Kegerator Freezing Up? 5 Steps to Thaw That Frost
It seems like a paradox. There’s an enormous sheet of ice crusting over the back of your keg fridge – but the beer is way warmer than it should be. When your kegerator is freezing up, you need to defrost it or it can’t do its job right. We’ve broken down the process into 5 easy steps that will get rid of the ice clogging your machine.
You’ll need to empty out and unplug your kegerator to let the ice melt. Use a bucket and some towels to keep the water from getting everywhere while it thaws. To melt the ice faster, blast some hot air onto it with a hairdryer. Don’t forget to mop up all the water before plugging your frost-free kegerator back in.
The sooner you get your fridge unfrozen, the sooner you can get your beer chilled to perfection. So let’s get started!
Why Thaw Your Kegerator?
Readers who haven’t dealt with kegerator frost before might be wondering if it’s even a problem. You’re trying to keep things cold, right? Doesn’t ice forming just show that it’s working?
Not quite. It’s good to know that your cooling system can get nice and chilly. But ice building up will make your keg fridge struggle to do its job. That frozen sheet over the cooling plate insulates it from the air in the fridge. This will slow down the heat transfer and make your machine less efficient.
Also, if the ice buildup goes on long enough, it may crack parts of your kegerator since water expands as it freezes. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to thaw out your kegerator every few months unless it has an auto-defrost.
The good news is that this isn’t hard to do. Here’s how.
5 Simple Steps to Defrost Your Kegerator
Step 1: Gather Supplies
Defrosting a kegerator is a pretty simple process, but you’ll still want a few things to make it less of a headache. Start with a bucket or a bowl and a thick towel. All that water has to go somewhere when the ice melts, so it’s good to have something to contain it.
A hairdryer will also speed up the process a lot. It can make the difference between waiting an hour or two versus half the day. And get some microfiber cloths to help you clean and dry the unit afterward.
One thing you should not have on hand is an ice scraper or any other tool for chipping the ice away. We know it can be tempting to break up the ice to get rid of it faster. But this risks damaging the crucial components behind the cooling plate.
Step 2: Empty the Fridge
You’re going to need a little bit of space to work. Shut the valves on your CO2 canister and regulator, and disengage your keg coupler. You don’t want gas or beer flowing as you take your setup apart. Then detach the draft lines, keeping your bucket on hand to catch the last bit of beer as it drains out. Take out the lines, keg, and CO2 tank.
Now you can lay down the towel inside the fridge to soak up the melting ice. Place the bucket or bowl below the drip tray behind your kegerator. This will catch any overflow as the tray fills up during the defrosting process.
Step 3: Shut it Down
Take a look at your kegerator’s temperature controller. Does it have a shutoff option, or just a dial to turn the temperature from high to low? If you can turn it off, do that now. Otherwise, unplug your kegerator.
And now we let the warm air in the room do its work. Leave the kegerator door propped open and wait. Unless you’ve set up your kegerator inside a walk-in freezer for some reason, it will now defrost on its own. This will take at least an hour, but could be much longer if there’s a lot of ice to clear.
Step 4: Apply Some Heat
Okay, we’re betting that you’d rather not wait for hours for your keg cooler to defrost. This is where the hairdryer comes in. Blow some hot air over the ice and you should see it start to melt in minutes.
If you’re using the hairdryer method, please be careful not to let the cord trail into a puddle! That’s how people give themselves electric shocks defrosting their fridges. Make sure your hands are dry when you’re using the dryer.
For a more hands-off way to get the ice to melt faster, put a bowl of boiling water into the fridge. The hot air and steam wafting off it will accelerate the defrosting process. You’ll need to swap in a new, hot bowl every 15-30 minutes to get the most out of this method.
As the ice loosens up, you can also break off chunks with your hands to help it along.
Step 5: Clean and Dry
Once the ice is clear, we recommend taking this opportunity to clean out the inside of your kegerator. Scrub all the inner surfaces down with soapy water and a microfiber cloth. If you’re having trouble getting into any narrow cracks, an old toothbrush may help.
After you get the fridge nice and clean, use a dry cloth or two to soak up as much water as you can. Then let it sit with the door open for another 30 minutes or so. It’s important to make sure that there’s no residual moisture when you fire your kegerator back up. Otherwise, it may start icing all over again.
Once you’ve done this, you can reattach your equipment and get your keg cooling again.
Preventing Future Icing
Our advice above should make thawing out your kegerator as painless as possible. Still, it’s always a little annoying, and it cuts into the time you have to enjoy your beer. So let’s talk about what you can do to help keep your fridge from frosting over going forward. Here are a few tips:
- Tighten up the door seal. Icing happens when warm, humid air gets into your kegerator from the outside. The moisture condenses and eventually freezes onto the cold plate. Try smearing the rubber gasket around the door with petroleum jelly to block any tiny holes. If there are big rips, you can patch them with weather stripping or replace the gasket.
- Get a dehumidifier. Vapor can still get into a well-sealed kegerator when you open and close the door. You can add a dehumidifier inside the unit to soak up whatever moisture creeps in. Beer enthusiasts across the web swear by the Eva-Dry E-500.
- Add a fan. Pushing the air around inside your beer chiller helps dry off the inner surfaces. This should stop water from condensing on them and freezing. A small blower fan is often enough to do the trick.
A kegerator clogged with ice won’t do you or your beer any good. When you notice your machine is getting frosty, it’s time to clear it out, unplug it, and let the ice melt. Careful use of a hairdryer will cut down the defrost time quite a bit. Always remember to dry it out before putting everything back!
We’re glad you came to us for help, and we hope you found this article useful. To get more tips on kegerator maintenance and other household handiwork, you can browse some of the related articles below.