Most people understand that humming and buzzing sounds are par for the course if you want a functioning fridge. Unfortunately, some fridges eventually progress to a considerably more annoying kind of noise. So why do some refrigerators make that loud buzzing sound — and how can you fix it?
Well, to begin with, you’ll have to locate the exact origin of the sound. With that in mind, let’s talk about the potential causes of the droning sound you’re hearing.
Why Is My Refrigerator Making a Loud Buzzing Noise?
As we have previously stated, most refrigerators or even freezer hybrids naturally produce a range of sounds. Gurgling, hissing, even cracking and popping sounds are to be expected.
And of course, there is the ever-present whirring you’ll hear coming from the condenser and evaporator fans. But obviously, you’re more concerned about the buzzing noise your fridge is making. Luckily, there are several potential explanations for that kind of sound. It could be caused by:
- The compressor in the back of the fridge
- Dirty condenser coils or fan
- A dirty or faulty evaporator fan
- An unhooked water inlet valve
- The fridge vibrating against surrounding surfaces
- Items on or inside the fridge vibrating against each other
- Uneven flooring under the fridge
In most cases, the cause of the buzzing sound should be treatable. But before you find out how you can fix it, you should know more about these individual components.
When you start troubleshooting your noisy fridge, the first thing you’ll want to do is pinpoint the exact source of the sound. If the buzzing is coming from the back of the fridge — as it usually is — you’ll have to deal with the compressor.
The pump that pushes refrigerant through the condenser coils is usually located under those coils, at the back of the fridge. When the thermostat inside the fridge senses that the temperature is rising above the set limit, it prompts the compressor to initiate cooling. At that point, you may hear a low click as it starts working. The pump will then increase the pressure inside the warm part of the circuit, converting the liquid refrigerant into gas.
Inside the coils, the refrigerant cools down, causing its molecules to condense and liquefy. That’s where the gurgling and hissing sounds might come in. They’re a result of the refrigerant changing between those states.
Needless to say, your fridge depends on the compressor operating without a hitch. Still, the component is usually slightly buzzier when you first plug your fridge in. That initial sound should mellow out in a week or two. However, if the compressor becomes noisier unexpectedly — something may be impairing its ability to function.
Condenser or Evaporator Fan Motors
Further down along the cooling system, we have condenser and evaporator networks which consist of motors, fans, and coils. As you know, condenser coils are on the back of the fridge, so that’s where you’ll find the fan as well. Conversely, the evaporator fan will likely be accessible through the freezer compartment of your fridge.
Since both of these networks have mobile parts, there’s a chance that the buzzing noise you’re hearing is coming from them. Obstructions, dirt, and even misalignment could be making the fan blades scrape against surrounding surfaces. Alternatively, the motor that’s moving the fan could have a worn part. You can see how both of those scenarios would play out in this video.
But ultimately, if the noise is the result of dirty components or worn grommets, getting rid of it should be simple enough. You’ll either have to clean the fan or nudge it back into alignment — or replace the faulty parts.
Water Supply Issues
If your fridge has a water dispenser or even just an ice maker, it needs to have access to a water line. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to switch off those features to prevent weird buzzing sounds that might happen as the system tries to perform tasks that require water.
Even if you enabled the features and hooked up the water supply, you might hear strange sounds if the water inlet valve is damaged. In that case, they may be the result of a mineral deposit buildup inside the valve. Unfortunately, there’s no way to repair a restricted valve without causing mechanical issues. Instead, you’ll just have to replace it.
Other Miscellaneous Problems
Aside from the fridge components we’ve mentioned, buzzing sounds can also be caused by the positioning of the fridge itself. For example, if your fridge is vibrating against surrounding furniture, you can just move it away or separate the surfaces with anti-vibration mats.
Moreover, the buzzing sound may be the result of items in or on the fridge vibrating against each other. But if that’s the case, getting to the underlying issue should be easy enough.
Is Keeping a Buzzing Fridge Dangerous?
Now, before you start troubleshooting the noise, you may have one pressing question. Namely, could the buzzing sound be a prelude to something more dangerous?
In the majority of cases, these sounds are nothing to be concerned about. Even if they’re pretty loud, they’re not likely to cause a huge issue. At most, they might indicate that the compressor is on the brink. But if it gives out, it probably won’t go out with a bang — so you should be safe enough.
