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Burning Smell Coming From My Refrigerator

fridge smell

If you notice a burning smell from your refrigerator, it’s something that you should take notice of immediately. With the number of electrical components working inside your refrigerator, it’s worth checking the back panel of your refrigerator for any sign of malfunctioning wires and components.

Keep reading to learn more about the potential causes and signs to look out for.


Common Causes Of a Burning Smell From The Fridge

Common causes of a burning smell from your refrigerator include a faulty plug or wall socket, a damaged refrigerator power cord, damaged wiring into the compressor, or a burnt-out compressor starter relay.

The first thing to do if you smell burning from your refrigerator is to turn off the power to the refrigerator. Depending on the cause of the problem, it may be a while before you can turn your refrigerator back on. So you may need to remove the contents of your refrigerator and keep food chilled elsewhere to prevent it from spoiling.

We’ve listed the most likely components to cause a burning smell and the reasons below.

Inspect The Wall Socket

Although not directly the fault of your refrigerator, a common cause of burning can be the wall socket your refrigerator is plugged into. This is often a result of an improperly wired or overloaded socket.

Dust Build Up

A few components get hot when your refrigerator is running, one of which is the compressor. Over time, it’s common for the dust to gather on the compressor, particularly if it’s not cleaned often, which can potentially singe causing a burning smell.

Fortunately, this problem is quickly resolved by wiping down the compressor and surrounding components with a dust cloth to remove any excess dust.

Inspect The Compressor Start Relay

To locate the compressor start relay, you’ll have to access the back of the refrigerator. Removing the back panel, you’ll find the compressor at the bottom of the appliance. Where there, you should be able to see the compressor start relay (see below).

Start Relay and Capacitor

If you see that the plastic around the start relay has melted, it’s a good sign that this was the cause of the burning smell. It’s common for a compressor start relay to burn out, which is usually a result of a power surge, or most commonly, the start relay has simply reached its life expectancy. Fortunately, they’re easy to replace yourself.


There are various problems which can occur to result in a burning smell from the refrigerator. First, check the wiring and wall socket where your refrigerator is plugged in for obvious signs of damage. Secondly, inspect the components surrounding your compressor, such as the compressor relay, for signs of melted plastic.

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