How Do You Know If Your Refrigerator Is Leaking Freon?


Freon leaks are not so common in areas where regular kitchen operations happen. In fact, you have to have punctured the tank that secures the Freon in place or scraped off frost from the freezer section for a leak to happen. Then again, you can’t be too sure with a mere suspicion. So, how do you know if your refrigerator is leaking Freon?

Typically, if you notice an oily substance around your fridge or perceive a strong unusual chemical smell, then there’s a fair chance that the Freon tank has been punctured and some of the Freon has been leaking.

How Do You Know Your Refrigerator Is Leaking Freon? – Signs of Freon Leakage

There are certain signs that indicate a Freon leak in your refrigerator. Here they are:

Your foods are not getting cold

This is usually the first indication of a problem with your refrigerator. When the refrigerant – which is a major factor in how efficient your fridge should be – starts to leak, it will disturb the efficiency of the fridge and the fridge may no longer be as cold as it should be.

However, it is important to note that not every refrigerator malfunction is due to a leak. Some could be due to electrical or mechanical faults.

The refrigerator motor is running non-stop

A leak reduces the volume and action of the refrigerant. So, in order to make up for a leak and keep your foods cold, the motor runs for longer than before or just keeps running non-stop.

If you notice this in your refrigerator, then a leak may be going on in the background.

A sudden increase in energy demand

You may have noticed that the energy demands of your refrigerator have suddenly increased. Well, this could be due to a gas leak.

As we mentioned earlier, a leak may cause the motor to run continuously which will, in turn, cause a rise in energy demand.


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Formation of an oil puddle

Even though it is gas, Freon may produce oil as a by-product. So, an oil puddle may form on the floor around the point of the leak.

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So, one of the things you want to look out for is the possibility of an oil puddle formation.

Chemical smell

Freon is an odorless gas. But, if you start to perceive strange chemical smells around the house, it really won’t hurt to check for leaks.

Health issues

As stated earlier, health issues can arise due to a gas leak. So if you notice symptoms like breathing difficulties, tiredness, chemical burns on the skin, irritated eyes and skin, nausea, etc., it may be that there is a gas leak and you’ve been inhaling the gas without knowing.

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Why Your Refrigerator is Leaking Freon – Causes of Freon Leakage

A leak occurs when the tube which houses the gas is compromised, either through a scratch, crack, or cut.

There are a number of reasons your refrigerator tubing could get compromised, such as attempting self-repairs on your unit, which could accidentally damage the tubing and lead to a leak.

What’s more? If you scrape ice off the freezer compartment in your fridge, you may tamper puncture the tubing in the fridge unknowingly.

By the way, using a wrong pressure gauge on the tubing could also cause a leak.

What Happens When Your Refrigerator Is Leaking Freon? – Impact of Freon Leakage

When your refrigerator starts leaking Freon, it affects the cooling function. This could lead to food spoilage and wastage if the leakage is not detected early enough.

Apart from food wastage, Freon leakage can pose a health risk.

It is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas, which can deplete the oxygen level in a room. In the worst case, it can lead to asphyxiation in unsuspecting people.

It can also cause irrational behavior in some people because it starves the brain of oxygen.

However, Freon is not a carcinogen and doesn’t accumulate in the body, but can lead to some health issues, especially after exposure to large amounts.

Environmentally, research has shown that Freon can deplete the ozone layer, which is why more people are using greener and cleaner alternatives as refrigerants. A leak releases the gas into the atmosphere and causes harm to the environment.

A leak could also lead to fire accidents. This is high risk because a good number of refrigerator owners keep their refrigerators in the kitchen alongside other appliances.

If the level of leaked gas is high, turning on a stove or lighter could lead to a fire.


Effective Ways to Know If Your Refrigerator Is Leaking Freon

  1. Leak Kit: You can purchase a leak detection kit at a shop or order online. This kit is able to detect the presence of halogen gases, among which Freon belongs.
  1. Home-made Bubble Test: Before you go ahead and invest in a kit, you may want to attempt DIY gas detection first.
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This bubble test is quite simple, straightforward, and uses the items you already have at home. All you need is a spray bottle, some soap, and good ole’ water.

Mix the soap and water together and fill the spray bottle with the soapy water. Then spray along your refrigerator tubing while you look out for bubbles.

The Freon gas will produce bubbles in areas where there is a leakage.

So, if this happens you can safely conclude that the tubing has been compromised and that some Freon has been escaping.