Still, you should take any precautions necessary to stay safe while you’re working on your fridge. If you end up having to deal with any electrical components, make sure to cut off the power supply beforehand.
How Do I Stop My Fridge From Buzzing? A Comprehensive Guide
At this point, you already know which parts are the most likely suspects in the case of your buzzing fridge. Even so, you might want to go over the troubleshooting process step by step to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
1. Take Everything Off the Fridge
First things first, you should get rid of any items you have on the fridge. Magnets and various containers could cause a slight buzzing sound due to the vibrations of the fridge. While you’re at it, you should put some space between the items inside the fridge. That should leave you with just the sound you’re worrying about.
2. Stabilize the Fridge
As you know, an uneven floor may very well be behind the noise. A fridge can’t work properly if it’s at an incline. To check for that, you can press your hand against the sides of your fridge or even lean against them ever so slightly. If the noise cuts off, you’ll know that you’ll have to adjust the level of the fridge.
Alternatively, you can also put a bubble level on top of the fridge to check for a slope. If you detect a misalignment, have someone tilt the fridge up so you can adjust its feet. Or, if your fridge doesn’t have adjustable feet, you can prop it up on folded-up papers or anti-vibration pads. Alternatively, you could move the appliance to another area of the kitchen.
Making sure your fridge is fully upright should prevent it from bumping against the surrounding surfaces too. On top of that, doing so should also stabilize various components of the fridge.
3. Check the Evaporator Fan Motor Inside the Fridge
If the buzzing sound is coming from inside the freezer component, it may have something to do with the evaporator fan. Remember, some whirring is normal and necessary for the fan to blow cold air through the compartment. However, if you hear buzzing, it’s safe to say that the fan is obstructed.
To deal with the issue, you should start by getting the freezer drawers out of the way. Make sure any of your perishables are safe in your neighbor’s freezer or at least a cooler. You’ll probably have to defrost the freezer to check on the fan. In fact, the ice might have even caused the noise.
Once you get to the evaporator fan, you’ll want to check if the fan blades can spin freely. You could wash them and check on the motor and the grommet between the two parts while you’re at it. All of these components should be spinning with minimal resistance. But if they’re not, you may have to order appropriate replacements based on the make and model of your fridge.
4. Examine the Water Supply
While you’re in the freezer compartment, you could also check on the ice maker — if your fridge has one. Remember, the water line has to be hooked up to the fridge if the ice maker is on. If it’s not, make sure to switch off the feature as shown in this video.
On the other hand, if the fridge is hooked up to the water supply and it’s still making those buzzing sounds, something might be wrong with the inlet valves. A mechanical failure on their end could greatly decrease the efficiency of your water dispenser and ice maker. Moreover, it may cause a hissing or buzzing sound as the water pushes through an obstruction.
Unfortunately, if there’s a mineral buildup in the valves, you won’t be able to get it out easily. Instead, you can just order new valves and install them in the back of the fridge.
5. Clean the Condenser Coils and the Compressor Fan
Before you even approach the compressor, you’ll want to unplug the fridge. Once you’ve done that, inch the appliance away from the wall to expose its back side. If the fridge has a smooth back, remove the panel that’s covering the condenser coils and compressor. However, these appliances usually have the coils exposed for ventilation purposes.
Still, that means that the components in the back are also prone to gathering dust. All that grime can seriously affect the functionality of the fridge and even lead to strange sounds. To remove it, you’ll want to vacuum the coils first, then use a dry brush and vacuum the fallen particles again. You can also use an old rag to remove the dust.
After you clean the coils, you’ll want to inspect the compressor at the bottom of the fridge too. Focus on looking for signs of damage on the condenser fan. Additionally, try to remove any restrictions from the vent.
If you suspect the compressor is malfunctioning, you should save yourself the trouble and call in a professional. They’d be able to fix any issues or recommend a replacement part if necessary.
Should You Try to Muffle the Buzzing Noise Your Refrigerator Is Making?
If you’ve ever had to deal with a noisy appliance before, you’re probably familiar with the concept of soundproof boxes. You may even consider building a wooden cabinet around your noisy fridge. That would certainly reduce the volume of sound you hear — especially if you padded the inside with acoustic foam or MLV.
Still, if you decide to go that route, you should make sure the appliance still has plenty of ventilation, especially in the back. Not doing so would cause overheating and seriously impair the function of the fridge. So when in doubt, try to address the cause of the noise rather than making cosmetic changes to muffle it.