9 Useful Facts About Freezers

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Freezers are a must in any home. Not only do they keep your ice cream cold, they’ll also extend the shelf life of meats and other perishables. Freezers aren’t complicated to use, but knowing a few things about your freezer will ensure that you make the most of it.

From finding out what to do when your freezer frosts to making sure your freezer is in the right location (can it be beside an oven or not) and more, here’s a list of useful freezer facts that can help answer some questions you might have about maintaining a freezer and keeping your food fresh in one.

What does it mean when your freezer frosts up?

If you open your freezer one day and find that the items inside are covered with frost it means that the coils inside the freezer have come into contact with moisture. The result can lead to odors, less storage space, and even a door that won’t close properly – which then leads to even more frost buildup.

According to Bob Vila (source), here are some of the reasons why your freezer ends up frosting:

  • You store hot food without waiting for them to cool down. Putting warm or hot food introduces humidity to your freezer which can trigger frost to develop in the interior walls. Let the food cool down before storing it inside the freezer.
  • You store wet food. If you purchase frozen items in the grocery store, dry the packages before you place them into your freezer to keep the moisture level at a minimum.
  • You have too few (or too many) items in your freezer. When your food freezes, it keeps the air inside the freezer cold. Whenever you open the freezer door on a full freezer and let in the warm air, it will cool quickly once you shut the door, thus reducing the chances of frost forming. If your freezer is almost empty, there won’t be enough cold air circulating to cool down the warm air. If your freezer is too full, it can block the cold airflow coming from the vents which will lead to your freezer frosting.
  • You have a freezer with a poor door seal. Freezer doors have magnetic gasket seals that keep them shut and over time, these seals can become brittle, which prevents them from sealing properly and tightly. As a result, they allow a continuous stream of warm air to enter your freezer. If your gasket seal is broken, you can easily order a new one from the freezer’s manufacturer and change it.
  • You have an open ice dispenser chute door. Sometimes, ice gets lodged in the chute, keeping it from closing completely and allowing warm air to seep into the freezer compartment.
  • You have a defrost sensor that is damaged. Most modern freezers come with built-in defrost cycles that will take care of the frost for you by heating up the coils temporarily once it detects frost beginning to build up. If you think the sensor no longer words, it might be time to have it repaired or replaced.

Frost buildup is one of the most common causes of freezers not freezing properly. Check out 7 reasons why a freezer isn’t freezing properly.

Make sure you check our step-by-step guide on how to easily defrost a chest freezer.

Where does the freezer drain go?

If you have a self-defrosting freezer, you might wonder where all the water goes after the freezer’s defrosting process causes the frost and ice to melt. The liquid enters a drain and travels down a hose to a pan installed underneath your freezer or refrigerator. Eventually, the water in that pan evaporates into the air on its own.

How do freezers make ice?

Modern freezers that make ice on their own are equipped with an icemaker that pumps water from a collection sump (or pit) and slowly pours it over the ice tray. This freezes the water gradually and once the ice is frozen through it is ready to be removed. Ice, however, sticks tightly to most surfaces, so ice makers need a little heat to loosen the ice.

Underneath the ice tray is a small electric heating element that heats the tray slightly, just enough to create a thin layer of water between the ice and the tray. It won’t be hot enough to melt most of the ice, but it provides enough lubrication for the iced to be pushed out onto a bucket by a motorized arm. Some ice machines come with trays that are slanted so the ice can slide out on its own.

Once the ice falls into the bucket, the cycle begins again with the water being poured over the trays and the freezer freezing it gradually.

Can you move a freezer with food in it?

If you’re going to move a freezer from one room of your home to another room, then it’s all right to leave the items in your freezer if you cannot take them out even for a bit. It is not ideal, however, as some items might become dislodged and spill their contents during the move, especially if you will carry it up or down stairs.

If you are planning a short to long distance move from one home to another, however, Ferguson Moving & Storage suggests that it’s best to properly remove the items in your freezer and place them in coolers or just cook and give them away (source). That’s because the glass shelves, drawers, and even storage bins that are loose might break during the move and your food might roll around and spill, causing further mess. There’s also no guarantee how long a move is going to take, and if it lasts more than a couple of hours, your food is going to go bad.

The best thing you can do is buy or borrow a cooler, pack it with ice, and place your frozen items in there for a while. You might also want to double-check to see if you need all the items in your freezer and if there are some that you can give or throw away instead.

Can you use glass jars and bottles in a freezer?

