A Burnt Smell in a Frigidaire Refrigerator

A burning smell in the kitchen is often associated with the stove or microwave, but if your Frigidaire is having problems, you might notice a burnt smell coming from it, too. A burnt smell will normally mean that there is a problem with the compressor or compressor coils, and sometimes you can fix the issue without calling a repairman.

Open mini-fridge
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Cleaning the coils behind the unit can eliminate a burnt smell.

Identification

Refrigerators remove heat from the air, and to do this, they use several electric parts, which can break down and start smelling. To create cold, a compressor removes heat by pushing a refrigerant through tubing that is between an evaporator coil and a condenser. Compressor coils move the cooling air. When the compressor coils aren't working properly, the refrigerator will fail to cool adequately.

Possibilities

The compressor is located at the back bottom of the Frigidaire, and you should be able to feel the compressor fan with your hand. If the fan isn't running, you could need a new compressor. If it's running but has a clicking sound with the burning smell, the compressor relay switch could be burned, and you'll need a new switch.

Sometimes the compressor coils are simply too dirty and need to be cleaned to effectively cool the unit. When the refrigerator runs a lot, the compressor can overheat and singe any dirt or debris that's accumulated on it.

Prevention

Though they're the most used appliance in the house, most people don't think about cleaning the outside of their refrigerators. Because refrigerators sit in the same spot for years, even decades, at a time, dust easily accumulates on the bottom and back. Your Frigidaire's compressor coils will be under the unit or on the back. If your model is a side by side, the coils will likely be underneath the refrigerator, and freezer-on-top models have coils on the back. To clean coils on the back of your refrigerator, wipe them down with a rag or use a duster. Coils underneath the refrigerator are harder to reach. First, remove the grille from the front bottom of the unit. Swipe under the refrigerator with a duster, or use a flat vacuum attachment to clean under the refrigerator. Wipe down the compressor as well.

Warning

If your Frigidaire has an auto-defrost feature, the heating mechanism could be overheating. This poses an electrical risk. If cleaning the coils doesn't fix the burning smell, contact a local repairman who is authorized by the Electrolux Warranty Corporation.