A freezer can be extremely useful in every household, although they tend to use more power than a fridge but generally speaking once the freezer has reached its target temperature it will use a lot less power. With everything in life, there is a correct and a bad way to do things, especially when it comes to overloading your freezer as this could end up in disaster later down the line. How large and what brand of freezer you actually use will determine how much you can pack.
Yes, a freezer can be overloaded and it tends to happen when you have way too much stuff in your freezer. Once your freezer is overloaded you will limit the airflow in the freezer, at that point you might notice condensation forming on some food items or some items not even freezing entirely. One telltale sign that your freezer is overloaded is that it is constantly running, and sooner or later the freezer will stop working.
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Generally speaking, a freezer that is empty will consume a lot more power than one that is full. The food items which you pack into your freezer will dissipate cold air once they are frozen, and the more food items you have the more efficiently the freezer can work. On the other hand, packing the freezer too tightly will disrupt the airflow, and you might end up with frozen food in the bottom and semi-frozen food on the top.
By overloading your freezer you can basically limit the airflow so much that the freezer will not work correctly. Most freezers have only one thermostat, which is usually located in the middle or on the bottom section of the freezer. A thermostat is a small device that measures the temperature and once the temperature rises to above a threshold it will start the freezer to lower the temperature.
If you overload your freezer you might make the thermostat think that the entire freezer has the desired temperature if you are limiting the airflow with too many food items. On the other hand, if you overload your freezer you might force the freezer to work extra hard to reach the target temperature, and sooner or later something will break. It is the same principle when you leave your windows open during the winter and start your heater, the heater will try to reach the desired temperature but sooner or later it will break. If you want to know which food items last a long time in the fridge then check out my recent article Foods that last a long time in the fridge ( Top 14 ).
Overloading the freezer limits the airflow
Freezers are made with an ideal airflow in mind, generally speaking, the cold air will rotate from the top to the bottom, and this way the freezer can work as efficiently as possible. If you pack your freezer extra tight you will disrupt the airflow, and most of the cold air will be on the bottom of the freezer and the top of the freezer will have higher temperatures. Although this will not ruin the freezer but it might ruin the contents of the freezer.
Food items that are on top will be in a semi-frozen state, and every time you open up the freezer they will get just a little bit warmer. Once they start to defrost they will release a lot of water which will eventually refreeze as it is dripping to the bottom. So if you see ice forming on the walls or on other food items in the middle and in the bottom section of the freezer then you have probably overloaded your freezer.
In this case, take some of the items out, in some cases, it is better to throw out a few items out than to throw the entire contents of the freezer out, just my two cents. If you are wondering how long can you store bottled water then check out my recent article How long can you store bottled water? ( In your Home, Garage or Car ).
Overloading the freezer blocks the vents
All freezers have air vents, the way a freezer works is that they actually pull out the hot air and will blow in cold air. If you block these vents then the freezer will have to work extra hard to reach the target temperature. As the vents are blocked it will not be able to pull out the hot air, but the freezer will keep on trying until it breaks. This is especially problematic in older freezers, as you will simply not notice that your freezer broke down, but once you open your freezer the whole neighborhood will smell it.
If you have a newer model of freezer then a red light will most likely signal that something is not functioning correctly, and most new generation freezers also have fail-safe protection which will stop the freezer before it damages itself as it can’t reach the target temperature. If you have an older type of freezer then you will most likely hear your freezer working overtime all day long, and the most likely problem is that you have blocked the air vents.
These air vents are usually placed in one of the corners of the freezer, so make sure that anything you put in front of the freezer is not so large that it covers the vent. In some cases, the vents can be blocked by ice, and this ice comes from water dripping down from the top layer of your freezer. If you are preparing for an SHTF situation then my recommendation is to check out my recent article Can humans eat dog food in an emergency? ( How safe is it? ).
Overloading the freezer damages the condenser coil
All freezers have a condenser coil, which is located either on one of the sides or behind the freezer. The main job of the condenser coil is to cool and condense the refrigerant which will make the freezer colder. If you overload your freezer then you will give a hard time for the condenser coil to work efficiently. If you block the airflow or the air vents then the condenser coil will have to work extra hard trying to reach the target temperature.
If you look behind your freezer then odds are that the condenser coil is full of dust and this will make it even more difficult for the condenser coil to work as intended. From time to time you should clean the condenser coil as well. If you have overloaded your freezer then the condenser coil will pull out the hot air but it will have an extremely hard time pumping in the cold air, especially if you have blocked the air vents as well. If you want to preserve meat without refrigeration then check out my recent article How to preserve meat ( Top 12 Methods ).
Overloading the freezer can damage the freezer
If you overload your freezer you can permanently damage your freezer, and most people will notice that their freezer isn’t working once it is too late. Generally speaking the more items you have in your freezer the easier it will be for the freezer to work correctly, but only as long as you do not block the airflow in the freezer and the air vents. Freezers are not meant to constantly pull out the hot air and push in the cold air.
Under ideal circumstances, a freezer will start a couple of times per day to cool off the air and for the most part, the freezer should stay idle. Most freezers have their insides coated with a cold reflecting material, plus the items in your freezer will also help the freezer stay at a low temperature. Once you have overloaded your freezer then the freezer will have to work extra to get to the target temperature, and as these are not made to run constantly they will sooner or later break down. If you have a lot of canned foods and you want to know how to store them after opening then check out my recent article How to store canned food after opening? ( Safe and Easy ).
Overloading the freezer can make rust form in the freezer
One telltale sign that you have overloaded your freezer is that it will have rust forming at the bottom of it. All freezers have a waterproof protection in their interior, after prolonged use, most of this protective layer will be damaged especially if you have overloaded the freezer. A slight bump can turn into rust extremely fast, what tends to happen is that if you have overloaded your freezer some water will drop to the bottom and refreeze.
This cycle will repeat itself until you fix the problem, but usually, most people will never notice it. These water droplets will start rusting the bottom of the freezer, so if you see a puddle of water forming below the freezer from time to time then this is most likely due to rust. Once the airtight seal of the freezer is broken it will get hot air coming inside from the rusted area which will melt the ice and speed up the rusting process.
Overloading the freezer can end up destroying the food
For the most part, if you overload your freezer you will only end up destroying some of the food items. If you have put so much stuff in the freezer that the airflow is broken, or you have blocked the vents then some food items will not actually freeze all the way through. In addition to this if you are constantly opening and closing your freezer then you are making this problem even worse, by trapping hot air in your freezer.
Eventually, some of your food items will defrost, especially the ones which contain a lot of salt, sooner or later water will start dripping down on other food items, and defrosting them as well. Most foods go bad if you frost and defrost them constantly, and this is exactly what tends to happen if you overload your freezer.
As you can see you can easily overload a freezer, you do not even have to jam-pack your freezer in order to overload it, blocking the airflow and the air vents will have the same negative results. The good news is that the latest generation freezers will have some kind of blinking light if the freezer is not working properly, this is usually signaled with a blinking red light.