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Thread: Help! Rotten smell coming from refrigerator!

  1. #1

    Help! Rotten smell coming from refrigerator!

    We got home from vacation last Sunday and noticed a horrible smell (rotten meat or dog poop or something) coming from our side-by-side fridge/freezer. My sister stayed here the whole time and said she had noticed it, too, but couldn't find the source. (Nothing went bad in there; no power outages while we were gone.) So far, we haven't been able to, either.

    It was pretty clean and not packed with food to begin with, but I've thrown out anything that could possibly be spoiled -- it's really bare now -- and scrubbed everything down. I put a bowl of vinegar in there (there's also a box of baking soda that lives in there) the day we got back, and the smell did seem to go away, but when I took the vinegar out, it came back.

    We're also hit with a blast of nastiness when we open the freezer, too. It's pretty organized in there, and I know everything is fairly fresh -- not to mention, you know, frozen solid! The ice coming out of the ice maker looks and smells normal.

    We've pulled out the fridge, oven, and microwave cart to make sure nothing is rotting underneath anything, but everything looks fine. Our kitchen is pretty small, so once the odor escapes the fridge, it kind of lingers and stinks up the kitchen.

    This has never happened before, and I'm beside myself trying to figure out how to fix it. Any suggestions on what I'm missing, or what I can do to make it go away are greatly appreciated!

    Thanks for reading.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
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    I feel for you. I have a similar issue with my old fridge (that I now use as a backup). It just has an off smell about it and I have scrubbed that sucker thoroughly but it's still there. I even called my appliance repair guy and wanted him to come out thinking maybe there was some part going (the fridge is 13 years old and has never seen the service man) but he was insistent that something must have spoiled in there and he never did come out and take a look. Told me to adjust the temperature. Given the age of the fridge and how clean I know it is I'm still not convinced something isn't going on it. Sounds like you've been pretty thorough in investigating all the possibilities. Maybe you can call a repairman and/or the place you bought it from to see what they think? I'll be very interested to hear if you're able to trace the source of the problem.

    Another thought occurred to me...I know you said that you've pulled out all the appliances and looked underneath but maybe you want to look again. One of the most Godawful smells I've ever encountered in places I've lived or worked (and you said this was horrible) was the stench of some little critter (Door mouse? Gecko?) who'd breathed his last behind some item of furniture. Do you possibly have a dropped ceiling and something might be mouldering away there? Or any loose woodwork near the fridge or other appliances?
    Linda

    When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and I could say “I used everything you gave me.”

    Erma Bombeck

  3. #3
    Pull off the front grille cover on the bottom front of the fridge. There should be a small drip pan with a tube coming from the fridge. That tube is for condensation to drip away from the fridge and end up in the pan. Normally the tube does its job just fine and the small amount of condensate that ends up in that drip pan evaporates. Once in a while the tube will get clogged or the contents in the pan don't evaporate quickly enough.
    Also, if there are cooling tubes down there, break out your vacuum cleaner with the crevice attachment and give those a good vacuuming. Sometimes things just collect in there.

    HTH.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Do you think something could have happened in the water line for the ice maker? Maybe something is growing or getting stagnant in the water line somewhere?

    Otherwise I would wonder too about a dead mouse or something.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    I saw a great tip on How Clean is Your House? the other day that might help. Take a piece of muslin or cheesecloth (they used a clean "footie" sock) and fill it with ground coffee (before it's been brewed, of course). Tie closed and tuck it into a corner of the fridge. Haven't tried it yet, but it makes sense. So would a sock with aquarium charcoal, I'll bet.
    Just another Susan

    "Peggy, here I am tryin' to contain an outbreak, and you're drivin' the monkey to the airport!" Hank Hill

    www.thebreastcancersite.com Click here to fund free mammograms!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    If your fridge is a new one you may not have a drip pan underneath. You may, however have a drain hole that is clogged. Ours is in the freezer area down on the bottom.

    We were told to run some warm water down there once in awhile to keep it clear. I understand a turkey baster does a good job.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by DeeK View Post
    If your fridge is a new one you may not have a drip pan underneath. You may, however have a drain hole that is clogged. Ours is in the freezer area down on the bottom.

    We were told to run some warm water down there once in awhile to keep it clear. I understand a turkey baster does a good job.
    Where does the stuff that goes in the drain hole end up if not in a drip pan?

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    I'd call the manufacturer on Monday and see if they have any solutions for you. Maybe it's something inside where the wiring is that has burned or is causing the smell.

    This totally far fetched, but not to scare you, I have heard of people having dead rodents (mice or rats) in their walls or floor of the house. Any chance this is could have happened (or one has crawled into the wiring of the fridge?) I'm sure that's not the case, but . . . (ETA - I just noticed Linda mentioned the same thing above).

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by funnybone View Post
    I'd call the manufacturer on Monday and see if they have any solutions for you. Maybe it's something inside where the wiring is that has burned or is causing the smell.
    Burned wiring or electrical insulation can have a "smoked fish" smell. Is that what you are smelling? Not to say it isn't that if it doesn't smell that way, but if it does smell that like that it could help you narrow it down.

  10. #10
    Thanks for all the suggestions. My husband and I took the little grill panel off the bottom of the front, but it didn't look as though there was anything else there that we could detach and clean. We had thought about the water line, too, but the water & ice coming out of the dispenser don't have a bad taste or odor. I'm going to look for that other drain hole in the freezer that Dee mentioned. I'm wondering if something did die somewhere....

    I'm going to dig out the original owner's manual (it's about 7 years old) and see if there's any more advice in there...otherwise, I'll probably be getting a technician to come out and take a look.

  11. #11

    OOOHHH! I might be onto something!

    My owner's manual (imagine, looking in there for troubleshooting tips!) suggests squirting a baking soda/hot water solution down that hole in the bottom of the freezer -- which I did find, by the way -- to help keep it clean & unclogged. Evidently this is to be done at least once a year, and since I've never done it -- I'm a pretty clean person, though! I swear! -- that could explain the foul odor, AND why it's in the freezer as well as the fridge.

    Only problem is, guess who doesn't have a meat baster? I'm too tired to go to the store right now, but that's at the top of the to-do list tomorrow. I really hope it works....

  12. #12
    If you have a store nearby that sells refrigerators etc maybe someone there might have some ideas.

    Hope you figure it out soon.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by blrn1 View Post
    My owner's manual (imagine, looking in there for troubleshooting tips!) suggests squirting a baking soda/hot water solution down that hole in the bottom of the freezer -- which I did find, by the way -- to help keep it clean & unclogged. Evidently this is to be done at least once a year, and since I've never done it -- I'm a pretty clean person, though! I swear! -- that could explain the foul odor, AND why it's in the freezer as well as the fridge.

    Only problem is, guess who doesn't have a meat baster? I'm too tired to go to the store right now, but that's at the top of the to-do list tomorrow. I really hope it works....
    When you squirt the liquid down the tube that's attached to that hole, where does it come out? Might be nice to know that so you can clean up whatever comes out the other end of that tube if possible and if there is something in there.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammster View Post
    Where does the stuff that goes in the drain hole end up if not in a drip pan?

    From what my repairman said there is an evaporator that dries that up along with keeping the freezer frost-free.

    I just took out my book to check and the only cleaning it recommends other than wiping down the inside and outside is to flush 1 tsp. of baking soda and 2 cups of hot water through the drain line I mentioned. And, of course, clean the condeser coils.

    My fridge is a G.E. Profile.

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