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Refrigerator How to tell if your Refrigerator is leaking freon?

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You will initially have a rotten egg kind of smell aroundthe refrigerator.

Posted on Dec 14, 2008

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Hi Chrissy...
It is rare for a newer self-defrost refrigerator to develop a leak. Refrigerators are "hermetically sealed" and the freon can last for years.
To answer your original question, we use "sniffers" to look for leaks, but we also use our eyes and senses to tell if the system is fully charged. We look at the evaoporator coil and check for a nice, even thin layer of frost (less than 1/8") covering the whole coil.
You cannot smell a freon leak, however you can smell compressor oil and acids that escape, and often you can see the presence of oily residue where a leak may be.
As techs, we find the first thing a do-it-yourself-er will (especially husbands engineers and home handymen) say when a fridge stops cooling is "It's low on freon".
They almost never are low however, This "diagnosis" comes from automotive air conditioners, which have a belt-driven compressor, and yes, freon can leak out of them thru the seals on the compressor. So oftentimes people will think "my car's AC stopped cooling and needed freon, so the same thing must be wrong with my fridge!"
Nope. Not very likely.

Posted on Dec 14, 2008

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