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Refrigerators lost power - odor problem


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I came home from a weeklong trip to discover my storage fridge unplugged. It didn't help that I'd left for the hottest week of the year.

A lot of food went out the back door in body bags, including defrosted veal stock equal to one of the slimmer nephews of the Gambino family.

Needless to say, the fridge did not smell good. But cleaning and disinfecting it didn't take long. The real problem is the room. The smell remains, and I've tried just about everything. I've scrubbed the floors, sprayed down the walls and all fabric and cardboard with both disinfectant and enzymatic odor killers. I found one remaining source of stink it the fridge's drip tray, but that's been emptied and bombed with bleach.

After 24 hours of all the windows gaping and a big fan blowing air through the space, the smell went away ... for a while. Now it's coming back.

The inside of the fridge is the only clean smelling part of the room. Any ideas, besides arson?

Notes from the underbelly

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if you cleaned everything it'll eventually go away. Get some of those air freshener things you can plug in, personally I hate them for their fake smells, but it's probably better than the smell of decay. Hopefully nothing soaked into the floor boards etc, I think those have then to be removed. Maybe you can call a crime scene clean up company and ask for advice? And sniff around the room, see if you can isolate where it comes from.

Or start smoking cigars for a while, that'll cover everything up!

Of course, the question remains, why was the fridge unplugged? What a bummer, sorry to hear that!


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Ugh, sorry to hear that...

What are enzymatic odor killers....is that like Febreeze?

Baking soda may not cut it for scrubbing or leaving open in the room, but might be worth a shot.

May also want to try activated charcoal as an odor absorber.....there was a semester I worked in a biology lab as a student, and the specimen fridge got unplugged over a hot weekend (though there was some level of climate control). Get who got to clean up the mess? Activated charcoal helped a bit in this case....

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The smell is probably coming from the fridge...it seeped into the insulation, it permeates the coils, it lingers in the very plastic itself. Yes, the inside is clean, but did you remove any of the plastic interior panels? You would be surprised how much liquid finds its way behind those panels. Take a close look at the interior construction of the appliance; the seams may not be as watertight as you think.

My Katrina'd fridge required major rehab, but it was salvaged....fast forward three years to Gustav, and the same fridge was almost done in by a single grape popsicle. The popsicle melted on the door's shelf, ran down and under the bottom panel of the freezer compartment. I had to dis-assemble the icemaker, take out the interior panels, and scrub like mad to remove the putrid, grapey ick. Today, every single thing in the freezer is in a rigid, watertight container--unless the whole damn appliance flips over, removing thawed stuff is as easy as tossing out the plastic tubs.

Activated charcoal in a perforated container, cheap coffee grounds, and a bowl of apple cider vinegar can take the edge off of rotten smells.

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I'm a pro at smells. There was the time that we emptied out my grandmother's house (she went to a nursing home), and it became apparent that the freezer had gone kaput long enough before that the 1/2 cow was liquid (it was August). We tossed the freezer because the smell never came out. Perhaps it would be different if you left the freezer open for quite some time.

Then there was the story of our 1990 Ford Bronco. Broke down 100 yards from the cabin. We pulled out the cooler, the clean clothes and the diapers (we had two babes back then). We did not pull out the trash (think fish guts and dirty diapers). Big mistake. The next morning, the sun hit the vehicle, and by midafternoon, well, let's just say, it was "unpleasant." We drove that vehicle for over a year, windows open (painful in a MN winter), and finally the "scent" evaporated.

I'm figuring that the plastic interior of a freezer holds smells much longer than fabric upholstery.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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might try google , I think there are ozone generators that commericial "smell removal" folks use,,, you close up the room and let it run for a while,

there are people who do that sort of stuff for a living, so you might have your insurance guy give you the name of a local adjuster and he may be able to either tell you, or give you someone who does it..


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