As one of the most complex major appliances in the home, it should not come as a surprise that refrigerators are also one of the noisiest. They hiss, gurgle, clunk, and hum, and it’s not always easy to know if the sounds are normal, or may indicate a problem. Since a broken refrigerator can cost hundreds in lost food and repairs, it is important to fix problems before they become major malfunctions. If your refrigerator is making noise, our handy guide to help you determine if your refrigerator’s noises are normal or cause for concern.
Refrigerator Makes Vibrating Noises
The most likely cause is a refrigerator that is not level with the ground. Even if a refrigerator has been in place, over time the leveling feet can loosen and cause the refrigerator to vibrate.
Fix: Adjust the leveling feet on the bottom of the refrigerator until the unit is parallel to the ground. Refer to the owner’s manual for assistance with locating and adjusting the leveling feet.
Refrigerator is Hissing, Gurgling, or Dripping
Hissing, gurgling, or dripping are common sounds to hear when the compressor is moving refrigerant through the refrigerator’s coils. These noises tend to be louder on older model refrigerators, but are normal regardless. You may also hear a liquid sound when ice melts in the refrigerator’s defrost cycle and drips into its drain pan.
These sounds are not cause for concern.
Refrigerator is Buzzing or Whirring
Some buzz and whir sounds are part of the normal operation of your refrigerator and should be expected. If the buzzing or whirring is disruptively loud, it may indicate a problem. Fortunately, the location of the noise can give clues as to the cause and its resolution.
Noise Inside Refrigerator
Self-defrosting refrigerators have a fan in the freezer that circulates air through the unit. A loud buzz from the fan may be caused by the fan blades striking ice or debris as they spin. Another potential cause is a worn or detached evaporator fan motor grommet. This part separates the motor from the mounting bracket, and if it is not functioning properly, excess noise is the result.
With either issue, the noise will increase in volume when the fan operates on high. A quick way to test if the noise is coming from the fan is to increase the temperature setting on the refrigerator. If the sound decreases with the demand for cold air, then the fan is the most likely culprit.
Fix: Disconnect the refrigerator from the power. Empty the freezer and clean inside the compartment. Following the directions from your owner’s manual, remove the cover from the fan. Clean around the fan blade to remove any collected gunk. If there is ice buildup, gently defrost the area following our Refrigerator Defrost Guide. Inspect the fan and motor grommet. If there are visible signs of wear, detachment, or warping for either part, they will need to be replaced.
If you need parts, It Is Fixed carries factory original parts for most major brands and can help you find what you need.
Warning: Ice buildup inside a frost-free refrigerator may indicate a larger problem. A faulty sensor, thermostat, evaporator could be the cause. If this is the case, the ice will reform, and the fan will continue to buzz. We recommend contacting a professional appliance repair service to diagnose and repair the issue to prevent additional damage. It Is Fixed technicians are on-call seven days a week if you need assistance.
If the noise is constant:
A constant buzz may indicate a problem with the evaporator fan motor. In addition to an annoying noise, if the evaporator fan motor is not functioning, your refrigerator may not be as cool as you want, and your ice may freeze slowly. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for a faulty motor, and it will need to be replaced.
Buzz or Whir from Back of Refrigerator
If the noise is emanating from the back of the refrigerator, the likely culprits are the condenser fan or compressor.
The condenser fan removes heat and evaporates water by circulating air through the condenser coil. If the fan has been damaged or clogged, it may make a loud noise.
Note: It is recommended to keep the rear of the refrigerator free of obstructions and to clean the compressor coils and condenser fan once every six months. Check the It Is Fixed Refrigerator Maintenance Guide for more instructions.
Fix: Disconnect the refrigerator from the power. Remove the panel that covers the fan per the instructions in the owner’s manual. Clean around the fan blade to remove any collected dust or debris. If there are visible signs of wear on the motor or fan, the parts will need to be replaced.
If the noise is coming from the compressor, we recommend contacting a professional appliance service like It Is Fixed. We can safely diagnose the issue and replace or repair the part as needed.
If you need parts, we carry factory original parts for most major brands and can help you find what you need.
Rattle from Bottom of Refrigerator
Refrigerators with an auto defrost feature will have a drain pan to collect melted water as it drips down from the cooling coil. Over time, the drain pan may become loose and rattle when the compressor is running.
Fix: Disconnect the refrigerator from the power. Remove the grill that covers the drain pain following the instructions in your owner’s manual. Remove, empty, and clean the drain pan with warm, soapy water. Replace the drain pan, and position it so that it is not touching the compressor. If the supports underneath the drain pain are bent or damaged, they may need to be replaced. Contact an appliance repair service for assistance.
Unfortunately, many times loud noises indicate a part that is malfunctioning in your refrigerator. If your refrigerator is making noise and the above solutions did not resolve your issue, you might need a more in-depth repair. It Is Fixed Appliance Repair technicians are available seven days a week to assist clients in Atlanta and the Metro Atlanta and surrounding areas. We offer same day* appointments, so contact us today for an appointment.