If you own a Harvest Right freeze-dryer, there will be many years of successful freeze-drying. However, as much as we’d all like everything to work perfectly all the time, it’s an unpleasant fact that it probably won’t. However, many common freeze-dryer problems are easily solved.
Harvest Right freeze-dryers are great, but as with any machine, sometimes troubleshooting issues will arise. These include on/off issues, resetting, and a vacuum error. Here are our fix-it tutorials, tips, and best practices.
Read below for our top tips to solve common freeze-dryer maintenance solutions, such as fixing a failure to start properly, vacuum errors, and running a hard reset.
My Harvest Right Freeze-Dryer Won’t Turn On – How to Fix
First, check and make sure the machine is plugged in. The plug should be firmly in the wall and attached to the freeze dryer’s socket. As freeze-dryers are high-power devices, it’s not recommended to plug into any type of extension cord, which may overheat.
If a freeze-dryer won’t turn on, a few things may be wrong. After checking that the machine is plugged in at both ends, check that the actual power socket is working by unplugging the freeze-dryer and using a different appliance.
I like to do this with a phone charger, as it’s easy, portable, and quick. Plug in the phone charger, and the phone will show quickly if the phone is charging from the socket.
The socket isn’t supplying power if the chosen device doesn’t work. Check that the house fuse hasn’t flipped (this can happen when an appliance demands too much power, such as overheating or in a storm).
If the switch is out of place, flip it back, depending on what type of fuse the house has. Then repeat the phone charger test to make sure it worked.
If the fuse is fine, but the socket doesn’t supply power, then there might be faulty wiring in the socket. Fixing this will be a complicated DIY or could require hiring an electrician.
Either way, the best short-term solution will be to move the freeze-dryer to a different socket, where hopefully, it works.
If the socket is fine, or you’ve gone through all these steps, and the dryer still won’t turn on, the power receptacle may have shorted out. This is particularly likely if the machine has been plugged into an extension cord rather than the wall.
Harvest Right offers great support for shorted-out power receptacles. First, contact them directly to establish that the power receptacle is broken, and then they’ll send out a replacement part.
Then, follow the videos on the website we’ve linked above to replace them with no bother and in no time at all.
How Do I Reset My Harvest Right Freeze-Dryer?
Resetting a Harvest Right freeze-dryer is easy – simply turn it off and on again.
There are a few different circumstances that might prompt us to want to reset our freeze-dryers. Common screen issues are plain black or white or unresponsive touch screens.
We can recalibrate the touchscreen easily in the case of a white or unresponsive screen. Begin by pressing and holding a finger on the screen, turning off the machine (while continuing to hold the finger), and then switching it back on.
After a beep, we’ll be asked to press three targets that appear on the screen. This will recalibrate the touchscreen. Once we’ve done this, the machine should be ready to freeze-dry a fresh batch of food.
In the case of a black screen, things may be more difficult. Begin by resetting the machine, turning it off and on again. If this doesn’t work, there may be an issue with moisture inside the processing unit of the machine, or the display may have broken.
In this case, it would be best to contact Harvest Right directly, who will be able to offer a more thorough diagnosis.
For more about the advantages and disadvantages of owning a freeze-dryer, click here to read our complete guide!
How To Use the Harvest Right Troubleshooting Guide
The Harvest Right freeze-dryer guide is interactive. Click on the appropriate category for a diagnostic checklist. Then, the sub-categories will pop up. Follow the prompts to get answers and instructions on what to do next.
For example, if it is a vacuum error, it will help us determine the exact nature of the issue. Some guides help fix specific issues, such as replacing the drain valve or vacuum sensor.
A great place to start fixing any Harvest Right freezer error is their handy online troubleshooting guide, which we can find at this link (it opens in a new window).
This covers quite a few problems in detail, including setup and basics, vacuum errors, drying issues, refrigeration issues, touchscreen issues, and power issues.
We can also find links to the user manuals on this website, which is helpful if we’ve forgotten where we put them when the dryer arrived.
If none of those categories help, this site also has a helpline where we can speak to a freeze-dryer technician.
If you are wondering where to put your new freeze-dryer, read this article we wrote about the most appropriate areas to keep a freeze-dryer: Where Should You Put a Freeze-Dryer? Garage/Shop/Room.
