Defrosting in a Refrigerator – Everything You Need To Know

Is your refrigerator malfunctioning, and you are not finding a proper reason?

Understandable! That’s maybe the problem because you don’t defrost your fridge regularly. Now recollect when you last defrosted your freezer! 

Defrosting in the refrigerator is necessary for maintaining the durability of the freezer. Especially when your freezer gets old, it requires regular defrosting. You will find that the best refrigerators in India come with an auto defrost system, so it’s great to regularly clean frosts from your fridge. You will get to know the details of the defrosting process and types below. 

What is defrosting in a refrigerator?

Defrosting in refrigerators is the process of removing ices and built-up moisture from the freezer. Though there are many auto-defrosting features available in modern freezers for the effective working of the refrigerator, it’s best to look for the manual way of cleaning frosts. 

These frosts mainly occur when the door of the refrigerator opens for a longer time. Then, the outer air and moisture enter the freezer. And without defrosting in refrigerators in some time, this moisture will become frost, and over days it builds up inside the freezer. This pressurized your freezer to work overtime and invest extra energy to wipe the frosting in case of an auto defrost freezer. And if the freezer doesn’t have an auto-defrost feature, then it gets even worse. The frosting soon turns into frost and blocks the air vents. That’s why you must defrost your freezer periodically. 


defrosting in a refrigerator

Why is it essential to defrost a refrigerator?

You may feel unconvinced about the importance of defrosting in the refrigerator even after having the auto defrosting option in the freezer. Those auto defrosting features clean the evaporator coils and do not attend the inner freezer. Here, some benefits of defrosting regularly.

1. Defrosting helps in maintaining the efficiency of the freezer

You must regularly clean your freezer and make it frost-free because the moisture and frosts are not friendly for your freezer. Defrosting prevents the walls of the fridge from getting thicker and makes it efficient in functioning.

You will get surprised to know that defrosting reduces up to one-fourth inch of frozen moisture and ice from the freezer. And in this process, defrosting in the refrigerator clears the hindered exchange of heat within the system. The durability accordingly increases because no built-up will block the vent of the freezer. Defrosting also helps in preventing the ice crystals from causing any damage to the refrigerator parts. 

2. Defrosting cuts out the rising electricity bill

Are you unhappy with your monthly electricity bill? Maybe defrosting can help you find the solution. Many users have reported that manual defrosting also reduces the electricity bill. The logic is simple. With defrosting, the deposited moisture and ice build-up, hindering the cooling process from getting cleaned. As a result, your freezer, which earlier used to take a lot of time, cools early without consuming much energy. And indirectly you get a lesser electricity bill. While the best side by side refrigerators in India cost high, auto-defrosting systems cut down the recurring electricity cost to a large extent.

3. Defrosting gives you extra space in the freezer

The bonus you get while defrosting in the refrigerator is that you will have extra space inside. The manual defrosting method saves a lot of space by getting rid of the frosts. The frost and the frozen moisture take up to one-fourth of inches of space in your freezer’s walls. Now imagine how much extra area it consumes if you consider the four sidewalls. Instead, a one-time defrosting clears up a lot of space from the affected area. And it gives considerable space for freezing goods inside. 

4. Defrosting makes the freezer odorless

Generally accumulated frost for more than 2 mm grows bacteria in the freezer. Those bacteria in cold environments cause a stinky smell within the refrigerator. And defrosting helps in wiping down the bacteria which accumulated in the frosted environment.

Though many brands with auto defrosting features claim to maintain the freezer odorless, they fail to do so. It is only through manual defrosting of the refrigerator that you can prevent the awful smell of your refrigerator. The defrosting process is beneficial in making the freezer smell fresh in an organic way. That is, you don’t need any chemicals or disinfectants for defrosting in the refrigerator.

5. Defrosting smoothens the condensation drains 

With time, due to the build-up of unwanted moisture and frosts, condensation occurs in the refrigerator coil. The moisture generated from the condensation process flows out through the drainage lines. The problem of refrigerator leakage can happen when those draining lines freeze. But defrosting the freezer is your ultimate savior in this situation. The process helps in opening the accumulated frost from the draining lines and prevents further leakage. 

6. Defrosting maintains the quality of food

Generally, we keep food inside a freezer to keep them cool and free from outside microbes, which can spoil them. But defrosting helps deter the ice crystals from collecting at the food surface and degrading the food quality. Defrosting maintains the fool labels from deteriorating. 

Defrost regularly to give your freezer a longer life. 


when to defrost refrigerator

When to defrost a refrigerator?

Defrost periodically to keep the refrigerator clean and fresh from inside. The number of times one should defrost his freezer varies with freezer brand, age, and based on other considerations. But in general, a user must perform defrosting in a refrigerator at least once or twice a year.

Other than that, if you notice any ice built-up of more than one-fourth inch wide, then also you must perform the defrosting method. To get more exact details regarding this matter, you can refer to the manual guide. 


defrosting system in refrigerator

Different types of defrosting systems in a refrigerator

For defrosting a refrigerator, there are two variations. And they are auto-defrost/frost-free and manual defrosting. And both these variations work to remove the ice crystals from the freezer. 

