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Appliances on the Edge
August 2009 Newsletter
Repair Guru

Melting Away

Repair Guru

Tip of the Month:
Avoiding Freezer Burn


It's not unsafe to cook and eat freezer-burned food, but it usually doesn’t taste very good!

Freezer burn is dehydration caused by food being exposed to the air in the freezer. Often the wrappings used in supermarkets don't prevent dehydration. Re-wrapping foods in airtight containers or wrappings usually avoids this problem.

You’re right in the middle of those “dog days” of summer - a perfect time for some refreshing ice cream with strawberry shortcake!  You reach into the freezer, but you’re shocked when your hand meets with a slimy, melty mess!  Something’s definitely wrong with your freezer!

What can you do?
If your self-defrosting freezer has frost or ice build-up on the inside walls, ceiling, or floor, it may be a problem with the self-defrosting system.

To test whether the problem is with the self-defrosting system, remove all of the perishable food from the freezer, turn the thermostat to “Off” and leave the door open for 24 to 48 hours. (Keep several towels handy in case the melting frost and ice overflows the drip pan). When the frost and ice build-up has completely melted away, turn the thermostat back to a normal setting. If the freezer then cools properly, it usually indicates a problem with one of the following components in the self-defrosting system:

  • The defrost timer. To test this, manually advance the timer to the defrost cycle. The unit should advance itself out of the defrost cycle in about 45 minutes. If it sticks in any position and refuses to advance, replace it.
  • The defrost thermostat (or bi-metal switch). This thermostat is mounted to the evaporator (cooling) coils and allows current to pass through it at temperatures of 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit and prevents current from passing through it at 40 to 60 degrees (depending on its design). This is difficult to test, though, because it takes a prolonged, very-cold temperature to activate it. If the other components check out OK, it’s a good idea to replace this thermostat.
  • The defrost heater. You can test this for continuity using an electrical volt/ohm meter. If the heater has continuity, it’s OK.

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If you have repair questions, go to the Repair Help tab at the top of the page. Here you can learn how freezers work, find troubleshooting tips to determine what is wrong with your freezer and get answers to common questions, such as: ”What temperature should my freezer be?"

For customized repair help, email the RepairGuru® who is highly- trained in appliance repair.   In most cases, he will get back to you within a couple of days with a solution to your problem.

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In addition to free Freezer repair help, we stock Freezer parts for every major brand. Click your brand below, or visit the PartDetective for more options.

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