assistance.  Potential causes for the problem include the thermostat, defrost timer, wiring and/or the compressor, and these issues generally require a professional to identify and resolve the situation.

About the Author

Meredith Jameson writes early childhood parenting and family health articles for various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from San Francisco State University.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images