General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Can you suggest a strategy for this refrigerator problem?

Asked by Jeruba (52934points) 6 days ago

I have a side-by-side refrigerator, so the freezer is a narrow vertical column. (I hate it, by the way.)

My son wanted to freeze some freezer gel packs for some purpose or other, so he stuffed about a dozen of them into the narrow space above the ice cube box. They fill it horizontally.

Now that they’re frozen, they present a solid mass welded together by their irregular shapes and the malleability they had when soft. The mass won’t budge.

How in the world are we going to get them out and access the top compartment again? Is there anything short of turning off the fridge and melting everything, in 90-degree weather?

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22 Answers

chyna's avatar

How about running a hair dryer on that portion of the freezer?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Make your son buy you a new frig !

Jeruba's avatar

Please note, this question is in General.

janbb's avatar

Microwave some toweling and hold it on some of the gel packs until they soften and can be moved.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

You may have to break the freezer to get them out . . that is why I said what I did.

seawulf575's avatar

The shelf they are on comes out. Try taking it out of the freezer and then pull the frozen blocks off.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Your son is not the only one who did that. I did it too, not with gelpacks, but rather with bagged frozen veggies. Same outcome. So don’t be too hard on him.

Unplug the fridge – not for long. Mayb 90 minutes. That’s not long enough to spoil food but it is long enouigh to cause the packs to melt just enough to squeeze one out. That’s all you need. Once one is out, the others follow.

janbb's avatar

@elbanditoroso Since it’s a side by side she could just leave the freezer side door open for a while. That was my other suggestion.

SnipSnip's avatar

Someone already mentioned hair dryer. That is what I would do.

raum's avatar

Another vote for a hair dryer.

Jeruba's avatar

Good ideas. Many thanks!

@chyna and others, the hair dryer sounds like a good bet.

@Tropical_Willie, I hadn’t let myself think that yet. I hope not!

@janbb, I never would have thought of that. Thinking maybe that could be combined with the hair dryer—like first heat and moisten the towels and then hang them over the ice packs and point the hair dryer at them.

There is no space at all on any side of them, though. The whole opening is packed tight.

@seawulf575, I’m not sure that’s possible. I did try that but couldn’t budge it. Maybe my son can. As noted, it’s on top of the box meant for making and dispensing ice cubes, but our fridge isn’t connected to a water source, so I make ice cubes and then refill the box. There’s a ~1/8” sheet of plastic on top of it to give me extra shelf space. But I can’t get the sheet of plastic out, and I don’t know if the ice box can be removed under these conditions.

@elbanditoroso and @janbb, I guess the last resort is to leave the freezer open for a while. I would hesitate to use the frozen meals after that, though.

It’s some comfort to know others have had this problem. In the old days of iceboxes inside our little refrigerators (the kind that needed regular defrosting), this would have been easy to solve. Not that I want to have a fridge like that ever again.

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba You could put the rest of the frozen foods in a picnic cooler with some freezer gel packs for a few hours. Oops! There’s a hole in the bucket dear Liza, dear Liza…...

Jeruba's avatar

@janbb, thanks, dear Henry.

kritiper's avatar

Take all the food out and put it in coolers, then turn off the fridge with freezer door open until the frozen items get defrosted enough to be removed.

JLeslie's avatar

There are two types of side by side. The less expensive ones usually share the freezer air with the fridge. The more expensive ones usually have two separate cooling units.

If the shelf or bin for the ice won’t budge, and if your fridge shares on cooling unit, I would put everything in coolers, turn off the refrigerator, leave the freezer door open and wait for the packs to defrost. I’d try something to warm the packs like a hair dryer (don’t get electrocuted) I wouldn’t hold it too close to the ice. The warm towel idea sounded good too, or if you have the camping thingies that you bend and they warm up.

If you have a fridge that has two separate cooling units, you could just empty the freezer turn the freezer to the warmest setting, and do something to quickly warm the gel packs.

HP's avatar

I will resist offering an opinion without viewing your situation. Today’s household refrigerators are not the rugged vaults of bygone days. I am, however interested in whatever solution you deem suitable

smudges's avatar

This sounds bizarre, but could you put towels underneath them and pour vodka over the mass? Seems like alcohol might melt it, or at least soften it so you could tug on it and wouldn’t freeze.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

. . .and the answer is what @Jeruba ?

kruger_d's avatar

If leaving door open, remember to turn freezer down to its lowest setting.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Here is another option that is a long shot.
Most refrigerators have a self defrost mode that you can force.
Here is an example.
Do you know the model number? We might be able to try it. Hit the correct combination of buttons and the thing will do the job for you.
I hope…

Strauss's avatar

I have an older stand-alone freezer that due to its age requires occasional defrosting. When this is necessary I pull out the old large pic-a-nic coolers and spring for several blocks of dry ice. Placing the frozen CO2 on top of the foods in the cooler and usually gives me about 3–4 hours of 10°-15°F, enough time to defrost, clean and re-cool the freezer.

mazingerz88's avatar

Can’t visualize it. My first thought is to fill a spray bottle with hot water and spray at points of contact with the fridge.

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