Troubleshooting Appliances Every Day

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Troubleshooting An Icy Upright Freezer? Steps To Take When Your Freezer Is Frozen

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Too much ice buildup in your freezer is annoying because it makes your food harder to view and access. However, it's also dangerous because if there's ice buildup on the evaporator coils, the freezer may not be keeping all your food safely frozen, which could lead to health and safety hazards. So don't just ignore the annoying ice and frost. Here's what to do instead.

1. Defrost the freezer

Before doing this, you'll need to take all the food out. If the food is still safely frozen, place it in another freezer or in a large ice chest with plenty of dry ice. Then unplug your freezer and leave it open. If you don't have food waiting to go back in the freezer, you can just leave it like that for a day or so until all the ice has melted. If you are in a hurry to get the food back in, you could use a careful application of heat (such as warm damp towels) to speed up the process. Make sure the freezer is unplugged first, and don't do anything risky like using a hairdryer.

2. Check for leaky gaskets

Leaky doors with failed gaskets can be a source of a frosted-up freezer. So check the edges of the doors to see if they're actually sealing. To do this, place a piece of paper between the gasket and the edge of the freezer, then close the door and see if it's actually clamping down on the paper or not. If the paper is still super loose and comes out easily, this can be a sign that the gasket has failed.

3. Check for a self-defrost mechanism

You likely already know if your freezer is supposed to be a self-defrosting one. However, if you don't, check your produce information to find out or simply take a look inside the freezer to see if you can find a little heater located behind/under the evaporator coil. It could be rectangular or it could be a wire-like tube bent around the bottom edge of the coil. If there is a defrost heater and your freezer is still frosting up, you likely need a repair or replacement.

If your freezer frosts up multiple times and you don't know why, you'll likely need to call repair personnel for a professional diagnosis. If, on the other hand, you have a defrost heater in your freezer and it's not functioning correctly, or your gaskets are leaky, you'll need to either have a professional repair or else replace the gaskets and/or heater yourself if you have appliance repair experience. Just remember to take safety precautions and stay safe!