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John, Home Appliance Technician
Category: Appliance
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Experience:  Appliance repair business owner for over 43 years.
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What causes the inside of the frig to smell? I've cleaned

Customer Question

What causes the inside of the frig to smell? I've cleaned everything, wiped it all down. It's not the drip pan.
JA: I'll do all I can to help. How long have you been dealing with this?
Customer: One week.
JA: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?
Customer: If I can. The technician doesn't know what to do.
JA: Anything else we should know to help you best?
Customer: I'm not a "messy frig" kind of person. I wipe up spills as they happen. Found some moldy cheese in a container. Not over packed, good ventilation around vents.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Appliance
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

Thanks for counting on us to help with your appliance problem. My name is ***** ***** I look forward to helping you!

Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

Oftentimes, the odor comes from food that has gotten through the vents in the rear panel inside the freezer.

  1. Did the technician remove the rear panel to inspect that area where the heater is?
  2. May I please have your model number so I am able to provide you with accurate, model specific information?
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
ED5FHAXVS05
I also can't get to the drip pan, even though the smell isn't coming from there, as it's behind all the wiring for the ice/water.
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

The drip pan (number 22 below) is not really designed to be removed, You have to remove a lot of other parts to get it out.

CLICK HERE

Can you remove the number 15 cover in the back of the freezer section?

CLICK HERE

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I really don't think it's the drip pan. When I'm flat on the floor and right next to it, I don't smell a thing. It's when I open the frig door that I'm overwhelmed.
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

I don't suspect it is the drip pan, either. Can you look behind the rear panel inside the freezer?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I don't think I can do that. Is it possible that some smell got into the vent system inside the frig?
I'm going crazy over here!
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

Yes, behind that panel is the evaporator coil and the heater. Whatever gets back there is warmed up good every 12 hours or so, it will smell worse the closer to the heater it is. The fan just above that coil will send that odor throughout the entire cabinet!

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Will it go away on it's own?
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

Not likely, no.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
you are saying something got through those vents and is now being heated up on the evaporator coil on the back, thus causing the smell?
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

Yes, that is pretty common when you are not able to locate another source of the odor.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
What could be another source?
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

Just anything in the cabinet, behind the crispers by the water tank, etc.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I've wiped down the whole thing--section by section--and don't usually have spills in there...
How complicated is it to take the back panel off and clean the evaporator coil?
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

You only need to remove the 1/4" screws from the panel and it will pull off. You may need to remove the shelf supports, depending on how much room you have.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
What do I do then? I presume I'll know right away that is the problem by the smell intensity? Correct?
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

You should be able to see if anything is back there once the panel is removed, yes.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I remove the panel, wipe it all down and replace it? Sounds too simple.
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

Once the panel is off, the degree of cleaning required will depend on what you find. You may find melted plastic, etc. No matter the case, you will need to access the area behind that panel for inspection if you have cleaned all other areas.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Do I need to unplug/ turn off any switch first?
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

I would turn it off, yes. There is a fan moving up there, so you may want to just shut it off so it stops.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
obvious next question is where/how do you turn it off? Wish you were here!
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

Turn the right knob at the top of the refrigerator section all the way left, it should shut off.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
OK, I see that. None needed for freezer? Think my 13 y.o. and I can try this???
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

No, that one should shut it all off and sure, there are just a few screws. Watch the edges of that panel, though, they can be sharp!

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
How long are you on duty? Hope to be back in just a bit...
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

I will be here for at least another hour but will check in sporadically after.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
OK, this may be a dead end. The majority of the back is a metal panel with no screws. There's a small 12-14" tall rectangle at the bottom that has screws. Two were so tight I was stripping them, so they're still on. I could pull the board out most of the way and could see this:
motor (?)
lots of wiring and cords
dust globs that I cleared away
not much after that
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

The board? The panel you need to remove is INSIDE THE FREEZER. Did you look at that picture I sent you?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Just scanned back through our messages and no pic. So where in the freezer is the panel??
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

I sent it about an hour ago....

The drip pan (number 22 below) is not really designed to be removed, You have to remove a lot of other parts to get it out.

CLICK HERE

Can you remove the number 15 cover in the back of the freezer section?

CLICK HERE

Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

Click where it says CLICK HERE

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I saw that one. The diagram for the freezer looks way beyond my ability. PLUS the smell isn't in the freezer. It's solely in the frig.
Expert:  Kelly replied 5 months ago.

I will see if another may have any ideas.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Any word yet?

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