Sometimes, the fridge creates so much noise; it seems like a truck coming down the street. When it became enough of a nuisance, I got determined to learn how to stop the refrigerator from making rattling, buzzing, and gurgling noise.
In my research, I found out that there are many different parts of the fridge that are making noise. Each part that helps to add to the overall noise has a different way to approach trying to quiet it. In this article, we will go over which parts of your fridge are the noisiest, and what we can do to reduce or eliminate the offending sounds.
What Refrigerator Parts Can Make Noise
When the temperature inside of your fridge starts to rise, a sensor tells the compressor motor to come on. The compressor cools the fridge by pumping refrigerant through the system.
If your compressor has a problem, you will likely need a professional to take a look.
Note: For more information on silencing a refrigerator compressor, please see our article How to Quiet a Noisy Refrigerator Compressor.
Condenser Fan Motor
If you have a newer model fridge, it likely has a condenser fan to cool the condenser coil. Often, if your fridge seems excessively loud, the condenser fan motor is the culprit.
The condenser fan, compressor, and evaporator motor run simultaneously. This can make it difficult to single one out for a diagnosis.
Give the condenser fan and motor a proper inspection. If you see wear a lot of wear or damage, then you may need to replace it. Otherwise, give them a good cleaning and make sure no dirt or anything is clogging the works.
Evaporator Fan Motor
If your fridge seems to be getting too warm or your ice doesn’t want to freeze as quickly as it used to, it may be your evaporator fan motor. This part may make a loud noise that seems to originate from the freezer.
The evaporator fan forces air over the evaporator coils. Since it runs with the condenser fan and compressor, it can be hard to pinpoint as a noisemaker.
Under the evaporator fan cover, see if the motor is iced over. This can cause problems and could help you solve your noise complaint by allowing it to melt.
Evaporator Fan Motor Grommet
The evaporator fan is decoupled from the rest of the fridge to help reduce vibrations. This is done with a rubber evaporator fan motor grommet. It can be found under the evaporator fan cover.
If this grommet is worn out or missing, it could be causing lots of noise for you. Replace the grommet to see if this helps alleviate your noise problems.
Water / Ice Dispenser
The ice dispenser in the freezer fills with water, allowing it to freeze into ice cubes. Once it’s frozen, the whole tray is dumped into the ice holder.
The bottom is then snapped closed. The tray will once again refill with water to repeat the process.
This will continue until the ice compartment is full, or you switch off the ice maker.
Condensation forms inside of your fridge and freezer, collecting on the walls and running down to the bottom.
This collected water slowly drips out to the back of the fridge. Here it is collected in the drip tray to evaporate.
This process slowly occurs constantly while your fridge is running.
Common Refrigerator Sounds and Noises
Refrigerators are expected to run continuously 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for decades straight. They are robust machines, but since they’re always running, they’re almost always making some noise. Many different parts on the fridge are responsible for this noise, and in this section, we will take a look at them and some cures for each.
Vibration – If your fridge feet are not level it causes vibration.
Rattling – Water lines on the back of the fridge can be rattling against the back panel and each other. Loose items left on top of your refrigerator can also be responsible for rattling noises.
Buzzing – You should hear buzzing for a few seconds immediately after using the door water dispenser. The icemaker will also buzz when filling with water. If you hear it too regularly, check that the water is reaching the icemaker.
Gurgling – During the defrost cycle when the ice melts, the water may gurgle as it fills the tube to head to the drain pan.
Humming – Humming may occur while water is filling the icemaker.
Hissing – Self defrost models of the refrigerator may hiss when water drips onto the defrost heater below. In all fridges, it may also be caused by refrigerant and/or oil flowing through the compressor.
Dripping – When condensation is collected and transported to the back of the fridge, you may hear it dripping into the drip pan.
Banging– Loose items left on top of the fridge can cause banging if they fall or knock into each other from vibration.
Sizzling – During the defrost cycle, if water drips directly onto the heater it will sizzle as the water evaporates.
Clatter – When ice cubes finish freezing and are dumped into the full ice tray you will hear them clatter.
Grinding – As ice is being dumped from the maker mold into the ice tray, it can make a grinding sound as it’s forced out during release.
Water running – You will hear the sound of water running when the ice tray is filling up with water to freeze new ice cubes.
Clicking – You may hear clicking when the compressor tries to restart itself after losing power.
Banging – When the water valve opens to supply water to your fridge, it can make a loud banging noise called a water hammer. This happens because houses have high water pressure.
