7 Reasons Your Refrigerator Is Making A Buzzing Noise (and how to address it)

stainless steel refrigerator in naperville needs repair

Refrigerators are one of the appliances most of us can no longer live without.

In fact, in the United States alone, data shows that more than 90% of the population own at least one for both residential and commercial use. However, when we make use of them, it is unavoidable for them to make weird sounds or have issues that need to be addressed ASAP.

Why most appliances make a sound

Like many appliances, fridges may make some buzzing or crackling sounds when it is being used.

Most of these noises are normal and are everyday occurrences. After all, refrigerators use machines, fans, and other parts that make a sound when they operate. However, when the noise is bothering you with its loudness, it can be an implication of an underlying problem.

What are the reasons behind the buzzing sound, and when is it okay or not okay to hear it?

When is it normal for your fridge to make a noise?

As mentioned earlier, appliances that make sounds when used are normal.

Especially with buzzing sounds, most appliances are expected to make them when they do their job. However, unlike a dishwasher that makes a swishing noise when you start it, fridges must operate 24 hours a day.

This means that if they do make weird noises, this may annoy you more than the other loud appliances in your home. But how can you distinguish normal sounds from the noises that can indicate serious issues?

Expert tip: Listen for the source of the humming sound

Before you can do something about the noises in your fridge, you must take some steps to know exactly where the sound is coming from. Take your fridge’s manual out and use your ears to hear which part is making the loudest noise. Is it on the top, middle, or bottom part of your refrigerator?

What causes the buzzing sound?

  • If the sound is coming from the top part of your fridge:

The issue may be due to the defrost heater, temperature controls, or evaporator fan.

  • If the sound is coming from the middle part of your fridge:

The issue may be due to the condenser, gasket, or coils.

  • If the sound is coming from the bottom part of your fridge:

The issue may be due to the compressor, defrost timer, or drain pan.

Note: The placement of the parts of your fridge will depend on its model and make. This is why it is important to check your refrigerator manual, especially for fridges with side by side doors.

You should not worry about the sound your fridge makes if...

...It is still new

Did you recently buy a shiny fridge for your kitchen? If you hear a buzzing sound within the first few days, you should not worry about it. This is because new refrigerators are still adjusting its compressor and fans for them to give their best performance.

As long as the sound is gentle, you do not have to return your fridge. However, if the sound is too loud and a couple of weeks have passed, you may want to check your warranty. Chances are, you may have to replace yours with another unit.

…Ice drops in the ice maker

When your ice maker is making buzzing and humming sounds, it is absolutely normal. This happens when it is filling up its water supply. Depending on the model of your fridge, you may hear the buzzing noises every 15 minutes or every one and a half hours.

If the sound is too loud, your ice maker may be incorrectly connected to the required water line. Make sure to reconnect the lines properly to lessen the noise.

…It is poorly positioned

If you hear weird sounds coming from your fridge, it can be due to an unlevel appliance. In this situation, the buzzing noises will be significantly louder, as it puts your fridge in a stressful state. It will be more difficult for it to operate smoothly when your refrigerator is lopsided.

If this is the case, the parts that will be affected the most are the ice maker and its thermostat. Do you have unlevel floors? If adjusting it is out of the question, you can try placing your fridge on top of a leveled surface. It is fairly easy to make one, as you can use wood as your main material.

…It needs to cool down

Although most modern fridges boast that you may use them all year round, it will not be a bad idea to give them a time off. If you want to do so, make sure to plan accordingly. After all, you would not want to let your food spoil.

Unplug your fridge and remove all of the contents. This is the time for you to clean your fridge thoroughly. After defrosting it, see if the buzzing sound is no longer there. In most cases, unplugging for a short time will take the buzzing noises away.

…It is overly full

Just because there is still some space in your refrigerator does not mean that you can fill it to the brim.

Having too much stuff inside your fridge unintentionally blocks important vents and airways, which can result in many issues. In fact, one of the many reasons behind a faulty fridge is when its owner is stuffing it with too much food and other produce.

The key to a functional fridge that runs smoothly is a proper arrangement plan. When you place your food and condiments inside, make sure to avoid blocking the vents inside. Also, check that there is no debris that hinders the doors from closing completely.

…It needs a bulb replacement

Do you hear the buzzing sound more when you open your fridge? This may mean that you need to replace it with a new bulb soon, especially if it has been there for a few years.

