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Upright Freezer Runs Continuously, Doesn't Keep Food Frozen

Our upright Fridigaire freezer is running continuously, some food stays frozen (meat, kept in bottom), other food (ice cream, pasta, frozen potatoes, etc) kept in the upper areas is not staying frozen. Temp usually 0-5F when we check it, quickly gets to 10 or more when the door is opened (of course). Oddly, the basement where the freezer is located has felt unusually cold lately, as if the freezer is cooling the area around the freezer rather than inside the freezer…

Noticed ice on the bottom and a little frost in the back corner about a foot above the bottom, cleaned all that off. Drain was frozen over, cleared using a hair dryer, then hot water down the drain, checked with a piper cleaner. That cleared the ice.

24 hours later, no more ice, a tiny bit of frost in that one spot. But foods are still not staying frozen as described above and the compressor is running constantly!

I suspect the compressor is running continuously; every time we are down there, it is running. Thanks for any advice! The freezer is about 13 years old, but was working well up until a few months ago.

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Hi @terry2 ,

What is the model number of the freezer?

Have you checked that the condenser coils are clear of dust etc? Dirty condenser coils make it harder for the heat which has been extracted from the freezer to be released meaning the compressor has to work harder to get to the set temp.

Can you hear if the evaporator fan (inside the freezer) is running?

It should stop when you open the door and start again when the door is closed. You may have to press an ear to the freezer to hear it.

If it is running, check that the door seals are OK. Place a piece of paper between the door and the cabinet and with the door closed try to pull it out. You should be able to with a bit of effort, but it should not come out that easily or even fall out. Do this at various places around the door, top, both sides, bottom.

Have you checked that the frozen food is not blocking the air vents usually found at the back of the compartment? This will prevent the icy cold air from circulating effectively throughout the freezer and cooling it down to the correct temp, perhaps where the temp sensor is located and that is why it is running continually.

Was there only ice in the drain pipe?

If not a blocked drain would prevent the melt water from the freezer flowing into the evaporator pan located under the freezer and it would re-freeze again when the freezer started running again.

At least this proves that the compressor does stop, as the auto defrost stops the compressor and evaporator fan from operating and also operates the defrost heater to enable the ice/frost to melt by allowing the temp to rise to 32 F before starting again to drive the temp down to the correct value.

If there was only ice there may be a problem with the auto defrost.

Auto defrost usually occurs once every 8-12 hours (depending on manufacturer) and lasts for about 20-30 minutes. This doesn’t mean that the compressor has to run continually. It should stop when the correct temp is reached.

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Thank you for your detailed reply! Model # FFU11FKODW3.

Something is running continuously, continues to run when the door is opened. My Dad thought it was the fan. Door seals OK. Air vents clear.

A few pieces of a plastic bag may have blocked the drain before we cleared the drain/bottom of freezer the other day; no more ice buildup there since then.

Took the back panel off today. Coils were mostly clear, just a little ice on the far left side of the top row...BUT, there was SOLID ICE (about 5 inches high x 2 inches wide) in the left top corner of the coils which was encasing the thermostat (the circle part, not the wires). Which is the same spot where we could previously (prior to clearing the drain hole) see a buildup of frosty ice on the inside of the freezer. We melted that ice off.

Any idea what would have caused that ice buildup in the area around the thermostat? What are the chances that it will now work correctly? (2 hours later, temp 15, fan still running...) Hoping it's not a leak!

Quick update, so I guess it IS the fan I'm hearing constantly; we can feel the air blowing through the top vents on the inside of the freezer. Putting my ear down near the floor by the front grill, I can hear a ticking sound....


Hi @terry2 ,

It seems that as long as the compressor is running, even if the door was opened, the evaporator fan must be running as well. I cannot find a switch (door switch) listed or shown in the parts for the freezer, which might stop the fan if the door were opened. Guess that freezers (well this one anyway) may be different in that respect to most refrigerator/freezers.

You may want to give it a bit of time and check what happens.

Does the freezer get to the correct temperature and stay there?

Is the compressor still continually running or does it now stop occasionally? (This may be hard as it depends on the number of times the door is opened, the ambient temperature etc.) A good time to check would be first thing in the a.m., as the freezer has had all night to get to the correct temp without disturbance. Mind you that doesn't mean that it won't be running when you check ;-).

Is there continuing frost build up that is not being cleared by the auto defrost action?

Hopefully the ice build up on the evaporator unit was caused by the blocked drain and that it wasn't able to be all defrosted in time during the auto defrost before the freezer restarted and it just kept on slowly building up over time.

If not, ice build up in one part of the evaporator unit is not a good sign, especially if it is on the inlet to the unit from the compressor. It may be that there is a blockage, preventing the flow of refrigerant throughout the sealed system. Does the compressor feel hot? Warm yes but not too hot to touch.

Were the condenser coils (mounted on the outside, back of the freezer), clean and dust free. you never said?

Do the condenser coils feel warm/hot? If not this indicates that the refrigerant may not be flowing correctly (pumped by the compressor) through the system .

You will need a licensed refrigerator repair service to check the sealed system. They can test the high side/ low side pressure to know if the problem is related to a blockage or even a lack of refrigerant.

If parts are needed here's is a link to a supplier. it is only shown to give you an idea of the location of the parts and what their cost is. There are other suppliers that may suit you better. Just search for "FFU11FKODW3 parts" to get results.


Hi, Well, freezer's back at 10 degrees this morning -- not good! Fan still running, I do hear a low hum (compressor? and that ticking (like a clock, no idea what that is!), when I put my ear next to the floor. The freezer is completely sealed; no condenser coils on the outside back to clean! So far I haven't been able to access the compressor, will check to see if it's hot if I can. I think it may be time for a new freezer! :( Thanks for all your help!


Hi @terry2 ,

Interesting about the condenser coils.

I was only going on the picture shown in the parts link - "System" part # 1 shown at the back of the unit.(scroll down to the 3rd parts diagram in the "supplier" link above)

Unless it is just a generic view of a freezer and not representative of your actual freezer.

It looking like a sealed system problem so checking the compressor may give a clue.

Also how cold is the basement?

Have been reading that if the ambient air temp is too cold it may prevent the compressor from running so it may be interesting to find out if it is running or not and what the ambient temp is.

Hopefully you can get access and "feel" if it is running or not.

If it isn't there are articles online that describe "fixes" to make a compressor run when the outside temp is too cold (freezer in un-insulated garage or basement)


Yes, I saw that pic of the coils too, ours definitely has a case on the back, no exposed coils! It's in a cold basement, I will look into articles about that and also try to feel it to see if it's running...hard to get to it!


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