chest freezer troubleshooting

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Old 01-17-13, 05:48 PM
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chest freezer troubleshooting

The old chest freezer is apparently having a problem. The story I get is this morning when it was opened a lot of water dripped out of the back of the lid onto the floor, and that it was smellier than usual upon lifting the lid. Also, there apparently for some time now had been a big chunk of frost/ice build-up on the outside of the freezer on one side along the lid gasket/seal which was noticed no longer to be there upon first opening this morning (apparently melted away). Upon my investigation, when lifting the lid more water dripped out onto the floor from the back of the lid. Inside walls were frosted up with a couple inches of frost here and there, what perhaps could be considered extreme but maybe not necessarily. Inspection of the gasket/seal revealed not a good seal, especially along there where the frost buildup had been previously observed along the outside edge. Where the freezer had been plugged in there has been no interruption in power. I checked the thermostat dial, and it had been set on the coldest setting. I unplugged it and removed everything from the freezer and cleared out the inside frost buildup on the walls. I left the setting on coldest for now. I plugged back it in and could hear that it is operating. After several hours I checked it again and it was still running. And after several more hours I checked it again and it is still running, with temperature inside dropping, thermometer in there says 25 degrees F and has been getting colder and colder gradually. I put some 5 gal cans of paint on the lid for weight to help compress down the gasket and make a decent seal for the time being. Plan on checking it probably tomorrow morning and am guessing it'll probably be down to regular normal freezing operating temperature (whatever that is) by then. I noticed the compressor is pretty warm/hot but am unsure whether that's normal or what. Any comments/suggestions/advice to further troubleshoot appreciated. Thanks
 
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Old 01-17-13, 11:05 PM
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Obviously if I had a bunch of water dripping out of the back edge of the lid when I opened it, there must've been a significant ice buildup inside the lid before it thawed. What causes ice to build up within the lid anyway? Seems like that shouldn't be happening. The lid looks okay, I don't see any cracks in it it or anything.
 
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Old 01-17-13, 11:29 PM
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The lid is cold and when humid air hits it.....it freezes. You said the gasket is leaking. That's a bad thing on a chest freezer.

Most freezers of that type don't self defrost. Most people allow the ice to build up until the lid/door. wont close.

It's a good idea to defrost and clean a freezer on a regular schedule.
 
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Old 01-17-13, 11:52 PM
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The freezer is quite old, and is not the self-defrosting type. Defrosting on a regular schedule has been neglected. Yes the gasket, as I mentioned, does not make a good seal. As far as ice buiding up within the lid (not on it's inside or outside exterior but actually within it, between the metal exterior and the plastic interior -- where I presume there would be insulation material), I suppose the ice in there is the result of condensation freezing? Would that be normal? Also, in regard to the thermostat control, if everything is working correctly should that ever need to be set to maximum coldness? How cold should a chest freezer be anyway, for typical household use?
 
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Old 01-18-13, 12:17 AM
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No....it should not need to be set for maximum cold.
The reason needed to keep turning the thermostat up is the cold sensor was probably in the ice and since ice is only 32 degrees it couldn't read actual temperature.

A typical temperature for a freezer is at least 0 degrees.
A chest freezer should be between minus 5 and minus 10. The colder the temperature the longer the food will last.
 
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Old 01-18-13, 09:45 AM
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Where is the thermostat cold sensor usually located? What ice might it have been in, where? I don't actually see anything inside the defrosted freezer box that looks it could be a sensor. Also I'm still unclear about why the lid contained so much water that dripped out of it after it thawed; how did that much ice apparently accumulate within the lid, and is that at all normal or expected?
 
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Old 01-18-13, 10:44 AM
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No, water & ice accumulating within the walls is not normal. Like PJmax said it's probably condensation. In your case it's condensation within the walls of the lid. The freezer's old and the steel panels have delaminated from the foam insulation creating a gap where air & moisture can collect. As the water freezes it expands pushing the panel away from the foam, expanding the delaminated area.

Why is there so much. Every time the temperature or air pressure changes new air is brought inside the lid. The condensed water & ice has a harder time making it though the tiny space so it tends to accumulate. It's the same process that can magically make water appear in aircraft and older machine's fuel tanks that are openly vented.
 
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Old 01-18-13, 05:58 PM
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Thanks PD for the explanation. I removed lid from the freezer and took off the plastic inner lining. In this particular lid the insulation as you can see here is not foam but instead just that yellow spun fiberglass insulation: http://i207.photobucket.com/albums/b...psd7782a41.jpg The white streaks on it is residual melting ice. So with this type of insulation I don't think there is any actual delamination that has occurred as you described could happen with foam insulation. Regardless, a significant amount of ice had obviously accumulated within the lid somehow.
The gasket shown here on the lid turned upside-down http://i207.photobucket.com/albums/b...ps114147f5.jpg fails to make a good seal and is old and in bad shape. A new one is 85 bucks. I was wondering if the bad gasket seal is the cause of all the problems I've described here and if replacing that gasket should remedy the situation, or if it's probably not gonna take care of the problem so not worth it.

