No one wants to hear strange noises coming from any of their appliances, let alone their refrigerator. Noises that shouldn’t be there generally indicate there is an issue that needs to be addressed, so it is best to take the time to investigate rather than letting it be and hoping it will go away.
The first thing you will want to do is to discover where the noise is coming from. Is it the back, bottom, or inside of the refrigerator? This will help you narrow down the potential issue and mean you will have to troubleshoot less.
Where are the noises coming from?
A noise coming from the bottom of your refrigerator
If a strange noise like a loud rattling is coming from underneath the refrigerator, then the drain pan is likely to lose.
A noise coming from the back of your refrigerator
Any loud noises that sound like they are coming from the back of the appliance may be an indication of an issue with the defrost timer, condenser fan, or compressor.
A noise coming from the inside of your refrigerator
If the noise is a squeak or a rattle and it seems to be coming from the inside of your appliance, then the most common culprit is the evaporator fan, which circulates air through the freezer and fridge. The circulation fan in most refrigerators is located right behind an access panel on the back.
What does the noise mean?
If the noise is like squealing or a bird chirping in your fridge
No one wants to hear noises that sound like there is a bird or small critter trapped inside their appliances. Thankfully, there is a greater chance that you have a malfunctioning evaporator fan than any critters in your fridge. If there is an issue with your evaporator fan, your refrigerator won’t be able to cool down.
If the noise is like buzzing or humming in your fridge
Humming or buzzing that seems out of the ordinary may be an indication of an electrical issue. In cases like this, it means your light is probably close to blowing or going out. Thankfully, on some units, you can replace the lights yourself, although you will need a repair technician for others.
If noise is like a knocking
A knocking sound is likely to be a sign that the condenser is failing or that the fan motor isn’t working properly. This is likely due to the fan being too hot or running too hard.
If a clicking noise is coming from your ice maker
A click-click-click coming from your ice maker is a common indication that the water line valve is loose or not connected correctly to the water supply. This can be caused by something like a recently moved fridge or a broken connection that has prevented the ice maker from working.
Fridge noises not to worry about
Keep in mind that your fridge is an appliance and certain sounds are necessary. That means not every noise you hear is a sign that something is wrong. For example, gurgling is Freon boiling in the evaporator, which is how it cools the fridge and is completely normal.
Remember that an older refrigerator will make more noise than a newer unit. A typical refrigerator can last up to 20 years if well maintained.
What you can do about the noises
Check and secure the drain pan
This is the most common and easiest fix when your fridge is making strange noises from the bottom. A loose drain pan will cause the refrigerator to make loud noises. All you need to do to fix it is secure the pan back in place with the existing hardware.
Listen for a faulty defrost timer
If the strange sound you are hearing involves a ticking or scraping sound, the defrost timer may be faulty. You should start by checking for frost buildup in both the refrigerator and freezer compartments, as it can be a sign of a failing timer.
Next, listen carefully. If the refrigerator is only making loud noise once or twice per day, for about an hour, then it helps confirm that the defrost timer should be replaced. You will need to ask a refrigerator repair professional to investigate further.
Clean and inspect the condenser fan
Nowadays, not all refrigerators have condenser fans, but if yours does, it’s located behind an access panel on the back of the fridge. You will need to unplug your fridge from its power source and inspect the condenser fan for any damage, including the rubber grommets.
While you are back there, use a soft brush to clean dirt and debris that could be obstructing the condenser motor fan.
Check the evaporator fan
An easy way to check if the evaporator fan is causing the loud noises is simply to push the light switch in the freezer. The noise will get louder if the fan is the culprit. If so, you should inspect the fan to see the extent of the damage.
You will find the evaporator fan located at the back of the freezer section inside the refrigerator. It can be accessed behind a panel with screws or clips holding it in place. Ensure your fridge is unplugged before you begin any work.
Once it is disconnected from its power source, spin the fan blade with your hand to see if it’s operating smoothly. You should also inspect the wires, grommets, and other components for signs of wear and tear or damage. If the fan blade is not moving freely or there are other signs of damage or wear and tear, it may be time to replace the fan and surrounding parts.