Glass jars and bottles can go in the freezer and you don’t have to worry about them breaking as long as you meet certain conditions. In contrast to other items, water expands when it freezes and if your glass container holds liquids, it might break due to the pressure of the liquid inside it expanding. Here are some ways you can use glass jars and bottles without having to worry about them breaking in your freezer:

  • Use tempered glass or freezer-safe glass. They are stronger and can handle the change in temperature. Canning jars also work well because they are built for freezing.
  • Don’t change the temperature of the items all at once. While glass jars and bottles can safely be placed inside freezers, you need to be mindful of the temperature change. Don’t put a warm glass container directly in the freezer when the food inside hasn’t cooled off yet. Allow them to cool off at room temperature before placing them inside the freezer. It’s also advisable to keep from putting them near freezing components or on top of other frozen items because the change in temperature might be too drastic and break the glass.
  • Don’t tighten the lids immediately. If you seal the lids too tightly, you will be placing pressure on the glass itself when the contents of your container expand. Leave your lids loose until the contents of your class container are completely frozen (which could take up to 24 hours depending on the food item you have inside). Once it is frozen, you can tightly seal the lid.
  • Leave headspace and space between jars. Leaf.TV (source) recommends creating a “headspace” by leaving 1-2 inches above the food level to allow room for expansion. It’s also good to leave space between the jars themselves so they can freeze faster and avoid hitting each other and breaking when they expand.

Can you have a fridge freezer next to an oven?

Traditionally, designers would advise against putting a fridge freezer next to the oven because of all the extra work a freezer would have to do to maintain its temperature. Plus, having an oven and a fridge freezer next to each other could interfere when you need to open either of the appliances or both at the same time.

These days, however, technology has changed a lot of things, allowing for good appliances to be self-contained and well insulated so they don’t emit much heat or coolness. If you have no choice but to place an oven and a freezer or refrigerator side-by-side, SF Gate’s Home Guides advises putting a sheet of foam insulation between the two appliances.

Matthew Payne of Harvey Jones, designer of luxury kitchens, suggests including at least two inches of space just to be on the safe side (source). It also matters what brand of appliances you choose and Payne cautions against installing low-budget appliances that might not be equipped with the latest technology.

What temperature is recommended for a freezer?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you need to keep your freezer at 0° Fahrenheit (-18° Celsius). This is to store your food safely and to keep it from spoiling (source).

Should freezer coils have frost?

If your freezer coils are covered in frost, it means there is a problem with the defrost system. When the defrost heater turns on for a few minutes, it melts away any frost that may have accumulated on your freezer coils. If the defrost heater has burned out, however, the frost will build up on your coils and no air will be able to travel through the coils, allowing your freezer to cool the items inside.

When this happens, you need to check if your defrost heater has continuity (meaning, it is able to keep running). If not, it should be replaced.

Can you have a freezer in an unheated garage?

Sometimes, freezers are placed in garages so they don’t have to take much space in the kitchen. Nevertheless, you might want to rethink leaving your freezer in the garage especially during the long winter months.

Modern fridges and freezers operate by comparing freezer temperature with that of the environment outside and thus lowering the temperature as needed. When a freezer is in a garage without heating or cooling, there is a tendency for it to struggle due to the imbalance in terms of temperature. If it is too hot, your freezer will have to work extra hard. If it is too cool, your freezer might become confused and think that it is already reaching the proper level of freezing. As long as the exterior temperature is below freezing level, the freezer will sit idly and let your contents thaw out, resulting in a huge mess and spoiled food.

If you have no choice but to put your freezer in the garage, Family Handyman suggests checking out a few conditions that will ensure your freezer is able to freeze your food well, even in a garage (source):

  • Create an enclosed space. This allows you to moderate the temperature only around the fridge. You can add the insulation and venting in this small space only instead of worrying about having to retro-fit your whole garage which will cost a lot more.
  • Keep things cool…or warm. If it’s too hot, try setting up a fan to increase airflow on your freezer’s coils. If it’s too cool, you might want to consider getting freezer heaters or installing a heating coil around the thermostat or even putting a clamp-on work lamp near the fridge so the thermostat reads it as warm and keeps your freezer contents frozen.
  • Use an older unit. If you really must keep your freezer in your garage, it might be better to be an old one as newer ones often struggle more in garages because they are designed to run as efficiently as possible.

Get a garage-optimized freezer. If you have no choice but need to get a freezer that’s suitable for the garage, you can get those that are garage-ready. They are specially designed to withstand extreme temperatures and humidity. Nevertheless, you need to do some research as some freezers are only built for either heat or cold (and not both) and they cost a lot more than regular freezers.

Make sure you check our buying guide on freezers for the garage, if you’re looking for one of the best garage-ready freezers on the market.