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GE top freezer smells--leaking to fridge

sj.hermann

Premium Member
Joined
May 26, 2015
Messages
3
Location
Nebraska
Model Number
GTL21KCXABS
Brand
GE
Age
1-5 years
Hello, we are having an issue with our freezer smelling. It seems to be a 'nutty' or slightly chemically smell. A little like old stale cardboard? It's really hard to describe. It started smelling like this out of the blue one day. We had no freezer burned food, rotten food, or anything new or out of the ordinary in our fridge or freezer. We first noticed it in our ice cubes. It has gotten progressively worse, and now food/drinks left in the fridge that are not sealed tight take on the smell. What could this be? We have emptied the fridge and freezer, cleaned it all out, pulled it away from the wall and vacuumed underneath and on the back of the unit itself. What else can we do?
 

jeff1

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 10, 2004
Messages
24,842
Location
Ontario, Canada
Hi,

What could this be?

Something that went bad a while ago, was probably thrown out but the plastic parts has taken on the odour and keep giving it off ( common )...dirty defrost water condensate pan under the refrigerator ( mildly common )...something fallen onto the defrost heater element ( rare )...these are some common trouble makers.

Deodorizer-78956-01215143.jpg Fridge Aid refrigerator deodorizer

jeff.
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
111,937
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
I remember back in about 1995 smelling the same kind of thing in a Amana Refrigerator, turned out to be a odd issue with the cabinet insulation somehow breaking down overtime and mixing with another chemical inside the cabinet.

Only solution to the customer was to buy a new refrigerator.

Since your GE refrigerator isn't that old yet, you may want to contact GE to come to get a second opinion, the Amana Refrigerator back in 1995 I smelled this on was about 15 years old, and yours seems too new to be a insulation breaking down smell.

Jake
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
111,937
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
Opps, sorry Jeff.

I was going to suggest what Jeff suggested, but since you mentioned chemical smell the first thing that popped in my mind was a insulation breaking down smell.:)

But do what Jeff suggests first.:)

Jake
 

sj.hermann

Premium Member
Joined
May 26, 2015
Messages
3
Location
Nebraska
It is definitely not a 'food' smell. We have unplugged, cleaned and scrubbed the fridge and freezer and are letting it air out over night. We also put baking soda and coffee grounds in to help absorb some of the smell. Unfortunately we are starting to think it is a problem with insulation getting wet (unlikely since there are no cracks and it is a newer fridge) or a refrigerant leak. Starting to think our only route will be replacement. Keep suggestions coming!
 

jeff1

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 10, 2004
Messages
24,842
Location
Ontario, Canada
Unfortunately we are starting to think it is a problem with insulation getting wet (unlikely since there are no cracks and it is a newer fridge) or a refrigerant leak.

Blown in foam insulation can't get wet. Refrigerant gas is odourless and you would loose the cooling.

We also put baking soda and coffee grounds in to help absorb some of the smell.

Problem with these is they take a long time to start to work. Try bread. Throw a couple slices in the FF section and leave all day, throw out at night. Do the same at night, throw in 2 slices and throw out in the am....do this for a week.

jeff.
 

sj.hermann

Premium Member
Joined
May 26, 2015
Messages
3
Location
Nebraska
All good to know, Jeff! We are at a loss for what it could be, then. Will try the bread trick now. Thanks!
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
111,937
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
Also, try pure vanilla extract(not imitation vanilla extract), its a little known secret for getting smells out.:)

Jake
 
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