Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Freezers
M G Appliance Services in Ottawa has assembled a list of tips and answers to frequently asked questions to help your freezer operate as efficiently as possible. Please read our Freezers FAQ if your freezer is making unusual noises or its temperature indicator light is flashing. Contact us if you would like to schedule a service appointment.
- Adding food
- Adding food – to new freezer
- Chest or upright, which is best?
- Can I operate outside or in garage?
- Can I operate in closet?
- Defrosting – when and how?
- Does it have to be level?
- Freezer burn
- Gasket – not sealing properly
- Ice buildup at lid
- Lid – flexes a lot
- Moved freezer and now it does not work
- Power Indicator light flashing
- Run time very long
- Run time very short
- Temperature indicator light flashing
Don’t add more than 50 pounds of additional food over a 24 hour period. Exceeding this limit may overload the cooling system and either cause the compressor to fail or become inefficient due to overheating. The compressor may become so inefficient that the food will defrost even though the cooling system is working at its maximum.
Adding food to new freezer
At start-up a new freezer (including the air inside, insulation, metal, and plastic) will be at room temperature. Therefore, allow a new freezer to operate for approximately 24 hours before adding food. Not allowing the cool down period, or adding food prematurely, may result in the food not freezing properly.
Chest or upright, which is best
They both work equally well. Upright is more convenient for food placement and removal. Chest freezers tend to be more efficient to operate and consume less electricity. Chest freezers are usually manual and will need to be defrosted every year. Many upright freezers are self-defrosting. Check the Eneryguide sticker on a new freezer for a sense of which is better for your particular needs. If you expect to use the freezer for long term storage a chest is usually better because they operate at a slightly lower temperature than an upright.
- Lower purchase price
- Manual defrost
- Long term storage
- Poorer food access
- Less electricity
- Limited options
- Higher purchase price
- Self-defrost available
- Medium term storage
- Easier food access
- More electricity
- More options such as quick freeze or temperature alarm
Can I operate outside or in garage?
A freezer is meant to be operated indoors. If operated out of doors serious damage can result to both the machine and the food. If left in an unheated garage the food will probably stay frozen most of the year but the cold outside temperatures can result in damage to the machine. Manufacturers may void the warranty of any machine not operated within normal indoor temperatures. Check your Use and Care Guide for manufacturers’ suggestions.
Can I operate in the closet?
A freezer operated within a closet will run too hot due to the increased ambient temperature of the confined space. This can detrimentally effect the freezer operation and harm the refrigeration system.
If the line cord has to be extended use one made specifically for appliances. They are expensive, and are only available in short lengths to a maximum of about 12 feet.
Use a light, unscented all-purpose cleaner and a clean soft cloth. Rinse using clean warm water and then dry with a clean cloth or towel. Avoid any cleaners that contain bleach, or strong scents.
Chest freezers need to be defrosted about once a year to remove any accumulated ice buildup. When defrosting a chest freezer, look for a drain plug on the exterior. It should be at the bottom edge right at floor level. It is often designed to look like a raised piece of plastic and blends into the exterior surface. If unsure check your Use and Care Guide. The plug makes defrosting easier by allowing the defrost water to be drained into a shallow pan.
Does it have to be level?
Freezers should be relatively level to allow the lid (chest) or door (upright) to close properly. If left unleveled for a long period of time the freezer body can become so deformed that the lid will not close properly.
This is usually seen as a drying or darkening of foods, or a buildup of ice crystal within the food or packaging. This is not the fault of the freezer but rather the result of food dehydration caused by the refrigeration action. To maximize storage time use freezer storage bags with a sealing top or storage containers with snap on lids. Any food left in a freezer more than 6 weeks, no matter how well wrapped, will often show signs of dehydration.
Gasket – not sealing properly
How do I check if my lid gasket is closing properly?
Place a dollar bill between the gasket and the cabinet and close the lid so that the bill is caught between them. Then pull the bill out slowly to feel for resistance. You should feel definite resistance on the dollar bill as you remove it. Do this at one foot intervals around the perimeter of the cabinet. The resistance should be consistent. If the dollar bill indicates less resistance at some points of the perimeter then this may indicate the gasket is starting to wear at this point.
Ice buildup at lid
Some ice buildup near the inner edge of a chest freezer is normal. It may need to be defrosted. Check that gasket is sealing properly around whole perimeter of lid. If not, check if freezer is level. Also check if gasket has cracks or splits that can allow air infiltration.
Lid – flexes a lot
This is normal for a modern chest freezer and is probably a self-leveling lid. This type of lid is designed to compensate for a slightly unleveled machine or floor.
When closing lid one of the corners may not close properly. Lift lid about 6 inches and slam down firmly. If lid reseals it is a self leveling type of lid. Due to the looseness of the lid design it requires an occasional hard closing to realign itself.
Some freezers come with a lock built into the lid handle. This allows the lid to be locked to prevent children from accidentally climbing inside the freezer and becoming asphyxiated. To prevent children access to the key hang it up very high, such as on a nail at the ceiling level.
Moved freezer and now it does not work
Chest freezers can develop problems after being moved. This is usually because of being handled roughly. If not working after a move, check the rear for loose or broken wires.
Upright freezers are usually frost free. Therefore they can make all sorts of strange noises when operating. When dealing with modern upright freezers, noises such as cracking of ice, slight whining when operating, gurgling, or water dripping can be common. The new ozone-friendly refrigerants used in modern freezers contribute to an increased noise level.
Chest freezers are generally quieter during operation than upright freezers.
Power indicator light flashing
This can mean many different things depending upon the model you have. Generally it indicates that the power to the freezer went off recently. If you had a recent power outage to your home, unplug for 30 minutes and plug in again. If indicator light does not stop flashing then you may need to telephone for service.
Run time very long
If the freezer is new it may run almost constantly for first few days. A new freezer should be operated for 48 hours before adding food otherwise may become overloaded.
Run time for an upright freezer is significantly longer than for a chest freezer. An upright may start every 15 minutes while a chest type of equivalent size may only start every 60 minutes.
Run time very short
A freezer that turns off and on every few minutes is having major problems. It may have a cold control that is failing, a compressor starter that is failing, a compressor that has become inefficient, or a leak in the refrigeration system. All of these are problems that will require a service person.
The operating temperature for an upright freezer is approximately -10 Degrees Fahrenheit. For a chest freezer it’s approximately -20 Degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature light flashing
This may be because the interior temperature is too warm. Check that the lid or door to the freezer is closed. If it was accidentally knocked open within the last few hours, the results can be a problem. Check freezers operating temperature with an accurate thermometer. It should be approximately 5 degrees Fahrenheit for an upright freezer and -10 degrees Fahrenheit for a chest freezer. If it is not, telephone for service.