Signs of a Refrigerator Losing Freon

A refrigerator cycles Freon through an expansion and contraction system that cools the freezer and refrigeration chambers while warming up on the outside of the unit. This system counts on a constant amount of Freon in the refrigerator at all times. Because of this, several symptoms are detectable when Freon begins leaking from the refrigerator.

Warm Goods

Of course, without any refrigerant in the system, the refrigerator will not cool the food. This symptom is not apparent immediately following the leak, since layers of insulation hold in the cold air in the refrigeration chamber. After a few hours, the food and beverages will begin to warm, and after a night, food will begin to spoil. If the food in your refrigerator spoils but the refrigerator appears in working condition, power down the system immediately and refer to a certified service technician for aid. If the reason for the malfunction is a refrigerant leak, only a certified technician will have access to a Freon recharge.


A refrigerator's Freon is locked in a closed system that does not permit even trace amounts of refrigerant into the air. This is partly because refrigerants, such as Freon, are dangerous when inhaled and can cause a number of health problems, ranging from headaches and migraines to fainting and nausea. Users who are working in close contact with the refrigerator and experiencing these symptoms should power down the unit and remove themselves to an area of adequate ventilation. The area around the leaking refrigerator also requires proper ventilation to allow the refrigerant to dissipate.

Constant Motor Activity

A refrigerator activates the compressor and condenser assembly when a heightened temperature is detected. When this assembly activates, the Freon inside cools the chambers and reduces the temperature to an acceptable level. A lack of refrigerant will prevent the refrigerator from cooling properly. This means the compressor and condenser will continue working even though the temperature has no hope of cooling.


Freon and other refrigerants can leave a musty smell in a room if leaking into a confined space. This smell is a possible indication that you are breathing a toxic fume that can do harm to the body. Remove yourself immediately if you suspect the smell is from leaking refrigerant and call a certified service technician for repair or replacement options.