Freon is a type of gas that's used for cooling. In freezers, Freon helps keep food cold and temperatures cool or below freezing. If your freezer is working properly, the West Virginia University Extension notes that your temperature should hover around zero F. If your temperature is higher, it can be an indication your freezer is leaking Freon.

Woman looking in freezer
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A Freon leak in your freezer can pose a health risk.

Causes

If you move or transport an old freezer, the Freon container can puncture and release gas. Most freezers that were manufactured before 1995 contain Freon. If you suspect that your freezer is older than 1995, be cautious of Freon. If you're using a freezer that contains Freon and you suddenly find your appliance isn't keeping food cold, you may have a Freon leak.

Identification

Freon (chlorofluorocarbon gas or CFC) is generally identified as a refrigerant inside a protective metal container or bottle. It may be labeled as Freon 113 or CFC-113. It's a colorless, non-flammable substance but can be identified as having an odor of fresh-cut grass if it's leaking. Freon is stored in airtight aerosol containers that keep the chemicals from escaping before and during use. Because Freon is invisible, it's possible to have a leak that's hazardous to your health without knowing it.

Precaution

If you come in contact with Freon it's important to seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms may include an irregular heartbeat, burning or irritated skin, vomiting, burning eyes, burning of the nose and tongue, loss of vision, throat swelling and difficulty breathing. In rare cases, people who abuse inhalants may become overexposed to Freon and the consequences can be deadly. Seek fresh air and try to stay as far away from the Freon leak as possible. Consult with emergency care or poison control personnel for proper removal of the Freon leak.

Solution

Eliminating Freon from your home and your refrigerator is the only way to stay protected. Upgrade to a new freezer and refrigerator if yours contains Freon. Be sure to properly dispose of your old freezer and the Freon. Ask if the store you're purchasing your new unit from will dispose of the old freezer, or drop off your old freezer at an appliance recycling center. Always avoid trying to repair or replace parts on your freezer if you're unsure where the Freon unit is. Leave appliance repair to a qualified professional.