Picture of a typical upright stand up freezer, in need of defrosting.

How to Defrost Stand Up Upright Freezer Quickly

We’ve found that a   heat gun  significantly speeds up   how quickly   a stand up,  upright    freezer defrosts, whether it be frost free or manual defrost. Have rented a few apartments equipped with manual-defrost freezers. Indeed at this very moment, I have a manual-defrost Frigidaire upright freezer here that requires semi-annual defrosting (two or three times per year) to keep clear the cooling coils built into each of its shelves.

We’ve only tried this defrost freezer procedure on upright, free standing, vertical  freezers (those with a vertically positioned door). However, this method will defrost a chest freezer also (those with a horizontally-positioned door on their tops). In that case, just find a place above the freezer from which to aim the heat gun down into the open chest, instead of up from the floor as the procedure below instructs.

Heat guns work well because they have a built-in stand that allows for sitting them on the floor (or on a nearby shelf or chair for the chest freezer case) and aiming the ejected hot air through the open freezer door.  You could use a hair dryer.  But hair driers generally do not free-stand the way you need them to for freezer defrosting.  However, if you only have access to a hair dryer, you can use it, as long as you don’t mind holding it throughout the defrosting.

So to defrost our Frigidaire upright freezer, we perform the following procedure every several months.

Freezer defrosting sped up considerably by directing hot air from heat gun into it.
Freezer defrosting sped up considerably by directing hot air from heat gun into it.


How to Quickly Defrost an Upright, Stand Up Freezer

  • Disconnect from power.  Unplug the freezer, without touching its thermostat.  Leaving this alone preserves its current temperature setting.
  • Prop door open.  Then, block open the freezer door with a board.  Take care not to force it too far wide, lest you break the hinges, the door, or the freezer case itself.
  • Take all frozen items to insulated coolers.  Next, remove all food items to a couple of insulated coolers nearby so that frozen meat, vegetables, and bread, remain rock-solid throughout this operation.
  • Break out the heat gun.  Next, aim the heat gun from the floor up into the interior of the freezer, and then turn it on, making sure that its intake vent is turned completely open for maximum hot air discharge with minimal chance of overheating.  Be sure to position the heat gun far enough away from the freezer so that no water from the melting ice drips on it.
  • Watch all that ice quickly melt away.  Then, wait until all the ice inside has melted; periodically mopping up the floor at the freezer’s front.  This can take the better part of an hour for heavily accumulated ice in a deep freezer.
  • Periodically wipe up water from the melting ice.  Many tall freezers feature a drain plug that you can open, as well as a drain tube that you can route into a drain or bucket.  However, if not, or you can’t use that draining facility, wipe up the melting ice water as it trickles down into the bottom of the freezer.
  • Done with the heat gun.  Once all the ice has disappeared, turn off the heat gun, and set it in a safe place to cool, away from furniture, draperies, carpets, and other items that it could scorch or burn.
  • Clean inside of freezer.  Then, wash out the interior of the freezer with a soapy cloth and warm water, and rinse it out with another clean cloth. The interior may still be near freezing cold.  So spending too much time on this step may chill your hands.   Therefore, be quick about it.
  • Thoroughly dry the freezer interior.  Then, dry the inside of the freezer with an old but clean bath towel.  You want to leave as little water behind as possible so as to lengthen the time before the next required defrosting.
  • Reconnect the deep freezer to power.
  • Transfer all frozen food back into freezer.  As you replace each food item, wipe off any wetness from condensation or melting ice.  To avoid having to defrost again for as long as possible, you’ll want to assure that your food containers are as dry as possible before storing them again in the freezer.


Advantages, Benefits, and Pros of Defrosting Upright Freezers with a Heat Gun

  • Seriously reduces freezer defrosting time.  Using the heat gun in this way accelerates the defrosting operation such that with the heat gun a-blowing, I can clear all ice from the interior of my Frigidaire in less than a half-hour; without the heat gun, defrosting can take three to four hours.
  • No need to hold it once properly positioned.  I once upon a time used a hair blow dryer. However unlike the heat gun, these have no floor stand. So you’ve either got to hold the blow dryer in your hand throughout the entire freezer defrosting operation, or find some way to position it on a chair so that the warm air goes inside the freezer. For this purpose thus, heat guns are highly convenient.
  • Requires less work.  I’ve also tried the pot-of-boiling-water trick, you place a pot of boiling water inside the freezer and then close the door, sealing in the heat from that pot. This worked okay. However, the pot required reheating on the stove every twenty minutes or so to keep the freezer ice a-melting. The heat gun solution is n my experience, by far the most convenient and speedy means to defrost an ice-caked freezer.


Disadvantages, Cons, and Problems with Heat Gun Freezer Defrosting

  • Risk of severe burns.  Of course, caution is the word of the day when defrosting a freezer with a heat gun. At close range, an 1875-watt heat gun can produce significantly hotter (and thus, more dangerous) air than does a blow dryer. So position the heat gun at least two feet from the open freezer to assure that by the time that hot air reaches the freezer’s internal walls and shelves, that it has cooled sufficiently so as not to melt any plastic parts therein.
  • Beware of falling ice and water.  Also consider that some rather large chunks of ice and significant amounts of water (perhaps a gallon or two in extreme cases) will be falling out of an upright freezer as defrosting continues and collect on the floor. For that reason, be sure to place plenty of towels in front of the freezer on the floor, and position the heat gun close enough for effective defrosting yet far enough away that the water and ice do not spill on it.
  • Risk of electric shock.  Keep the heat gun and cord well clear of the dripping water and ice, and to virtually eliminate the risk of electrocution, the heat gun should feature the third (grounding) prong on its power cord, and you should plug it into a GFI outlet, avoiding the use of long extension cords.



Revision History

  • 2017-02-12: Originally published.