Your freezer allows you to keep your food at a really low temperature and this stops them from going bad. This is done by compressing, condensing and evaporating the gas in the freezer to remove any heat in your foods. The gas from your food is compressed then evaporated into gas and from here, it’s condensed into a liquid and evaporated to then be taken out the freezer.
Sometimes you can forget to close your freezer’s door in the night and when you wake up, you realize that the door was open the whole time. This is usually an accident and no one in the house ever takes the blame but don’t worry, there are ways you can go about this. If your food has thawed, you can read below to see what you should and shouldn’t throw out.
What To Do If Freezer Door Left Open Overnight
1. Check How Long The Freezer Door Was Open For?
Depending on how long the freezer door was opened, damage may not have been done. If you left your freezer door open overnight, then this is a lot worse than if you left the freezer open for a few hours. If you left your freezer open for a few hours, then you can close the freezer door and forget about it because not much would have happened within a few hours. For a freezer that’s only been left open for a few hours, your freezer should be cold enough to keep the food at a low enough temperature.[sc name=”homeimpsolutionspromo” ]
When your freezer door is left open, it’s no queue for it to start defrosting everything in your freezer. If the door is open and your freezer works at a really low temperature, chances are your groceries are going to be the exact same. If your freezer barely works and maintains a low enough temperature, this means that it’s not working properly, and your freezer could have defrosted. In this case, you’ll need to get your freezer repaired or troubleshoot it yourself.
2. Check The Temperature Of The Freezer?
The first thing you need to do is check if the freezer is still cold. If it is, it looks like you’ve got nothing to worry about. To make sure that the freezer is at the right temperature of 0 degrees F to -10 degrees F or -12 degrees C to -18 degrees, you need to use a kitchen thermometer (view on Amazon). This’ll allow you to make sure that the internal temperature of your freezer is safe for the food. It’ll also allow you to check the internal temperature of food such as steak and chicken to make sure that they’re safe to eat. If the temperature surrounding your freezer is cold, so if your home was cold that day, the things in your freezer may not have suffered. But, if your home is really warm, this isn’t going to help your freezer whilst the door is open. Chances are your food has thawed and you may need to start inspecting it.
3. Check The Temperature Of Your Food
You’ll now need to check your food and what the temperature of it is like. If you can clearly see that all the ice in your freezer has gone, and your food has defrosted, then you should be worried. To check this properly, you can use a food thermometer and check the temperature of the food inside. The temperature of the food should be below 41F. If the food is at a temperature this low, and your freezer is still working, chances are you can shut the door and go about your day. If your food is considerably more than 41F, this can be a host for bacteria to grow and you may be in trouble. You can check down below on what types of foods you’re going to have to start clearing out.
4. Check If Your Freezer is Working
The next thing you need to do is to check if your freezer is still working properly. If your freezer is still freezing, the temperature is low, and your food looks good, chances are that you can shut the door and go about your day. Most freezers shouldn’t have any issues when the door has been left open overnight. Only freezers that barely hit a low temperature and struggle to work in the warm climate will be in trouble. If you know that your freezer is always reliable and doesn’t struggle to freeze your food, then you should be good.
If you noticed that your freezer is warm and isn’t freezing, you’ll need to check out why. Another major sign that your freezer is suffering is if you see a pool of water leaking. In this case, it’s obvious that there are some faulty components that are preventing your freezer from working. Before you determine that your freezer is kaput, you can check if it’s plugged in. Sometimes your freezer may have defrosted because it wasn’t on.
5. Ice and Moisture Formation
After your freezer has been left open, warm air from the outside would have been with the cold air inside causing moisture to form. From here, the freezer will have trouble keeping the temperature cold inside and this will cause ice to form around the freezer coils – this will prevent your freezer getting cooler since it prevents air circulation.
6. Make Sure Internal Components Aren’t Overheating
Because of things like the coil forming ice causing poor air circulation, the freezer is going to have trouble lowering the temperature when the door is left open. There’s a chance the thermostat fails to signal the compressor to slow down the process. It leads to overheating, which is harmful to the appliance and your home
7. Check If The Food Is Thawed
If your freezer is defrosted all night and your food is thawed, then you’ll need to assess what you can do with each food. All the food in your freezer is different so it won’t be wise to decide to throw everything out just because it thawed. Before you do anything, you need to know that refreezing your food isn’t dangerous to the food. The only danger of doing this is that the food could have spoiled between the time it was defrosted and the time you decided to refreeze it.
The reason your food can go bad as soon as it was defrosted is because of bacteria growth. When you freeze food, the bacteria growth on the food isn’t killed, it’s only slowed down rapidly to the point where it stops. When the food is defrosted again, then the bacteria growth rate is increased rapidly and if not frozen again, it can be too much, and the food can spoil. Another downside of refreezing your food is that the quality of the food goes down is because the cells are damaged and they’re expanded with ice crystals. There are a few foods that this doesn’t apply to, for example, meats, baked food, vegetables, fruits, rice, and pasta.
