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#16577 - 11/02/06 03:14 PM Monitoring a Freezer
Hal Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/17/00
Posts: 9874
Loc: Blue Creek, Ohio, USA
Day before yesterday I walked by the freezer where I store meat for bait, glands, stretched pelts and the like. Some "sixth" sense told me to check that freezer, so I moved the things that had accumulated on top of it and opened the lid.

It was thawed, and evidently had been so for a couple of days. Fortunately, nothing was in a total state of decomposition. The meat had just started to "taint" but that doesn't hurt because it needs to be tainted for bait anyway. It was a "stinky" mess, but it wasn't a total disaster like it could have been in a couple more days. I got lucky.

This is not the first time. Seven or eight years ago, the freezer quit, and Dennis and I caught it "just in time". Even a home freezer can quit working, but you're way more likely to catch it before anything spoils because you use that freezer more regularly. (The house freezer quit a couple years ago, but we caught it right away, and didn't lose a thing.)

A "bait" freezer is way more likely to go noticed because you just don't use it everyday, except maybe during trapping season. There's another thing that I know happens with my freezer, and I described above. Things accumulate on top of them when you don't need to get into them regularly. Then, you don't feel like clearing the stuff off of them, just to open the lid and "check" the freezer -- itís a vicous cycle.

I've heard some of the horror stories from other trappers. One trapper I know of lost a year's worth of fur in a freezer which contained unstretched, and also stretched and dried fur he was storing over the summer. Somebody accidentally unplugged that freezer.

I've been lucky too long. I actually considered doing this the last time the freezer stopped working. But I procrastinated -- And got lucky again! I figure I'm out of luck.

What I did was bought one of those cheap indoor-outdoor thermometers that have the thin wire lead for the outdoor temperature. I put the sensor in the freezer, and let the gasket shut down on the wire. I now have a thermometer with a digital read out prominently displayed right above the freezer. Its near a spot where we hang gloves. Since we use gloves frequently, there will be many instances when the thermometer will be staring us in the face. We are more likely to notice if the freezer fails. We don't have to open the lid to tell that it's stopped working.

It's a little added insurance, and it cost less than ten bucks.

Anybody else got any tips or suggestions for avoiding a freezer "meltdown"?

smile -- Hal
_________________________
Endeavor to persevere.

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#16578 - 11/02/06 03:37 PM Re: Monitoring a Freezer
JD Offline
Member+

Registered: 09/27/06
Posts: 271
Loc: Ohio,Pataskala
Being an electrician I often have people ask me similar questions on this.I recommend to them to put there inside refrigerator/freezer on a circuit with a single light fixture,usually most people have a light over their kitchen sink I reccomend this fixture because most folks leave it on all the time. A freezer at a seperate location I reccomend plugging in a small lamp of some sort.There is also a device available that works by audible alarm if the temperature drops below a selected temp it will sound. smile

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#16579 - 11/02/06 08:24 PM Re: Monitoring a Freezer
Beback Offline
Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 29
Loc: SW Ohio
After are last mishap,with the freezer being unpluged.I got one of the outdoor receptacle box cover's(clear cover to keep water out) no more bumping/unpluging. You can pick one up at a Lowes for 5-6 bucks

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#16580 - 11/03/06 05:04 AM Re: Monitoring a Freezer
K. Sullivan Offline
Member

Registered: 04/12/03
Posts: 187
Loc: Northern Ohio
Something to keep in mind is if you are keeping your freezer in an unheated building, not all freezers will work properly. Some freezers require a relatively high ambient temperature to operate properly.
I purchased a new freezer 4 years ago, and bought one specifically to go in my unheated garage. When the temperature would get around the freezing point my freezer would start heating instead of freezing. I called the company I bought it from and they came out and tried taking out refrigerant, didnít fix it. They tried adding refrigerant, didnít fix it. They called the manufacture and were told they had to reverse a couple of the lines off the compressor, didnít fix it.
When the garage was warm, during the summer, the freezer worked fine. When it was cold out I donít know if it was working properly, but it was cold enough that nothing melted anyway. It was only at a certain, cool temperature that the thing would start melting the contents
This went back and forth for 4 years. Last spring they took my freezer into the shop and kept it for 8 months. I just got it back 3 weeks ago. I guess the put a different compressor in it.
We have air conditioners where I work that run just about year-round. These air conditioners have heaters on the compressors to keep the air conditioner working properly.
Anyway, my point is, if you are going to get a freezer that will be in an unheated area, MAKE sure you get one that is specifically designed for operating in cold weather.

