Should I repair our freezer or just get a new one?
July 6, 2022 8:44 AM   Subscribe

Is it worth calling a repairman for a freezer that won't cool?

My wife and I have a large upright freezer in our garage. It's only a few years old, but it's out of warranty. A few nights ago, the door was left slightly ajar and the next day we found it stopped running. The inside was warm and all the food needed to be thrown out. In the past few days, we've left it on and it's barely cold at all (some freezies that we left in there are still liquid). Neither my wife or I know much about appliances, but the people we've talked to have given us varying pieces of advice on whether we should look into getting it repaired or not. Some have said that when freezers stop working, they're basically garbage because the cost of repair is usually really high. Others have said that the other people are crazy and that I should definitely call a repair person.

Can anyone with some knowledge of freezers tells me whether it's a waste of money to call a repair person? Sorry, we feel completely ignorant about this. In case it matters, it's a Frigidaire CFFH17F1TW0.
posted by NoneOfTheAbove to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
I would just like to say, if you do replace it, be sure the next freezer is designed to withstand garage temperatures. This is a feature you can/should look for.
posted by happy_cat at 8:54 AM on July 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Have you called any local repair outfits for quotes? I imagine they'll have a much better idea of the costs involved than random internet strangers, and you'd need to do that anyway if you're getting the thing repaired.
posted by Aleyn at 8:58 AM on July 6, 2022

Response by poster: I'm planning to contact local repairmen eventually, but I was hoping that amongst the random internet strangers here, there may be a few who are informed about appliance repair so I can know what to expect.
posted by NoneOfTheAbove at 9:01 AM on July 6, 2022

Your friends are basically correct, depending of course on so many factors. A new cooling compressor could be around 50% the cost of an entire new fridge (~$300), so I'm not surprised most people don't want to pay that. If you can find someone to give a cheap or free quote, it wouldn't hurt to get one. A repair guy might have some parts he repaired for cheaper, depending on how common your model is.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:07 AM on July 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

Before you make any decisions, find out how long it would take to get a replacement freezer. Supply chains are still zany in unexpected ways. As of a few months back ordering a replacement would have taken 6 months to show up.
posted by Ookseer at 9:35 AM on July 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Our local shop sent out a repair guy out. When he couldn't fix it for reasonable cost, and advised a new one, we got the service call discounted from the fridge we bought from same place.

Its worth a looksee.
posted by Ftsqg at 9:49 AM on July 6, 2022

If it would cost more than $500 for a new one, call a repair person.
posted by Slinga at 10:27 AM on July 6, 2022

Best answer: One thing that might be worth trying if you're not in a rush is turning it off and letting it defrost for several days. Our upright freezer that was left ajar developed an ice block in the line where condensation was supposed to drain and somehow that prevented it from cooling down fully. I unplugged it and pulled it away from the wall so I could see the drain line and once it was clear I plugged it back in and it cooled down as expected. I'm not sure if this is a common failure mode but it's free to try.
posted by macfly at 11:20 AM on July 6, 2022 [5 favorites]

There's a fair chance the compressor has overheated from the continuous running, whichhas tripped a thermal protection. Depending on how the compressor is built it could be as simple as pressing a button somewhere on the outside where the wiring from the thermostat enters the compressor, replacing some doodad inside the compressor's connection box, or it's "Sorry guv, with that model it's just throw out and get a new one".

It could also be the thermostat, but that's quite unlikely. Do you hear the compressor running when you plug the freezer in?
posted by Stoneshop at 12:19 PM on July 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Stoneshop - I hear "something" running. I'm not smart enough to know if it's a compressor or what though. It also feels vaguely cold as if it's trying to do something, but failing miserably. Not cold enough to freeze the freezies, but maybe enough to chill them slightly.
posted by NoneOfTheAbove at 12:29 PM on July 6, 2022

Make sure the freezer isn't too close to the wall, air needs to be able to get to the coils to cool them off. If the coils seems dirty, gently vacuum them with a brush attachment.

I've known people who had success with getting a fridge or freezer working again by setting up an electric fan blowing air past the coils.
posted by yohko at 4:57 PM on July 6, 2022

Best answer: I'm not smart enough to know if it's a compressor or what though.

The things in a fridge* or freezer that make some kind of sound are the compressor (a humming/purring sound, and likely a bit of a rumble when it starts) and possibly a fan somewhere inside, to circulate the cold air (usually a pretty silent one, so a whispering hiss). And anyway, the compressor is working as the freezer gets colder, just not as cold as it should. Which means that it can't get rid of the heat it tries dump out the back. Seconding getting it away from the wall and cleaning the coils. Also, switch it off and leave it off for at least a day.

If those steps don't sufficiently help it may be needing a refrigerant refill, which most fridge technicians should be able to do for a fair price, maybe an hour's work plus the cost of the refrigerant.

* an upright fridge/freezer combo may also have an ice cube maker and a cold water dispenser making noises, but those don't make an appearance here.
posted by Stoneshop at 11:07 PM on July 6, 2022

Best answer: Just piling on that the best course of action next is to follow the above advice about turning it off, and leave it off for a day or two. It's very possibly just frozen up which would have similar symptoms. (ie sounds like it's working and is trying but failing to get cold).

If something has failed, in a relatively new garage kept unit it might be a compressor capacitor which if you were handy and like 3 out of 10 adventurous is like a $10 part from Amazon.... but a reputable repair company will do it for maybe $1-150?
posted by chasles at 4:53 AM on July 7, 2022

Response by poster: Thank you all who suggested leaving it off and then turning it back on after a day or two. That completely fixed it. Prior to posting here, I was half-prepared to just toss it and get a new one. You've all saved me the cost of a new freezer and a repairman. Thank you so so so much.
posted by NoneOfTheAbove at 8:43 AM on July 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

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