If your freezer door has bene left unopened, you need to avoid reaching a point where bacteria has had a chance to multiply and then refreeze. If you’re refreezing your freezer without checking if the food is safe to it once thawed, then you’re putting yourself at risk. Bacteria has more chances to multiply each time your food is thawed.
Along with the scary bacteria that you may be worried about such as E. coli and Salmonella, there are other toxins produced by bacteria that aren’t killed during the process of cooking. Foods like vegetables can contain bacteria, but it’s a lot less likely in frozen vegetables as they’re blanched before they’re frozen.
If you’ve left your freezer door was left open for a few days and some foods have been thawed slightly, then these will be ok to eat. Even if it’s meat – it wouldn’t have gotten to the point it’s spoilt. There’s a very low chance that it thawed completely and refroze. However, if the freezer door was left open for days, then most of the food would have been spoilt and it’ll be totally unsafe to eat.
When You Should Throw the Food Away:
- If the temperature is above 40F.
- If you deep down know that the food has gone bad.
- Other foods have leaked into it e.g. meat juices.
- The food smells bad.
- If on the label of the food, it says something along the lines of Do not thaw. Or Use as soon thawed. This means that you can still eat the food again, but if it says Do not thaw, make sure to through it away.
It’s been left defrosted for too long:
- When You Should Refreeze the Food:
- If the temperature is below 40F.
- If there are still ice crystals on the food and you know it can still be refrozen. Some food still needs to be thrown away even if they have ice crystals and this is especially true for meats.
- If the food is prepared. In this case, you should just heat up the food once it’s defrosted since the quality will reduce massively if frozen again.
What to Do for Certain Foods That Have Been Left Overnight
Raw Beef – if you find yourself with raw beef that has been left overnight in an open freeze, you will be able to refreeze it if it’s still very cold. You can still do this if there are ice crystals, but you need to be sure that the food is below 40F and hasn’t been thawed for over a day if you still want to refreeze it.
Cooked Meat – if there’s cooked meat in your freezer or even cooked meals with meat and they’ve thawed, you need to either throw them away or heat it up. Even if it’s still icy, the quality would have already been ruined and you won’t be able to refreeze them again.
Raw Chicken, Pork, or Lamb – the same goes for these types of foods. If you find that they are below 40F using the thermometers, and they don’t smell, are not slimly, still icy, and haven’t been thawed for over a day, then it’s ok to refreeze them. However, if there’s no ice on it, then you should just cook it there and then.
Fish and other Seafood – see food can spoil a lot quicker than other meats can and therefore if they’ve thawed, it’s time to start cooking them. This is regardless of if they’re below 40F and have ice on them. If they’re still cold, you have a chance of still cooking them as long as they don’t smell and aren’t slimy. If they’re not cold at all, then you should get rid of them.
Fruits – if you find fruits that have thawed in your freezer, you need to check that they don’t smell bad and aren’t moldy. If they’ve gone soft and shrank, they may have lost a lot of flavors, but this doesn’t mean they’re bad to even. In most cases, you can refreeze them or eat them right away because it takes time to fruit to go back.
Vegetables – if you find thawed vegetables in your freeze, and they’re still solid and icy, then you can refreeze them. If they’re not, then you need to throw them away because vegetables can go bad quite quickly. They also lose flavor and can become tough and this won’t be pleasant to eat.
Ice Cream – if you find ice cream in your freezer that has thawed and melted after leaving your freezer open, then you can go ahead and refreeze it or eat it right away. If not, then you’ll need to throw it away. Dairy products can go bad very quickly and if your ice cream has completely melted, you need to get rid of it.
How Long Can A Freezer Be Left Open?
It takes 4 to 12 hours for the items in your freezer to be completely frozen. When your freezer door is left open, this increases the temperature inside the freezer and this means that the freezer gets less cold resulted in melted or thawed food. Leaving the freezer day open for too long will mean that the temperature has increased too much therefore nothing in there will be frozen at all. There are certain things that happen to your freezer depending on the time that you left it open for.
A freezer can be left open for 30 minutes to 4 hours without your food melting or thawing to the point where its unsafe to eat or internal components damage. Howver, a period over 24 hours will be too long as your food would have melted to the point where it’s potentially unsafe to eat. Also, more damage will occur within the freezer due to the internal components failing, leading to ice melting near itm causing ice to form towards the outside of the freezer.
30 Minutes: After 30 minutes of being left open, your freezer will start to leak cold are and the external temperature will start being replaced with the internal temperature of the freezer. At this point, ice crystals will start forming on your food.
