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How to Thaw a Manual Defrost Freezer

Chest freezers, compacts, and many upright models require occasional thawing - here are a few tips on how to defrost and how to do it right.

Keeping your freezer in tip-top condition requires very little maintenance other than an occasional thawing. The more you use the freezer, the more often you will need to thaw out the insides. Typically, 2-4 times a year is the rule.

Many people prefer a manual-defrost unit for several reasons:

-these freezers will hold the chill better during power outages and, when running properly.
-they also excel at maintaining a steady internal temperature.
-frost-free models encourage freezer burn in shorter periods, due to continuous air circulation.
-manual-defrost units are less expensive

When the racks and interior walls build up anywhere from ¼-inch to ½-inch of ice, it is time to consider a de-frosting.

First, you should find a safe place to stash the food. Insulated chests with additional ice would be ideal, but the average person won't have that many in supply. Pack up the foods that will fit in the chests and add ice. Now is a great time to discard any foods that you can't recognize.

The rest of the food can be wrapped in thick layers of newspaper and put in the refrigerator. If that is not an option, wrap with the newspaper and keep in a cool place. You'll want to work fast to get the freezer de-iced and running again, however.

The freezer should have a drain plug in the floor. Connect a hose for drainage. Unplug the freezer or just turn the temperature control to the off position. Prop the door open.

Use a space heater to help things along. You can also use a fan to circulate air. Make sure the cords are off the ground for safety. Some people recommend a hair dryer, but the motor will probably overheat before you get the thawing finished.

You can also knock some of the ice loose but use a dull plastic object and don't jab into walls. Knives and other sharp objects will cause damage. Water may well up in the bottom of the freezer - mop it up or use a wet-vac.

Once the de-frosting is complete, make sure it is completely dry so that ice will not re-form. Close the door and turn the unit back on. You will need to let the inside resume it former temperature before replacing the food. This should take about 20 minutes, depending on the age of the freezer.

You're all set and ready to find space for more food in your clean freezer!

Related freezer information:
Freezer Buying Basics
Freezer Selection Basics



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