How to Run a Refrigerator Without a Defrost Timer

Refrigerators with defrost timers are called self-defrosting refrigerators. Most modern refrigerators are self-defrosting. Older models, however, may not have a self-defrosting timer or system in place. In addition, defrost timers sometimes break down in self-defrosting refrigerators, causing the defrost unit to stop running -- although this is rare, according to the Repair Clinic website. If your refrigerator is lacking a defrost timer or has one that is not working, it is still possible to run your refrigerator -- you just have to defrost it manually.

Refrigerators without defrost timers must be emptied out periodically.

Step 1

Wait until you see ice or frost building up on the inside walls of your freezer.  This is a sign that ice is also building up on the freezer's evaporator coils, which means you need to manually defrost the refrigerator.

Step 2

Remove all of the food from the fridge and freezer.  Store it in a friend's fridge to keep it cool.

Step 3

Unplug the refrigerator and open both doors.  Let it defrost for two days. During that time, the ice and frost will melt.  If there is a lot of ice, place towels around the fridge to catch the runoff.

Step 4

Plug the refrigerator back in and wait for it to cool.  Put the food back into the refrigerator and freezer.

Things You Will Need

  • Towels


  • The defrost timer does two things: it tells the fridge to stop pumping coolant, and it turns on the defrost heaters, which are near the evaporator coils in the freezer. This happens about three times a day. If the defrost timer malfunctions or the refrigerator does not have one, ice will quickly build up on the evaporator coils and on the inner walls of the freezer.

Photo Credits

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