Why do refrigerators make noise?

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Why do refrigerators make noise? What kind of noises should a healthy refrigerator make? What kind of noises point to an acting-up refrigerator?

Now, as we conclude our series of articles on refrigerator noise troubleshooting(I shall share the links to the other posts later), we shall answer this and more questions.

You see, a healthy refrigerator is never fully silent – even if it is new.

In fact, new refrigerators might even be louder in the first week as they adjust to an operational environment(away from the vendor’s store).

In this guide, we will take you through why refrigerators make noise, what kinds of noises are good and those that are an indication that something could be wrong.

Let us get started.

Why do refrigerators make noise?

There are several types of noises that a refrigerator will make.

Some of these noises are good and indicate that the refrigerator is healthy.

On the other hand, other noises are not so good and they might indicate that something is up with your unit.

Quick Tip: A healthy refrigerator should not be loud enough to interfere with a normal conversation or be heard from the next room.

Indeed, most noises are so normal that some manufacturers typically provide manuals detailing the normal noises you might experience.

Below is a great example of such:

is it normal for a refrigerator to make noise

To better understand which noises are standard and which require you to inspect your unit, let us have a look at the sounds your refrigerator may make throughout its lifetime.


Why do refrigerators make noise? – what various noises mean

Humming/buzzing noises – are they good?

A gentle hum/buzz is pretty normal and you should hear it as your refrigerator runs.

Question: Does your model have an ice maker?

If yes, have you connected it to a working water line? Also, have you turned on the water?

You see, for models that have an ice maker, they tend to produce loud buzzing noises as the ice maker tries to draw in water.

Therefore, be sure that you have connected your unit to a water line.

Alternatively, you can eliminate the noise by turning off the ice maker using the Ice Off icon/button on your fridge.

Just to add, once you connect the refrigerator to an ice maker, you typically still hear the buzzing though at a much quieter volume.

This is the ice maker simply filling with water so don’t worry about it.

However, it can be louder if the water pressure is too high.

Usually, a water pressure of between 40 and 125 psi is recommended.

So be sure to test and confirm that your pressure is within this range.

More about humming/buzzing noise

Humming/buzzing noises can also be produced by the compressor as it compresses and pumps the refrigerant around the unit.

Usually, this humming is gentle and you should not be worried as it indicates a healthy refrigerator.

Nonetheless, if the humming becomes too loud, it could be that your compressor is overworking.

Perhaps you had left the door open for too long or have you put warm food inside the fridge?

Also, a loud humming sound could be an indication that the freezer fan motor is worn out.

As such, you will need to inspect it and see if it requires to be replaced.

For a detailed guide on how to eliminate the loud humming noise, be sure to read our other article: Why is my refrigerator making a loud humming noise?


Sizzling sound – good or bad?

You might hear these sounds several times in a day.

This sound is again pretty normal and you shouldn’t be lose sleep about it.

Let me explain:

Usually, refrigerators have an auto-defrost system that kicks in during the day.

And the defrost system uses a heating rod, located next to the evaporator coils to melt the ice.

Now, as this rod gets hot, the ice will turn to water and this is the cause of those sizzling sounds.


What’s that rattle?

For models that have an ice maker, it could simply be the water line at the back of your fridge rattling against the unit as it runs.

In this case, you will hear the rattling noise coming from the back and it is pretty normal.

All you need to do here is simply pull the fridge a few inches away from the wall and see if this fixes the issue.

Also, it could be due to a loose drip tray or worn-out bearings inside your ice room fan motor.

In some cases, it might be that the fridge that is not properly leveled or there is a jarred linear compressor.

Now, for a detailed guide on how to eliminate the rattling noise, read our other article: Refrigerator makes rattling noises? Try these tips.


Clicking noises

If the clicking noise occurs before the compressor starts (once per hour), this is once more normal- it is the start relay clicking on the compressor.

However, if it occurs more often (every few seconds or minutes), either the start relay or the defrost timer is faulty.

In some rare cases, it could signal problems with the air damper.

Consequently, you will need to inspect and test these parts.

We have written a comprehensive article about eliminating the clicking noise so you may want to read it:

Here it is: Refrigerator making clicking noise? Here is how to troubleshoot it


Knock… Knock… Who’s there? – knocking/banging/thumping noises

If the noise occurs once every several hours, then you have nothing to worry about – it could simply be the ice falling from the ice maker to an empty ice bucket.

That said, if it occurs more often than this, it could signal that something is wrong with your fridge.

To be clear, it could be a bent ice maker arm or there is a build-up of ice around the evaporator fan.

Also, it could signal that something is stuck in the condenser fan area.

In the worst-case scenario, it could be the case of a dislocated compressor piston.

See how to eliminate the knocking noise in our previous post: Why does my refrigerator make a knocking noise? Here are the possible reasons and recommended fixes


Why do refrigerators make noise? – more noises explained

What if it sounds like popping/snapping/crackling

If the popping occurs a couple of times during the day, then you have nothing to be concerned about…

It is, for the most part, caused by the thermal expansion and contraction of the refrigerator shell as the unit runs.

Additionally, it could be the sound of ice popping during the defrost cycle.

Nonetheless, if you note that the popping sound is occurring several times during the day, it could mean that your unit is defrosting more than it should.

Consequently, you will need to inspect if room air is entering the unit hence the cause of the frequent frosting.

For a comprehensive guide on how to go about eliminating the popping noise, check out our other article: Refrigerator making popping noise? Here is what to do.