When should you be worried about a buzzing sound?

Buzzing sounds on your refrigerator can be annoying and worrisome. After all, it can probably mean that there are problems with your refrigerator, and you may need to spend lots of money lot fix it.

Depending on the reason behind the sound, you may have to worry about major repairs, as some of its parts may be faulty or damaged. In other cases, your refrigerator may just need cleaning or minor repairs.

For you to know how to fix the problem, finding the cause of the buzzing noise should be your first move. Most serious problems can be traced to the following parts of your fridge:

Reason #1: Drain pan

Also known as a drip pan, this part deals with the excess condensation from your freezer. All refrigerator models usually position their drip pans in the bottom part of the appliance in order for it to catch the condensation easily.

Why it can cause weird noises: When your drain pan is poorly positioned, it will not catch the water droplets and may even cause mechanical failure once water seeps through. This can result in a rattling or buzzing sound.

What you can do to solve the problem: Luckily, for cases like this, it is fairly easy to fix the issue.

Reposition your drain pan

  1. Locate the position of your drip pan. Check your manual and read the instructions as to how you can remove it properly. In some cases, you will need to remove a grill in front of your fridge.
  2. Inspect the area. Is the excess water spilling on your floor instead of the pan?
  3. Remove your drip pan and drain the water.
  4. Reposition the pan correctly by making sure that it collects the water drops properly.

Secure it with duct tape

  1. Check your pan and move it around lightly.
  2. If your drain pan is loose, you can try using duct tape to secure it in place.

Replacement

  1. Inspect your drain pan for cracks, bends, and holes.
  2. If your pan is damaged, you will need to replace it with a new one. Check the model of your fridge and see if you can buy a replacement pan from their official website.
  3. If the manufacturer does not make them anymore, you may have to be creative. Many homeowners suggest lining your drain pan with heavy-duty tin foil to prevent leaks.

What happens if your fridge is still noisy? Sadly, your drip pan may not be the problem. Check your manual first and see which parts are near your drain if you hear the noises in the lower part of your fridge. This can be its compressor, fan, defrost timer, or condenser coil, although this will depend on the refrigerator model.

Reason #2: Condenser fan motor

Condenser fans are what make modern refrigerators cool at the recommended temperature. Because it helps prevent overheating, it is a very important part of a fridge. Not all fridges have condenser fans, as it is a part that is included in the latest models. If yours have a frost-free feature, your condenser fan may be the issue.

Why it can cause weird noises: If a condenser fan motor is faulty, your refrigerator may need to work much harder. This causes the buzzing sound. An overheating fridge is not only annoying but also dangerous. Condenser fans help the coil cool down and will go dusty over time.

What you can do to solve the problem: Check your manual and see if you have a condenser fan motor. Most are located in the back panel of the fridge. In many instances, the buzzing sound may be due to the dirt and debris stuck on your condenser fan.

Clean the fans

  1. Unplug your fridge and wait for a few minutes for it to release some heat.
  2. Remove the rear cover of your fridge.
  3. Take a paintbrush to remove the debris and dust from the blades of your condenser fan.
  4. Plug your fridge and wait for the weird noises to come back. If there is none, you solved the problem.

Replace the condenser fan motor

  1. Unplug your fridge.
  2. Remove the rear cover of your fridge.
  3. Inspect the motor of your condenser fan. Does it look worn? Did cleaning not do anything to lessen the buzzing noise? If so, replacing may be your only option.

We recommend calling a professional technician when it comes to motor replacements. Just be sure to contact an expert that will not remove your warranty.

Reason #3: Condenser coils

clean refrigerator coils

Most refrigerator models have condenser coils in the back part of the appliance. Their main purpose is to cool and condense the refrigerant.

Why it can cause weird noises: When the condenser coils are faulty, they will not be able to cool off the system properly. This affects the entire operation of your refrigerator,

What you can do to solve the problem:

Clean your condenser coils

  1. Unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Remove the rear panel of your appliance.
  3. Use a dry paintbrush to dust off your condenser coils. You can also use a vacuum for a more thorough clean.

In some cases, it can be difficult to remove the back panel of your fridge. If you are not confident with your ability to clean it on your own, call a professional.

Reason #4: Door seal or gasket

Over time, your refrigerator’s door seals or gaskets may be loose or dirty. Although they do not usually make a buzzing sound, a faulty seal can affect the mechanism of your fridge.

