How to defrost a refrigerator

How to defrost a refrigerator

Though most modern refrigerators do not require defrosting, many older and even some new models may require defrosting. These types of refrigerators can accumulate large, heavy ice deposits on the freezer compartments. These ice deposits can even spill over into parts of the actual refrigerator. Defrosting a refrigerator can reduce damage such as cracks in the plastic or damage to parts, such as the door, caused by these ice deposits. A freezer door that has accumulated a lot of ice, for example, can cause the refrigerator to lose its ability to cool and wastes energy.

Refrigerators that accumulate ice build up should be defrosted at least once a year. Try not to allow these ice chunks to build up more that ¼ of an inch. If you continue to notice large ice build ups, you should defrost more often.

Before defrosting your refrigerator, dispose, consume, or place all perishable goods, such as meat and dairy products, in a cooler. The defrosting process usually takes 5 to 8 hours so plan accordingly.

After removing all contents of the refrigerator, turn the temperature down to 0 or on off depending on the make and model of the refrigerator. You do not have to unplug your refrigerator; unplugging the refrigerator will turn off the inside light which you may want on to see when cleaning. Remove any shelving, if possible, and clean them. Open the door or doors, depending on the make, of the refrigerator, allowing the warmer aid to help quicken the defrosting process. Wait approximately 1 to 2 hours for the ice to melt inside the refrigerator.

Be sure to have old towels available; as the ice begins to melt, use the towels to absorb any water. If you do not adequately absorb the water, your kitchen may flood. You can remove larger ice chunks that have separated from the refrigerator by hand. After the ice begins to separate, you can use a metal spoon or butter knife to pry some of the ice away. Do not use sharp knives or scissors as these may cause damage to you or your refrigerator. Do not use any electrical devices such as hair dryers to help defrost your refrigerator; these can damage the plastic interior of the refrigerator and can even cause shock damage.

Once all the ice has been removed or melted away, you can begin to clean the inside of your refrigerator. Do not use any ammonia-based products or harsh abrasives; instead, try a mixture of cold water and mild soap. Use a sponge with the mixture and wipe down the inside of the refrigerator. After, drip a fresh sponge into clean water to wash away any soap residue. Dry with clean towels or paper towels and leave the refrigerator door open for approximately 30 minutes to an hour to allow enough drying time.

Once dry, put the shelves back into place and turn your refrigerator on and returning it to the normal cool setting. Be sure to restock your cold item into your newly defrosted and clean refrigerator.

Are your freezer drawers sticking? Or are you noticing ice build up at the back of your fridge? Follow these simple steps to get your fridge freezer frost free in no time.

Updated 6 January 2021

By Cleanipedia Team

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Knowing how to defrost a fridge freezer is one of those slightly boring but necessary life skills we all need. After all, it’s hard to imagine living without a fridge freezer, so it’s important to do everything you can to keep yours in great condition.

Defrosting your appliance is really important if you have a manual defrost fridge freezer. But even if you have a ‘frost free’ model, these can still build up a thin layer of ice over time, so you might not be able to get away without doing the occasional defrost.

And it’s definitely worth doing. Defrosting your fridge freezer will not only make it much easier to open drawers and get food out, but it’ll also make sure it’s operating as efficiently as possible (so you’ll save yourself a bit on your electricity bill too).

Plus, it’s a great opportunity to give your fridge freezer a proper clear out and a thorough clean – so don’t forget to take a look at our top fridge cleaning tips too.

Before you start: check the manual

The steps to defrost a fridge freezer are usually similar from model to model, but it’s important to check your appliance’s user manual before you start to make sure you’re not going against any of the guidance.

The manual is also a great place to check how often you need to defrost your fridge freezer. As a rule, it’s usually once or twice a year, but the manual will give you the definitive answer for your specific model.

How to defrost a fridge freezer

You will need:

  • A large bowl
  • A clean cloth
  • Some old towels or cloths
  • Cool bags/boxes and some ice blocks (to store your food in during defrosting)
  • Washing up liquid and an antibacterial surface spray (for cleaning)

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Method

Unplug the fridge freezer

The first step to defrost a fridge freezer is to turn it off and unplug it. It’s important to make sure you leave the doors open to allow it to warm up faster.

Remove all the contents

This is where those cool bags and some ice blocks will come in very handy. If you move quickly, you should be able to preserve the most important contents from your fridge freezer in the cool bags.

This is also a great opportunity to go through the contents of both compartments and throw away anything that’s been there too long.

(If you don’t have cool bags, try to store everything in a cool place. But remember, some foods – like raw chicken – can’t be refrozen once they’ve thawed, so try to use these up in the week before you defrost.)

