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How to Prevent Ice Buildup in Your Freezer

When you open up your freezer to grab a treat, the last thing you want to be greeted with is a funky smell and layer of drippy, crispy ice buildup. Here are some tips for how to prevent ice buildup in your freezer so you can avoid that unpleasant experience and keep your fridge working properly.

How Ice Buildup (Frost) Occurs

Ice buildup occurs when warm or humid air comes in contact with the cold evaporator coils in your freezer (such as when you open the freezer door on a hot day). The coils will instantly freeze the moisture and, if there's enough of it, it will accumulate as ice. If enough ice builds up on the coils, the flow of cool air in the freezer can become limited.
Freezer Burn

Frost and Your Food

Frost or "freezer burn" can affect the texture and even the flavor of the food in your freezer, especially if your food isn't wrapped properly before it's stored. While they're not technically unsafe to eat, frosted items look “snowy,” often have a distinct smell and tend to have a duller flavor. It's important to understand that ice buildup isn't just about food quality. It can also ruin the coils and potentially affect the performance of the entire appliance.

Fighting the Frost

From choosing your kitchen appliances carefully to committing to keep that door closed as often as possible, there are several steps you can take to help limit the buildup of ice in your freezer.

Step 1. Choose Appliances Wisely

There are many different types of refrigerators and freezers to choose from, with each option offering different benefits than the rest. Newer appliances tend to have more thoughtful designs and additions that can cater to your specific lifestyle. Consider the following points before purchasing your appliances.
  • Evaluate your family's unique food storage needs.
  • Look for trusted brands with a history of freezer innovation, like Frigidaire and Avanti.
  • Talk to an Abt expert or other specialist for support with your selection.
When exploring kitchen appliances, seek brands that are known for their quality offerings, like Samsung. If you're looking for something new, a frost-free freezer might be a choice to consider. While they won't completely eliminate ice buildup, they can certainly help.
Frost-free freezers automatically defrost approximately once a day in order to prevent ice buildup. A built-in timer turns the compressor fan on and off, while using a small heater to melt away any frost that's accumulated. The defrosting process doesn't affect the quality of the food stored in the freezer.
frozen food

Step 2. Store Food Carefully

When it comes to ice buildup, heat and humidity are the key ingredients. If you place food that is still hot—or even warm—into the freezer, the hot and humid air that it releases will immediately turn to frost.
  • Ensure food is room temperature before being placed into storage containers to avoid releasing hot air into the freezer.
  • Store food in freezer-safe containers or bags to help it stay fresher for longer.
  • Try to release as much air as possible from the containers before putting them in the freezer.
Proper food storage should help limit ice buildup as well as keep your dishes tasting just as delicious as when you first made them.

Step 3. Keep it Cool

According to the FDA, the ideal temperature for your freezer is 0 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to having potential issues with food safety, storage and frost issues could occur if you keep your freezer any warmer than that.
Every time you open the door to your freezer, you're allowing warm air to flood the appliance and turn to frost on its coils. All year long, but especially in the summertime, try to avoid keeping the freezer door open for prolonged periods of time. The less you allow hot air in, the better for your freezer and your food.
Another reason hot air could be getting into your freezer is that the door isn't sealed properly. An easy way to check for this is to hold your hand in front of the freezer door and see if you notice cool air flowing outward. If you can feel cold air, then there is an issue with the seal that needs to be addressed by either being wiped clean or replaced.
storing food in freezer

A Frostless Freezer

A frosty freezer isn't a good thing for your food, nor the health of your appliance. There are many reasons you're seeing ice build up in your freezer, but, thankfully, there are just as many easy ways to prevent it from happening in the future.

Q&A Summary

How Do You Prevent Ice Buildup In Freezers?

The best way to prevent ice buildup in the freezer is to regularly clean your freezer and store food properly. Wait for hot food to cool, store in freezer-safe containers or bags, and remove as much air as possible from your containers before closing the door. Keeping your freezer door closed as much as possible is another way to prevent warm air from hitting the coils and turning to frost.

Why is my Freezer Suddenly Full of Frost?

If your freezer is suddenly full of frost, your appliance could be malfunctioning, but it's likely that your door was left open accidentally—or that there's a problem with the door seal. When warm (or worse, hot) air enters, the high-temperature and high-moisture air becomes solid frost. If you feel cool air escaping when your door is closed, try cleaning the seal with dish soap and warm water or a disinfecting wipe. If air is still escaping, you'll need help from the experts to replace it; give us a call at 800-860-3577 for expert advice.

It's Frozen Over! How Can I Defrost My Freezer?

Not sure how to defrost a freezer? Unplug and pull out all your food, set up towels that will absorb water as the ice melts and wait. It's not an easy process—you'll want to plan ahead so that you don't lose too much food as it melts. Use a cooler or two to keep your groceries safe as the process unfolds. You'll want to have extra towels on hand, too. As ice melts, replace sopping towels with fresh ones and repeat. This is the perfect opportunity to clean your freezer too. Hoping to speed up the defrosting? Place a bowl of hot water on one of the shelves. Reheat as it cools to keep things melting quicker. When you're finished, turn it back on and stack your leftovers, snacks and desserts inside.

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