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Why Your Refrigerator is Making Noise — Reasons and Troubleshooting Tips


Why Your Refrigerator is Making Noise
Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar from Pexels

Few things are more annoying than a noisy refrigerator. No one wants their unit to go from producing no noise (or at most, a low hum that can be considered white noise) to constituting a nuisance with louder or strange sounds. When this happens, it’s only natural to ask why your refrigerator is making noise. This is really important because unusual noise may be potentially fatal for your refrigerator.

Now, bear in mind that some sounds are normal, such as the gurgling and hissing sounds that the unit makes as the freon (refrigerant) boils (for refrigerators that use freon) and the compressor oil passes through the coils. Your water dispenser and ice maker also have their normal sounds and these should be expected. In fact, you should be worried if you don’t hear these sounds.

This post focuses on the “not-so-subtle” and “something-is-definitely-wrong” kind of sounds, and we will be sharing the likely causes.

Read on!

Why Your Refrigerator is Making Noise – Types and Causes Of Refrigerator Noise

Your refrigerator unit can suddenly develop noise generation “abilities” due to a number of varying reasons.

Knowing them could save your peace of mind, refrigerator and help you save costs in the long run.

Noise from Below The Refrigerator

Loose Drain Pan

If the noise is coming from below your refrigerator, this could be due to the drain pan. The drain pan is located at the base of the refrigerator and receives the condensate. If the pan position has shifted or has become loose, it could start making rattling sounds.

To fix this, simply check under the refrigerator and re-position or re-attach it into place. The noise should stop.

Unlevelled Placement

You need to pay attention to the placement of your refrigerator. If it is not level, it could produce noise due to vibration.

Adjusting the refrigerator feet or leveling legs, shifting to a more level surface should solve the problem and stop the noise.

You could also place the refrigerator on a wooden leveling platform to balance it out.

Noise from Behind the Refrigerator

This could be from the evaporator fan or compressor. The defrost timer or condenser fan may also be the culprits.

Defrost timer

This is a preset motor-controlled clock that regulates the running of the compressor and keeps the cooling-defrosting rhythm on. A malfunction could produce noisy sounds and if this is confirmed, you most likely would have to replace the defrost timer altogether.

Evaporator fan

When the compressor is running, the evaporator fan pulls air over the evaporator coils.

If you notice a noise (like a squeal or chirp) towards the back of your refrigerator, especially accompanied by poor cooling function, then you should suspect that the evaporator fan motor is malfunctioning.

To confirm, remove the evaporator fan cover and inspect for signs of wear such as corrosion on the wires. The grommet which serves to reduce friction and vibration should also be inspected for wear or detachment. Also, try turning the shaft of the motor manually.

If you notice wear on the parts and/or there’s a lot of resistance while turning the motor, then this could be the cause of the noise and you need to replace the evaporator fan.

GE Refrigerator Evaporator Fan Motor WR60X26866, WR60X26033

Click here to check out evaporator fans like this GE Refrigerator Evaporator Fan on Amazon




Condenser fan

As for the condenser fan, the accumulation of dust and debris between the fan blades could hinder smooth movement and cause noise such as a knocking sound.

Solve this by dusting the fan carefully with the aid of a soft brush.

If the noise persists, replace the motor. It could be that it has failed due to overworking and/or overheating.


If you have checked the other possibilities and they are not the cause of the noise, then it is most likely that the compressor is the culprit.

Now, the compressor generates sound normally as it runs and by now, if you have been using your refrigerator for a while, you would have known the normal sound your compressor gives.

A deviation from the normal indicates a problem and you might have to replace the compressor part or your whole refrigerator unit completely. This is sure to take a chunk out of your pocket, so make sure that you have confirmed that this is the problem.

Noise From Inside The Refrigerator

Circulation fan

Your complaint might be that every time you open your refrigerator door(s), you get overwhelmed with a loud noise.

In this situation, the circulation fan is usually the problem, especially if it is an automatic defrost fridge.

This fan circulates air through the fridge and freezer compartments.

To know if it’s the actual problem, open the freezer compartment and push in the light switch. An increase in the noise level will confirm that the circulation fan is the source of the noise.

To solve this, the malfunctioning fan motor would have to be taken out and replaced.

Interior Lights

Another type of noise that could come from inside the fridge is a buzzing sound. This indicates that the interior lights are going out.

This can be fixed by replacing the lights either by yourself or by a professional.

Ice Maker

This applies to refrigerators that feature an ice maker. A clanging sound as ice drops into the tray is normal, but a stranger click sound could be indicative of a problem.

It could be that the valve connecting the waterline and water supply has become loose or completely disconnected. Tightening or reconnecting, as the case may be, will eliminate the noise.

