Asked on Mar 10, 2016

Why would a fridge smell "hot" but do it on and off?

My 10 year old Kenmore fridge has and on again and off again hot/heat smell? This happened a couple of years ago and I was told that perhaps the motor was overheating due to dusty/dirty coils. We emptied the fridge, move it away from the wall to find that the back coils were enclosed in a plastic barrier. We did remove the barrier and vacuum them as well as vacuum under the fridge and the smell went away. We do a good job of keep the floor cleaned under the fridge each year so with the exception of 6 months of dust or dog hair, it is never really all that dirty.
The heat smell has started up again. Again it is on and off which puzzles me even more.
Thoughts/suggestions? Should I call the Sears repair man to come and look at it? Is there anything that can be done to prevent the motor from going at this stage? Can a fridge motor be oiled and lubricated like a car engine anyway? Obviously I don't want a fire or for it to burn out but I really don't have the $ for a new fridge right now.
  19 answers
  • Ranger Ranger on Mar 10, 2016
    Yes, call the professional. We had the same problem and one day it just burst into flame (never seen my husband move so fast over the top of the fridge to unplug)! However, we managed to repair for less than $NZ200 but had - in between times - bought another fridge for just over $NZ200. I'd get the repair guy in for a quote; in fact, I'd get three quotes.
  • Sharon Marie Doughty Sharon Marie Doughty on Mar 10, 2016
    This sounds like a wireing problem , I would definitly have it checked out , nothing should be running hot !
  • Jkn3889743 Jkn3889743 on Mar 10, 2016
    Assuming the fridge is self defrosting, it could be that it is working harder when defrosting and thus the on and off smell. Could be the defrost motor.
  • LD LD on Mar 10, 2016
    I would definitely recommend that you contact Sears to have them come out and look at it as soon as possible. Considering the age of the frig, it could be wiring, the motor, the dust and not sufficient air floor.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Mar 10, 2016
    I don't think 10 years on an appliance is "old." Its just broken in!
  • Duv310660 Duv310660 on Mar 10, 2016
    I agree the on/off is with the cooling cycle. However, if it is free of hair and dust (and you'd be amazed what collects underthere, along w/kitchen gunk) I think a repair man is in order. (I have a 25 yr old Kenmore that is still ticking)
    • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Mar 10, 2016
      @Thank You Duval.26 You are lucky...this one was bought in 2006 and they sure don't make them like they used to...repairman scheduled for next week. A $95.00 service fee + repairs!!
  • Delores Snellen Delores Snellen on Mar 10, 2016
    I would clean it each month if you have animals in the house the hair can build up quickly
    • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Mar 10, 2016
      @Thank You Delores Snellen I'm pretty anal about dog fact I vacuum my linoleum floors everyday so not much hair can actually get under the fridge. And then we vacuum under it at least twice a year, spring and fall. It is a MAJOR effort requiring two men to pull it out, so twice a year it is. I've learned ost people never vacuum under their appliances. My friends already think I am nuts for doing it twice a year!!
  • Deb J Deb J on Mar 10, 2016
    This is going to sound silly, but our 2 year old kenmore started doing the same thing. Turned out the door switch that turns the light off wasn't working on one side (we have the French w/bottom freezer). So the light was staying on. Hold the buttons with door open & see if bulb(s) go out.
  • Nana Vaughn Nana Vaughn on Mar 10, 2016
    Make sure that the fan doesn't have dust and hair around it that can bog it down.
  • Martha Petersen Dudley Martha Petersen Dudley on Mar 10, 2016
    Be sure to remove the face plate and get on the floor and clean under the fridge. I learned the hard way that some of the 10 yr old fridges require not just removing and cleaning the face plate and a quick dust under there, but my fridge had an area back further that got clogged and then blew out the compressor.
  • Conni Conni on Mar 10, 2016
    I had a stra
  • Conni Conni on Mar 10, 2016
    We had a strange smell that I only noticed
  • Jigger9901 Jigger9901 on Mar 10, 2016
    The bulbs in mine were burning and melting their inner casing (but not affecting the integrity of the fridge). I made sure the correct wattage was being used and put in foil to protect against further damage.
  • Kathy Bitzan Kathy Bitzan on Mar 10, 2016
    Wow it just amazes me at all the wonderful help we get on this site. I to have learned from this question, and I do clean my frig , its getting pretty old and since the freezer is on the bottom would like it to last a few more years before having to make a big investment., But I did notice my food is starting to freeze in the top. So will be investigating that.
  • Marcia Donlin Marcia Donlin on Mar 10, 2016
    Some auto defrost friges defrost according to a timer they have set in them. Mine got on on top after a move and appliance man said it was japparently on middle of defrost when unplugged and picked up where it left off. He restarted and set defrost again.
  • Pam Pam on Mar 10, 2016
    Check to make sure door is level. I have side by side that sometimes weight in door causes it to become lower than other so when we close it it is not mashing the light switch so the light doesn't go off. It can get really hot and depending on where light is located can melt. Mine doesn't melt but gets so hot we thought fridge was going out.
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Mar 11, 2016
    Listen to it. It could be the compressor. I don't know how old or what brand but the compressor will over heat.
  • Carol Fredette Carol Fredette on Mar 11, 2016
    Call Sears parts store and ask them what could it be. They can help you fix it for less than a repair man. Google or youtube your appliance for more help.