When running, your refrigerator should make noise, but it should be a rather unobtrusive humming noise that doesn’t disrupt your other activities. When the refrigerator is making that humming, it is the sound of the cool air being produced and circulated. Ideally, you should only be able to hear your refrigerator running when in the same room as the appliance. In some newer models, you may even only hear it when the door is open because they have made them so quiet. However, if you have a disruptively noisy refrigerator or have a refrigerator that is making abnormal noises, you will want to investigate these causes.
The Refrigerator Isn’t Level
If you notice a clunking or louder than normal humming, it could be because your refrigerator is not level. The refrigerator comes with adjustable legs and sometimes they can fall out of adjustment. When this happens, the slight motion of the refrigerator running causes it to move. This causes excess noise. If you aren’t sure your refrigerator is out of level, as in you can’t see it moving, you can check it with a spirit level. If the level does prove it out of level, you simply need to adjust the legs until the level reads correctly.
An Item is Touching The Inside Refrigerator Walls
This is typically the most innocent reason for the noise and the most easily fixed. If you have solid items like glass jars inside your refrigerator, if they press up against the walls, the vibration caused by the refrigerator running will cause a clattering noise. If you aren’t sure this is the cause, there is little harm in rearranging your refrigerator just to check. It is a fast “repair” that can save you a call to an appliance repair technician. Be sure to move all solid items away from the walls. This can also include items in the door racks as well, but it is less likely.
Fan Blade Damage or Blockage
If you listen closely to your refrigerator, you should be able to pretty accurately deduce where the sound is coming from. If it is coming closest to the vent located between the freezer and the fresh food section, then it is most likely an issue with the fan or its motor. Unfortunately, the only way to confirm an issue is to check it physically. You will need to disassemble your refrigerator and inspect the fan. Sometimes you will find that the fan is bent or dirty. In these cases, you will need to replace the fan blade. However, if you see no physical problem with the blade, the noise is likely coming from the motor.
Your refrigerator is not just made up of one motor but uses many different motors. All of these motors, if they are going out, may not go out quietly. They can manifest a louder than normal humming or grinding noises. The true issue is that you need to discern which motor is malfunctioning. There is the condenser fan motor and the evaporator fan motor that both should be checked. You will want to check not only the motors but also the fan blades and the bearings. All of which can cause noise.
The Condensor Coil Tubes are Touching
Located on the back of your refrigerator, the condenser coil tubes are metal tubes that help circulate refrigerant to cool the refrigerator and dissipate heat. If you have not moved your refrigerator lately, this is likely not the cause of your noise. However, if you have moved the refrigerator, there is a chance that the condenser coils have become bent, but not damaged. If they are bent enough so that they now touch each other, then they will cause noise. It will be a distinctly metallic noise that will resonate from the backside of your refrigerator. You will want to thoroughly inspect the area before actually touching anything. If damaged, there is potential that your refrigerator could now be leaking refrigerant. It is also worth knowing that if your coils have been bent, it is not something you should fix yourself. Trying to bend them back into place is more likely to damage them. The coils as a whole will need to just be replaced. Unfortunately, this can be a fairly serious expense. If your appliance is over ten years old, it may be more cost-effective to replace it instead.
The damper is essentially a flap that opens and closes between your freezer and the fresh food compartment. The refrigerator doesn’t actually produce the cold air for the fresh food compartment. Instead, it pumps cold air into the freezer compartment and then the damper opens so that some of that cool air cools the fresh food section. As a moving part in your refrigerator, it can become worn or even dirty over time. This can cause a groaning, creaking, or squealing noise every time the damper opens and closes – which can be often. You can often multitask when checking items like the fans in your refrigerator as the damper is nearby as well. If you see that the damper or anything else is rusty, caked with grime, or just doesn’t look right, then it is likely you have found your culprit.
Water Inlet Valve
If your refrigerator is not noisy all the time but is very noisy at certain periods, then it is wise to look towards the water inlet. The noise is likely sporadic because the water inlet is not open all the time. If the noise happens when you draw water from your refrigerator or when the ice maker is filling, then this is the most likely suspect. If you have hard water, it is possible that there is a build-up of mineral deposits that are constricting water flow or otherwise just causing the noise. It is also possible that the water inlet valve is just going faulty and not doing so in a quiet way. Finally, if you have not changed your water filter in some time, this can also be responsible for noise when the water features of your appliance activate.