Beeping/chiming sounds

More so on Samsung refrigerators, beeping sounds normally indicate that the temperature inside your fridge has gone above 59⁰F.

For one, you might have put hot food inside the fridge.

If this is the issue, be sure to remove the food and let it cool down before storing it.

Also, it could be that the doors are not fully closed.

So begin by confirming that nothing is obstructing the door- you probably have overstocked your refrigerator to an extent that your foodstuff is preventing the door from closing.

If not, the door seals might be dirty and will require to be cleaned.

Speaking of cleaning the seals, simply wipe them using a mild detergent and a moist cloth.

But if the beeping persists, it might be that the seals are either defective or the reed switch has gone bad.

For that reason, you will need to test them.

To know how test them, follow the steps in our other article: Refrigerator won’t stop beeping? Here is what to test.

Of course, to get rid of the constant beeping, be sure to replace the faulty part.


Are blowing/whistling/whooshing noises good?

This sound is normal too- it is actually often made by the circulation fans as they run.

The good news is you can minimize the noise- just re-adjust your refrigerator so that it has a two-inch clearance at the top, sides and back from the walls.

That helps since the extra space increases airflow, making the fridge cools faster(translating to reduced whistling sounds).


Hissing/gurgling/bubbling – should you be concerned?

These sounds are as well normal(on the whole) and you shouldn’t be worried if you hear them.

That’s right- it could be the refrigerant changing from liquid to gas and back again.

In addition, the refrigerant will produce similar sounds as it flows through the refrigerator.

Besides, your unit could be running a defrost cycle- This will result in the ice melting and as the water hits the heating rod, it can produce hissing sounds.

This is more so if the hissing occurs every one to four hours.


Why do refrigerators make noise? – more noises explained

Growling/scrapping – definitely not a good thing

Your fridge should not growl.

If yours is, it means that the area around the freezer fan is fully covered in ice.

What you need to know is that as the fan rotates, the blades tends to scrap against this ice hence the noise.

Now, in most cases, you will note that opening the door will eliminate the scrapping.

This is because refrigerators are designed to pause when the door is open (saves on energy).

Recommended solution

To stop the ice, you will likely need to defrost your unit.

To do that, you can just unplug it and let it sit overnight.

Alternatively, you can perform a manual defrost – it takes less than 30 minutes.

If you opt to take this route, be sure to read our other comprehensive article: How to manually defrost your refrigerator.

Quick Tip: If you are going the manual defrost route, be sure to also open the panel that covers the freezer room fan and thaw out all the ice around the fan.


Refrigerator makes squeaking sounds

This noise is a bit 50-50: It is, at times, normal and abnormal, on occasion so you will need to inspect your unit depending on the circumstances.

To set it straight, if the fridge is new, you need not panic- it is mainly because the door harness in new refrigerators mostly isn’t seated properly.

And opening and closing the doors daily will usually helps the harness sit properly.

That being so, simply give your fridge one week of use and all should, in all likelihood, be well.

Now, if this doesn’t eliminate the squeaking noise in your new fridge, then check the alternative solution below.

Alternative solution – is the fridge properly leveled?

Look under the fridge.

Are the leveling legs in full contact with the floor? If not, you just found your culprit.

Also, check the wheels – they should not be touching the floor at all.

So be sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions on leveling your refrigerator.

For starters, you can always find these instructions in the owner’s manual of your unit or from the manufacturer’s website.

For older models…..

For older models, it is frequently a case of friction in the door hinges.

So to eliminate the squeak, try to spray the door hinges with a food-grade silicone spray.

Quick Note: Manufacturers such as Samsung do not recommend spraying WD-40 because it will remove the grease in or around the hinges so steer clear of WD-40.


Why do refrigerators make noise – a look at dripping noises

You will mostly hear this noise originating from the bottom of your unit and it is again not unusual..


Because as the refrigerator defrosts, the water from the melted ice collects at the condenser pan before it evaporates.

So the dripping noise you are hearing is that of the water as it drips on this pan.

Unfortunately, since it is an expected sound, there is not much you can do about it.

On a more positive note, it is not that loud(unless there’s another problem) not to mention that it will only occur a few times in a day.


Why do refrigerators make noise – frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is it normal for a refrigerator to make noise?


All refrigerators (new and old) make some kind of noise as they run and the most common is a gentle hum.

Keep in mind that if your refrigerator does not hum gently as it runs, you should be worried as something could be up with it.


Why is my fridge making a weird noise?

It depends on the kind of noise it is making.

As mentioned, fridges make a variety of noises such as humming, knocking, bubbling, scraping, buzzing, banging and so on.

We have already seen that some of these noises are good and some aren’t.

Ultimately, to know what is causing the noise, you will need to first identify the noise and which part of your refrigerator it is coming from then try the tricks we have discussed throughout the article, based on the kind of noise.


Why do refrigerators make noise – conclusion

When your fridge starts making unfamiliar noises, you might be alarmed but don’t worry as most noises are pretty normal.

In fact, most manufacturers like Samsung and GE appliances publish their own lists of noises that a healthy refrigerator should be making.

For instance, a grinding noise is normal as it’s just the fridge grinding ice cubes to make crushed ice.

Similarly, a buzzing noise is normal too as it is just the water filling the ice maker.

Nonetheless, there are still other noises such as banging and loud clicking noises that will require your attention, as explained above.


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