Take the shelves and drawers out

Not only will this help speed up the defrosting process, but removing shelves and drawers will give you a great opportunity to give them a thorough clean.

Simply wash them in the sink or a washing up bowl with water and some good quality washing up liquid (or if the drawers are a bit too big, you can wipe them down with antibacterial spray and a clean cloth).

Arrange towels/cloths around the bottom of the fridge freezer

Melting the ice in the freezer is going to result in a fair amount of water draining out. So it’s important to pad out the floor around the freezer with some old towels or cloths to soak up the water.

Melt the ice

This is the part of the process which can take a long time and which most people are desperate to speed up. Don’t fear, we’ve got some suggestions to do just that below.

There will be water to drain or soak up when you’re defrosting the fridge so mop this up with a towel as you go.

Clean the fridge freezer

With everything out of the fridge freezer and the ice melted, now is the perfect time to clean and dry the inside surfaces.

Take a look at our fridge cleaning guide for more tips on getting your fridge freezer sparklingly clean. And we’ve got some great advice on getting rid of bad smells in your fridge too.

Replace the food and turn the the fridge freezer back on

You’re almost there. Now it’s time to replace the contents of your fridge freezer, which gives you a great opportunity to arrange everything exactly as you want it.

Make sure to double check any frozen food to see if it’s still frozen. If it’s raw meat or any other product which expressly says not to refreeze it, then you’ll need to use it up as soon as possible (or if you can’t do that, unfortunately you might need to get rid of it).

How concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?

How do you defrost a fridge freezer combo quickly?

Use a bowl of hot water

Simply fill a large bowl full of boiling water and place it in the freezer compartment with a towel under it and close the door. (If there’s ice build up on the back of your fridge, you can do the same in there too.)

Use a hairdryer

You can use a hairdryer to speed up the melting process, but be careful! Electrical implements and water aren’t a good combination, so make sure you don’t touch the hairdryer to the appliance.

Scrape off the ice

This method is usually easier once the ice has melted a little. Use a plastic spatula or other plastic implement to scrape the ice from the sides. Make sure you don’t use anything metallic, particularly not a knife! For more tips on melting the ice quickly, take a look at our guide to defrosting your freezer fast.

How do you defrost a fridge freezer without turning it off?

It’s not possible to properly defrost a fridge freezer without turning it off. But if you’re worried about your food unfreezing, don’t fear. Follow our handy tips above to speed up the defrosting process.

How long does it take to defrost a fridge freezer?

Without any help, it can take up to eight hours for a fridge freezer to completely defrost. However, if you follow some of the suggestions above, it’ll be much, much quicker than that.

You may have a frost-free fridge-freezer combination, but even so, at least twice a year you should check and remove any chunks of ice that may have built up at the back – and take the opportunity to give it a good clean at the same time.

Turn the fridge off and open the fridge and freezer doors, then remove all items and put them in a cool spot. It will only take 10 minutes and most things will survive. You could use some ice blocks and a cooler box for ice cream and other foods that spoil quickly.

While you might be wondering, why the ice build-up when it’s supposed to be frost-free? Especially as the thermostat is set correctly and the door is kept closed – accept it’s one of life’s anomalies and it’s better to maintain than invite an expensive repair bill.

It’s a nasty job that most of us would rather avoid, but you do have to do a quick defrost every now and again to keep your fridge-freezer working efficiently.

So here is a quick defrosting trick that only takes you about 10 minutes tops to remove the ice. The trick is to use your hair dryer!

Here are quick steps to defrost your fridge:

  1. Turn the fridge off and open the fridge and freezer doors, then remove all items and put them in a cool spot. It will only take 10 minutes and most things will survive. You could use some ice blocks and a cooler box for ice cream and other foods that spoil quickly.
  2. Pull the shelves away from the back – or remove them – it’s an ideal time to give them a good wash and scrubbing down.
  3. Use a hair dryer to melt around the outside of the ice block. The idea is to soften around the edge so that it can be chipped off in one piece, and not have pools of water running everywhere.
  4. Then use a plastic spatula, it must be plastic, to chip from the edge. Don’t chip off bits, but rather try and remove the block as a whole.
  5. Wipe dry with a clean cloth and replace the shelves.

Safety first!

Do not use a hair dryer that has a frayed cord. Keep the appliance away from direct contact with water.

Do not use metal utensils to remove the ice or frost from a fridge. This may easily puncture the casing and result in expensive repairs or replacement of the fridge.

