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  1. Repair

Refrigerator burning smell

Common reasons your refrigerator burning smell

The most common reasons your refrigerator has a burning smell are a broken defrost heater, defective electronic control board or a worn compressor motor bearing.

  • 64%

    64% of the time it's the
    Defrost Heater

  • 13%

    13% of the time it's the
    Electronic Control Board

  • 7%

    7% of the time it's the
    Compressor Motor Bearing

  • 16%

    16% of the time it's the
    Something else

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    Common refrigerator repair parts you may need

    Replacing one of these refrigerator parts may fix your problem.

    Defrost Heater Replacement

    A malfunctioning refrigerator defrost heater can trigger the buildup of frost or ice on the evaporator coils, which reduces cooling efficiency. This occurs because the defrost heater fails to melt the frost during its designated cycles. As a result, both the refrigerator and freezer compartments experience elevated temperatures. Furthermore, a faulty defrost heater may overheat, causing the accumulated frost or ice to scorch and emit a burning odor. This burning smell becomes a significant concern. Moreover, the effectiveness of the defrost cycle diminishes, leading to persistent frost buildup and potentially more severe issues with the refrigerator's cooling system over time.


    Electronic Control Board Replacement

    A failed electronic control board can lead to a variety of failures in a refrigerator, including a lack of power or cooling and water leaking. This is because the board acts as the brain of the refrigerator, controlling operations such as regulating internal temperatures, running fans, managing defrost cycles, overseeing the icemaker, and controlling dispenser functions. If the electronic control board is defective, it can disrupt communication between many different components, including automatic doors if equipped. A malfunctioning board may cause a chattering or clicking noise from the refrigerator and may emit a burning odor. Due to the potential impact on multiple components, it is advisable to have a Sears Home Services professional conduct diagnostic tests on the board to confirm if replacement is necessary.

    Compressor Motor Bearing Replacement

    When a compressor motor bearing is worn, you may notice increased noise during operation, such as grinding or squealing sounds, an indication of friction and wear on the bearing. There may be a burning smell, and you also might hear an intermittent buzzing or humming noise, especially when the compressor starts or stops. Over time, a worn bearing will cause the compressor to seize. It's imperative to have a Sears Home Services professional address these symptoms promptly to prevent further damage to the compressor.

    What to expect when you experience a refrigerator burning smell issue

    What should you do with a burning smell problem?

    Fixing most burning smell problems usually involves replacing the defrost heater, electronic control board or compressor motor bearing. However, there are many potential causes, so an accurate diagnosis is key to fixing the problem.

    Follow these recommendations for a refrigerator burning smell

    When the refrigerator has a burning smell, there can be many reasons. To avoid replacing unnecessary parts we recommend having a Sears Home Services professional inspect the refrigerator and perform the needed repairs.

    What to be mindful of with a refrigerator burning smell diagnosis

    The process of identifying issues with modern appliances demands a thorough understanding and specialized training. Merely swapping out parts without employing accurate diagnostic techniques may not effectively resolve refrigerator issues. With significant advancements in appliance technology over the past decade, contemporary models now incorporate sophisticated electronic components that pose considerable challenges for troubleshooting. Consequently, do-it-yourself repairs on modern appliances have become increasingly complex

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    Jake is a great person.

    He did a great job, the problem is with the refrigerator.


    Nancy V, Meridian, ID

    Great job

    Robert did a great job and was kind and courteous. He cleaned up everything. I would highly recommend using him.


    Karen K, Mount Laurel, NJ

    Service appointment

    Joe was very professional and knowledgeable technician who quickly found and fixed the problem. I would recommend for service again


    Tim R, Schaghticoke, NY

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    Common refrigerator symptoms to look out for

    These refrigerator brands may also experience burning smell