How to Eliminate Refrigerator Odor
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Larry in Arizona on the line who’s dealing with a stinky fridge. What happened?
LARRY: Yes. I had a power company disconnect my combination freezer/refrigerator by mistake, at a second home I own down on the desert, elevation 2,000 feet.
LARRY: No air conditioning. I didn’t discover the problem until three weeks after it had been disconnected. Obviously, I had a terrible odor problem and it was very difficult to remove. And I’m just wondering if you folks might have had a suggestion. I still have a lingering odor but for the most part, I think it’s pretty much gone. But it was a mess and lots of people suggested I should have just thrown the combination freezer/refrigerator out and had the utility company buy me a new one.
LARRY: They thought they were disconnecting for lack of payment but it was a neighbor three doors down.
LESLIE: Oh, my God.
TOM: Ugh. Wow.
LARRY: But it’s a second home that I only get to maybe once a month.
TOM: Right. So you didn’t know about it, yeah.
LARRY: Yeah. I spent three days working on it.
LESLIE: I can imagine. And you probably used all the standard tricks of the trade: the baking soda; white vinegar and water; baking soda, making a paste of it and putting it all around the refrigerator and cleaning that off; then taking fresh vanilla – like real vanilla seed pods – and putting that on a damp paper towel and then sticking that in the refrigerator.
LARRY: I think so.
LESLIE: Those are generally the tricks of the trade. But what happens is there’s an insulative layer inside the refrigerator and freezer that makes it stay cold. And when you have something that spoils and stays in there and the odor stays in there, it seeps through the plastic that sits on top of the insulation and then gets into the insulation. And at that point, there’s nothing you can do short of reinsulating the refrigerator/freezer. And it’s going to be probably more money than buying a new one.
LARRY: Boy, isn’t that the truth? And what happened, it was on the freezer side, mostly wild-game meat, which can’t be replaced unless you’re lucky enough to get drawn for a hunting permit in Arizona.
LESLIE: Oh, God.
TOM: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
LARRY: And it turned, of course, to liquid so it basically permeated the bottom of the refrigerator.
LARRY: And the biggest problem was getting rid of the odor from the rubber seals.
TOM: Well, you can replace those rubber seals.
LARRY: Yeah. But the more I think about it, it may not be too late to approach the utility company and verify what I did and what I was dealing with and maybe they’d replace it.
TOM: I think that that’s – I think that’s exactly what you should do.
LARRY: But in any event, I appreciate the suggestions. And you’re new to our radio station here in northern Arizona and I enjoy it very much.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.