What Does a Vacuum Error Mean?
A vacuum error means the freeze-dryer cannot create or sustain the vacuum necessary to properly extract water vapor from the freeze-drying unit. Common reasons for this error are pump failure, improperly sealed freeze-dryer, or improperly connected tubes.
Vacuum errors can be super annoying when we just want to get a batch of food processed. It’s one of the most common issues that can cause big problems since a vacuum is necessary for a freeze-dryer to work properly.
There is a three-step process for freeze-dryers to work. First, it freezes the food, turns the now-frozen water (ice crystals) into water vapor, and extracts it from the system. A vacuum error means that this third step, the water vapor extraction, isn’t working properly.
This breaks down into several problems. A leak in the airtight seals anywhere in the system can cause pressure to be inadequate, such as in the drain valve, vacuum hose, vacuum pump, or door gasket (rubber seal).
Thankfully, the Harvest Right website has a handy checklist of Vacuum Error Solutions, which you can find here. This will run through how to check for each issue and fix or replace the parts.
Once we’ve done that, we can also check that the machine is working by running the ‘Functional Testing’ mode on the freeze-dryer. Simply select this mode from the settings on the machine, press start, and wait around 15-20 minutes.
This will test the strength of the vacuum that the machine can achieve (it should be below 500mT). If it isn’t strong enough, it will compile useful data to help a Harvest Right technician determine what’s wrong with the machine.
Thankfully, a major benefit of Harvest Right machines is how user-friendly they are and can automatically generate all this data, which saves the need for calling a costly engineer.
To learn how to maintain the vacuum pump for your freeze-dryer, check out this article: Complete Guide To Freeze Dryer Vacuum Pumps (Oil And Oil-free).
The Harvest Right Warranty
Even if all these solutions fail, don’t panic. All Harvest Right freeze-dryers come with a three-year limited warranty.
This means we’ll have full coverage for one year on all the machines (including a premier oil pump) and two more years for any manufacturing defects in the refrigeration unit.
Hopefully, you’ll never need to use this, but it offers peace of mind.
From time to time, Harvest Right does sell units that were shipped to other customers, may have been dinged up in transit, and were then refurbished and tested before being sold at a discount. These units may have a different warranty period, so check what it is before buying them at a significant discount.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
If you encounter problems (or just want to be prepared to know what you’d do in that case), there’s plenty of information to help you.
Harvest Right’s support page is a great place to start, which covers many problems in detail and allows you to talk to real-time customer support if you’re still stuck.
Here at Backyard Homestead HQ, we have a huge selection of freeze-drying articles for you to choose from. Here are some to get you started:
- Backyard Homestead HQ Freeze-Drying Section
- Complete Guide To Freeze Dryer Vacuum Pumps (Oil And Oil-free)
- Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Software: A Complete Guide
- Harvest Right Freeze Dryers: Step by step Setup instructions (with pictures)
And if you haven’t gotten your freeze dryer yet? Here’s a link to Harvest Right’s site, where you can shop current sales or pick up another set of trays. Having an extra set of trays is a total game-changer, and I highly recommend you get it!
Learning from your own experience is essential, but learning from others is also intelligent. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- Harvest Right. “Customer Support.” Harvest Right | Home Freeze Dryers | Freeze Dried Food Storage, 7 July 2022, harvestright.com/support/.
- “Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Software: A Complete Guide.” Backyard Homestead HQ, 12 July 2022, backyardhomesteadhq.com/harvest-right-freeze-dryer-software-a-complete-guide.
- “Harvest Right Freeze Dryers: Step By Step Setup Instructions (with Pictures).” Backyard Homestead HQ, 21 July 2022, backyardhomesteadhq.com/harvest-right-freeze-dryers-step-by-step-setup-instructions-with-pictures.“Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Trouble Shooting.” YouTube, uploaded by Three Little Goats Homestead, 21 Oct. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNN8dReFUdA.
- “Troubleshooting Guide – Software Version 5.0.” Harvest Right | Home Freeze Dryers | Freeze Dried Food Storage, 15 Jan. 2021, harvestright.com/v50.
- “Vacuum Error Recovery Solutions.” Harvest Right, 2022, harvestright.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Vacuum-Error-Solutions-03_2022.pdf.