If you’ve upgraded from an older refrigerator or freezer to a new one, you’re probably already enjoying the fact that you don’t have to defrost your freezer anymore. But what if you start seeing a frost or ice buildup in your frost-free appliance? It might be nothing, but it could also be a problem that needs attention. Use the information below to find the cause of your frost issue before calling the repair technician.
When frost forms in a freezer, it’s usually caused by extra moisture. Frost increases the chance of freezer burn, which will damage frozen foods and negatively affect the taste. Fortunately, most common causes of frost and icing have simple solutions.
CAUSE: Overfilling the Freezer After a party or a holiday weekend, it’s normal to have more leftovers than usual end up in your freezer. But if the freezer is crammed too full, all that food prevents good air circulation. As a result, every time you open the freezer door, warm moist air settles on the frozen food and causes icing. SOLUTION: Don’t overfill your freezer and make sure there’s room for air flow between frozen items.
CAUSE: Putting Hot or Wet Containers in the Freezer Hot or wet containers cause an increase in your freezer’s humidity levels. Even with good air flow, increased humidity levels can cause frost to form on the sides of the freezer. SOLUTION: Make sure all containers are cool and dry before placing it into the freezer.
CAUSE: The Ice Maker If your refrigerator has a built-in ice maker in the door, warm air can enter the freezer through the ice chute. Not only can this cause frost to form in the freezer but, if left unchecked, it can also damage the ice maker. SOLUTION: Check to see if a piece of ice is caught in the chute and preventing it from closing. If possible, use a plastic utensil to dislodge it.
CAUSE: Gap in the Door Seal If you notice frost forming around the door opening, the cause may be a faulty magnetic gasket seal. This can especially be a problem in older refrigerators. A simple test can show you the strength of your freezer’s door gasket. Clean and dry the seals, then place a strip of paper (a dollar bill is the right size and shape) halfway inside the door and close it. When you pull on the paper, if it slides out easily, then your gaskets aren’t sealing as tightly as they should. SOLUTION: If you’re a confident DIYer, replacing gasket seals is an easy task. Just order the seals from the manufacturer and follow the installation instructions. If you’re not sure, contact an appliance professional to do the job.
While many causes of unwanted frost in your refrigerator or freezer are an easy fix, sometimes it’s necessary to call for a repair. Before picking up the phone, do a little troubleshooting to determine the problem.
Faulty Defrost Timer If frost is building up in your freezer, but the defrost heater isn’t triggered, there might be a problem with the defrost timer. The timer is part of your freezer’s compressor and it tells the heater to turn on at regular intervals to prevent frost buildup. If the compressor runs continuously, it could be a sign that the timer isn’t working. If you’ve checked the common causes of frost listed above and you’re still seeing a buildup, a faulty timer is the likely culprit.
Faulty Defrost Thermostat If frost buildup if most noticeable around the evaporator, you might have an issue with the defrost thermostat. Unlike a defrost timer, the defrost thermostat is triggered by changes in the evaporator. The thermostat supplies power to the heater and controls the beginning and end of the defrost cycle. The defrost thermostat can be tested with a multi-meter to see if it has continuity and creates an open circuit when the temperature is above 37 degrees Fahrenheit. If there’s no continuity, the thermostat won’t power the heater and frost builds up in the freezer.
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