We woke up a little bit colder than usual this morning. It turns out the freezer door was left open overnight, and we didn't even notice until we went to grab our lunch. If the same thing happens to you, don't panic. Just walk yourself through these few steps to keep your food safe and your fridge or freezer happy.
Check the Food
Depending on the temperature of the food and how long it went without refrigeration, it could all still be safe to eat. Use a food thermometer to measure the temperature on the inside of your food. If it's below 41°F, it's safe to eat. If not, it could still be OK, as long as it's only been above 41°F for less than 2 hours. If you don't know for sure, the best idea is to shed a wasteful tear and toss it.
Is it Working?
After you've checked your food, check your fridge and freezer (both, separately, even if just one door was open) to see if they're cooling properly. If your appliance is still running smoothly after your overnight mishap, you're in the clear. If not, you'll want to try a few troubleshooting tips to get it up and running again.
Thaw the Refrigerator
If you find your fridge isn't working and you want to salvage anything, you'll need to move it to a neighbor's fridge. Chances are, the open door has let excess moisture into your freezer, forming ice around the freezer coils and keeping air from circulating into the fridge. In order to fix it, you need to unplug, empty and thaw your refrigerator for at least 24 hours. You can speed things up with a hair dryer if needed. When it's all thawed out, plug it back in and see if it works. if it does, awesome! If not, it's time to...
Call a Repairman
If your fridge is still on the fritz after Thaw Fest 2011, you might have a compressor problem thanks to the fridge over-working itself. It's time to dig into that savings account and call up a professional.
(Images: Flickr member Jeff the Trojan licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member DameSkates licensed for use under Creative Commons)