How to Prevent Water Damage When Defrosting a Freezer

Defrosting a Freezer

To prevent water damage while defrosting a freezer should be a simple procedure if everything goes right: Unplug the unit, leave the door open to allow the ice to melt, and monitor water as it gradually flows through the drain line into the drip pan at the bottom of the unit.

When everything doesn’t go right and attempts to prevent water damage while defrosting a freezer aren’t successful, these may be common causes:

Clogged or frozen drain line.  If this occurs, water may pool in the bottom of the freezer unit as the ice melts instead of flowing freely through the drain line and into the drip pan. As water accumulation becomes deeper, it will leak out of the freezer onto the floor and/or behind the unit. A blocked drain line may be due to debris such as food particles or because ice has formed inside the line.

Water overflowing from the drip pan. The freezer drip pan beneath the unit is wide and can hold substantial water to prevent water damage during defrosting. If the drip pan overflows during or immediately after defrosting the freezer, however, it could be due to:

  • Excess ice inside the freezer compartment. Thick ice formation on freezer walls may increase the volume of water enough to overflow the drip pan before the evaporation process can take place. A common cause of excess ice is the infiltration of humid outside air into the freezer compartment due to a worn, leaky door gasket.
  • Evaporation in the drip pan is too slow to prevent water damage. After the unit is restarted, water collected in the drip pan is evaporated by heat released from condenser coils located in the bottom of the freezer just above the drip pan. However, dirty, dusty condenser coils can impede the evaporation process, allowing the drip pan to fill and soon overflow, resulting in water damage around the freezer as well as triggering toxic mold growth.

To diagnose and prevent water damage due to freezer defrosting issues, professional service by a qualified appliance technician is recommended.

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