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Tue Jan 21, 2020, 08:56 AM

This is a kitchen-related question

Hi all.

There is an odor coming from my refrigerator that I cannot get out. And it's making me not want to cook!

I have cleaned everything there is to clean and each time I open the door I get this waft of stink.

I cleaned behind it, took everything out and cleaned that; my husband doesn't think it has a drip pan (it's at least 12-years old and we don't have the booklet for this particular fridge, as it was here when the house was purchased). The baking soda is in there to pick up odors, but is not helping.

Do you have any ideas? It seems to be working well - still cooling and freezing - but the smell taints my appetite. I've even stopped using ice cubes because they have a bad taste.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply This is a kitchen-related question (Original post)
Delphinus Jan 2020 OP
hlthe2b Jan 2020 #1
Delphinus Jan 2020 #10
Botany Jan 2020 #2
Delphinus Jan 2020 #11
DetlefK Jan 2020 #3
Delphinus Jan 2020 #12
PJMcK Jan 2020 #4
Delphinus Jan 2020 #13
mercuryblues Jan 2020 #5
Delphinus Jan 2020 #14
mitch96 Jan 2020 #6
2naSalit Jan 2020 #7
Delphinus Jan 2020 #15
Major Nikon Jan 2020 #8
Delphinus Jan 2020 #17
Warpy Jan 2020 #9
Delphinus Jan 2020 #16
spinbaby Jan 2020 #18

Response to Delphinus (Original post)

Tue Jan 21, 2020, 09:14 AM

1. Is it possible it is behind the refrigerator? Some leaked material that ran underneath or

something else? Maybe pull it out just to check.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 10:07 PM

10. Thanks for thinking of this.

I did get it pulled out and had some dust but nothing else.

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Response to Delphinus (Original post)

Tue Jan 21, 2020, 09:15 AM

2. Unplug it, take all the food out of it, clean it with a 5% mix of bleach/liquid green and 95% ..

... luke warm water, check underneath for any dead critters (dead mice or mouse droppings),
clean the floor underneath it too, leave the doors open for 48 hours, then plug it back in
and add put two boxes of baking soda in it in open bowls, and then restock it w/food after 2
days. If after all this it doesn't get better get a new one.

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Response to Botany (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 10:08 PM

11. It's looking

like getting a new one is the way to go. Thank you for sharing these ideas.

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Response to Delphinus (Original post)

Tue Jan 21, 2020, 09:27 AM

3. Some radical ideas:

- Are you sure it's the stink of rot? Could the cooling-liquid have a leak? If the smell enters the ice-cubes, then the origin isn't limited to the cooling-section.



- Get radical: Get a broad, flat dish, and fill it with highly concentrated vinegar. Put it into the emptied fridge, close the door and let marinate for a few days. 1. Keep the door closed, but regularly sniff whether the smell of the vinegar is leaving the fridge and where it is leaving. 2. The vinegar-fumes will etch away whatever there is inside.



- The most radical method I can imagine: (Disclaimer: My grandfather used a similar method to disinfect wine-barrels and it could destroy your fridge.)
Plug out the fridge.
Wash your fridge inside with clean water. (The interior must be moist.)
Put into your fridge one glass-dish with steaming-hot water and one empty glass-dish.
Light a piece of sulphur on fire, put it into the empty glass-dish and close the door. -> The burning Sulphur will form SO2 and SO3.
These gases will mix with the moisture inside to form sulfuric acid.
WHATEVER ORGANIC STUFF THERE IS INSIDE will be etched away. Whatever mold there lives inside will be killed. The steam from the boiling water guarantees that the airborne sulphuric acid will get into every single last crook and fold.

The downsides:
Plastic should be safe, but there is a decent chance that it will damage the rubber-seals.
Also make sure that the room is extremely well ventilated and that you wear a gas-mask when opening the door or you will get acid-burns in eyes, nose and lungs.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 10:09 PM

12. I really appreciated

that you brought in the ice cubes.

