The real color and smell of freon in the refrigerator

What does freon from the refrigerator smell like? What does its smell say? What color is the refrigerant in the refrigerator, why can it be yellow, green, purple? What can be judged by the smell and color of freon during a leak?

What color is the freon in the refrigerator

Modern refrigerants used in refrigerators are colorless. But only when they are perfectly pure, without impurities. During a leak, freon may take on a different color. Oil, soot, etc. are mixed with it. Depending on the color, you can tell what caused the contamination of the refrigerant.

YellowThe refrigerant is in good condition, but the oil has changed color. There are two reasons. Decomposition of oil additives due to long service life. Contamination of oil with soot or other substances.
GreenWater has entered the system, it oxidizes the copper pipes. The product of oxidation (copper oxides), copper salts, is mixed with refrigerant and compressor oil. It gives them a greenish tint.
Blue,VioletOil gives this shade to freon. It acquires it during the decay of additives. The oil can then be used, some brands even restore color. But a change in color earlier than after 1500 hours of continuous operation of the compressor is a sign of poor quality lubricant.
GreyThe compressor has been running at high load for a long time. Parts began to wear out, soot and soot appeared, which were mixed with the refrigerant.

In this table, we told the main reasons for the acquisition of color by freon. In some cases, it may not be stained, but in others it is vice versa. The changed color of the refrigerant signals to you: “It’s time to do diagnostics and prevention!”

Some craftsmen add an oil-soluble dye to the coolant. With it, you can make it easier to find freon leaks in the refrigerator. But high-quality dye is visible only under ultraviolet light. Cheap analogues can color the refrigerant in any color and are visible to the naked eye.

Does Freon smell?

The pure refrigerants used in refrigerators are odorless. But when leaking, freon can smell. Here are the reasons for the smell of freon in the refrigerator (we will analyze them in more detail below):

  1. An odorant has been added to the refrigerant;
  2. Compressor overheating due to refrigerant leakage;
  3. Freon contains unwanted impurities;
  4. The refrigerant has been changed incorrectly.

What does the refrigerant in the refrigerator smell like when it leaks?

Modern refrigerants do not have a pronounced odor. Until the 1970s and 1980s things were different. In refrigerators, substances with a clear, sometimes quite pungent odor were used. These were:

  • Ammonia (R717);
  • Chloromethane (R40);
  • Sulphur dioxide.

In 1930-1935, R12 refrigerant, difluorodichloromethane, was invented. It began to be used in refrigerators and car air conditioners. Since 1994, equipment for this freon has not been manufactured. But if you have an old refrigerator on the 12th freon, you will smell a slight sweet smell when it leaks.

But modern freons can also smell. In its pure form, they do not smell, but under certain conditions … We will discuss this below.

Odorant in refrigerants

Some manufacturers add an odorant to their refrigerants. They do this for safety so that the smell can alert you to a leak. If your refrigerator runs on R-290 (propane), R-600a (isobutane), or a mixture of both, the smell of gas indicates a leak. The manufacturer could add an odorant to freon, similar to what is added to gas.

An odorantaromafragrance or flavoring, is a chemical compound that has a smell or odor. For an individual chemical or class of chemical compounds to impart a smell or fragrance, it must be sufficiently volatile for transmission via the air to the olfactory system in the upper part of the nose.

Definition of odorant on Wikipedia

Finding out which refrigerant your refrigerator is running on is easy. Look in the main chamber for a paper sticker. It will indicate the type of freon and other technical characteristics. If not there, the label may be on the back wall. And definitely it is on the compressor.

Is the compressor on fire?

If the refrigerator smells of burning, burnt oil or plastic, be in trouble. There may be two reasons:

  1. The wiring overheats, which can lead to a short circuit;
  2. There is a freon leak and the compressor overheats due to too much work.

When the refrigerant leaks, the pressure in the system drops. To ensure normal cooling capacity, the compressor must run faster and turn on more often. In this case, the oil burns, the moving parts of the compressor wear out due to insufficient lubrication. The result is an odor.

Low-quality freon

The production of refrigerants is a complex process. Achieving 100% gas purity is almost impossible. Depending on the type of refrigerant, it can contain up to 50 impurities. In high-quality freon, their content (in total) does not exceed 0.5%. In poor quality, they can be up to 2.5%.

Many impurities can give off an odor when leaked. It is impossible to say which one, it depends on the type of substance, its percentage.

Screenshot of R134a freon conformity certificate

Replacement, refueling, refueling

If your refrigerator was repaired and after a while the smell appeared, it may be the master. When you need to fill or refuel freon, the right brand may not be at hand. Then some refrigerators use analogues and substitutes. However, they do not comply with the replacement conditions, for example:

  • Do not purge the system from oil residues;
  • Top up the refrigerant, but do not change completely;
  • Do not take into account the temperature glide of the mixture of old and new refrigerant;
  • Leave the old oil incompatible with the new coolant.

If there is a change in the type of freon, refueling of the old refrigerant or a full charge, the consequences may be different. Such work can cause breakage of copper pipes, damage to the compressor, expansion valve, etc. If the freon line breaks, the smell of the refrigerant can be anything.

In this article, we told you what color freon can be and how it smells from the refrigerator. It is difficult to describe all cases within the framework of one publication. We have tried to cover the most common causes of refrigerant color and odor. We hope the information was useful to you. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and colleagues!

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