Modern side-by-side refrigerators are space-saving and convenient. They typically require minimal maintenance, but it is possible to run into some problems with frost buildup. While small ice droplets on the freezer walls and back panel are normal, a coating of frost is not. The back panel of a side-by-side freezer may accumulate frost, but you can usually resolve the problem without hiring a professional. For safety, unplug the refrigerator before performing any troubleshooting or repairs.
The door gasket on the freezer door helps keep the cold air in and the warm air out. If the gasket is dirty or damaged, it may prevent the door from closing properly, which can lead to frost buildup on your freezer walls. To make sure the door is sealing, slip a dollar bill or a sheet of paper between the gasket and the freezer and then close the door. If the bill or paper pulls free with little or no resistance, the gasket isn’t sealing properly. Wipe the gasket with a damp cloth to remove dirt, grease and other residue. If the gasket is damaged, replace it with a new one. Sometimes frost can accumulate on the back panel of your freezer if the door is open too long or too often. When you open the door, you let warm, humid air inside, and this condenses and freezes. Make sure there are no packages preventing the door from fully closing, and limit how often you open the door by removing what you need all at once.
Ventilation is important because it ensures your freezer stays cold. If something inside the freezer blocks the internal vents, the freezer may become warm, causing condensation to form on the walls, and eventually leading to frost buildup. When loading your freezer, make sure there are no items resting against the rear wall of the freezer and space the contents out as much as possible to improve ventilation.
Ice Maker Flap
Side-by-side refrigerators with a built-in ice maker may accumulate frost if the flap on the ice dispenser doesn’t close properly. This allows warm air to enter the freezer side, condense and freeze, causing frost buildup over time. Open the freezer door and examine the flap inside the ice chute. It should be flush against the housing. If it is not, empty the ice bin and make sure there is no ice or debris preventing the flap from closing.
If your freezer door closes properly and nothing is keeping it open, frost buildup on the back panel may indicate a problem with the freezer’s self-defrost system. The self-defrost system turns off the compressor for a short time every six to 12 hours so it can turn on the defrost heater. This melts any frost buildup on the freezer coils, and the water drains to the pan beneath the freezer. If this component fails, frost continues to build. Move the contents to another freezer and turn your freezer off for 24 to 48 hours to manually defrost the interior. If frost builds up again, contact a qualified appliance repair technician to inspect the defrost timer and repair the problem.