I can't do the grandfather thing you mentioned - and it does seem like a new one is on the horizon.

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Response to Delphinus (Original post)

Tue Jan 21, 2020, 09:28 AM

4. A couple of thoughts

Check the gasket seals on the doors. These can get very funky on their insides. You can buy replacements online if you have the make and model number of your refrigerator, (it's usually located on the side of the freezer door). They are relatively inexpensive and fairly easy to install.

I'd be very surprised if you don't have a drip pan. On my 15-year old fridge, it can get pretty smelly if it isn't cleaned periodically. In any event, there can be things stuck to the underside of the fridge. Pull it out and clean the bottom of the machine.

Good luck!

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Response to PJMcK (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 10:10 PM

13. You were right!

It does have a drip pan. And I cleaned the dust off the things down there - nothing in the pan, though.

I did check and the gaskets were fine - and they got a good cleaning too.

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Response to Delphinus (Original post)

Tue Jan 21, 2020, 09:30 AM

5. You can google an online manual

what is the smell like? rotten eggs, spoiled meat, a burnt smell, moldy or a chemical smell? If it is a chemical smell, you may have a coolant leak.

Pull out the fridge, clean behind it and underneath it. Check or replace the water tubes if you have a built in ice maker. If you have well water you may want to install a new water filtration system.

You may just need to buy a new one.

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Response to mercuryblues (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 10:12 PM

14. I'm grateful

you mentioned getting an online manual - that helped me see some things.

I wish I could explain the smell ... I just know it's in your face.

and, as mentioned to someone else, it is likely a new one is the only way.

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Response to Delphinus (Original post)

Tue Jan 21, 2020, 10:35 AM

6. I just hope nothing got into the insulation... That would kill it..

If it was me and it was so objectionable..... I'd get a new fridge and be done with it..
YMMV
m

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Response to mitch96 (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 21, 2020, 11:10 AM

7. +1

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Response to mitch96 (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 10:14 PM

15. Thank you

And that is how I am leaning right now. A lot of work went into cleaning this one, trying to understand what its cause was. Since it's not gone away, I think that is the solution.

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Response to Delphinus (Original post)

Tue Jan 21, 2020, 01:02 PM

8. Check the freezer if you haven't already

For most refrigerators there's a vent between the freezer and refrigerator sections. It's possible the smell is originating from the freezer.

If you can't find it and cleaning hasn't helped, unplug, take everything out, leave the doors open, and let it air out for a week. If you can smell the odor, that means it's aromatic. If it's aromatic it will eventually dissipate. While it's off, check behind any service panels that are easily removable.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 10:18 PM

17. The freezer certainly smells too.

It might be interesting to do an "autopsy" on it, just to find out what made it smell this way.

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Response to Delphinus (Original post)

Tue Jan 21, 2020, 07:13 PM

9. Activated charcoal will do an odor absorption job

As for where it's coming from, obviously there's something under or behind something else that has accumulated 12 years of scuzz. The best idea is to strip everything out of the fridge, every shelf and every drawer, and examine all the cracks and crevices you find, cleaning them if there's anything at all showing up. Break out the pipe cleaners if you can't get in there with a folded paper towel.

Then, while the fridge is light and empty, move it out and check behind and under it. Chances are there will be nothing there and that you've found whatever it is in a shelf race or drawer support, but it's one of those "while we're at it" things.

Use the activated charcoal to soak up any residual reek and you should be fine.

Baking soda really doesn't do much.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 10:16 PM

16. Glad you mentioned

the activated charcoal, as baking soda has never seemed to help with smells.

But, I think a new one is in our future.

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Response to Delphinus (Original post)

Fri Jan 24, 2020, 08:13 AM

18. Dead mouse in the insulation?

Having lived in old houses for decades, I know well the smell of a dead rodent. We once had one in the insulation under a stovetop.

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