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RV Refrigerator smells

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I have a smell coming out of my freezer. I just bought this RV. The whole camper was cleaned with a lot of bleach. I don't know why. The fridge was on. I believe freon in these smell like ammonia. Do you believe if I shut down the unit when I get home, and clean it out, it will be ok?

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I have a smell coming out of my freezer. I just bought this RV. The whole camper was cleaned with a lot of bleach. I don't know why. The fridge was on. I believe freon in these smell like ammonia. Do you believe if I shut down the unit when I get home, and clean it out, it will be ok?

In a word, NO.

RV absorption refrigerators use an ammonia-based solution as a coolant, not Freon.

And if it is leaking, the only two solutions are to replace the whole refrigerator or to replace just the cooling unit. Both new and rebuild cooling units are available.

The decision on which option is best for you depends on age and condition of the rest of the refrigerator, whether you can do the work (vs pay retail for labor) and how long you plan to keep the unit.

Brett Wolfe

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I'm not an expert, but I have had some experience. Look for yellow powdery stuff in the outside frig compartment...bad if you find it. Put a water bottle in the frig and freezer, if they get cold and freeze respectively you know at least the unit is working. Odors are hard to track, a strong cleaning solution may have been used in the holding tank, or in the drain lines. Mixing cleaning solutions can give off a variety of gasses, including chlorine gas and ammonia gas, both by the way can be toxic in confined spaces. You might try to make a baking-soda solution and pour it down all the drain lines. The drop some in the toilet. This might neutralize some of the cleaning solutions used to detail the RV.

Good Luck, and hope it is not a refrigerator problem, that can be expensive.

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I'm not an expert, but I have had some experience. Look for yellow powdery stuff in the outside frig compartment...bad if you find it. Put a water bottle in the frig and freezer, if they get cold and freeze respectively you know at least the unit is working. Odors are hard to track, a strong cleaning solution may have been used in the holding tank, or in the drain lines. Mixing cleaning solutions can give off a variety of gasses, including chlorine gas and ammonia gas, both by the way can be toxic in confined spaces. You might try to make a baking-soda solution and pour it down all the drain lines. The drop some in the toilet. This might neutralize some of the cleaning solutions used to detail the RV.

Good Luck, and hope it is not a refrigerator problem, that can be expensive.

If your coolant has leaked out (or you suspect it has leaked out), be sure to monitor the cooling unit temperature (refrigerator outside access door). If no coolant is in the system, it can easily overheat and become a fire hazard.

I am not suggesting not testing it, but do not allow it to start a fire! And if operating properly, you will be able to feel cooling on the plate in the freezer unit in less than an hour.

Brett Wolfe

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We left our first motor home at a repair facility with strict instructions to keep it plugged in as the gas side of the refrigerator wouldn't always fire and stay on. As could be predicted, they didn't keep it plugged in and everything in the refrigerator and freezer melted down. They hired a clean-up agency to clean the refrigerator and freezer. A year later there was still a lingering smell from that incident. If it isn't the cooling agent, buy baking soda, lots of baking soda. It may take a long time to eliminate the smell.

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Since it is working fine, that's a good thing. Your profile does not give a location, so if you can, I would turn off the frig, open the window, and wash the inside of the frig and freezer. Personally I would wash first with something like Scrubbing Bubbles, a scented cleaning foam, or Soft Scrub. I would then repeat the cleaning process with a solution of Baking-Soda. I would leave everything open for 12 hours or so, then close it up and leave a couple of open boxes of baking-soda in the unit, one in each section, I have two freezer sections and one frig section.

If you are back East, where you can't leave the RV open for hours since it might freeze or flood, I would just do the cleaning thing, then start the frig back up. I would still use baking-soda in the holding tanks, in case the odor comes from that area.

Just a thought, pull out all the draws and look carefully behind each, just in case a food product fell behind the draw.

Good luck.

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