My Refrigerator Is Making A Buzzing Noise (Here's What It Means)
The sound of a buzzing refrigerator can be very annoying. Not only is it a nuisance, but it can sometimes signal that something is wrong. Therefore, don’t let the sound become unbearable and take steps to diagnose the problem.
If your refrigerator is making a buzzing noise, it can be a normal occurrence. However, the buzzing noise can also mean that an element in the freezer is malfunctioning. Diagnose the buzzing noise by checking the compressor, condenser coils, and ice maker.
When your refrigerator begins to make a buzzing noise, you must diagnose the issue to prevent further damage. Before you call a repairman, distinguish which noises require professional help.
Buzzing Noises That Require a Repairman
The refrigerator compressor is an electronic pump found on the back of the fridge. It contains refrigerant that assists in the cooling process, and it can occasionally make a low buzzing noise.
While this isn’t an uncommon noise, you should become concerned if the noise level increases. Contact a repairman before the noise becomes intolerable.
Condenser coils are located in two places. You can find them on the back of the refrigerator or at the bottom of the fridge, behind the panel. The coils cool and condense the refrigerant.
You should clean these coils regularly by dusting and vacuuming any debris on them. When debris builds up, the coils can become overworked and make a buzzing noise. If you hear this noise, immediately inspect the coils.
If your coils are clean, you should contact a professional. They may give the coils a deep clean or diagnose a more significant problem within the coils.
Most people are familiar with the sounds of the ice maker. These noises are everyday occurrences and typically a low level. The sound usually happens after someone uses the ice maker.
If the ice maker starts to make buzzing sounds louder than usual, you should have it serviced. Likewise, you should have the ice maker serviced if it starts making noises when no one has used it. There could be a variety of problems with the ice maker that would require service.
There could be a loose, frozen, or broken connection. Hire a professional to address the problem and prevent future issues.
Buzzing Noises That Don’t Require a Repairman
If you hear the sounds below, they are normal and easily fixed without a service call.
Buzzing on the Outside
In a refrigerator that is buzzing on the outside, the noise can come from many different places. A refrigerator has many panels that can become loose and buzz when the unit is on. If you stack items on top of your refrigerator, this can also create a buzzing noise.
Magnets and clips on the refrigerator can cause buzzing, too. To diagnose the issue, first press the sides of the fridge to see if it stops buzzing. Remove any items from the top of the refrigerator and see if this stops the sound.
This is a common occurrence for many people, especially when there is not enough cabinet space. When there isn’t ample cabinet space, you’re more likely to stack things on top of the fridge, causing noise.
Buzzing on the Inside
If you hear buzzing on the inside of the refrigerator, don’t be alarmed. When the ice maker is empty, water valves open, which can cause a buzzing noise. You can also hear a buzzing sound when the ice maker is on, but there is no water supply.
Refrigerators that have a self-defrost feature buzz during each cycle. When water drips onto the coils during the self-defrost cycle, you can hear a buzzing sound. This sound should only last as long as the cycle, not be constant.
Buzzing Near the Bottom
An unbalanced fridge can cause a buzzing sound at the bottom of the refrigerator. When the fridge is running, the legs may be only slightly touching the floor. The unbalanced leg will vibrate, making a buzzing noise.
To determine if your refrigerator is unbalanced, slightly tip the fridge to remove the weight from one side. If the buzzing stops, you likely need to adjust one of the legs.
Buzzing From the Drip Pan
Directly beneath the refrigerator is a drip pan to catch condensation that flows from the freezer’s defrost drain. If the drip pan shifts to one side or the other, it can touch the cooling line or radiator fin. This shift can create a buzzing noise.
To make the buzzing subside, adjust the drip pan back into place.
How to Fix a Buzzing Refrigerator
For the following checks, have a screwdriver and a vacuum with a brush or nozzle attachment handy.
Check the Condenser Fan Motor
A condenser fan circulates air through the condenser coils to remove heat. It also circulates air over the drain pan to melt defrost water. If your fridge is making a loud buzzing noise, the condenser fan motor is likely the issue.
The condenser fan motor runs at the same time as the evaporator motor and the compressor. Because of this, if you hear a buzzing noise, you may notice that your refrigerator is also warmer than usual. The refrigerator may also turn on and off on its own.
How To Check The Refrigerator Condenser Fan Motor
Step 1: Disconnect the Refrigerator. Disconnect the refrigerator from the outlet, and remove the rear access panel.
Step 2: Locate the Condenser Fan Motor. You can usually find the condenser fan motor near the compressor at the bottom rear of the fridge.
Step 3: Inspect the Condenser Fan Motor. Inspect the condenser fan motor for any signs of damage or excessive wear and tear. Check for any debris that could be preventing the fan from moving. If the fan motor is not working or is damaged, you should replace it.
How To Remove The Condenser Fan Motor
Step 1: Unplug the Refrigerator, and Remove the Back Panel. Disconnect the refrigerator from power and pull the fridge forward. Remove the lower back panel of the fridge by unscrewing the screws that secure the panel.
Set these screws to the side.
Step 2: Remove the Bracket Screw. You want to remove the entire condenser assembly. Find the bracket screw, then remove it.
