Rearranged Food in Freezer. Stopped working. Emptied. Working again.
October 6, 2017 6:54 AM   Subscribe

So yesterday all the food in my freezer was rearranged. Last night I came home to find all my breastmilk thawed. I assumed the door had been left open. Checked it a few hours later. Still thawed. Assumed temp was too high. Turned down temp. This morning, milk still thawed. Freaked out. Took all the milk away. Removed all the food. The freezer suddenly works again. What's happening?

This is a bottom drawer freezer. The fridge atop the freezer worked just fine throughout. It obviously wasn't just the breastmilk that thawed. Everything thawed, but everything else is much easier to replace so I'm only freaked out about the breastmilk.

Theory 1: It's a drawer freezer, so you pull out the door and there's a basket that comes with the door (this is the drawer). The basket wire doesn't reach all the way to the door. There is some space between the basket and door. In rearranging the freezer, this space was filled with all the ice packs. So theory 1: The thermostat is around there somewhere and all the icepacks kept the freezer thiking it was cold and not coming on.

Theory 2: That's where the cold air comes out. Seems unlikely that the cold air comes out by the door.

Theory 3: All the breast milk went in the upper drawers (The ones made for icecubs and such) that stay in the freezer when you pull out the door. Having all these bags somehow blocked the cold air. Seems unlikely because if that's where the cold air was, those should have stayed frozen.

Other theories?

I know the freezer is working again because A) It is cold. B) the icepacks (now on the drawer of the floor) are frozen solid. C) I stuck an unfrozen water bottle in there and it is now frozen.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
 
If your freezer was open for a substantial length of time while you rearranged, it is possible that it frosted up and either went through a defrost cycle or just never properly recovered.

It seems more likely that you inadvertently blocked the airflow or messed with the thermostat somehow, though. Airflow in freezers is usually critical to proper operation. You'd really have to do some looking at your freezer's manual or repair guide to understand if this is what happened.
posted by jgreco at 7:01 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


Assuming door wasn't ajar or couldn't be shut all the way, or seals getting dinged/damaged, I would second blocking the airflow with food/packages (either with new stuff, or the vents got enough condensation on them to clog/block sufficient airflow).

(a plastic bag over the seal let enough air in to cause a mini-ice-dam in out big freezer)
posted by k5.user at 7:37 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]


How old is the unit? Hopefully this isn't your case, but an older refrigerator in an apartment I rented acted this way shortly before it failed completely. The freezer would stay cold enough to keep things frozen for a few days, then fail or partially fail and things would start to thaw. The fridge seemed to be working fine, but I suspect it was really just that there's no real way to know if the temperature in the refrigerator compartment is fluctuating between say, 35 and 45 F, whereas it's obvious if the freezer goes from 28 to 38 F.
posted by aerobic at 8:33 AM on October 6


Get a thermometer that reads down to 0F to get a more accurate understanding of what is going on than you are getting from the breast milk index. A marginally efficient freezer may take a long time to get as full load of warm food down to the desired temp.

But I suspect that the "frost free" feature may be playing a part. The cycle that prevents ice build-up has a surprisingly warm phase. It's more than enough to affect the consistency of ice cream, and maybe it's allowing the breast milk to thaw. The fix would be to bury the milk under the pork chops and bags of peas.

Or maybe the freezer is malfunctioning. Be sure nothing is blocking air flow under or behind.
posted by SemiSalt at 8:51 AM on October 6


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