While freezers are generally reliable, like any appliance, a freezer has many components, any of which can malfunction. Additionally, an electrical surge, lightning strike to your home, or a power outage can all leave you without a working freezer.
When your freezer stops working, you have two immediate tasks: contact an appliance repair service and protect your frozen foods. Here are tips for keeping your food safe until your freezer is working again.
Don’t Open the Door
Every time you open the freezer door, you let cold air out and warm air in. After you call the appliance repair service, you should have a good idea of how long you have to wait until you have a working freezer again.
If you have an upright or chest freezer that is jam-packed, your food should remain frozen for up to two days. If it is only partially full, however, the foods will only stay frozen for about a day. A freezer compartment in your refrigerator-freezer combination unit will likely begin thawing soon after the appliance stops working.
Get a Thermostat
If your freezer doesn’t already have a thermostat, find a compatible model and put it into your freezer. This way, once the appliance is working again, you can check the thermostat to see just how warm the interior and its contents got.
This will help you gauge whether your food is safe or not. As long as the temperature didn’t rise above 40 °F – the temperature of a refrigerator – you can safely re-freeze most foods.
Keep in mind while the food may still be safe, the quality may decline in some items. For example, the quality of fish and other seafood declines dramatically with re-freezing, so you may want to use up that food rather than re-freeze it.
Keep Your Food from Thawing
If the appliance repair service cannot perform a repair within a day or if you have a nonworking freezer compartment in your refrigerator, you will need to take steps to protect your frozen foods from thawing.
Relocate Your Food
The easiest and safest option is to see if a nearby neighbor, friend, or family member has any room in their freezer for your food. Simply load everything up into ice chests or insulate with blankets and quickly transport the items to their new temporary home.
Use Dry Ice
If temporarily relocating your frozen foods is not an option, call around to local grocery stores to see if you can find dry ice. Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. It is much colder than regular ice made from water, so it stays cold longer. If you place it in your freezer, it can temporarily keep your food from thawing.
Exercise extreme caution when you handle dry ice. Never touch it with your bare hands, as it will give you a chemical burn. Use gloves to wrap blocks of dry ice in towels or newspaper and place it in your freezer.
If you need to put the dry ice on top of food, put a layer of cardboard down first. For large chest or upright freezers, you will need a 50-pound cake of dry ice, while smaller freezers will require a 25-pound cake of dry ice.
Use Ice Chests
If you can’t find any dry ice where you live, you can use regular ice in insulated coolers as a last resort. Be sure to place a thermometer in each cooler, however. You still need to ensure the temperature does not rise above 40 °F.
There is never a convenient time for your freezer to go out, but if you take the right steps, you can protect your food. If your freezer has stopped working, contact us immediately and we will quickly get it up and running again.