Defrost a manual defrost refrigerator when frost becomes 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick. It may be necessary to defrost the freezer compartment frequently if the freezer is used often and/or there is high humidity in the room. Never operate refrigerator longer than six months without completely defrosting the freezer compartment.

  1. Remove contents from freezer compartment. To reduce the amount of thawing of frozen food while defrosting the freezer compartment, store in a picnic cooler or other insulated container.
  2. Turn temperature control to OFF. Temperature control must remain off and freezer compartment door open for a minimum of two hours to defrost an average accumulation of frost.
  3. Use a plastic scraper to loosen and remove frost from the ceiling and walls of the freezer compartment as the frost begins to thaw. Do not use a sharp or pointed instrument to remove frost, which could result in damage to the refrigerating system.
  4. Sponge up defrosted water as it collects in the bottom of the freezer compartment.
  5. In addition to the visible frost in the freezer compartment, frost also forms on the hidden side of the freezer compartment surfaces. This frost will melt during defrosting and the defrost water will drain through the opening in the top of the fresh food compartment. To catch this water, place a one-pint to one-quart container in the center of the top shelf under the opening.
  6. After defrosting is completed, turn temperature control to desired setting and return food to freezer compartment.

If the frost pattern is unusual, like a heavy concentration of frost on one wall and no frost on the opposite wall, please schedule a service appointment with GE Appliances Factory Service.

Defrost a manual defrost refrigerator when frost becomes 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick. It may be necessary to defrost the freezer compartment frequently if the freezer is used often and/or there is high humidity in the room. Never operate refrigerator longer than six months without completely defrosting the freezer compartment.

  1. Remove contents from freezer compartment. To reduce the amount of thawing of frozen food while defrosting the freezer compartment, store in a picnic cooler or other insulated container.
  2. Turn temperature control to OFF. Temperature control must remain off and freezer compartment door open for a minimum of two hours to defrost an average accumulation of frost.
  3. Use a plastic scraper to loosen and remove frost from the ceiling and walls of the freezer compartment as the frost begins to thaw. Do not use a sharp or pointed instrument to remove frost, which could result in damage to the refrigerating system.
  4. Sponge up defrosted water as it collects in the bottom of the freezer compartment.
  5. In addition to the visible frost in the freezer compartment, frost also forms on the hidden side of the freezer compartment surfaces. This frost will melt during defrosting and the defrost water will drain through the opening in the top of the fresh food compartment. To catch this water, place a one-pint to one-quart container in the center of the top shelf under the opening.
  6. After defrosting is completed, turn temperature control to desired setting and return food to freezer compartment.

If the frost pattern is unusual, like a heavy concentration of frost on one wall and no frost on the opposite wall, please schedule a service appointment with GE Appliances Factory Service.

Since the Genesis of Electronically Controlled Refrigerators in 2000, one of the first questions I am asked during training is “How do I run a forced defrost on a Samsung Refrigerator?”

As a Field Engineer, the reason is obvious; defrost system components are among the top replaced parts for a “no cool” complaint. The ability to energize that system for testing is a must. But, with Samsung, there are many more procedures that require this.

You need to Force Defrost a Samsung Refrigerator before taking one tool out of your bag.

Why do I need to force defrost a Samsung Refrigerator for no cool AND ice maker issues?

Why is a Samsung refrigerator forced defrost a must?

For one, you need to run a forced defrost before removing the Direct Contact Icemaker. This system includes the icemaker “clamped” to an evaporator tube. Force Defrost, indicated as “Fd” on the seven-segment displays, activates the ice maker’s heater loop as well.

In fact, depending on the model you are working on, Force Defrost will also activate other electric heaters in the appliance. Those may include the fill tube heater, damper door heaters and duct heaters, besides the obvious defrost heater.

Regardless, removing that icemaker while it is frozen to the cooling tube will result in…… and YOU buying the customer a new refrigerator. But wait, there’s more!

Since Samsung’s evaporator covers are mounted in such close proximity to the evaporator itself, it is a MUST to Force Defrost before attempting to remove that cover. If not, it’s a sure bet the compressed foam type insulation behind the cover will break, and airflow will be severely compromised upon reassembly.

How Do You Force Defrost a Samsung Refrigerator?

To force defrost a Samsung refrigerator, follow these two simple steps:

Step 1: Press Power Freeze & Fridge Buttons Simultaneously

On “tabletop” control models , press the Power Freeze and Fridge buttons simultaneously for about 8 seconds, until the display goes blank. Then, press any other button until “Fd” appears. A beep will be heard and defrost begins.

For dispenser models , press Freezer (top left) and Lighting (middle right) buttons simultaneously for about 8 seconds, until the display goes blank. Then, press any other button until “Fd” appears.