Also, found a parts diagram for the lid http://www.searspartsdirect.com/part...G9090011/00001 so to answer my own question it looks as if the thermostat sensor must be there within the lid, and as PJMax suggested was probably embedded in the ice in there.
 

Last edited by sgull; 01-18-13 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 01-18-13, 07:52 PM
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Inside walls were frosted up with a couple inches of frost here and there, what perhaps could be considered extreme but maybe not necessarily.
Yes a couple of inches of ice/frost is a problem.


The thermostat is part # 79 in link.

It doesn't show where the actual probe is but it may be attached to that box-like thing in the bottom.
http://www.searspartsdirect.com/part...G9090011/00002
 
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Old 01-18-13, 08:29 PM
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I was thinking maybe the actual probe for the thermostat may be within the wire harness (part 50 here shown on diagram) http://www.searspartsdirect.com/part...G9090011/00001 which looks to be within the lid, which is where I had the problem with the all that particular ice buildup.
 
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Old 01-19-13, 07:22 AM
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Is the lid nice and straight & flat? If it is a new seal could help with both the ice in the freezer and in the lid. Oven with old lids they get twisted and warped. Sometimes you can just give it some muscle and get it flattened out. If not a new seal might be a waste of money. Worst case a cement block on the lid can do wonders to help it seal if you don't want to put $85 (plus I'm sure you'll take a serious hit for shipping) into a 10 or 15 year old freezer.

If you don't have a light in the lid then a thermostat is the only thing that item #50 could be. Since they list the part as no longer available it might be a moot point. My chest freezer has a interior light and an indicator light on the outside but our older one did not have anything in the lid.

Oh, and ice can be any temperature below freezing. It's somewhat an insulator and if it's white, squishy frost ice it can be a pretty decent insulator which could be throwing off the thermostat. At 30-32f ice is pretty soft and almost wet. If you've ever ice skated I think good ice is usually 16-26f. Colder ice is harder, faster and more brittle while warmer ice is slower, softer and less brittle. I once tried skating outside in northern Finland when it was -30 and it was the hardest most impossible ice I'd ever experienced. It was like walking on smooth concrete with your skates on. It was fast but so hard it was almost impossible to set an edge and I've never fallen so much...
 
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Old 01-19-13, 09:46 AM
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If I do decide to try to get a better/good seal either with a new gasket (or maybe use a cement block(s) as suggested), I'm still unclear how the better seal can help prevent ice build-up within the lid. Does the new/better seal prevent the condensation from occurring in there? Does the new/better seal not only help to make an airtight seal between the gasket and the top surface of the freezer box, but also between it and the bottom edges of the the lid?
Also, I guess I can understand that condensation can form and accumulate within the lid and then freeze, but I still can't understand why the other day when the person first opened the lid that the ice had melted within the lid (or a lot of it anyway), yet the frost on the walls on the inside of the freezer box had not melted (perhaps relatively soon it woud have?). When I checked the freezer I did notice the frost on the walls was pretty soft and almost wet, but not dripping wet.
 
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Old 01-19-13, 05:23 PM
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Depending on how the lid is made a new seal may or may not help. If there are seams outside the seal then a new seal will probably not help with condensation inside the lid. Many freezers have the seam right where the seal is. Replacing the seal could help but with an old freezer I would really consider if a new seal is worth the money. If you do seal up the lid at this point is guaranteed there's a good bit of moisture in there that you would be sealing in so it's only a matter of time before rust becomes your next problem.

As for frost on the inside but water when you open the lid I bet the water was on the top side of the lid's insulation. Away from the frozen section of the freezer but still chilled by the cold to get the moisture in the air to condense.
 
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Old 01-19-13, 05:54 PM
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I took the lid apart, took the insulation out of the lid (it's just a sheet of the spun type yellow fiberglass type) and let it dry out completely, and dried the metal lid itself completely also, then put it all back together including with the old gasket. I put a light bright work light inside the freezer box and shut the lid and looked for any light shining through any gaps between the gasket and the top of the freezer box. Where I could see definite light/gap along the front edge, an obvious non-seal going on there, I first marked the area and then removed the light and then placed a cement block on top of the lid on that area of the edge which now compresses/closes that gap. Other than that one area the rest of the gasket seals decently without weight needed.
So I guess my plan will be to just go ahead and run the freezer, monitor the temperature inside, and just generally keep an eye on it for any irregularities every day, see if I notice any more indication of the condensation/ice/water situation within the lid any time soon. Maybe if I'm lucky everything will be okay for a while anyway. Thanks for all the the helpful comments and suggestions.
 
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Old 01-19-13, 07:29 PM
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I had an upright freezer. Worked great.....extremely cold.
Every six months I had to defrost it. The gasket checked good with the one dollar bill test but the moisture still got in.
 
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Old 01-19-13, 07:48 PM
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As long as this freezer stays as cold as it's supposed to and doesn't drip a bunch of water out the back of the lid when it's opened, it'll be fine with me. If it keeps operating okay I'll just make sure I check it more often and defrost it at least a couple times a year in the future.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 03:10 PM
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I will say sgull you are more persistent than I am. I would probably have just duct taped the lid to the body to stop air leaks. Well, that or used it for target practice.
 
 

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