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Why Your Refrigerator is Making Weird Noises

By Donald Grummett

Are the sounds or noises from your new refrigerator driving you mad? Does your new refrigerator sound loud, noisy, weird, unusual, crazy, funny, or about to break? Then read on.

If you hear an unusual sound try to isolate the source. This alone may lead you to the culprit. It may also lead you to the realization that it is simply an idiosyncrasy of modern refrigeration systems.

Modern refrigerators can make a wide variety of unusual sounds. This is a result of both the new ozone-friendly refrigerant being used, plus the complexity of some refrigerators.

The following are some sounds your refrigerator may be producing:

  • Ice Cracking: Probably ice being produced by the icemaker. Or the heating elements in the defrost system may be removing the ice buildup off the cooling coils.
Noisy Refrigerator
  • Ice Cracking 2: If you have an ice storage bucket you may be hearing the ice cracking or snapping as it expands. Primarily heard during the summer, and shortly after the freezer door has been opened. Warm air invaded the ice bucket and caused some of the ice cubes to crack or expand.
  • Water Running: Probably hearing the icemaker filling. Usually heard every four to six hours.
  • Water Bubbling: Some times described as the sound of a fountain. Primarily heard on refrigerators with a water dispenser. Maybe the water storage bladder inside the refrigerator section. Usually hidden behind a crisper or shelf. It pre-cools a small amount (one or two glasses) of water so the water dispensed is not warm. Could be caused by an air bubble within the bladder, or the sudden warming of the bladder itself. Sudden warming can cause the water to expand. Sometimes heard when standing with the refrigerator section door open for few minutes.
  • Water Dripping: The defrost system may be operating. If accompanied by hissing, you’re hearing water hitting the defrosting elements. Water dripping sound often heard as the result of water flowing off the cooling coils during defrost, and down the drain tubing. Sometimes accompanied by a gurgling noise. These sounds are normal.
  • Gurgling: Primarily the sound of refrigerant evaporating (boiling) as it enters the cooling coils. Usually heard just after the refrigerator starts or stops. This is a normal sound for modern refrigerators. In extreme cases may require the addition of a sound-adsorbing pad.
  • Whistling: Air moves around the interior of many refrigerators even when the refrigerator appears to be off. The air is being moved from a cold area to a warmer area. This eliminates the need to start the compressor simply because one area needs more cooling.
  • Whirring: Associated with the redistribution of cold air within the refrigerator. It is probably the door to an air chute being opened to allow air to pass through. Often described as a whirring or ticking noise, it is the sound produced by a small electrical motor used to open the damper.
  • Air Blowing: As described above the fan has been turned on even though the refrigerator compressor is still off. The air heard is the fan motor moving air to another area. Often heard within the freezer section. Air noises are also more prevalent because fan motors are quieter. Air noise accompanied by a fan running sounds normal. An air noise by itself sounds weird.

Once you have isolated the source of the sound you can then decide whether you require service. Generally, the answer is, no. Consumers simply want to be assured that the noise is normal. Or at least that it not about to break down.

Modern refrigerators have become very complex. With this complexity have come some unusual sounds. But in the end, you are the person who will be living with this refrigerator for the next ten years. It's your decision.

Copyright 2007 by Donald Grummett. All right reserved. Donald Grummett has been in the trade over 30 years as a technician, business owner, and technical trainer. Visit MG Services to learn more invaluable information about your appliances.

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Last Modified: 24 March 2020

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