1. Auto defrost/ Frost-free

The auto defrosting mechanism is newer in the field and comes with different designs. In this mechanism, there’s no need for manual hands to remove the frosting. Auto defrosts work with a compressor and an auto timer which checks and controls the freezer from ice crystals. The timer within the auto-defrost machine is fixed by the company, which works accordingly. Some of the variants of auto defrosting in the refrigerator are mainly-

a. Water defrost

The auto water defrosts machine works with the help of water in defrosting the accumulated frosts from the evaporator. You can handle a water defrosting machine both manually as well as in auto mode. This kind of system is used in industrial freezers. This water defrosts similar to the low-temperature freezer, which only functions when heat is applied to the frosts. Once defrosted, the water and the melted ice flow to the draining pan and get eliminated through evaporation. In the case of manual defrost, using hot water is also allowed. 

b. Defrosting through pause or off-cycle

In the off-cycle defrost, the refrigeration cycle is kept on pause for some time so that the refrigerant can’t enter the evaporator. With this process, the temperature of the evaporator increases and gradually thaws away the built-up frost. You can resume your refrigeration cycle once the defrosting cycle ends. The factory timer sets the time for defrosting.

c. Warm gas defrost

The warm gas process defrosts the built-up by using natural warm vapor discharges in the defrost cycle. You can blindly trust the hot gas defrosting in refrigerator technique because it is efficient, automatic, and completely safe. In addition, the process takes lesser time as compared to other procedures. However, you would require valves with which you can control the flow of gas and pressure.

d. Electrical defrost

The electrical auto defrost system is another subtype of auto defrosting. It consists of electrical heat that is placed in the evaporator coils. This system is usually conducted in a cold room because the temperature sometimes goes to an extreme point. Defrosting with electric defrost takes a longer time than usual. It is so because only thirty percent of heat is utilized for the defrosting process

These are some of the auto defrosting variations. You must pick an auto to defrost variation from this list that will be affordable to you. One of the main advantages of the auto process is that it consumes less time without any human intervention. With the auto frosting method like in Samsung convertible refrigerators, your food items will not stick together in the freezer. And at the same time requires minimal maintenance from your side. 

2. Manual defrost

Defrosting in the refrigerator manually is the most conventional technique for thawing. This technique is known as a natural defrost system because you only have to displace the food items from the freezer. After that, you have to keep the refrigerator door open for some time so that the crystalized ice gets melted automatically. The process is chosen by many due to its lower price than any auto defrosts model. Through a manual system, your refrigerator maintains a consistent temperature even when a larger quantity of foods is stored inside.


frosted refrigerator

How to defrost a refrigerator? 

The process of ice crystals, defrosting in the refrigerator is not an impossible task but requires patience. Yes, you have to wait for a bit so that, ice properly melts in your refrigerator. After knowing the variations of defrosting, here’s how you can defrost the freezer-

Step 1:  The initial step you have to take is unplugging and turning off the refrigerator. For convenience, if your refrigerator is mini and portable, then place it in your garage area. It will be easier to clean that way. 

Step 2: Then for defrosting in the refrigerator, remove the food items and locate them in some cold places. 

Step 3: The next step will be to absorb moisture from your fridge. So, lay older towels on the front floor of the freezer. If you can find any rags and extra towels, stuff them in the lower racks of the freezer. Sooner, the moisture will start getting absorbed. 

Step 4: Check out whether your freezer has any drainage host. If it has one, then place a bucket or lower basin underneath the drainage host. For further help in drainage, place shims at the front legs of the freezer. 

Step 5: Like the manual system, after opening the door of the fridge, leave the freezer on its own. After some time, you will notice that the ice is melting, and defrosting begins. 

Step 6: Widely open the freezer so that the air gets into the freezer. It is so because the room temperature air will soon start melting the ice. If you want to faster the melting process, then place a fan near the refrigerator and assist it in defrosting. In place of the fan, you can also apply steam to make the process faster. It’s simple. Only fill pots or bowls with hot steam water and, after that, place it above the thickly folded rugs or towels. The placing of the hot steam bowl above the towel will protect the shelves of the refrigerator. 

Step 7: Then, you will complete the mopping up of frost from the refrigerator, and you can wipe the melted ice away. Then lastly, before completing defrosting in the fridge, start cleaning the fridge’s racks, walls, and doors. Then to make the freezer dry, use damp clothes and wipe the inner parts of the freezer. 

As soon as you complete the process after some time, power the freezer and make sure that it again reaches the proper temperature. They get concerned if it takes more than two hours for cooling because that depends on the food loads. Once everything is sorted, you can place your food items again in the freezer.


defrosted refrigerator

Refrigerator Defrosting: Bottom Line

Thus, defrosting in a refrigerator is necessary to maintain the durability of the freezer. And though it varies with each refrigerator, you must defrost it at least once or twice a year. Though the defrosting technique is time-consuming at the same time, you can’t deny its benefits.

From low electricity consumption to the freshness of food items, everything depends on the defrosting technique. So, often check the freezer condition and, if necessary, defrost the thick ice crystals from the inner walls. 

Soumya is the editor-in-chief of Homeplace. Being an engineer with more than 8 years of working experience in consumer goods industries with exposure to product development, manufacturing, maintenance and quality control, he is an expert in this field.

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