Step 3: Disconnect the Wiring, and Remove the Condenser Fan Assembly. Disconnect the wiring harness by placing your thumb on the tab and removing it. This will release the condenser fan assembly. Remove the assembly from the refrigerator.
Step 4: Remove the Upper Bracket and Motor. Unscrew the two screws on the motor to remove the upper bracket. Remove the motor by pressing down on the fan and pulling upward. Detach the wiring harness from the motor and set aside.
Step 5: Clean the Fan and Bracket. Clean any dust or debris from the fan and bracket using a vacuum.
How To Install A New Condenser Fan Motor
Step 1: Install the New Motor. Slide a rubber grommet over the spindle on the new motor. Press the motor back into the fan.
Use another rubber grommet to place over the top of the motor. Then place the top bracket on top and secure it with the two screws.
Note: Replacement rubber grommets should come with the new motor.
Step 2: Reinstall the Wiring Harness and the Condenser Fan Assembly. Reinstall the wiring harness by pushing it forward into the assembly. Place the condenser fan assembly back into the refrigerator. Secure the assembly with a screw.
Step 3: Reconnect the Wiring Harness. Reconnect the wiring harness by using your thumb to push the tab forward. It should snap back together.
Step 4: Clean the Condenser Coil and Replace the Back Panel. If you did not clean the condenser coil previously, clean it before replacing the back panel. Slide the panel back into position and secure with screws. Finally, plug the refrigerator back in to complete the repair.
Check the Evaporator Fan Motor
When the compressor runs, the evaporator fan motor pulls air over the evaporator coil. If you hear a buzzing noise coming from the freezer, the issue is usually the evaporator fan motor. If your refrigerator isn’t as cold or your ice maker runs slower, this is a sign of a broken motor.
How To Check The Evaporator Fan Motor
Step 1: Disconnect the Refrigerator and Remove the Evaporator Fan Cover. First, unplug the refrigerator, then remove the evaporator fan cover located inside of the freezer.
Step 2: Inspect the Evaporator Motor. Inspect the motor for any signs of wear and tear or damage. If you notice that there is a buildup of ice on the motor, defrost your freezer. If that does not resolve the issue, continue to step 3.
Step 3: Manually Turn the Motor. Attempt to turn the motor shaft manually. It should turn with minimal resistance. If it doesn’t, you need to replace the evaporator fan motor.
How To Replace The Evaporator Fan Motor
Step 1: Disconnect Power and Remove Shelving. Unplug the refrigerator and remove any shelving that is blocking the evaporator cover.
Step 2: Remove the Evaporator Cover. Remove the evaporator cover by removing the screws. Unplug the evaporator fan wire, and push the evaporator cover to the left. Disconnect the green ground wire and the ice maker from the evaporator cover.
Step 3: Remove the Evaporator Fan Cover and Motor. Remove the evaporator fan cover by removing the metal locking rings from the tabs on the back of the fan cover. Push the cover upward to disengage the four locking tabs.
Pull the fan blade off the motor shaft to remove the motor. Lift the two tabs on the fan motor retainer and rotate clockwise. This will free the motor out of the mounting bracket.
Step 4: Install the Replacement Evaporator Fan Motor. Place the replacement evaporator fan motor into the mounting bracket. Reinstall the motor retainer and rotate it clockwise to hook the tabs back into the mounting bracket.
Reinstall the fan blade onto the motor shaft.
Step 5: Reinstall the Evaporator Fan Cover. Place the evaporator fan cover onto the evaporator cover, and push down to lock the four tabs. Reinstall the locking rings into the top fan cover tabs.
Step 6: Reinstall the Evaporator Cover and Shelving. Reinstall the evaporator cover by reconnecting the ice maker wires and ground wire. Next, push the evaporator cover into place and screw in the mounting screws. Finally, reinstall the shelving and plug in the refrigerator to restore power.
Check the Evaporator Fan Motor Grommet
The evaporator fan motor grommet isolates the motor from the mounting bracket. If the grommet becomes detached or worn, you may hear a humming noise.
How To Check or Replace The Evaporator Fan Motor Grommet
Step 1: Remove the Evaporator Fan Cover. Unplug the refrigerator and remove the evaporator fan cover found inside of the freezer.
Step 2: Inspect the Grommet. Inspect the grommet to see if it has fallen off or if there are any signs of damage. If it is missing or damaged, replace it.
What to do if the refrigerator isn’t making any noise?
If your refrigerator isn’t making any noise, that could be a sign of a damaged compressor. You should always hear a gentle hum from your refrigerator. If the compressor isn’t working, you may notice that your refrigerator is warmer than usual. Unplug your refrigerator and plug it back in to see if that restores a low humming sound. If it doesn’t, you should contact a repairman.
What is the best style of refrigerator?
The best style refrigerator will depend on what is most important to you. If you need a fridge with the most storage space, the model with a freezer on top is best. If your concern is space outside of the refrigerator, you’ll likely prefer a side-by-side refrigerator.French door refrigerators tend to be the least space-efficient due to their size. Remember, no refrigerator is more superior to the other. Choose the unit that best fits your needs.
Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.
More by Stacy Randall