My frostless freezer isn't so frostless.
April 13, 2008 9:32 AM   Subscribe

An aging upright freezer keeps icing over. It claims to be frostless, but you coulda fooled me! Easy repair or big bucks? More inside.

My parents purchased a Kenmore Frostless 19 upright freezer probably 12 years ago. The thing served us well for probably 5 years and then it started to ice up around the door, making it difficult to open. A repairman came and took a look, said it was the gasket and replaced it. Almost immediately the problem returned and it looked like the door gasket wasn't really flush with the frame.

It sat unused for maybe 7 years and I recently took it upon myself to get it into working shape again. After some pulling, I got the door open and the problem is the same as it ever was- Ice rings the portions of the freezer where the door meets the inside the freezer, essentially freezing it shut. The lock has also frozen in place. It closes fine, but if I don't open it every few days to get rid of the ice, it becomes almost impossible to open.

Is this just a gasket issue? Is this a simple fix or are we looking at a bigger problem? Thanks!
posted by GilloD to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
Current generation refrigerators and freezers are so much more energy efficient that they'll pay for the upgrade from a ten year old model in a few years of operation. Check out any online collection of appliances for sale and do the math. There should be an "Energy Star" tag inside the door of your old appliance that'll tell you how much energy your current freezer uses.

So take the estimated repair money and use it to discount that big new upright freezer. Tada! Your shiny new appliance pays itself off in only a year or two.

(I have problems with this "upgrade to save money" concept, but it seems to be true.)
posted by lothar at 10:05 AM on April 13, 2008

Defrost timer replacement time.
posted by hortense at 10:44 AM on April 13, 2008

Would it be possible to see a photo of the door and frame? It sounds as if the door been warped somehow (or the frame - but door is most likely). Warm, humid air gets in and freezes at entry-point.

It the repairman have replaced the gasket and the problem remains, it sounds as if it could be big problem. It sounds structural to me.

One possible DIY-solution could be to use silicon-caulking along the frame to make an level fitting for the gasket. Step 1: Defrost and clean the frame with rubbing alcohol. Step 2: Put a string of silicon-caulking along the frame (where the gasket would rest). Step 3: put a load of dish-detergent on the gasket (so it won't glue with the silicon) and close the door. Let the silicon set. Hopefully you'll get a couple of more years from the freezer.

(I've not tested this on a freezer - I do not make any guaranties. I have done it with smaller frames that needed to be waterproofed and it work a charm.)

All in all. Maybe time to look at a new freezer?
posted by Rabarberofficer at 11:56 AM on April 13, 2008

Where is the frost? All the way around the door? Down the hinge side? Down the handle side? Concentrated in one corner?

If it is concentrated in one corner you probably have a gasket problem. Pull back the gasket where it meets the plastic of the door. If there is a metal strip with screws holding the gasket and the plastic to the metal of the door the door could be torqued out of position.

If it is concentrated down the hinge side your hinges probably need adjustment.

If it is concentrated down the latch side or at the top/bottom it could be either or a combination.

A picture of the frost after the freezer has been running for a day or so would be helpful.

Also if your freezer has a Humid/Dry switch ensure the switch is in the humid position.
posted by Mitheral at 2:24 PM on April 13, 2008

Seconding getting a new freezer if you plan on using it for a long time. The math is real: you will save money every month, probably from $5 to $10. If you fix up the existing freezer and keep it for a couple of years, you'd have spent a minimum of $100 that you would've saved on the cost of a new freezer. Possibly $200.

FYI, the Kill-A-Watt device is great for measuring the energy usage of a particular device in kilowatt-hours (typical electricity cost is 10 to 12 cents per KWh).

Sorry I don't have specific suggestions for repairing your freezer. I replaced a fridge a couple years ago when it irrevocably died, my electricity bill dropped noticeably with the replacement, and now I'm aware of the whole efficiency savings deal with modern appliances. Even so, I would understand if replacement isn't an immediate option for you. Good luck!
posted by Jubal Kessler at 2:28 PM on April 13, 2008

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