If you notice your freezer has stopped working, keep the door closed as long as possible. Freezers are insulated, so depending on how full it is, it may still be able to keep food frozen for as long as 48 hours. The fuller it is, the longer it can last.
However, if you have no idea how long it has been off, you may need to quickly assess the food to see if it has partially, or even fully thawed out.
If the freezer is dead – no lights or sound
If you can see the freezer has no power, do some basic checks, you may be able to restore power and get the freezer running again. Check to see if any other appliances in the same room have also gone off. If they have, check the fuse board. Plug a lamp into the wall socket to make sure the socket is okay. If it is, has the fuse gone inside the plug? Try plugging the freezer into a different socket, even if you have to temporarily use an extension lead.
If you get the freezer running again, open it up and carefully check the food. If it seems to be okay and has not defrosted you should be okay.
If the freezer still has power but has just gone faulty
If the freezer has power but has just developed a fault, you could be without it for several days or more. So you need to deal with the food inside as soon as possible. (Do you have a fridge-freezer with just freezer defrosting installed in a cold place?)
Save the food
If you find that food is still relatively frozen, you should try to transfer it to another freezer if possible. If you have a friendly neighbour, or relative close by, you may be able to rescue the most expensive food if they allow you to use their freezer.
Do you have any friends or relatives that might buy some of the more expensive food from you?
If food has totally defrosted, transfer any food that is still fairly cold, and still safe to use, to the fridge and use it up as soon as possible. If you don’t have enough room, you might use an insulated cooler bag. Borrow ice or ice blocks for it if possible. There is only so much food that you could save in this manner, but it should be done. Do not risk food poisoning, though.
How to claim for lost food
If your freezer (or fridge freezer) is still under warranty, or not very old, you may be thinking you should be able to claim compensation for any wasted food. Whilst this might be true, claiming for lost or wasted food can be difficult. It’s in your interest to save as much food as possible. In fact, this is a prerequisite of making any claim.
Once you have done all you can to save food, if you feel you should be able to claim compensation, you should read my article on the subject, which includes advice about saving evidence – can I claim for spoiled food when my freezer breaks down?
Fixed-price repairs, Pay monthly, Repair & protect your whole appliance..
50% off Digital annual membership
Subscribe to Which? today and get 50% off a Digital annual membership for your first year. Offer ends 31/11/2023. This offer is only available for new Which? Full access annual subscription. (excluding Gardening, Travel, Computing or Money packages).