  1. Professional Check: Call a professional to run on a check on your unit. This is always the best option, as professionals have the skills and experience to ascertain what is wrong and can carry out repairs where necessary.


You can also check out this video below for details on how to detect a Freon leak.


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Best Practice

It is always advisable to invest in quality professional help for regular servicing of your refrigerators.

If you have any repairs to do, try not to attempt them on your own, as you may unknowingly tamper with other refrigerator parts which may lead to further damage.

Once confirmed, you would need professional help to refill the gas, as it is dangerous to attempt on your own. If you have to replace the refrigerator, we recommend that you opt for a newer model that uses a cleaner refrigerant.

Bottom Line

A leak in Freon gas (which is caused by compromised tubing) can lead to refrigerator malfunction, food spoilage and wastage, and health issues.

A Freon leak can be detected using a detection kit, a DIY bubble test, and a professional checkup on your refrigerator.

What if you are doubly sure that the reason your fridge isn’t working is not related to a Freon leak? Well, that’s very possible because not all refrigerator issues are linked to Freon leaks.

Nonetheless, you can learn more about what you should do if your refrigerator stops working in this article. Check it out!

Related FAQs — How Do You Know if Your Refrigerator is Leaking Freon?

Is a Freon Leak from My Refrigerator Dangerous?

Freon leak from your refrigerator is not dangerous under normal circumstances. In many cases, you might not notice the leak until your refrigerator doesn’t cool well again.

However, a Freon leak from your refrigerator becomes dangerous when it leaks into an open flame. If this happens, it will create a deadly chemical that is harmful to the environment. So, when you hear your refrigerator running continuously and the fridge is not getting cold even after you’ve left it plugged in for hours, check properly to ensure that there’s no freon leakage.

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Can I Fix a Freon Leak in My Refrigerator?

You can’t fix a freon leak in your refrigerator on your own. While some people have made an attempt to fix it themselves, it is better to have a professional fix a freon leakage because of the safety risks involved.

Firstly, it is not likely that you have or know all the right equipment to carry out the repairs on your refrigerator. Fixing a refrigerant leak on your refrigerator is very different from fixing a leak in your car. You cannot simply put a leak sealer to get it back in good shape.

You will need to have the right equipment, fix the leak, perform a pressure test on the system, and then recharge it with refrigerant. In fact, it may cost you over $2,000 if you don’t have the equipment because Freon is no longer in use. And in some cases, a more economical option for you may be to get a new and modern refrigerator altogether.

How Much Does it Take to Fix a Freon Leak in my Refrigerator?

Fixing a Freon leak in your refrigerator may cost you between $200 to $2000 depending on who is fixing your refrigerator. If you’re trying to do it yourself, it will cost you more than it will cost you to hire a professional to fix it.

Meanwhile, any refrigerator that runs on Freon is a very old refrigerator and should ideally be replaced. In fact, Freon refrigerators are no longer being manufactured, because Freon damages the ozone layer.

If your refrigerator uses Freon and you discover that the refrigerant is leaking, it is economical to get a new refrigerator with better features, warranty, and longer lifespan.

What Does a Freon Leak Smell Like?

Most times, Freon is odorless, but sometimes, it has a smell between aromatic and chloroform.

Perceiving the smell of Freon is one of the ways to know if a refrigerant leak is why your refrigerator is not functioning well.

When you smell something you suspect to be Freon, call a specialist who will use a Freon leak detector to determine if it is truly a leak. Then they can carry out the necessary actions to stop the leak.

Can Leaking Freon Make Me Sick?

Although it might take some time for you to detect a Freon leak, it is possible for leaking Freon to make you sick. So, because refrigerant poisoning may lead to something more serious, it is important to take quick action if you notice strange symptoms.

The symptoms of Freon poisoning include breathing difficulty, headaches, a buildup of fluid in your lungs, mental fatigue, irregular heartbeat, unconsciousness for long periods, seizures, confusion, eye irritation, nausea and vomiting, and skin and eye infections.

If you start experiencing some of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately to get the situation under control.

Of course, call a technician to fix the leak in the refrigerator too.

When Did they Stop Using Freon in Refrigerators?

Refrigerators were banned from using Freon in 1994 because it damaged the ozone layer. Other less harmful refrigerants like tetrafluoroethane (R-134a) and R-12 have been used since in refrigerators then.

However, some people still have refrigerators that work on Freon to date. Freon was still being produced and used as a refrigerant in air conditioning systems after the 1994 ban, but the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, mandated that the production of Freon ended in January 2020 since most air conditioning systems now use better refrigerants like Puron and R410A.


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