Knocking – If a fan becomes clogged and obstructed, it may start to make a knocking sound as it spins.
Repetitive Clicking Noise – The evaporator valve will repeatedly click while regulating the cooling operation of the fridge and freezer.
Pulsating – During normal operation, fans and the compressor will make whirring and pulsating sounds as they adjust for the best performance.
Whirring – A typical sound to hear while the compressor or fans adjust for best performance.
Popping – As the temperature fluctuates inside and outside of the fridge, the walls of the fridge expand and contract. This can create many sounds like popping.
Creaking – Creaking can be the result of your refrigerator walls naturally expanding and contracting in reaction to temperature changes inside and outside the fridge.
Cracking – When being forced from their mold in the icemaker they may break and snap making loud cracking noises.
Water Dribbling – As oil and refrigerant are pumped through the compressor, it can often create a sound like water dribbling.
Compressor Running Too Long – Modern fridges are designed for the compressors to run low for long periods to increase efficiency.
How to Reduce Refrigerator Noise
1. Find the Cause of the Fridge Noise
The first step to fixing any noise problem is, of course, discovering the source of the noise. Listen all around your fridge for any of the sounds that were listed above.
Listen on every side and behind the fridge. Open it up and listen inside the refrigerator and the freezer to determine if the sound is coming from the inside or outside of the fridge.
Try unplugging the fridge and see if the sound persists. Move your fridge and see if it continues.
Remove everything from the top of your fridge if necessary. Empty the refrigerator and see if your sound continues.
Once you determine where the sound is coming from, you can take action to fix it.
2. Make Sure Everything is Clean
Your fridge has a lot of mechanical and moving parts. Since the fridge doesn’t get moved often to clean behind, it can also be very dusty and dirty back there!
All that dirt and grime can clog moving parts, create friction, and reduce efficiency, which makes your fridge work harder! All of this adds up to more noise.
Start with a good overall cleaning and wipe down. Remove all the built-up dust and dirt from around the fridge, particularly on or around moving parts.
Check the fans and condenser to make sure they all move smoothly and without any friction or grinding. The fans can be cleaned, and if necessary, even lubricated to ensure they continue to function smoothly and noise-free.
Clean off the compressor and the evaporator fan. While doing so, check for wear on the rubber grommet under the evaporator fan motor. Also, check for any damage or wear on any of the moving parts while cleaning.
The evaporator coils in the back will need to be cleaned down to make sure your fridge runs efficiently. If it isn’t efficient, your fridge has to work harder and will create more noise.
3. Check For Loose Parts
Since your fridge is always running, anything loose on or against your fridge can create rattling and vibration. Make sure nothing is loose, and everything is properly secured.
Water lines can rattle against the back of the fridge creating noise, so tape them down if necessary.
The drain pan can be loose in its holding place. Make sure it is securely held in place to eliminate the possibility of noise from the drain pan.
Loose items inside your fridge or freezer can also be the culprit, so be sure to check around inside as well as outside.
4. Build a Soundproof Enclosure for Your Fridge
One of the most effective ways overall to quiet your fridge is to build a soundproof enclosure to surround it. This will trap the sound waves, so they have a much harder time escaping into the rest of your home.
If you opt to go with this method of noise reduction for your fridge, there are several ways to go about it.
Place the Fridge Inside of an Alcove
Many kitchens have an alcove built in these days where the fridge might fit nicely. If your kitchen doesn’t have an alcove currently, you can build one in!
Simply placing your refrigerator inside of the alcove will help to reduce the noise substantially. If you want to quiet the noise down, even more, you can also add soundproofing to the inside of the alcove.
When adding soundproofing in the alcove, be sure to leave space for your fridge to get ventilation. To keep cool inside, your fridge needs to pull air across the evaporator coils in the back of the fridge. If you don’t allow airflow, then you may notice your refrigerator getting too warm inside.
If you run your fridge long enough without proper ventilation, it may shorten the life of your appliance by making it work much harder and less efficiently. 1-2 inches of space around the sides of your fridge should suffice.
For soundproofing the alcove, you can use studio foam, insulation, or mass loaded vinyl. To achieve maximum sound reduction, you could use MLV with foam or insulation on top.
Create a Soundproof Cabinet for Your Fridge
We’ve talked about building soundproof enclosures before, such as these soundproof enclosures for your air compressor.
