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Every freezer is susceptible to frost buildup over time, including the best chest freezers. There is one main cause as to why these mounds of crusty ice grow along the walls of your compact freezer: condensation. Each time you lift the lid of your small deep freezer, air is sucked into the chest and the moisture from that air is trapped once you close the lid. Do that repeatedly and after a while, you get frost.

Frost isn t quite the fearsome foe of freezers, but it can shorten the lifespan of your chest freezer. Think of that frost as an igloo: Although frost itself is cold, it acts as an insulator, so your freezer has to run longer and work harder in order to penetrate that block of ice to keep your food cold.

It s a good idea to defrost your small chest freezer at least once per year, but if you re often opening it often, you might need to defrost more often. Generally, once you see about half an inch of frost, you should defrost.

Every chest freezer s manufacturer includes instructions on defrosting, but here s a general guide you can follow:

  • First, turn off your freezer and unplug it from the outlet.
  • Next, you need to empty the freezer. You can transfer the food to either another freezer or put the food in coolers temporarily.
  • All of the chest freezers on our lineup include drains, so you ll want to locate the drain plug and pull it so it's open.
  • Place a pan under the drain to collect the water. Some units come with a drain hose you can use to channel defrost water to a bowl or pan. Lay towels down near the exterior drain to mop up any spilled water.
  • Thaw.
    • Leave the lid lifted and allow the unit to thaw. This can take several hours.
    • You can speed the process along by filling a bucket or bowl with hot water and placing it in your freezer. Close the lid and leave it for about 10 minutes. Repeat.
    • Do not use any sharp objects to scrape the ice   you could damage your freezer.
  • Once the ice has melted and the water has drained from the freezer, you need to dry your freezer completely. If you don't, you only speed the process of frost buildup. This is also a good time to clean your freezer, so you may want to use a safe, all-purpose cleaner or a mild soap to clean the inside of the chest.
  • Reattach the drain plug and plug the unit back in.
  • Turn on your freezer and set the dial to your preferred temperature.
  • Once it has returned to a proper temperature   at least 0 degrees Fahrenheit   you can repack the freezer with your frozen foods.
  • If you notice more ice than usual building up inside your small deep freezer, it could indicate that the seal around the lid isn t as tight as it used to be. So be sure to check the seal for any cracks and air leaks.

    A chest freezer that is properly maintained can last you several years, so be sure to regularly defrost it to keep it operating at its peak level.

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