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How To Defrost a Freezer

If your freezer has an automatic defroster (frost-free) but does not defrost, return to our troubleshooting guide and look under "Freezer does not defrost automatically". The trouble is with the defrost system, such as the defrost timer or defrost heating element.

If your freezer does not have an automatic defrost feature, you will have to defrost it manually. Some freezers have a manual defrost setting on the temperature control or a push button.

If your freezer has no defrost feature at all, and the temperature control knob doesn't have an "off" setting, you can defrost it by unplugging it and placing a defrost heater into the freezer. Essentially, you just have to wait for the ice to melt. Leaving the refrigerator closed will keep the food cold, but the freezer will warm up above freezing fairly quickly. Ideally, you should empty the freezer and store the food in a cooler packed with ice, otherwise, defrosting will take longer and the food will defrost along with the freezer.

Don't chip out the ice from your freezer or you risk puncturing the coils and causing a refrigerant leak. If a puncture does occur, it can be patched with epoxy, however it rarely lasts more than a year or so. Plus, a professional will have to be called in to recharge the system with refrigerant; an expensive repair especially on a freezer that doesn't have an automatic defrost cycle.

When defrosting a freezer, the ice will melt and the water typically runs into a evaporation pan behind and under the appliance. However, it may also just run down the inside of the walls and pool at the bottom of the fridge. Keep an eye on drainage and use a large towel to sop up excess water.

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