The same concept could work to quiet your fridge down. Just like with the air compressor enclosure, ventilation will be a key aspect of your soundproof cabinet so that you don’t break down your fridge by making it work too hard.
The benefits of building this soundproof cabinet are that it will be the exact dimensions to fit your fridge. And, since it will be almost completely enclosed, it should be the most effective method of eliminating the excess noise your fridge is making.
You can use MDF, nice plywood, or 2x3s and drywall to create your soundproof cabinet.
Make sure to create ventilation in the back where your fridge’s coils need to get airflow.
Once the main cabinet is constructed, you can add soundproofing materials inside to cut out the noise. There are many options available for soundproofing, so check out this article for more information.
5. Level the Legs
If the legs underneath your refrigerator aren’t level, it can cause significant vibration and lead to a whole host of problems.
If you push on your fridge from any direction, it should be firm and not rock or move. If it does move or rock when you push it the legs are probably not level.
You can get down to floor level and look to see if you can see one of the feet lifted off of the floor.
You can raise or lower the legs of your fridge by turning them. You may be able to manage this with your fingers, but if not you’ll need to get some pliers.
6. Fill the Fridge with Items
By filling your fridge and freezer up with items, you can help reduce noise in a few ways.
First, you are creating extra mass inside of the fridge. This mass can help absorb sound and vibrations, which stop them from being transmitted to the outside of the refrigerator.
Next, having items inside of the fridge helps to weigh it down. A lighter fridge is much more prone to moving from vibration.
There are several motors onboard your refrigerator; compressor motor, evaporator fan motor, condenser fan motor. All of these can vibrate your fridge when they run. This is made even worse because they all run at the same time, multiplying the noise level.
By weighing down the fridge, you make it harder for the vibrations from these motors to shake the whole fridge. This can reduce the overall noise your fridge is making in a major way.
7. Move the Fridge
Depending on where your fridge is currently located, moving its placement may help to alleviate some of your excess noise problems.
If you hear the fridge outside of the kitchen, try moving it to the far end of the kitchen. This might help stop the sound from reaching into the rest of the house.
If your fridge is not currently in the kitchen, you could move it there and see if that helps.
Finally, it may be a bit inconvenient, but if you want to stop hearing the noise from your fridge, you could move it to another room, or even the garage.
8. Soundproof Inside of Fridge
If when you open your refrigerator, it seems like the majority of the noise is coming from inside, then you may consider soundproofing inside of your fridge.
This may not be the most sanitary of options. Besides that, this is also going to steal some of your inner fridge space, so maybe save this option as a last resort.
Most of the noise from your refrigerator is likely to come from outside on the back. Be sure that your noise is originating inside the fridge before you spend time on money on soundproofing in there.
If you do decide to go this route, you might want to use mass loaded vinyl or MLV. This is what is used in professional soundproofing applications such as recording studios and office buildings.
MLV comes in a thin, but very dense and heavy, rolled sheet. You can cut it to fit the exact shape of your fridge.
You may want to start by creating a cardboard cutout of your fridge to use as a stencil for cutting your MLV. The MLV is very heavy, but also flexible, making it quite difficult to work with. The cardboard will be easier for getting the right shape.
You can apply the MLV to your fridge interior using hot glue or spray adhesive. Be sure to thoroughly clean down all surfaces before attempting to install the MLV.
As an alternative to the MLV that’s much easier to install, you may consider a soundproofing spray. If you want more information on soundproofing sprays, check out my article here.
9. Decouple the Fridge From the Floor
Vibration and noise are most easily conducted through touching surfaces. The floor is your fridge’s point of contact, so the vibrations from your fridge are transferred through the floor. By decoupling the fridge from the floor, you can stop the transmission of vibration and sound from through the floor.
One way to achieve this is by using a thick rubber mat. The rubber will absorb the vibrations and reduce their energy before they reach the floor.
Instead of a mat, you could opt for rubber risers or anti-vibration feet that will lift the fridge from the floor as well.
10. Add Soundproofing Around the Fridge
By adding soundproofing materials to the surfaces around your fridge, you can absorb a lot of the sound waves and stop them from emanating into the rest of the house.
The back of your fridge is where most of the noise will likely be coming from since that is where the fans and motors tend to be located. Due to this, the most effective area to add soundproofing products will be behind the fridge. Adding soundproofing here will help to nullify the sounds of the motors and fans.
