How to defrost a refrigerator


Image source

These days, the refrigerator has become an integral part of our kitchen. It is the best machine for preserving food for a long time. This machine can run 24X7 without making any complaints. However, one problem everyone face when we put something in the freezer for too long and it stuck to the ice strongly. Ice accumulation for a long period is the real reason behind this problem. It is a common problem among non-frost-free single door refrigerators.

Some time even high-end multi-door refrigerators also face this problem. You can defrost refrigerator to avoid this problem. In a survey, it has been found that those people who do not defrost refrigerator regularly face more problems with their refrigerator.

Where does the ice come from?

The accumulated ice in the freezer chamber comes directly from the moisture of the air. Whenever you open the door, fresh air enters the refrigerator. Fresh air contains around 10% moisture. When this moist comes in contact with the evaporator coil of the refrigerator, it instantly becomes ice. Slowly over time, the ice builds up over the evaporator coil.

When you put anything in the freezer for too long, the ice build-up covers the item and bonds it with the freezer. In this situation, you can defrost refrigerator and melt the ice to free the item from the freezer.

How to defrost a single door refrigerator

Ice build-up problem is very common in single door refrigerators. Most single door refrigerators use the evaporator coil as the freezer. As a result, you see ice build-up in these refrigerators and not in frost-free refrigerators. In most single door refrigerators you will find defrost refrigerator button on the thermostat. The thermostat is a manual temperature control knob.

Image source

In the middle of this knob, you will see the defrost button. Push this button firmly to start the defrosting system. After pushing the defrost button, the compressor will turn off for a while. During this time, the temperature of the refrigerator will rise and melt the ice slowly.

The time of defrosting depends on the ice accumulation level. Generally, it takes 1 to 3 hours to defrost refrigerator completely.  However, you can use some simple tricks to reduce the defrosting time. Once all the ice in the evaporator coil melts down, the temperature of the refrigerator will go above 5℉. This level of temperature will indicate the compressor to start again and start cooling the refrigerator.

What causes ice to build up in frost free refrigerators?

Unlike single door refrigerators, most frost-free refrigerators have two or more doors. In these refrigerators, the evaporator coil is not used as the freezer. Instead, most refrigerator companies keep the evaporator coil behind the freezer and pass air through the evaporator coil. Then a fan circulates this cold air throughout the refrigerator. The most proportion of this air goes to the freezer section and keeps the items below 5℉. There is no need to do a manual defrost refrigerator of this type. These refrigerators have an inbuilt heater that melts away the ice from the evaporator coil. Hence, if you see ice builds up in a frost-free refrigerator, it could indicate the refrigerator has some problem. Only in these conditions, you will see ice builds up in frost-free refrigerators.

  • Faulty fan: The internal fan of frost-free refrigerators constantly blows air to the evaporator coil and draw temperature out of it. This action keeps the temperature level of the evaporator coil high and prevents ice formation. Any problem with the fan will stop the air circulation and let the evaporator coil accumulate ice rapidly.
  • Faulty Heater: Most frost-free refrigerators contain a heater beside the evaporator coil. From time to time, the control panel starts the heater and meltdown accumulated ice. Any problem with the heater will interrupt this function and the evaporator coil will accumulate ice quickly.
  • Faulty control panel: All frost-free refrigerators contain a smart sensor inside. It picks the right time to defrost refrigerator automatically. A faulty sensor in the control panel may refuse to start the defrosting sequence. As a result, the refrigerator slowly accumulates ice on the evaporator coil.

    Ice formation in a frost-free refrigerator freezer is not a good sign. It reduces the cooling efficiency of the refrigerator. You need to contact a service technician immediately. Otherwise, the compressor may face burnout over a period.

How to do forced defrost a refrigerator

Forced defrost is only suggested when you are not familiar with the control of the refrigerator or unable to find defrost button on the refrigerator. To forcefully defrost refrigerator, you have to turn off its power. For this purpose, turn off the circuit breaker. Then wait for an hour or two and check whether all ice in the freezer melted or not. Turn on the power supply to the refrigerator when you can confirm that all ices in the freezer melted away.

How you need to do before defrosting?

Before you decided to defrost refrigerator, you need to remove perishable items from the freezer. During the defrost procedure, the compressor of the refrigerator will remain shut. Therefore, the temperature of the refrigerator will rise above 5℉. Perishable items like ice-cream can meltdown at this temperature. Hence, empty the freezer before pressing the defrost button.

Speed up the defrosting process

Generally, most fridges take one to two hours to defrost the evaporator coil. If you don’t have this much time, then you can speed up this process substantially by following these tricks.

  • Spray hot water: Hot water melts ice faster. If you have a thick layer of ice accumulated in the freezer then spraying hot water will melt the ice faster and bring down the defrost time under 20 to 30 minutes. However, you need to do defrost refrigerator this way carefully without burning your hand.
  • Hairdryer: All hair dryers blow hot air. Although hot air does not melt ice as fast as hot water, it is a safer way for sure. Blow hot air into the freezer until the ice start melting. It may take up to 1 hour time to defrost refrigerator this way.
  • Scrape off the ice: You can use a rubber spatula to scrape off big chunks of ice from the freezer. However, never use a sharp and hard object like a knife to scrape off the ice to defrost refrigerator. All evaporator coils are made from aluminum and it is a soft metal. Any pressure on it can bend or puncture the evaporator coil. As a result, the refrigeration flow will be interrupted and the refrigerator will break down.


Most refrigerators are built with high precision engineering and they have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years. However, it depends on how you take care of the refrigerator and how frequently defrost refrigerator. Accumulation of more than a quarter-inch of ice is not good for the refrigerator’s health. A thick layer of ice interrupts the thermal exchange of the refrigerator. As a result, the compressor runs constantly but the cooling capacity of the refrigerator drops a lot. This imbalance in the thermal exchange puts a lot of strain on the compressor and reduces its lifespan significantly. If you don’t want to spend money on refrigerator repair, the defrost refrigerator every 15 days apart. It will maintain the thermal exchange balance and improve the efficiency of the refrigerator. Defrosting a refrigerator only takes a couple of minutes and the refrigerator turns on when it is done.

Rate this post