If you’re experiencing excessive ice buildup in your freezer, it can be a tricky problem to navigate. If you chip it away by hand, you might damage something; if you let it defrost, you have to deal with water dripping everywhere.
But you also can’t just leave it alone, as it will eat up valuable storage space in your freezer, and if the ice builds up too much, it can cause other components to freeze or even become damaged.
So you need to take the problem seriously, and that’s where we come in. This article will explore what causes ice to build up in your freezer and give you a step-by-step guide on preventing ice from building up in the future.
What Causes Ice to Build Up?
Whether you already have an ice buildup or are looking to take preventative measures to stop it from forming in the future, it’s important to have a good understanding of what factors contribute to its accumulation.
We can then use this information to develop a few easy and quick maintenance procedures that you can perform intermittently, keeping your fridge in optimal working order and preventing ice accumulation.
1. Warm Air has Entered the Freezer
One of the most common reasons ice will start forming in a freezer is because warm air has made it inside the machine. This warm air will then condense into moisture as it hits the low freezer temperature, accumulating as water droplets on the freezer’s walls.
This water then re-freezes to create a thin layer of ice. Repeat this process enough times, and you’ll soon find a thick and hard-to-remove layer of ice coating your freezer walls.
2. The Freezer’s Overpacked
Understandably, you’d want to use every inch of available space in your freezer; stocking up on frozen goods can limit the number of trips you need to take to the grocery store.
But this is not always healthy for the freezer as it needs the cold air to circulate evenly around the food to keep everything at a consistent temperature. So when you jam the freezer full of food, and there’s not enough room for the air to circulate, you’ll get cold and hot spots forming in the freezer.
This is a big problem as not only will your food not be completely frozen and may go bad, but those hot spots will continue to condensate and contribute to the accumulation of ice in the freezer.
3. Faulty Freezer Seal
The door seal or gasket is a very critical component. It creates an internal seal and vacuum that stops cold air from getting out, saving on electricity as it doesn’t have to cool constantly. More importantly, it prevents warm air from entering the freezer and condensating.
So if this air-tight seal gets breached for some reason, you will surely see ice form as the warm air leaks in.
Most of the time, the door seal is breached due to something getting stuck on it, which stops the seal from laying flat against the freezer chassis; this might be a piece of food or spillage and can simply be cleaned off.
However, in some rarer cases, the seal may be cracked or ripped, in which case it should be replaced.
4. The Automatic Defrost System has Failed
Many modern fridges have a self-defrosting feature that will heat the interior evaporator coils and thaw them out at regular intervals.
This is enough to melt the ice, but the process happens quickly enough to where the fridge can maintain its internal temperature. You may also see this feature have names such as no-frost or frost-free.
Sometimes this feature can break or not work effectively, which will cause ice to build up. So either step will need to be taken to restore the auto-defrost feature, or you can perform a manual defrost.
5. The Temperature’s Set Too Low
For optimal performance, a fridge should be kept at approximately 37 degrees Fahrenheit, and the freezer should be at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. However, users often adjust this temperature setting based on the current season and ambient temperature.
For example, in a particularly cold winter, you might increase the internal temperature to prevent things from freezing over and save some extra electricity.
But if you forget to change this temperature setting back, you may find that the internal temperature is now too low, creating internal condensation, which then freezes over and leads to ice buildup.
6. The Freezer Door has been Left Open
When taking items out of the freezer, it’s a good idea to get what you need and close the door again as quickly as possible. This is because as the warm air enters, it condensates and creates a buildup of ice.
You may need to adjust your use practices. If you often leave the door open, you should develop a habit of only opening the door for brief periods, getting what you need, then immediately closing it afterward so the ice cannot build up.
How To Prevent Ice Buildup In A Freezer
As you can see, this issue is most commonly caused by warm air making its way into the freezer for some reason which then condensates and causes ice to form.
Now that you better understand what causes the problem let’s look at some steps you can take to prevent this problem from occurring again.
1. Defrost the Freezer
One of the easiest ways to remove pre-built-up ice accumulation, keep it under control, and prevent future frost buildup is to manually defrost the freezer compartment.
The easiest and most straightforward way to do this is to unplug the fridge from the power supply, open the door and wait for the ice to melt. If you have any frozen food items you are worried about thawing, you may wish to transfer them to an ice box beforehand.
You’ll also need a few towels nearby because water will leak out of the freezer and onto the floor as the ice melts. So placing some old rags or a towel around the floor or inside the freezer as it defrosts is a very good idea.
If you repeat this process roughly once a year, the ice buildup will always be minimal, making the process very easy to perform.
2. Don’t Overpack the Freezer
Another easy way to keep the freezer unit working optimally without building up excessive ice crystals is not to fill the freezer more than 75% full and arrange the items so air can circulate in and around each item to maintain a consistent internal temperature of the freezer.
This will help prevent hotspots, reducing condensation buildup so it cannot freeze.
3. Clean or Replace the Freezer Seal
If the freezer’s air-tight door seal isn’t working correctly, it will let warm air into the freezer. You should inspect the door seal carefully for any dirt or debris that might prevent it from sealing properly and clean it off with soapy water.
If you notice any cracks or breaks in the door gasket, it should be replaced. You can contact your fridge’s manufacturer for a replacement part.
Installing a replacement seal is very easy; you can either unscrew the old one or sometimes it just pulls straight out, then just push the new one in its place.
4. Fix the Auto-Defrost System
While there are manual ways to defrost a fridge, if your model has an auto defrost feature, it’s a good idea to get it fixed as it can save you a lot of time and hassle.
This can be pretty challenging to do, so we recommend contacting your freezers manufacturer, who will arrange for a trained service technician to come out and fix this issue for you.
5. Check the Temperature is Set Correctly
A low temperature is a big contributor to the accumulation of condensation, which then freezes over. Double-check the temperature of both your fridge and freezer section to ensure they meet the recommended temperature standards stated by your fridge’s manufacturer.
Generally speaking, this is 37 degrees F for the fridge and 0 degrees F for the freezer.
6. Check the Door isn’t Being Left Open
This is more of a habit issue. If you leave your fridge freezer door open while preparing ingredients to cook for convenience, try to develop a habit of closing it immediately after you’ve got the items you need.
This will help prevent cold air from getting inside the freezer and causing frost accumulation. And as a bonus, it’ll save you some electricity as your compressor wont have to work as hard to maintain the internal freezer temperature.
If you find this habit hard to break, a really cool trick you can use is to raise the legs on the front of your fridge and lower the legs on the back of the fridge. This will allow your door to automatically close as soon as you let go of it and ensure you can never leave the door open unattended.
7. Clean Out the Air Vents
Good air circulation is a significant factor in ensuring the internal temperature can be evenly maintained and that no hotspots form, which can then turn into water vapor. It’s a good idea to clean the internal refrigerator vents every 6 months.
All you need to do is turn your fridge off, unscrew the vents, and then take them over to the sink and give them a clean with hot water and a brush. Just remember to let them fully dry before reinstalling.