If your fridge is in a corner, be sure to also cover the adjacent wall with soundproofing as well. If your fridge is in a surround, then you can cover all the interior walls with soundproofing for maximum noise reduction. Be sure to leave some space for ventilation, though.
There are many different soundproofing materials available that you could use for this.
11. Use Soundproof Room Dividers
There are soundproofing solutions available for your fridge that look great and don’t require moving your fridge or building a permanent unit into your kitchen. Soundproof room dividers can be much easier to install option that doesn’t permanently change your home.
Going this route, you could opt for soundproof partitions. These are solid soundproof panels that you could use to wall off your refrigerator. These look very modern and are quite effective at reducing noise.
Alternatively, you could choose to go with soundproof room divider curtains. These are even easier to install than the partitions. These come in different color options so you can pick a scheme that fits with your kitchen decor.
Soundproof curtains will certainly help reduce the amount of sound you hear from your fridge, though maybe not as effectively as the solid partitions.
12. Build Shelves Around the Fridge
One of the pillars of soundproofing is mass. By adding more mass, we can reduce sound transmission. That’s the idea behind building shelves around your refrigerator.
You’ll essentially be enclosing your refrigerator on all sides by pantry style cabinets. You’ll need to be careful to leave plenty of room around the fridge for ventilation.
We will be adding mass around the fridge in the form of the wood for the shelving units that enclose the fridge. We also add mass by filling these shelving units up with items that will also help absorb sound. Plus, having this extra storage space is a great bonus!
When filling this pantry space with items, try to store only heavy and dense items in them. Not only will these absorb more sound, but they will also be less prone to rattling from vibration. Lighter objects like pots and pans my rattle and clank together creating excess unwanted noise.
13. Use White Noise Devices
If you’re in a bind and you need some immediate respite from the noise your fridge is making, a white noise device may be an effective option.
The white noise can counter the noise given off by your fridge. This makes the refrigerator seem quieter to your ears.
Especially if the fridge is causing you to lose focus while working, this could be an immediate fix to assist you temporarily.
You can find white noise sounds on YouTube, as well as other popular music and video apps. Try playing it from your phone or computer and see if this helps your fridge noise problem.
14. Get Professional Help
If you’ve cleaned your fridge and all of its moving parts and you can’t seem to locate where the noise is coming from, or you’ve found a damaged part that needs replacing, you should call a professional.
A repair technician can help to pinpoint exactly which part of your fridge is making the offending noise. They will then be able to inspect it for wear and damage and see if anything needs to be replaced. They may be able to find problems that you weren’t able to.
If a part is damaged and needs to be replaced, a professional will be able to let you know. They will also be able to replace the part for you, as long as it’s more cost-effective than replacing the fridge.
15. Buy a Quiet Fridge
If all else fails, you can always replace your refrigerator. While this may seem like a big investment, think about the peace of mind you’ll get from eliminating that annoying noise that is currently plaguing you!
A new refrigerator is also a long-term investment. Once you purchase, it is unlikely that you will encounter any problems in the near future.
Modern refrigerators are also much quieter and more efficient than their outdated counterparts. If your fridge is getting up there in years, then getting a new one may do more than help to keep your home quieter. Since they are more efficient, you may also reduce your electric bill a bit!
How to Quiet a Noisy Refrigerator Compressor
The compressor on your fridge has to run a lot as it’s responsible for pumping the refrigerant through the whole system. If the compressor stops running properly, your fridge stops being cold. Since it runs so much, it can often be the culprit of a noisy fridge.
You’ll need to pull your fridge out from it’s resting spot and into the middle of the room where you can get plenty of light to take a good look at all sides of your fridge. See if now you can find what is rattling or making noise.
The first thing to do is to clean the compressor down thoroughly. Start with a vacuum and remove any loose dirt and debris from the compartment and from off of the compressor.
After using the vacuum, clean everything down with a microfiber cloth, so nothing is left behind. Make sure to hit any moving parts, including fan blades. While cleaning, check that all of the fans move freely and are not obstructed.
After cleaning the compressor, look for the rubber mounts it should be attached to. These rubber mounts are responsible for dampening the vibrations caused by the compressor, so they don’t transfer through the fridge. If these rubber mounts are worn out or damaged, they can be causing a lot of excess noise.
If you need to replace the rubber mounts, you can call a professional, or if you feel comfortable, you can do it yourself.
There are many different ways that your refrigerator could be contributing to the excess noise in your home environment. By implementing one or even several of these techniques, you’ll be able to make your space quieter and more comfortable immediately.
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