The ice cream in my freezer melted -why is that?

A friend of mine who shall remain anonymous, I call him Papaguy, called me this morning and told me there was some sort of creamy goo on the floor of his garage underneath his refrigerator.  He asked me if I thought it was oil.  I told him to wipe it up with a paper towel, and go outside in the snow (did I mention it was winter and it was snowing outside?) and set the paper on fire to see if would burn.  If it did he could stomp it out in the snow and know that it was oil.

He called back ten minutes later and told me that it smelled like sugar burning!  We concluded that it was probably melted ice cream from his freezer.  His next question was, "why did the ice cream melt in my freezer if it is below freezing outside and in the garage.

Here's why; when the garage temperature fell to around 40 F the refrigerator didn't need to be chilled since it is already at the set-point.  So why didn't the freezer compressor start up to keep the ice cream frozen?  Because in 99.9% of all residential refrigerators there is only ONE compressor for both the freezer and the refrigerator.  And, the thermostat control and sensor is in the refrigerator, not in the freezer.  So the freezer soon reached the same temperature as the refrigerator and the garage - 40 degrees!  Thus the melting ice cream.  It ran down the defrost condensate tube and into the condensate pan under the freezer - it rests on top of the condenser coils in most refrigerators and it heated by the coils to evaporate the liquid.  His condensate pan was filled with vanilla and chocolate mush!!!

The lesson here is to never have a refrigerator in the garage if the temperature out there will drop to around 40 or so, unless you don't intend on keeping anything in the freezer compartment.  And if you do keep a refrigerator in the garage and you live in upstate New York, all the produce in the refrigerator will freeze solid when the garage temperature reaches 10 degrees or so like it does here!

As a side note, it occurs to me that you could make it work if you placed a small heater, like a 40 watt bulb, inside a steel coffee can and placed it at the bottom of the refrigerator away from any produce, it would warm the inside of the refrigerator box and force the the thermostat to call for cooling, thus keeping the freezer working as designed and at the same time preventing food from freezing in the refrigerator.

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