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#16581 - 11/03/06 07:20 AM Re: Monitoring a Freezer
jwr Offline
Member

Registered: 02/19/03
Posts: 199
Loc: ark
I have alarms on all my freezers. Worth every penny.

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#16582 - 11/03/06 08:07 AM Re: Monitoring a Freezer
MUDDSTUD Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/12/05
Posts: 22
Loc: S.E. ALABAMA
Hal, try a restaurant supply store. Most restaurants use alarms in their walk-in coolers and freezers. I have no idea of the cost.

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#16583 - 11/03/06 08:50 AM Re: Monitoring a Freezer
Hal Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/17/00
Posts: 9874
Loc: Blue Creek, Ohio, USA
Freezers designed to operate in cold weather?

I'm not sure what went on with that freezer, but I would have to assume that as many attempts as they made to fix it, it was a problem with the freezer, and not the environment. Otherwise, they would have just told you to take it inside.

Has anyone else had a problem like this? I know a whole lot of folks that run a whole lot of freezers in unheated buildings. I never heard of anyone buying a special freezer for this use, and never heard of a problem with the freezer "melting" the contents in cold weather. And, in a little bit of searching on the internet, I really can't find any information on operating a freezer in an unheated building, or freezers designed specifically for this task.

I'm going out on a limb hereÖ Some freezers have "automatic" defrost which heats up the freezer to melt the frost. Here is something I found on an internet search:

"The defrosting process ends after either the amount of time specified on the timer or when a separate thermostat near the cooling coils (the defrost thermostat) senses that the heat near the coils has reached a specific temperature."

It seems possible to me that during cold weather, if the system relys on a thermostat, the "defrost thermostat" might not heat up properly and might not turn off the defrost heater. This could certainly lead to melting the food inside the freezer. Thus it might be good to steer away from automatic defrosting units for this application, and stick to manual defrost models. But this is speculation.

As for the heaters on your air conditioners, aren't they simply to keep frost from building up on the cooling coils? I know from experience if you try to run a dehumidifier in a cold place (like in your fur shed at night after the fire goes out) you will end up with a huge ice ball on the condensing coils of the dehumidifier. I also understand there are dehumidifiers designed for this application which (as in the case of the frostless freezer) have a little heater that actually heats the coils periodically to melt off the frost.

It would be nice if we could get somebody who is really knowledgeable in this field to respond. Does anybody know anything about freezers specifically designed to work in cold climates in unheated buildings???

quest -- Hal
_________________________
Endeavor to persevere.

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#16584 - 11/08/06 01:44 PM Re: Monitoring a Freezer
Ten Shot Offline
Member

Registered: 10/02/06
Posts: 65
Loc: Mauston, Wisconsin
The guy at the place where I bought my refrigerator for my shed told me to never buy an automatic defrost refrigerator for use in an outbuilding or unheated garage and expect it to keep things cold during the winter months. The automatic defrost thermostat kicks in and keeps on running. It will keep running until the outside air warms back up again. So, the automatic defrost causes the fridge to run warm during the cold winter months. Much like you found in your internet search, Hal.

I would say that automatic defrost freezers run on the same principals. Both the freezer and the fridge in my shed are NOT automatic defrost.

Not sure if this helps but its what I know and what I've been told........

......Ten Shot

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#16585 - 11/08/06 02:01 PM Re: Monitoring a Freezer
Thumb Catcher Offline
Member

Registered: 07/19/06
Posts: 104
Loc: N. Kentucky
I can sympathize with You I lost about 40 Home Grown Cornish Cross Chickens and 3 Deers this past spring because a storm kicked the circuit going to the Freezer. Everything in the house worked fine. We keep it in the basement garage, My wife opened the lid to get a chicken out and it had been out for 2 weeks we believe. You can imagine the smell. Sadly we didn't know and the smell didn't escape at that point until she opened the freezer. After that I had to shove it out the door we couldn't stand the smell. The alarm sounds like an option I would like to look into. But what if the electric is kicked off then What?

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#16586 - 11/08/06 02:57 PM Re: Monitoring a Freezer
Hal Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/17/00
Posts: 9874
Loc: Blue Creek, Ohio, USA
I believe these alarms are battery powered, at least I would hope so. Which does bring up another point. While we all should know that we need to check the batteries in these kinds of things (smoke alarms, etc.) We have a tendency not to. That's one reason I decided on the indoor outdoor thermometer. At least it has a visual display, if that display stops working, I will notice it (hopefully) and replace the battery. With an audible alarm, if the batters is dead the alarm won't sound. Which is the same condition the alarm exhibits when the freezer is working fine. Hard to "notice" that.

smile -- Hal
_________________________
Endeavor to persevere.

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