Consumer Reports predicted in 2019 that about 25% of refrigerators, regardless of brand, are likely to develop issues within the first two to five years after the warranty expires. Most common problems that arise with refrigerators include a buildup of ice in the ice dispenser, freezer not being cold enough, the refrigerator freezing food, fresh food compartment warming up, among many more. As if these problems are not a headache already, imagine opening up your fridge, and it smells like nail polish remover. That odor will have you wondering what is wrong with it, so here is what you need to know about the cause of this issue and how to fix it.
Reason Refrigerator Smells Like Chemicals
According to Hunker, a nail polish remover smell from your fridge is a sign of leaking Freon. Some sources say that generally, Freon is odorless and tasteless, but it can have a pungent etherlike smell in high concentrations. However, some people describe Freon as having a sweet odor. Freon is toxic, so the more you inhale it, the higher your chances of developing severe health complications. Some of the symptoms of Freon poisoning include lung and stomach irritation, burns on the esophagus, and skin tissue damage if your body comes into contact with Freon. Exposure to Freon for a long time results in brain damage, death, or lung failure. If you are unsure that Freon is causing that nail polish remover smell, another sign to convince you is residue usually on the floor, which presents itself as an oily substance. Apart from the health issues that you will start suffering from the moment you are exposed to the coolant for a long time, you will also notice that your refrigerator no longer gets as cold as it should be. Furthermore, your Fridge motor will be constantly working to compensate for the reduced amount of coolant. Eventually, the strain can cause the motor to stop operating altogether. Of course, when the fridge motor is working extra hard to try and keep your fridge cool, it ends up using more power. Consequently, another sign of leaking Freon is high electricity bills, even during winter months when your fridge should not be spending a lot of energy to keep the food cold.
How to Identify Where Freon is Leaking from Your Refrigerator
Knowing that Freon is leaking from your fridge is only part of the solution; the only way to stop the leakage is to identify the exact point where the chemical is leaking. Appliance Analysts informs us of a few ways to identify such leakage points, one of which is doing a visual inspection. As mentioned above, an area of the fridge with oil residue shows the leakage point is within that spot. Alternatively, you can use soapy water, a method that most technicians prefer. All you need is a soapy solution made by mixing dish soap and water in the ratio of 1:1 in a spray bottle. Spray the soapy solution on the fridge system and pressurize the system using dry nitrogen. The areas where bubbles form are the leakage points. Remember to use dish soap instead of laundry detergent because the latter does not form as many bubbles. Another method of detecting the leakage point is by using a fluorescent additive. The additive is usually injected into the fridge system, and an ultraviolet lamp indicates where the leak is. Once you have injected the fluorescent additive into the system, wait for the fridge to run for around twenty minutes. You should then wear protective glasses and shine the UV lamp; the leakage point will have yellow fluorescent. This method is quite messy, and you must clean the additive using coalescent oil separators after identifying the leak.
How Do You Fix Freon Leakage?
Usually, the main cause of leaking Freon is damaged coils by picking ice accumulated in the freezer using a sharp object. It can also be due to the normal wear and tear of the appliance. Even after identifying that the fridge is leaking Freon, you still have another challenge because Freon is not readily available. As of January 2020, the US banned the production and importation of Freon after it was identified as an ozone-depleting refrigerant. According to Creative Home Idea, you can still look for other alternatives, but ensure that your appliance will run on the newer refrigerants. Using a coolant that your appliance does not operate on will damage the compressor unit, causing appliance failure. The first step in the repair process is to identify the refrigerant system. If you have never done any repairs before, you can check the manual to know the precise locations of all the fridge parts that will be affected during the repair. Open up the system and vacuum the air using a pump which usually comes with instructions on how to use it. You do not have to buy a pump; renting it from technicians will do. You will need a T-shaped pipe to place an access valve in the compressor. After vacuuming the air, place a hose pipe around the compressor and start adding the coolant by following the instructions that came with the specific coolant you bought. The pipe enables the coolant to be funneled into the compression system. You must be careful not to overcharge it because it can cause irreplaceable damage once the pressure is too much for the system to bear. You will also need to add oil when adding the refrigerant to allow the coolant to move with ease. While the general amount needed is five tablespoons of oil, each model has its own user manual to direct a customer on how much is needed. With time, you can become skilled at replacing refrigerants, but it is always advisable to have a professional do it for you, especially when other parts need to be repaired. The bottom line is that the best way to prevent leaks is to conduct routine maintenance by cleaning regularly.