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Why Does My Fridge Smell Like Chemicals? (Explained)

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Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 01:28 pm

We all fancy a cold drink from the fridge on a hot day. But taking a sip and realizing that it smells funny indicates that the source smells the same. So, why exactly do fridges smell like chemicals?

A refrigerator can smell like chemicals if there is a leak in the refrigerant coolants or an overt emission of gases. There are other less common reasons why a refrigerator can smell like chemicals. These reasons include a contaminated evaporated fan, dust blocking the coils, or a newly bought refrigerator. The products you use in cleaning the fridge can also cause it to smell like chemicals.

What To Do If My Fridge Smells Like Chemicals?

Several things can be done whenever a smell is perceived to originate from a refrigerator. They include:

  • Calling a professional.
  • Removing every food stored in the refrigerator
  • Opening the door of the refrigerator
  • Opening up doors and windows to let out air
  •  Finding the leakage and fixing it.

1. Call a professional

One can never be wrong to call a professional technician to fix a refrigerator that smells chemicals. However, the first call you should make should be to an experienced technician.

They provide a more detailed analysis of the problem and afterward fix the problem. In doing so, there is a reduced risk of injury, damage to the refrigerator, and other health hazards.

2. Remove every food stored in the refrigerator.

The foods in the refrigerator can be affected by the smell of the fridge. When you perceive the scent, it is ideal for removing the foods contained in it to prevent this. The chemicals can diffuse into foods. This diffusion may lead to total damage to the food, making them unfit for consumption.

3. Open the door of the refrigerator.

Sometimes this could be a simple but effective solution to the problem. For example, it would be best if you left the refrigerator door open to let out a smell that may have been accumulated from a temporary leakage.

Temporary leakages occur when the refrigerator set is moved from one place to another forcefully, disrupting the structure of the composing parts. This leak is provisional and may resolve as soon as gently replace the refrigerator.

4. Open up doors and windows to let out the air.

The chemical smell may have accumulated in the atmosphere that surrounds the refrigerator. There may not be an active leakage when this occurs; hence the need to let the air out and fresh air from the atmosphere come in. You can do this before or after a professional has been called to fix the problem that caused the initial leakage.

5. Find the leakage and fix it.

In rare cases, the user can find the problem, and after that is fixed, this works majorly where there is a clog in the coils. The coils can be blocked by dust and other substances. This can cause the refrigerator to emit a pungent smell. In this case, the refrigerator should be unplugged and cleaned carefully.

What Does Freon Smell Like In A Refrigerator?

Freon is usually an odorless gas; this makes minor leakages undetected by the refrigerator user. However, when your refrigerator set leaks Freon over a long period, it accumulates in the air and can be identified by a characteristic smell and appearance.

Freon is a gas at room temperature and can be a liquid when cooled and compressed. Most times, when an oily or greasy substance is seen and felt around the refrigerator could mean that Freon has leaked. You can feel this on the fridge’s surface or other substances distant from the refrigerator set.

Related: Do All Refrigerators Have Freon?

Freon is four times heavier than air; this makes it almost impossible to mix up with other atmospheric gases. The smell of leaking Freon is tough to detect and describe because it is almost odorless, and different individuals smell it differently.

Most commonly, Freon has been described to have a sweet smell like chloroform. It has been described as a musty smell like that of ammonia in other cases. In most cases, once an odd smell is perceived coupled with an appearance of a greasy material on surfaces, a Freon leak is suspected.

Can A Refrigerator Emit Toxic Fumes?

Yes, a refrigerator can emit toxic fumes. This emission can occur when the type of refrigerant used is harmful.  Most gases used as refrigerants are odorless, colorless, and tasteless gases. They can be toxic at certain levels of accumulation in the atmosphere.

The toxicity usually occurs in case of a leak. Refrigerants can be of varying degrees of toxicity depending on the amount emitted. Most times, toxicity is observed when the amount of fumes emitted by the refrigerator is large. Small refrigerant leaks do not usually produce any form of toxicity.

Effects observed from the emission of fumes range from irritation of the eyes and throat, frostbites, cough, and dizziness. In more severe cases, where many refrigerants are emitted, it may lead to poisoning. In poisoning, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and even death may occur.

Can a Refrigerant Leak Make You Sick?

Yes, a refrigerant leak can make you sick. Some refrigerants use intense and toxic gases to bring about refrigeration effectively. If you inhale leaked refrigerator gases, you may become ill.

A refrigerant is usually a gas that is halogenated or chlorinated. This means that it usually contains other harmful elements, whatever the substance it is. When inhaled, these gases enter the body via the respiratory system to alter its normal function.

Common sicknesses noticed when refrigerant leaks include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Other effects of a leaking refrigerant include labored breaths, irregular heartbeats, confusion, mental fatigue, and seizures.

The manifestation of the sickness may vary depending on the amount of the refrigerant inhaled, the time of exposure, and the victim’s age.

Most times, you can be treated by simply removing the offensive material. For example, you can do this by repairing the refrigerator’s leaks and opening windows and doors to let the air out. This will allow the body to remove the toxic substance via the process of breathing immediately.

In severe cases, there is a need to see a doctor. In addition, there may be a need for medications to help the body recover. The person exposed may need to be hospitalized to achieve remission in other cases.


Refrigerators are meant to store and preserve foods. They are always supposed to have pleasant smells like the content they carry. When refrigerators begin to smell like chemicals, there might be a problem.

This can happen if there is a leakage in the system. The commonest refrigerant may have a pungent odor and cause one to be sick.

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