Burning smell in a new refrigerator: is this normal?

Baldemar wrote:

Hi Samurai,

Three days ago, my 4 month old Frigidaire side-by-side started emitting a strange smell. A bit like a melting candle, with a strong plastic smell mixed in. Investigation found the odor strongest in the freezer department. It’s strong enough to easily ruin the ice in the ice maker, but it has not affected food items. Odor is still there today. Other than this, the fridge continues to function completely as normal.

Repairman was out today and claimed that he had the exact complaint on another similarly-aged Frigidaire yesterday. Complete teardown of that unit revealed no sources of the odor. He claims a call to Electrolux lead to advise that this is normal, and relates somehow to the fridge’s defrost cycles. Their only remedy is that I need to buy and use some type of wipes to clean everything inside to remove the smell, every time it occurs.

How does this sound to you? Have you run across anything similar in your appliance repair adventures?

Any info you can provide is appreciated.

Not heard of this but then this is a fairly new fridge. I’m thinking the odor is related to the defrost cycle because of the heater used then. The manufacturer may have used a different formulation of foam in the cabinet insulation that has the unintended consequence of off-gassing from the heat of the defrost heater, causing the odor. These vapors can contain carcinogens like formaldehydes and other noxious products called volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

I would call Electrolux and insist that they either correct the problem or replace the refrigerator. Living with exposure to these VOCs and even having stinky ice is simply unacceptable in a new refrigerator and is not an option. I actually would be very surprised if Electrolux takes this position; I think it’s more likely that the servicer was “ad libbing.” But let me know what they say and I’ll do an update to this post.

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Samurai Appliance Repair Man – http://fixitnow.com
The Samurai School of Appliantology – http://appliantology.org
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