Freon or another chemical refrigerant is what keeps your freezer cold. It's also what makes an air conditioner cool a space. A freezer will not operate correctly if its refrigerant escapes. However, there could be other reasons why the freezer is not working. Diagnosing problems with refrigerants requires training and experience. You should call a repair person if you suspect your freezer is lacking refrigerant.
Freon is a brand name for a type of chemical gas used as a refrigerant. Freon, chemically known as a chlorofluocarbon (CFC), is harmful to the environment if it leaks from refrigerators or freezers, so several other, safer forms of refrigerant were developed. A worldwide phaseout of CFC began in 1996, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection agency. Nevertheless, people commonly call any refrigerant chemical "Freon" to this day.
Freezers can work with small amounts of refrigerant, but special equipment is necessary to test levels. Repair technicians usually check for other problems first, largely because refrigerant seldom completely escapes freezers. Barring physical damage to the freezer, a refrigerant cannot not leak out or evaporate. It is possible to puncture important components in the freezer, such as the evaporator coil, while removing ice during manual defrosting. Using a chisel, knife or screwdriver while chipping ice from the freezer could cause refrigerant leaks.
Several problems not related to refrigerant could cause a freezer to stop working. The evaporator fan, which blows cool air, may fail. That causes the temperature to rise inside the freezer. The compressor may be failing because of worn valves. The compressor powers the unit; as it fails, temperatures in the freezer may increase.
Worn door seals are another culprit. A freezer door not sealing properly allows warm air in, making it difficult or impossible for the freezer to maintain optimum temperature settings.
The compressor may run continuously if the unit is without a refrigerant. The lack of refrigerant means the compressor continues running in a futile effort to keep the freezer at the proper temperature level. However, other problems can cause the compressor to run continuously.
There is a simple test for determining the presence of refrigerant: Turn the temperature setting to the coldest point and listen for the compressor to start. Listen from the back of the freezer for the motorized sound. Allow the compressor to run for several minutes before turning the freezer off. Place your ear to the side of the freezer and listen for gurgling or hissing noises. Such noises usually indicate the presence of refrigerant. It's possible your freezer is completely out of refrigerant if you do not hear gurgling or hissing, but only a trained repair tech with proper equipment can determine for sure.
Contact your freezer manufacturer's customer service department before scheduling a service visit. A telephone representative may be able to help diagnose your problem based on information you provide. Also, check to see if the freezer is still under warranty before calling a technician.