My Upright Freezer Keeps Freezing Up

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An upright freezer is a great way to stock up on food, store the bounty from your garden and take advantage of grocery store sale prices. In many cases, upright freezers are older models and do not have automatic defrost systems so they may freeze up, developing a thick layer of ice on the walls or on your foods. This issue is typically because of a malfunction or user error, so you will need to learn how to manually defrost your freezer from time to time. Often, fixing this problem is very easy, even for someone without appliance repair experience.


My Upright Freezer Keeps Freezing Up
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If Your Upright Freezer is Manual Defrost

If your freezer has a manual defrost system, you can easily defrost it yourself. It helps to plan ahead of time when you will be conducting a manual defrost, as it requires the freezer to be emptied. Look for ice that is between ¼ inch and ½ inch thick before you begin the defrosting process.


First, remove all of the freezer's contents and place them in another freezer or, if you plan to consume them soon, thaw them.

Next, turn the freezer off and unplug the unit. If your freezer has a drain plug, remove it now. Place towels on the floor around the freezer to collect any melting water. If your freezer has a drain hose, usually located behind the grille, place its end into a pan or bucket to collect melting water. You may need to remove the grille to access the hose.

Keeping the freezer door open, place pans of hot water inside to speed the melting of the ice. Check back regularly throughout the defrost process and remove any large pieces of ice before they melt. You may also sponge excess water from the freezer as it defrosts.


Once the freezer has defrosted thoroughly, clean the inside with baking soda and warm water. Dry out the inside of the freezer.

Replace the drain plug, grille and hose. Plug the upright freezer back in and power it on. You can now refill the freezer with your food. Don't forget to remove the pans of hot water and close the door.

If Your Upright Freezer is Automatic Defrost

If your upright freezer is automatic defrost and is still freezing up, there are a few potential solutions. First, check the door seal. Is it tight, or are there gaps? If the seal is not tight, air from outside the freezer will get into the appliance and can cause ice build up. You can purchase a replacement seal at your home appliance store or attempt to reattach the existing one at gap points.


If there seems to be no trouble with the seal, check the door hinges. They should be tight and properly aligned. If not, outside air will get into the freezer and can cause the same problem as a faulty seal. You can tighten or realign the hinges with pliers and a screwdriver.

Is your upright freezer very close to a wall? If there isn't enough space behind the freezer, the air compressor might not have enough space to operate effectively, causing circulation problems that lead to ice build up. Try pulling the freezer further away from the wall and see if it solves the problem of your overly-frozen freezer.


Check the vents at the back or base of your upright freezer. If they are clogged with dust or debris, your freezer's air might not be circulating properly. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust from the back of the appliance.

Do you know how often your freezer is set to defrost? It is possible that you need to set its defrost cycle to operate more frequently. Your freezer should defrost a few times per day. Check your owner's manual for specific cycle times ideal for your appliance.

Lastly, you can try turning the temperature in your freezer down to a lower setting if it continually freezes up. This should reduce the amount of ice build up on the walls.



Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity.