Freezer Care & Maintenance

FAQs –
Is it okay to leave your freezer on when empty?  It is your preference.  If you turn the freezer off, leave the door cracked to ventilate.  Once you turn it back on, give it 4 hours to cool down before putting food in it.  If you leave the freezer on, put several jugs of water in the freezer to help maintain the temperature.
Can the freezer be plugged into an extension cord?  Freezers should be plugged into a grounded electrical outlet.  The Sears Kenmore owner’s manual states “DO NOT use an extension cord or an adapter plug.”  However, if you must use an extension cord, make sure it is rated for the amperage/wattage of the freezer.  Example:  14-gauge three-conductor extension cord under 50 feet of length for a residential grade deep freezer (per an electrical engineer on  Freezers need good power, or you burn out the compressor.
Where is the best place to put your freezer?  Freezers should be located in the coolest area of the room, away from heat-producing appliances or heating ducts, and out of direct sunlight where surrounding temperatures will not exceed 110°F. Leave a 3-inch space on all sides of the freezer for adequate circulation.
The best place for specific information on your freezer is the user manual that came with it.  If you do not have one and cannot access one online, here are some general guidelines taken from various sources (** see a listing at the end of this information.)
Freezer placement

  1. Choose a place that is near a grounded electrical outlet. Do Not use an extension cord or an adapter plug.
  2. For the most efficient operation, the freezer should be located where surrounding temperatures will not exceed 110° The freezer should be located in the coolest area of the room, away from heat-producing appliances or heating ducts, and out of direct sunlight.  This will cause the freezer to work harder than it needs to and thus increases your energy costs.
  3. Allow space around the unit for good air circulation. Leave a 3-inch space on all sides of the freezer for adequate circulation.

NOTE:  The exterior walls of the freezer may become quite warm as the compressor works to transfer heat from the inside.  Temperatures as much as 30°F warmer than room temperature can be expected.  For this reason, it is particularly important in hotter climates to allow enough space for air circulation around your freezer.
The freezer must have all bottom corners resting firmly on a solid floor.  The floor must be strong enough to support a fully loaded freezer.  NOTE:  It is VERY IMPORTANT for your freezer to be level to function properly.  If the freezer is not leveled during installation, the door may be misaligned and not close or seal properly, causing cooling, frost, or moisture problems.
Setting the Temperature
If the freezer has been unplugged, allow 4 hours for the freezer to cool down completely.  The freezer will run continuously for the first several hours.  Foods that are already frozen may be placed in the freezer after the first few hours of operation.
Freezer shelves should not be lined with aluminum foil, wax paper, or paper toweling.  Liners interfere with cold air circulation, making the freezer less efficient.
* Temperature sensors can be purchased with an app for your phone to monitor your freezers.
Care and Cleaning
CAUTION – Damp objects stick to cold metal surfaces.  Do not touch interior metal surfaces with wet or damp hands.
Some upright freezers are frost-free and defrost automatically but should be cleaned occasionally.
To avoid frequent defrosting, occasionally use a plastic scraper to remove frost.  Scrape with a pulling motion.  Never use a metal instrument to remove frost.
CAUTION – Freezer must be unplugged (to avoid electrical hazards) from the power source when defrosting the unit.
It is important to defrost and clean the freezer when ¼ to ½ inch of frost has accumulated.  Frost may tend to accumulate faster on the upper part of the freezer due to warm, moist air entering the freezer when the door is opened.  Remove food and leave the door open when defrosting the freezer.
* A pan of hot tap water can be placed in the freezer with the door closed to speed up the defrosting process.
If the freezer has a drain plug or a drain tube, use a pan or towels to collect the defrost water or attach a hose with an adapter to empty the defrost water into a drain or outside.
If the freezer does not have a drain plug, put towels or newspaper in the bottom of the freezer to catch the frost and absorb the defrost water.
After defrosting, wash the inside surfaces of the freezer with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda in one quart of warm water.  Rinse and dry thoroughly to avoid rusting of metal parts.  Wring excess water out of the sponge or cloth when cleaning around the controls, or any electrical parts.
Wash the removable parts and door basket with the baking soda solution mentioned above, or mild detergent and warm water.  Rinse and dry.  Never use metallic scouring pads, brushes, abrasive cleaners, or alkaline solutions on any surface.  Do not wash removable parts in a dishwasher.
Wash the cabinet with warm water and mild liquid detergent.  Rinse well and wipe dry with a clean, soft cloth.  Replace parts and food.
Power Failure / Freezer Failure
NOTE:  Do not open the freezer door unnecessarily if the freezer is off for several hours.
If a power failure or freezer failure occurs, frozen foods will stay frozen for at least 24 hours if the freezer is kept closed.  If the power failure continues, pack seven or eight pounds of dry ice into the freezer every 24 hours.  Look in the Yellow Pages under Dry Ice, Dairies, or Ice Cream Manufacturers for local dry ice suppliers.  Always wear gloves and use caution when handling dry ice (-109°F).  Contact an authorized servicer immediately if the freezer has failed.
* Do not put dry ice in a freezer if it is still running.  It can ruin the motor or condenser.
Maintaining the freezer
Check the seal occasionally to ensure proper sealing.  If the seal is not adequate, the door may require an adjustment or the seal may need to be replaced.
Defrost and clean the freezer regularly.  Ice build-up will lower its efficiency.
Safeguard your small children by keeping freezers locked.
Vacuum any exposed condenser coils regularly with a soft head attachment to ensure proper air circulation.
Maintain a temperature of 0°F.  If the freezer does not have a temperature panel showing the temperature, use a temperature gauge inside the freezer.
Put a box of opened baking soda in the freezer to absorb any unpleasant odors.
* If a freezer will remain empty for more than a couple of weeks, it can be turned off or unplugged to save on electricity.  Defrost the freezer and leave the door blocked open until needed again.  Allow at least 4 hours for the freezer to cool to the correct temperature when turning back on before food is placed in it.
* An empty freezer can be left running for a couple of weeks without doing any harm.  To help the freezer maintain temperature better, place several jugs of water in the freezer to freeze.  Leave a couple of inches of head space so the jugs don’t split when the water freezes.
** The information above came from the following sources:
Sears, Roebuck, and Co., Kenmore Elite Freezer Use & Care Guide. (April 2009)
Brubaker Inc. – Home Services, Appliances, Remodeling – Freezer Care & Maintenance Tips by Doug Brubaker,
Complete Protection – Preventative Maintenance – Freezers,