1 Hour: After 1 hour of your freezer being open, ice will start to build up towards the opening of the freezer and more ice crystals will start to form in your food.
Overnight: After 8-12 hours of your freezer being open overnight, you should notice that the entire front of the freezer will have ice built up around it. At this point, the ice will be so much that it’ll have to be chipped away, or the freezer will have to be defrosted. You’ll notice that the parts of the freezer near the warmer components that keep it running will have defrosted which will cause more ice build up towards the entrance.
Past 24 Hours: If you’ve left your freezer longer than 24 hours, you’ll notice that all of your food has completely defrosted and the liquids from the inside will have mixed with the water from the ice. The freezer itself will feel more warm, there will be a lot more ice build up, and there may be water leaking onto the floor around the freezer.
1 Week: After 4 to 7 days of the freezer being left open, damage to the components of the freezer will have occurred. The internal components of the freezer will overheat and it could start damaging other parts of the freezer. If you experience nausea or dizziness from any coolant leaks when you’re near your freezer, you need to see your doctor. If the freezer has been left open for 4 to 7 days, it needs to be replaced with a quick and reliable freezer (view on Amazon) so that you can start freezing your new groceries immediately.
Freezer Door Left Open How Long To Refreeze?
It takes between 4 to 12 hours to completely refreeze your freezer and the items inside it. If you let the freezer refreeze closer to 12 hours, the more frozen the items inside it will be. If you only refreeze it for a few hours, the less frozen your food will be. The temperature that you set the freezer at will also determine how long the items inside it refreeze. If you set the temperature low, the items will freezer quicker and it’ll take less time to refreeze your freezer. If you set the temperature higher, the longer it’ll take to refreeze the freezer after leaving it open.
Before you decide to refreeze your freezer, you need to make sure that you’ve wiped the whole appliance dry. Each removable part and the entire interior need to be wiped with a dry towel to remove as much moisture from the freezer as possible. Making sure that each part of your freezer is dry will ensure that there’s no ice once you refreeze your freezer. If there is ice, it can make it hard to use your freezer to its full capacity due to the ice taking up the space.
After you’ve dried out the whole freezer, you need to let it dry for about 10-15 minutes by leaving the door open. Once this is done, the entire freezer should be free of moisture and you should be able to start the refreezing process. If you make the mistake of turning your freezer back on after leaving it open all night, then this can spell havoc. If you don’t wait till the freezer is completely dry until you turn it back on, the moisture that’s left in the inside will freeze back up and this isn’t good.
Once the freezer is entirely dry, you need to put all the removable parts that you dried back in and switch on the freezer. You may notice that you hear some noises coming out of the freezer when you turn it back on. This is the sound of the compressor working – the sound will appear louder because you haven’t heard the freezer running for a while so you’re not used to it. The compressor will start to cooperate louder and the coolants will flow louder as well because they haven’t been on for a while. This doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with your freezer, it’s normal and what it’s refrozen, then the noise will fade.
To prevent the freezer from accumulating ice when you start the refreezing process, you should cover a paper towel with vegetable oil and wipe it all over the interior. Make sure it’s the smallest amount. This will stop the freezer from building up ice. Once you’ve turned on the freezer, you should see the freezer to your ideal temperature and it should be between 0 degrees F and -10 degrees F. Or, -12 degrees C to -18 degrees.
Freezer Left Open Overnight Now Not Working
If you find that your freezer is no longer working or freezing your food and keeping it at a low enough temperature, then it’s time to inspect some of its components. When your freezer has been left open overnight, this can cause ice to build upon the coils and this will prevent your freezer from working.
Check Evaporator Coil
The first thing you need to do is to check the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil collects the heat gasses from your food and evaporates them. This is what freezes food. The condensed liquid refrigerant goes through the evaporator coil and evaporates the liquid which allows the heat to be collected. If your coils are damaged, covered in dirt, this can stop them from working properly.
You can find these coils behind the freezer and they’re above the condenser coils so be sure not to mistake the two. You can tell which is which by touching them. The condenser coils evaporate heat from your frozen foods therefore, they will be hot whereas the evaporator coils won’t be. To avoid the coils being the problem, you can clean them. If you find that the coils are covered in ice due to use leaving the freezer door open, then you’ll need to turn off the freezer and wait for the coils to defrost. Once the coils have defrosted, you can plug it back in again and start using your freezer like normal.
Faulty Defrost Timer
Your freezer has a defrost timer that is motor-driven and controls the current flow to the compressor and it allows all the heating elements to defrost. If the defrost time has failed to start within your freezer, this can stop your freezer from working and cause everything to defrost. There’s a high chance that the problem could be due to a failed compressor so in this case, you’ll need to get it checked out.
Chances are that you have no clue what you’re doing once it comes to the electrical components of your freezer, so in this case, it’s best to get a technician that can check out your freezer or get your freezer replaced.