What Does Freon Smell Like in a Refrigerator? Is It Dangerous?

What does freon smell like in a refrigerator

Freon is a colorless, odorless gas. It used to be indispensable in the operation of old-fashioned refrigerators. However, freon is not good for our health and environment. Freon in the body seems harmless, but if you accidentally load too much freon, you will be poisoned, even dead. Because of this toxicity, some modern refrigerators no longer apply the freon cooling mechanism. Learn the basic information about freon, its harmful effects, how to recognize a refrigerator that has freon leak and how to handle it. That answers the original questions: What does freon smell like in a refrigerator? And is it dangerous?


Origin of Freon

Freon is the name of a registered trademark for products in the halocarbon class. This substance is stable, not highly toxic, used in the refrigerator manufacturing industry. It was produced to replace the hazardous refrigerants used in the pre-1930s.

This refrigerator will have a pressurized and sealed container to keep the freon inside. Normally, we don’t need to add freon during use.

What does Freon smell like in a fridge and is it dangerous?

Freon often leaves a musty odor if there is a leak. Especially, if the fridge is placed in a contained space, you can recognize this musty smell easily.

Freon is a mildly toxic carrier, which doesn’t mean it’s not toxic. Therefore, the answer to the question “Is freon leaking from refrigerator dangerous?” is yes. However, in some cases it will not be a hazard, as long as the amount of freon is not too large, unless, you have allergies or there is a problem with the refrigerator space. Even so, Freon is a very harmful substance for the environment. They are prone to leaks due to improper repair of the refrigerator or scraping of the ice layer when defrosting the refrigerator.

Due to some notable harmful effects of freon, it has now been replaced in the production of new, more modern refrigerators.

Freon used to be produced in refrigerator
Freon used to be produced in refrigerator in the past

Harm to health and environment

Impact on health

Freon leaking from the refrigerator does not pose an immediate health hazard. This is also not a recommended carcinogen, but if accumulated over time will have health effects, forming risks. Therefore, it should be detected and treated promptly.

Freon is only dangerous to adults when it reaches extremely high levels, which are more than the volume of a refrigerator. Freon can cause shortness of breath, dizziness, especially in people with injection disease. Since Freon is heavier than air, if it leaks, it is usually closer to the ground. This means that children and pets are at greater risk of exposure.

Freon and fire react to form poison. Therefore, turn off the fire immediately if you find that your gas stove has a freon leak

Impact on the environment

Freon is an extremely toxic substance to the environment and should be handled immediately. It causes the most pollution by entering the atmosphere and destroying the ozone layer. Therefore, environmental protection agencies around the world have proposed to eliminate the production and import of freon from 2020. That causes the source of freon to decrease sharply and the price to increase. Therefore, it is quite difficult to repair refrigerators related to freon nowadays.

Basic signs of Freon leak in refrigerator

  • Food is not cold

Freon leaks will cause your refrigerator to lose its cooling function, causing food to not cool, get hot and eventually lead to rotting. If you find that the food stored in the refrigerator is no longer available, consider having your refrigerator checked for freon leaks.

  • Detecting strange smells

If you are in doubt and feel a strange smell coming from the refrigerator, check it out right away, or call a professional to deal with it.

  • Increased electricity bill
Further reading:  How to Prevent Mold in Refrigerator

Because freon leaks, resulting in a consistently high temperature in the refrigerator, your refrigerator’s motor will constantly run at high power. This causes your electricity bill to rise abnormally high. If the power level is high but not clear, you should check your refrigerator to solve it. It is possible that your refrigerator is leaking freon

  • Illness for unknown reason

As mentioned above, freon when leaking from the refrigerator will cause a number of health problems, you may feel short of breath, nausea, migraine, even fainting. If you experience the above symptoms regularly for no apparent reason, check your refrigerator right away.

Should you fix it?

You can repair your refrigerator’s freon leak with the support from DIY kits like Freon leak detector or Gas leak detector. However, only do it if you have the skills, knowledge and tools. If you repair it amateurishly, chances are the problem will become more and more serious. Your refrigerator will be more and more damaged. Worse, the leak situation is more serious.

We therefore recommend that you should seek a professional to deal with this problem, to avoid further damage. They will quickly identify the problem, the cause and help you fix it.

You may also like: Why Are the Side Walls of the Refrigerator very Hot?


Is fridge freon leak fixable?

Yes, of course. The leak is fixable if done by an expert or an experienced person. A professional will know how to detect the leaks, a job that often requires extensive work. You should not try to fix the leak because you might make it worse.

What causes a fridge to leak freon?

Normally, leak is a result of a puncture, but this rarely happens if you have daily operation in a kitchen. Besides, if you defrost or scaped the ice improperly, the leak may also occur.

Is it worth fixing a freon leak?

Depending on the type of refrigerator and the location of the leak, you may decide to fix or replace. If the leak occurs in the evaporator coil, the evaporator will need to be replaced as it is made of aluminum, and it can note be fixed.

However, you should consider the cost of fixing to see it is worth or not. If the fixing cost is too high or your unit is nearly 10 years old, it is time to replace the unit.

How to prevent your refrigerator from leaking freon?

You should follow these suggestions to prevent your fridge from problems like leaking.

  • Apply regular maintenance
  • Do not scraping ice out of the freezer
  • Should not pry, puncture, or cut into your fridge
  • Do not move the fridge around often
  • Do not used a pressure gage incorrectly on the tubing
  • Never attempt to repair the leak if you do not know how to do it


When there is a freon leak in the refrigerator, you will find a musty odor. In the long run, the refrigerator leaking freon will affect the health of your family and the environment. So you should invest to buy a new fridge or maintain the old fridge regularly to detect it in time.


  1. Can A Refrigerator Have A Freon Leak?, mixrepairs.co.uk, Retrieved on Nov. 29, 2021
  2. Is Your Refrigerator Leaking Freon?, applianceanalysts.com, Retrieved on Nov. 27, 2021

Jenny Brown
Hi, I’m Jenny. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, a compact fridge or freezer becomes one of the essential items in many homes. On my blog, you will find helpful advice about using and organizing these kitchen appliances. You will also receive the recommendations on choosing a compact refrigerator or freezer that best fits your demands. Besides, frozen meals from the freezer bring many incredible benefits because they ensure freshness, deliciousness, and full nutrients. Many helpful tips from experts on frozen meals will also be found.