Freezer Giving Off A Burning Smell? This Could Be Why

Are you trying to figure out why your freezer is giving off a burning smell?

Sadly, this is a common issue. In fact, thousands of people are struggling with it.

I know that this problem can be scary because of the electrical and fire hazards. But, don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place for answers.

If your freezer is giving off a burning smell, chances are it is new, the power cord is damaged, or there’s an issue with the defrost heater. A broken condenser fan, dirty coils, or faulty compressor could also explain the issue.

Keep reading to learn how to solve these issues!

What to Do if Your Freezer Smells Like Burning: 6 Simple Steps

If your freezer is giving off a burning smell, you should never ignore it. You need to investigate the root of the problem immediately to prevent electrical or fire hazards.

This is why I’ve prepared a guide that will help you forget all about the issue. The 6 steps you should follow are:

#1 If Your Freezer is New, Please Wait

If you’ve recently bought your freezer, and it smells like burning, there might be nothing wrong with it.

New freezers, just like other home appliances, can give a burning smell due to the materials used in their manufacture and storage.

Why does your new freezer smell like burning
New freezers can smell like burning due to manufacturing residue

Moreover, the first time you use your freezer, the compressor has to run longer than usual to lower the internal temperature. As you can imagine, this can generate a lot of heat, which could explain the smell.

So, if your freezer is new, try waiting for a couple of days until the smell wears off. You may be able to get rid of the odor faster by cleaning your appliance with equal parts of vinegar and water.

Then, I recommend placing an open box of baking soda in your freezer, as this ingredient can absorb bad odors.

But, if the smell persists, please keep reading.

#2 Check the Power Cord

If your freezer is not new, you’ll need to rule out the power cord as our possible culprit.

You see, sometimes keeping the power cord tangled or pressed at a weird angle against the wall could be enough to damage it.

This could explain why your freezer is giving off a burning smell.

To check the cord, please turn off your freezer at the circuit breaker, so you can safely unplug it from the wall outlet.

Then, inspect the power cord. If you notice that it is damaged, you’ll need to replace it with a new one.

Freezer power cord
If your freezer’s power cord is damaged, you’ll need to replace it

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Keep the freezer turned off at the circuit breaker and unplug the damaged power cord.
  2. Move your freezer so you can access the power cord. If it’s too heavy, please ask a friend for help.
  3. Remove the panel located on the lower rear of your appliance. You may need a screwdriver.
  4. Disconnect the power cord wire harness and remove the screws that are holding the grounding wire and the old power cord in place.
  5. Carefully pull out the old cord.
  6. Transfer the retainer from the old cord to the new one and connect the new power cord.

Bear in mind that this process may vary depending on the model and brand you own. If you don’t feel comfortable replacing the power cord, please call a professional.

You should never plug your freezer into an extension cord, since it can draw more electricity than an extension cord can take and burn it.

#3 Check the Defrost Heater

During the refrigeration process, a coolant circulates through your freezer’s external and internal coils in the form of liquid and gas.

When the coolant flows through the evaporator coils to absorb the heat and cool your food, ice or frost can form on the coils.

Then, the defrost system senses the temperature of the coils and heats them up to remove any remaining frost.

Unfortunately, if the defrost heater is defective, it can overheat, resulting in a burning smell.

To check if that’s the issue, you’ll need to:

  1. Unplug your freezer from the wall outlet or turn it off at the circuit breaker.
  2. Locate the defrost heater. It’s located beneath the evaporator coils, but please check your manual for further instructions.
  3. Remove the panel covering the heater and evaporator coils.
  4. Carefully disconnect the wires attached to the defrost heater.
  5. Set your multimeter to the Rx1 setting and place the probes on each of the heater’s terminals. If the multimeter reads zero or infinite, you’ll need to replace the heater.

#4 Check the Condenser Fan

As mentioned before, during the refrigeration cycle, coolant flows through the condenser coils, where it transforms into a liquid state.

Since the coils remove heat from the coolant until condensed, they dissipate heat on the back of your appliance.

Then, the condenser fan draws in air to cool the condenser coils and compressor to prevent heat buildup.

Unfortunately, if the condenser fan is not working, the coils and compressor can overheat and give off a burning smell.

To check the condenser fan, you’ll need to:

  1. Unplug your freezer from the wall outlet or turn it off at the circuit breaker.
  2. Move your freezer and locate the condenser fan. It is usually located behind the bottom rear compartment cover or below the appliance, but please check your manual.
  3. Remove the panel covering the condenser fan.
  4. Check if there are any obstructions that are keeping the blades from turning, or use a multimeter to see if the motor is receiving the indicated voltage.

If you notice that the condenser fan is not working, you’ll need to replace it.

#5 Clean the Condenser Coils

As you may already know, condenser coils dissipate heat. So, if they are very dusty, your freezer may give off a burning smell.

To avoid this issue from happening, you’ll need to clean them. Follow this quick guide to do it:

  1. Unplug your freezer from the wall outlet.
  2. Locate the condenser coils. They’re typically located across the bottom or on the back, but please check your manual.
  3. Access the condenser coils and use a flashlight to take a good look at them.
  4. Use a narrow vacuum attachment or soft brush to vacuum any dust.
  5. Wipe the protective front cover with a damp cloth and let dry.
  6. Move the freezer back into its place.

Try cleaning your freezer condenser coils at least once a year to prevent this issue from happening again.

#6 Check the Compressor

If you’ve tried the five fixes above, but your freezer is still giving off a burning smell, your compressor might be to blame.

The compressor is one of the most important components of your freezer, as it is responsible for increasing the pressure and temperature of the coolant. It acts as a pump that circulates the coolant through your freezer system.

Sadly, if the compressor malfunctions, your freezer will not only give off a burning smell, but it will stop working as intended.

When this happens, you’ll need to replace the compressor.

Bear in mind that replacement may cost up to $650 USD, so you might want to check if your freezer is still under warranty. If it’s not, you may want to consider buying a new one.

Finding Your Manual

As you probably noticed, you need to access the defrost heater, condenser fan, and coils to get rid of the issue.

However, the location of these components may vary depending on the freezer you own. This is why I recommend reading the manufacturer’s manual first.

If you can’t find it, don’t worry! You can search for it on Google.

To do it, you’ll need to know what the model number is. This number is often located on a label under the lid, on the inside wall, behind the lower kick plate, or on the sides or back of your freezer.

Once you’ve located the model number, please write it down and search for it on Google. For example, if you have a Frigidaire freezer, you’ll need to search for “Frigidaire [model number] Freezer Manual PDF”.

Then, download the manual.

How to Check if Your Freezer Is Under Warranty

If the compressor or any other mentioned component is causing the burning smell, you may need to replace it.

Some of these components are too expensive. This is why I recommend checking if your freezer is still under warranty.

If you purchased your freezer a year ago, it might still be under warranty. But, please verify this by checking the documents you received the day you bought the freezer.

However, if you don’t have these documents, you’ll need to search for them on the manufacturer’s website. You can also ask the retailer, as they normally save this information.


That about covers it!

Remember, if your freezer is new, it may give off a burning smell. However, if it’s not new or the smell doesn’t wear off, don’t forget to check the power cord, defrost heater, compressor fan, and coils.

Thank you so much for reading this guide. If you found it helpful, please check out our related articles below.

Good luck!