Asked on Jan 10, 2015

My freezer has a chemical smell, help?

Bernice H
by Bernice H

I have an upright freezer, NOT a frost free, that lately seems to leave a chemical smell on the wrapping of my food. I am concerned about this. Would appreciate any suggestions and experience with this type of problem. I certainly don't want to get into an expensive repair, and is it safe at this point? Thanks.....actually I am wondering if the smell is coming from freezer fluids or gas or whatever is in there. This is not a food smell. How would I know if I had a leak in one of the coils?

  15 answers
  • Alana Swance Newman Alana Swance Newman on Jan 10, 2015
    use boxes of baking soda inside l always have one or two in mine
  • Bernice H Bernice H on Jan 10, 2015
    Actually I am wondering if the smell is coming from freezer fluids or gas or whatever is in there. This is not a food smell. How would I know if I had a leak in one of the coils?
  • Anny Palanzi Anny Palanzi on Jan 10, 2015
    If it has a chemical smell, it could be the Freon that's used to keep the temps cold. What I would do is call the Appliance Dept. at Sears, Home Depot, Lowe's, or any store that sells fridges, and ask them the same question. They'll probably try to sell you a new fridge, though.
  • Susan Tremblay Susan Tremblay on Jan 10, 2015
    sometimes it is caused by the chlorine that your town puts in the water
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Jan 10, 2015
    Freon does have a slight smell but if it's leaking it won't freeze. Have you had it off? What happens is there is styrofoam in it and it gets smelly. Freon does have a slight smell doesn't last long if you do smell it. We
  • Kelci Cell Kelci Cell on Jan 10, 2015
    Our fridge developed some sort of odor a while ago. Couldn't identify it. Wouldn't go away. Finally, we too everything out and washed the whole thing down with baking soda. Lemon juice, too, I think. We left it mostly empty for a couple of days. Gotta be sure there's air flow. Don't mess around with the possibility of freon! From Wiki: "According to their material safety data sheets, CFCs and HCFCs are colourless, volatile, toxic liquids and gases with a faintly sweet ethereal odour. Overexposure at concentrations of 11% or more may cause dizziness, loss of concentration, central nervous system depression, and/or cardiac arrhythmia. Vapors displace air and can cause asphyxiation in confined spaces. Although non-flammable, their combustion products include hydrofluoric acid and related compounds." Maybe your gas and electric provider would come check it out.
    • Betty Duffey Betty Duffey on Jan 27, 2020

      I have a small upright frig about 6 feet tall - been noticing that smell in my freezer too lately - past 3 weeks - now smell is starting in bottom half of frig - it's not a self-defroster...could this be causing my dizziness, slight waves of nausea and food smelling a little weird in veggie bin? Have had slight headache off and on too. I live in a studio in older high-rise?

  • Samantha Samantha on Jan 11, 2015
    Could be losing freon.......if so, you might wanna have it fridge did that for a few months til it finally stopped working completely
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Jan 11, 2015
    Freon doesn't have a strong smell, and if it is leaking freon buy a little thermostat and throw it in there if it is a leak it won't freeze right. Newer freon smells a little like freshly cut grass, older models a little like finger nail polish remover. Unless you standing directly over it and sniffing it freon won't hurt you. But the smell dissipates it is more likely something is freezer burned or it's in the styrofoam. Because if it was the freon you would have noticed things not freezing as well...
  • Rita Keller Shustitzky Rita Keller Shustitzky on Jan 11, 2015
    It sounds like your freezer is going if it hasn't gone by now. That's what happened to my refrigerator/freezer a couple of years ago.
  • Bernice H Bernice H on Jan 15, 2015
    @Woodbridge Environmental do you have any ideas?
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Jan 16, 2015
    Wanting to know what you figured out? Was it a freon leak or was it the freezer just needed cleaning?
    • See 1 previous
    • Sherrie Sherrie on Jan 16, 2015
      Since it hasn't started defrosting I am wondering if it isn't freezer burn? I would take everything out and clean it out. We were in the applaunce business for 20 years and had a store and some of the ones when we would get them in smelled like freezer burn. Try it and see.
  • If you had any leaks in the refrigerant coils the operation of the freezer would stop working. Very little gas is used in these units. So even a tiny leak would result in the freezer warming up. Have you changed freezer wrap? Or purchased something that is packaged different. Foam boards that meats and veggies are placed upon often contain chemicals that are used in making them. The gasses given off can cause odors. We had a storage warehouse a few years ago that we heated using gas heaters. McDonalds rented the place to store their foam breakfast trays and at the time the boxes that the sandwiches came in. These foam boxes and trays were created using chemical foams that are expanded using a refrigerant gas. As these trays and boxes out gassed the gas mixed with the air that was supplied to the heaters. The result was a chemical reaction that caused the steel inside the combustion area of the furnace to decay and corrode. Not realizing at first why this happened, we changed the units out thinking it was simply faulty equipment. It happened again in only a months time! So we changed out the equipment a 3rd time using stainless equipment that was designed for harsh conditions, Three months later they too were showing signs of decay. We finally had testing performed and found out its the outgassing of the foam that caused this. There was always a funky odor in the place, which turned out to be the refrigerant being outgassed into the building. This is the exact same thing that all those trailers had going on down south after the hurricane where everyone had to move out of them due to the outgassing of the foam insulation. Not that much different than the foam plates and containers that they once used in their stores. In your case if you have any foam packing that the meat or other stuff came with, this can possibly be causing this issue. I do not think its dangerous to the meats etc. But odors can make for unpleasant thoughts when eating the stuff.
    • KS KS on Sep 15, 2020

      I have a similar issue. Have a GE side-by-side refrigerator about 12 years old. About a month ago, had the defrost motor and the ice chute dispenser door replaced (not sure if this matters or not). For the past four days there has been a strange chemical smell coming from inside the refrigerator (and freezer) upon opening the doors. I cannot smell it when they are closed. I have a new thermometer in both sides and both sides are staying consistently cool and within correct temp ranges. How do I know what is causing this awful toxic smell? Fridge and freezer are clean with baking soda inside. Any help or ideas is greatly appreciated!!

  • Bernice H Bernice H on Jan 20, 2015
    oh I sincerely thank you! I feel so much better. Actually this is relatively new, We have had this freezer for many years, and never a problem. The past few months tho I have noticed this difference. But if it is not a leak, then I feel ok about it. No, there are no foam containers in there. I unpack and make small sections of meats etc then f reeze..the freezer is not dirty, I defrost and clean frequently.There is no taste nor smell on the food, just on the outside packaging. thank you, I feel more confident now.
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Jan 21, 2015
    Yeah! Happy Dance!
  • Gabriel Piriz Gabriel Piriz on Dec 01, 2019

    I know it's an old post, but it helped me to find out the smell in my freezer. After reading it, I told the story to my wife (laughing a little bit) and she looks back at me and says "That's it. You left some paint brushes there a few months ago, and you said you were cleanning them later. I bet the story it's not so funny now!". Sure enough... I went out to the garage and there were about 8-9 paint brushes in a bag.

    • Bernice H Bernice H on Dec 01, 2019

      Oh Gabriel that is so funny and precious! Sincerely enjoyed your post! 👏👏🤪😅