Defrosting the Refrigerator/Freezer

  • August 30, 2013 8:11 AM
    Message # 1377811
    One of the projects I've always hated is defrosting the refrigerator and freezer. I hated doing in my home and I hate doing on my boat. But, as we all know, it is a necessity if you want to keep it running efficiently. This is even more important on the boat than in a home, since the boat reefer typically runs off the 12V battery bank. Whenever the frost builds up to more than about a 1/4", it's probably time to think about doing it.

    One factor that complicates things on a boat is that there are usually fewer options for storing foods while performing the task. So, the quicker you can get it done, the better. In the past, I have used a hair dryer or heat gun to speed things up, and this helps considerably. But when I started to do it this time around, I realized that my heat gun was back in the marina (and I haven't needed a hair dryer for many years). The frost on my cold plates had already built up to over 1/2", so I was overdue.

    Hmmm... no place to store the cold/frozen food during the process... no heat gun to speed up the defrosting... too much frost to just let it go. Time for a new approach.

    I have a hand-held water sprayer (similar to those you'd use at a sink, but with a better spay) hooked up to my water pump, with a shut-off valve when it's not in use. put a 12' long hose on it, so I could use it in the cockpit for showers while on the hook. Using this and a wet-dry vacuum, I was able to get the entire job done in well under 10 minutes, including emptying and reloading the box... maybe even closer to 5 minutes, total.

    Everything in my refrigerator is in compartments that lift out. So, it takes me only about 10 seconds to remove the entire food contents. Once the box was empty, I used the spray hose to melt all the frost. (I left the drain hose valve turned off, so the water would NOT drain into the bilge.) 

    After turning off the compressor, it only took about 2 minutes to melt all the ice and frost, which is considerably faster than it typically takes with a heat gun. After the ice was all melted, I simply vacuumed out the standing water with the wet-vac, wiped down the sides and bottom to dry everything. Letting the water stand and then vacuuming it out meant that I didn't have to do any scrubbing... the vac did all the work. I then reloaded the fridge, turned the compressor back on, and tipped back a [still ice-cold] drink to celebrate a job well done!

    Another advantage to using the spray hose method is that it can be done easily on the hook, without concern for the big battery drain from using a hair dryer or heat gun through an inverter. My wet-vac uses very little power on the inverter, and if you don't have a wet-vac aboard, you can accomplish the same thing with your dinghy pump. (It just won't drain as much out or as quickly.)

    Give this method a try. I think you'll like the results. Just make sure that there is nothing in your own refrigerator that could get damaged by the water. If everything is properly installed, this really shouldn't be a concern.

    Jack Webb

    Last modified: August 30, 2013 8:27 AM | Anonymous member
  • August 31, 2013 5:17 AM
    Reply # 1378490 on 1377811
    Deleted user
    I think you really wanted to show off that awesome icebox!   hehe

    This poor guy only has refrigeration.
  • August 31, 2013 8:39 AM
    Reply # 1378583 on 1377811
    Deleted user
    Great write up Jack.

    Just in case you don't have a sprayer, but only a sun shower, it will work pretty good too. But for the drain I use a pan placed at the end of the drain line under the sole.  In operation it is corked off.

    Still Jack: You have a very nice refrigerator!

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