Check out this video for tips on how to fix buzzing sounds coming from your refrigerator


Check out these other in-depth articles/reviews…


Other Sources

Refrigerator noises can be caused by a wide number of things. Apart from the causes highlighted above, other reasons why your refrigerator is making noise include:

– Rodents or insects getting stuck in moving parts like fans

– Placing your refrigerator near other appliances or materials that vibrate and generate noise.

– Items kept on top of the refrigerator

– Loose fridge doors and parts

Why Your Refrigerator is Making Noise – Best Practices

Always make sure that before you test or check your refrigerator, you unplug it. Do not attempt to test or troubleshoot while the unit is still running, especially for the moving parts.

When in doubt, have a professional technician check your refrigerator, detect what is really wrong, and guide you on the next steps to take.

A Quick Recap

Refrigerator noises are different from the normal sound produced by your refrigerator. Early detection can save your unit, your pocket, and protect your peace of mind.

Noises could come from behind, within, and below the fridge. Whatever the cause may be, always unplug the refrigerator before attempting a repair or replacement.

The video below from Repair Clinic summarizes the reasons and causes of refrigerator noises. And if you need tips that are specific to your fridge model, you can follow the directions at the end of the video or click here to get some expert advice.

Related FAQs: Why Your Refrigerator is Making Noise — Reasons and Troubleshooting Tips

Is it normal for a refrigerator to make noise?

As earlier stated in this article, some refrigerator sounds are normal, such as:

  • The chirping sound that sometimes comes from the opening and closing of the damper refrigerator door.
  • The sound that comes from a change in fan speed as the refrigerator responds to change in temperature due to door opening.
  • The clicking sound that comes from the defrost timer switching on and off.
  • The humming sound that’s heard when the icemaker fills with water.
  • The sizzling sound that comes from self-defrost models.
  • The gurgling sound that comes from the refrigerator when it’s running.

Therefore, it is normal for a refrigerator to make noise.

Why is my refrigerator not making noise?

A refrigerator will not make any noise if one of the components is wrong.

But if the unit is not making noise and you want to find out if something is wrong, do the following:

  1. Plug the unit properly into a wall outlet, and put on the refrigeration system.
  2. Check for any sounds of operation after one hour.
  3. If the compressor is quiet, the refrigerator might be running its automatic defrost cycle, depending on the model.
  4. Place a glass of water in the unit with a thermometer in the middle of the center shelf. After 6 hours, check if it matches the one you set. If it does, the unit is functioning correctly. If it doesn’t, consider calling customer support.

Is a loud refrigerator dangerous?

Of course, refrigerators make a lot of noise. However, not all noises are dangerous. Some help to indicate possible problems with the refrigerator or otherwise. Various sounds such as clicking, dripping, gurgling, humming, chirping, sizzling, etc. come from refrigerators at different points of normal operation.

Meanwhile, a loud refrigerator is dangerous if the unit continues humming after checking all the possible causes and nothing seems to be wrong.

At this point, you’ll need to check the instruction manual. If the sound persists, contact customer support.

Which refrigerator makes less noise?

Most times, the loud noise that comes from a refrigerator is as a result of the compressor. The evaporator fan located on the compressor can cause problems if it isn’t made well or inserted properly. Some brands manufacture noiseless kitchen appliances.

The bottom-freezer and side-by-side refrigerator models make them less noise according to the number of tests carried out on major brand-name appliances.

Meanwhile, consider the space you have in your kitchen or garage and the size that you need before buying a refrigerator.

What does a bad refrigerator compressor sound like?

If you hear a faint humming noise coming from your refrigerator, that’s the compressor. You might hear it at various points or you might not hear it at all. However, if you haven’t heard it in a while, you might have a bad compressor.

A bad refrigerator compressor doesn’t make any sound at all.

To know if a refrigerator compressor is bad, pull the unit from the wall, and wait for a few minutes to see if you’ll hear the sound of a motor running. If you do not, the compressor isn’t working.

Other times, you might hear a humming sound but the food in your refrigerator is warm. This is also a sign that your compressor isn’t working properly.

Can a noisy refrigerator cause a fire?

A noisy refrigerator can cause a fire.

That is, if the compressor of the refrigerator overheats, there is a possibility that it can cause a fire. Not only that, but a light that stays on all the time can also cause a fire.

Meanwhile, the following reasons can cause a refrigerator compressor to overheat:

  • A short in wires.
  • The fan has stopped working.
  • The compressor is really old.

Finally, it is important to place the refrigerator away from direct sunlight and away from appliances that produce heat. Also, ensure that the unit has space around it.