Where to find the Samsung Defrost Buttons:

Press the Power Freeze Button.

Press the Fridge Button.

Press the Lighting Button.

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While a Sub-Zero refrigerator is a good refrigerator brand, it could develop defrost problems. Therefore, we discuss how to defrost a Sub-Zero refrigerator in this article. Photo Credit: Blogspot.com

Table of Contents

How to Defrost a Sub-Zero Refrigerator

The following are steps to easily defrost the freezer of a Sub-Zero refrigerator:

1. Turn the unit off by unplugging it from the wall outlet or tripping the circuit breaker off. Then, open the door of the freezer.

2. Remove the food items in the freezer and store them somewhere else. You can store them in another freezer if you have access to one or in a well-insulated cooler. But you will have to keep them cold by using ice packs.

3. Place thick rags or towels inside the freezer or around it on the floor outside it. They will absorb excess water during the defrost process.

4. Leave the door of the freezer open for the duration of the defrost process. Doing this helps the freezer defrost faster.

5. If you want to shorten the duration of the process, place one or two bowls of hot water into the freezer. They will make the ice defrost faster. You can also scrape the ice off with a wooden spatula to make the time even shorter.

6. Clean the interior of the freezer when all the ice has melted. Dry it completely. Mop up any water on the floor and empty any drip pan if necessary.

7. Close the door of the freezer and plug the unit back into the wall outlet or turn on the circuit so that there is power supply to the unit.

Quick Note

If your refrigerator is frost-free or no frost, there is no need to defrost it manually. The unit defrosts automatically so there is no buildup of frost in it.

Contact an experienced refrigerator technician to assist you if the defrost process is proving difficult. We have technicians you can chat with for assistance. You can also contact the Sub-Zero service center to request service.

Remember to switch the unit off by unplugging it from the wall outlet or shutting down the circuit breaker. This is the first step in safety from electrocution.

Additionally, if you have work gloves, wear them to protect your hands. Doing this is necessary when working on electrical appliances.

Check out these other articles…

How to Defrost a Sub-Zero Refrigerator – Related FAQs

How Long Is the Defrost Cycle of a Sub-Zero Refrigerator?

The defrost cycle of a Sub-Zero refrigerator lasts as long as 20 to 30 minutes. This is when the defrost heater turns on to heat the evaporator coils to melt off any ice or frost that has accumulated on them. Doing this keeps the coils from freezing and the unit working optimally.

Where Is the Defrost Timer in a Sub-Zero Refrigerator?

The defrost timer in a Sub-Zero refrigerator is found at the back of the unit, close to where the compressor is located, at the bottom. However, the location could vary, depending on the model or series you own.

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Here is a video on how to replace the defrost timer in a Sub-Zero refrigerator…

No-Frost / Automatic Defrost:

Frost-free refrigerators and upright freezers defrost automatically either on a time-based system (Defrost Timer) or usage-based system (Adaptive Defrost). For more information, visit: Refrigerator – Automatic Defrost System

Defrost Timer: Measures a pre-determined amount of accumulated compressor running time; usually defrosts every 12-15 hours, depending on the model.

The defrost system activates a defrost heater in the evaporator section at the rear of the freezer. This heater melts frost off of the evaporator coils and then turns off.

During defrost there will be no running sounds, no fan noise and no compressor noise.

Most models will defrost for approximately 25 to 45 minutes, usually once or twice a day.

You may hear water dripping or sizzling as it hits the heater. This is normal and helps evaporate the water before it gets to the drip pan.

When the defrost heater is on, it is normal to see a red, yellow or orange glow from the freezer.

Manual Defrost or Partial Automatic Defrost (compact refrigerator):

You must manually defrost by turning off the refrigerator and letting it warm to room temperature. There is not a defrost heater in these models.

Defrost whenever frost becomes 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick.

Fresh food compartment defrosting takes place automatically every time the refrigerator turns off. Melted frost water drains from the cooling coil into a trough on the rear wall of the cabinet and then down the corner to a drain tube at the bottom. Water flows into a pan behind the grille where it is evaporated.

The refrigerator fresh food section defrosts automatically by means of a thermostat affixed to the evaporator coils every time the unit cycles off (usually every 20-30 minutes). However, the freezer compartment must be manually defrosted whenever frost becomes 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick.

Fresh food compartment defrosting takes place automatically every time the refrigerator turns off. Melted frost water drains from the cooling coil into a trough on the rear wall of the cabinet and then down the corner to a drain tube at the bottom. Water flows into a pan behind the grille where it is evaporated.