Why it can cause weird noises: If a door gasket is not doing its job correctly, the other important parts of your fridge will be affected. Instead of sealing cold air inside your refrigerator, it leaks out from the interior of your fridge to your kitchen. This results in your compressor to work harder, which will eventually damage it for good. Damaged compressors often make loud buzzing sounds once they are not running properly.

What you can do to solve the problem:

Inspect your door seal for damage

  1. Take a close look at your fridge’s door seal and gaskets. If you see any debris or dirt, wipe them off. This can be causing your door to stay ajar and messes with the temperature inside.
  2. Take a piece of paper or a bill and trap it between your fridge and gasket. Try pulling the paper away slowly. If you did so without any difficulty, it is time to have your seal replaced.
  3. Cracks, holes, and other damages are a clear sign that you need a seal replacement.

Reason #5: Defrost Timer

If you have a frost-free refrigerator, it is likely that your defrost timer may be causing the weird noises in your fridge. Defrost timers assist with transitioning your freezer between cooling and defrosting mode.

Why it can cause weird noises: When your defrost timer is faulty, it may get stuck in the cooling mode. This results in excessive frost buildup that messes with your fridge’s system. Over time, your refrigerator will not be able to run smoothly, hence, it will make buzzing and even crackling sounds in some cases. On the other hand, it is also possible for your fridge to get stuck in the defrost mode, which will spoil your food.

What you can do to solve the problem:

Inspect your defrost timer and replace it when necessary

  1. Aside from the buzzing sound, listen for scraping noises. The latter is often a sign of a faulty defrost timer.
  2. Locate your defrost timer. Depending on the model of your fridge, it may be in the top or bottom part of your appliance. Most timers are made of plastic and are usually white in color.
  3. If you suspect that your timer may be faulty, you will need a replacement.

Reason #6: Evaporator fan motor

Their main function is to constantly regulate and spread the flow of air in your refrigerator box. In some models, a refrigerator may have one or more evaporator fan motors.

Why it can cause weird noises: When your evaporator fans are going bad, your fridge will surely suffer. This results in the increase of temperature in your refrigerator which will eventually cause it to overheat and damage more of its parts.

What you can do to solve the problem:

Manually turn your fans

  1. Unplug your fridge.
  2. Locate your evaporator fan motor. Make sure to check your refrigerator’s manual.
  3. Using your fingers, turn the fan blades manually.
  4. Check for any blockage, debris, or dirt.
  5. Wipe the dust away using a dry cloth.
  6. Plug your fridge back in.
  7. If the fridge is still making noises, you will need a replacement. This will be the case if you found it difficult to turn the fans earlier.

Reason #7: Compressor

refrigerator compressor

Your refrigerator’s compressor is very important, as it is the one that circulates the refrigerant in the refrigeration cycle. This is exactly why a compressor is also called the heart of a refrigerator.

A faulty compressor can be the worst problem your refrigerator will have. If you suspect that your compressor is damaged, we suggest unplugging your fridge until the problem is fixed, as this can lead to high electricity bills.

Most compressor problems result from the other faulty parts in your fridge. As mentioned earlier, for example, a damaged condenser coil and motor overwork the compressor. Once nothing is done to fix the smaller issues, a compressor replacement will be the only option you can have.

Why it can cause weird noises: Most compressors make a gentle, humming, sound. However, when they are not functioning well, the humming turns into loud buzzing. It is also possible to hear clacking noises, which is often a bad sign.

What you can do to solve the problem:

Note: Before anything else, please keep in mind that when it comes to compressors, professional help is necessary. DIY inspections and replacements can be dangerous and may cause unfortunate accidents.

Replace your compressor

  1. Call a technician to inspect your refrigerator.
  2. If they find that your compressor is indeed faulty, ask them about the price. Unfortunately, it is possible that the cost of replacing them is near to the cost of buying a new fridge.

Don't hesitate to call a professional

Are you finding it difficult to determine the cause of the buzzing noises in your refrigerator? There is no need for you to spend your time worrying about your fridge, as there are many local professionals that can do the job well.

When you hear weird noises coming from your fridge, this can be a sign of a serious problem. We always recommend having your fridge inspected before the minor problem turns into a major one. As with other things, prevention will always be better than cure.