Our chest freezer was in trouble.
To be fair, this chest freezer has been an outstanding appliance. We bought it in 2000 when Montgomery Wards went out of business. As I recall, we walked into the rapidly-emptying store during their liquidation process and asked for their biggest chest freezer. I don't remember the price, but we came home with a 24.9 cubit foot Frigidaire. That was when we still lived in Oregon.
We transported it all the way to Idaho in 2003 (filled with half a cow, as I recall -- our logic was it was easier to move the cow in the freezer than on the hoof) and since we had no place to set it up inside the house, we parked it outside on our side porch. We didn't realize this was the wrong thing to do, since this meant it was in full sunlight during the first half of the day. In warmer weather, this made the motor run too hard. Sure enough, about four years ago the motor died. Horrors. But we engaged the services of an appliance repairman, he fixed it up spiffily, and he told us the freezer would last much longer (and run more efficiently) if we moved it to a shady spot. So our chest freezer now sits on our north-facing front porch.
Anyway, a few months ago we noticed the freezer lid was falling apart. Some of the plastic screws had worked their way out, exposing the insulation within. The insulation somehow managed to absorb water, then it froze, swelled, and pushed more screws out. The plastic liner came loose. The lid would no longer close. Ice began accumulating inside the freezer itself. Thick ice.
The contents stayed frozen, but the motor was running more often, indicating efficiency was decreased. Did this mean our faithful freezer was done? Did we need a new freezer?
We just had to go through the necessity of buying a new refrigerator. The second-hand unit we bought five years ago finally died -- kaput -- and we lost a lot of food (it's astounding how fast food rots without the blessings of refrigeration). We have a lot of meat in the chest freezer and didn't want to lose it (though let it be known that in the event of a long-term power outage, I am prepared to can it all).
So we priced chest freezers and found they cost around $700. Yeah right. Like we have that kind of money sitting around. Right now all spare money is going into Younger Daughter's mouth.
So Don, clever fellow, decided he would repair the lid. However he really couldn't do much until cold weather came, since the freezer would be without its lid for several days.
This week's cold snap afforded him the chance to remove the lid. He took the screws off the hinges and brought the lid unit inside. Meanwhile we draped blankets over the contents of the freezer to hold as much cold air in as possible.
Don removed the fiberglass insulation and draped it over the shower curtain rod in the bathtub to drip-dry. Took two days. There was a LOT of water in that bundle of insulation -- no wonder it swelled. I wished I'd gotten a picture.
Here the insulation is finally dry, and Don has replaced it in the freezer lid. He's getting the inside plastic cover ready to go back on.
Re-affixing the plastic lining. Some of the specialized plastic screws have gone missing, so he divvied up the remaining screws evenly around the perimeter.
After asking at the hardware store for what kind of adhesive would withstand sub-freezing Idaho winter temperatures, he came home with some general purpose auto adhesive, which he used in place of the missing screws. He also re-affixed the perimeter gasket with this adhesive.
Here's the lid, totally repaired.
However we couldn't re-install the lid without first taking care of the massive ice building up in the freezer itself.
Besides, it was past time to clean out the freezer anyway. You know how it goes: you stash leftovers (forgetting to label them) until they become unknown fossilized mysterious objects. And meanwhile, the good stuff gets buried.
So I unplugged the electric cord, then totally emptied the freezer. I chucked the fossilized mysteries into a garbage can, and stacked all the meats, cheese, etc onto the porch. Then out came the trusty rubber mallet to whack away at the ice. Ice fractures under compression, so whacking works well.
I used a square shovel to carefully scoop the ice into a box, which I dumped into the driveway. Because the shovel is metal, I have to be careful not to scratch the freezer's interior.
At last the hard work was done and I re-packed the contents, roughly sorting by category (you can't see them, but there are cardboard boxes holding such things as cheese, deli meats, ground beef, etc.).
I didn't plug the freezer back in, however, until we could get the lid back on. For the time being I covered it with blankets again.
Then Don and I carried the refurbished lid back out and fitted it onto the freezer once more. It was a bear to get the screws in the hinges, but he managed at last.
Ta da! Total cost of repair: about $5 for the automobile adhesive. Thanks to my smart husband's ingenuity (and frugality), we saved around $700.
Hopefully we'll get a few more years out of this faithful appliance before we're forced to buy a new one.