Model #GLFC1526FW1, this chest freezer had just been delivered and the customer was waiting for the load of beef to arrive when they noticed the inside didn't feel any colder than the outside. No matter where the thermostat was set, the results seemed to be the same. With the butcher on his way, the customer was in a rather serious hurry to get this freezer down to temperature.
Most chest freezers are very simple in their design and operation, which makes for some easy troubleshooting, and rather odd when one actually breaks. Unlike most upright freezers, the chest freezer usually doesn't have any exposed condenser coils and no cooling fans to move air around. They use whats called a hot wall condenser where the coils of the condenser are foamed into the walls on the outside, while the evaporator coils are foamed into the walls on the inside. Aside from the compressor itself, the entire refrigeration system is essentially inaccessible.
The electrical components are just about as basic, usually consisting of a mechanical thermostat wired directly to the compressor and some type of indicator light, indicating the freezer is plugged in. So as you can see, when one isn't working, the possibilities for failure are pretty limited.
When I arrived to this unit, the first thing I noticed is how quite it was. Because there is no condenser fan to cool the compressor the compressor itself is the only source of noise. And I didn't even hear that running. The indicator light was on telling me there was power to the unit, leaving the thermostat or possibly a loose connection as the likely culprit.
Two screws is all that holds the access panel in place, and with my trusty multimeter in hand, I checked the compressor connection for voltage and found nothing. Working backwards toward the outlet, I next checked the thermostat and found voltage going in, but not coming out. Every temperature setting gave the same results. I even checked for continuity between the two connectors and found nothing.
Mechanical thermostats work by a small amount of refrigerant in a capillary sensor tube applying pressure to a bellows. As the refrigerant gets warmer, it expands and applies more pressure. The bellows will open and close electrical contacts depending on the temperature settings of the selector knob. Essentially, the thermostat is simply a switch that will turn on and off the compressor or anything else it is attached to.
This thermostat testing open all the time was never going to get the compressor running. A quick installation of a new thermostat had the compressor cooling down the inside of this freezer in no time. Fortunately, the butcher was running late today.
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