Gathering the family together to share a meal is an important part of maintaining good communication in a busy household, and a candle-lit dinner for two might be just the thing to rekindle a romantic spark. But not if the lively conversation or sweet nothings are being drowned out by the buzzing, knocking, clicking, or squealing of a noisy refrigerator. Why is the fridge making such a racket?
Five reasons your refrigerator is so loud
While the origin of the noises emanating from your normally dependable kitchen appliance might seem mysterious, there are some very specific reasons why a refrigerator will become loud when running. Here are the five most common ones:
- Damaged Fan Blade – Refrigerators have two fan blades. The first is a condenser fan blade mounted on the condenser fan motor which draws in air from the front of the refrigerator, sends it past the condenser coils (which helps to dissipate the heat in the coils created by the condensing of the appliance’s refrigerant in gas form into a hot liquid), and then circulates the air back out through the grill. The second is an evaporator fan blade mounted on the evaporator fan motor. This fan blade draws air from the refrigerator compartment into the freezer compartment and past the evaporator coils which are chilled by the refrigerant in liquid form being expanded back into a gas. The cold evaporator coils remove the heat from the air which is then recirculated back into the refrigerator compartment. With use, the condenser fan blade or the evaporator fan blade can become damaged or dislodged and begin scraping against a panel or mounting bracket as they rotate. The result will be a squeaking or squealing sound whenever the fan motor is operating.
- Defective Evaporator Fan Motor – Independent of its fan blade, the evaporator motor itself could be defective and become considerably noisy during operation. This is often caused by the failure of the motor bearings, resulting in a grinding or clicking sound.
- Malfunctioning Condenser Fan Motor – As with the evaporator fan motor, the bearings inside the condenser fan motor can fail as well. Again, a malfunctioning condenser fan motor will create a grinding or clicking sound when the fan motor is running.
- Worn Out Compressor – The compressor is the component that pumps the refrigerant through the evaporator and condenser coils to cool the refrigerator and freezer compartments. An aging compressor can become quite noisy and will make a knocking or buzzing sound as it nears the end of its life.
- Faulty Water Inlet Valve – The water inlet valve controls the water being supplied to the dispenser and the refrigerator’s icemaker. If the refrigerator is especially noisy when the icemaker is filling, then it’s likely the inlet valve is malfunctioning. Over time, mineral deposits can build-up in the valve, creating a restriction which can cause a squeaking or rattling sound.
Can I repair the fridge myself to quiet it down?
Most parts which can cause a refrigerator to become noisy or loud are easily replaceable by a do-it-yourselfer. All it takes is a few common household tools, such as a screwdriver and pliers, and a little patience.
The evaporator fan motor and its fan blade are normally located at the back of the freezer compartment behind one or more panels, although some models will mount the evaporator assembly behind a rear panel in the refrigerator compartment. You will usually have to remove the shelving and drawers from the compartment (and, potentially, the icemaker assembly) in order to uninstall the rear panel or panels. An evaporator fan blade can be simply pulled off the motor shaft and a new one slid on. The motor itself is usually secured to a bracket with two screws and will have two power wires attached or a wire connecter. Unthread the screws and detach the wires to remove the old motor; attach the wires to the terminals on the new motor, or reconnect the wire connecter, and rethread the mounting screws to secure the motor to the bracket.
The condenser fan motor and accompanying fan blade can usually be found near the bottom of the refrigerator behind a cardboard or metal access panel attached to the lower rear of the appliance. You’ll need to pull the refrigerator away from the wall to reach the panel. You may need to detach a water supply line before you can uninstall the access panel (be sure to close the water supply valve before doing this!). As with the evaporator fan motor, the condenser fan motor will likely be secured to a bracket with mounting screws and will be powered through two separate wires or a wire connecter.
The refrigerator’s water inlet valve is also normally located near the bottom of the appliance behind the lower access panel. After detaching the incoming water supply line, you will need to unthread the screws securing the old component, then disconnect the wire connecters and release the outgoing water lines from the valve. You may have to remove a locking clip before depressing the retaining ring to release a line. Insert the lines into the new inlet valve, connect the wire connecters, then thread the screws to mount the valve to the bracket or to the frame of the refrigerator. Reinstall the access panel and secure the incoming water supply line to the valve. Be aware that you should replace a restricted water inlet valve with a new valve instead of attempting to clean out an obstruction, since the damage caused by the initial restriction puts the part at a greater risk for failure in the future.
What about the refrigerator’s compressor? That repair is not recommended for a do-it-yourselfer. You should have a licensed technician inspect and replace the compressor if necessary.
Find the right refrigerator parts with Repair Clinic
Whether you need to replace an evaporator fan motor, condenser fan motor, fan blade, water inlet valve, or any other refrigerator component, the first step is to identify the specific part that works with your model. Repair Clinic makes this step easy. All you have to do is enter the full model number of the appliance in the Repair Clinic website search bar to see a complete list of compatible parts. You can then use the part category and part title filters to narrow that list down to locate the exact part you need, including those that fit KitchenAid, GE, Kenmore, LG, Samsung, Frigidaire, Maytag, and Whirlpool models.