Help! My Refrigerator Is Making A Buzzing Noise

Refrigerator Making Buzzing Noise

A low hum from your fridge is common, but if your refrigerator is making a buzzing noise, it could signal trouble. Occasional sounds and knocks from a fridge are usually no cause for alarm. However, you should investigate continual buzzing sooner rather than later.

When your refrigerator makes a buzzing noise, it could be something as simple as a stray object pressing against it. Conversely, a buzzing fridge can mean issues with the condenser coils, compressor, fan motor, or ice maker. Try to determine if the buzzing is coming from inside or outside your fridge, then be prepared to call a pro.

Your first step in fixing a buzzing refrigerator is to diagnose the potential problem. You will be able to fix a few possible causes yourself rather quickly and for little cost. However, more significant issues will typically require replacing a part or your entire fridge.

Possible Reasons For Refrigerator Buzzing Noise

Several reasons can be making your refrigerator buzz, and you can quickly fix a few of them. Check out the following potential causes for the buzzing noise to see if you can do a DIY fix. Otherwise, in some cases, you need to call a maintenance specialist.

1. Too Much Stuff On Your Fridge

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Yes, believe it or not, fixing the buzzing could be as simple as taking a few things off of your fridge. Do you tend to pile random things, extra cookware, and other items on top of your refrigerator? Is the front and sides of your fridge covered in magnets holding all sorts of things?

When your fridge kicks on to cool, it can cause loose panels to vibrate. These different panels can loosen over time and usually aren’t a cause for alarm. However, if you have a bunch of stuff covering your fridge, these vibrations can produce some frequent buzzing sounds.

To test out this possibility, simply remove the items from your fridge and see if the buzzing subsides. You can also press on the sides of your fridge to see if this eases the buzzing. If so, you’ve likely found your culprit and just need to find another place to store your items.

In some cases, your fridge could have shifted over time and gotten closer to cabinets or other surfaces. Vibrations from your fridge could cause it to make a sound as it vibrates near or against surrounding areas. Try to shift your fridge back into place or away from these other surfaces to see if the buzzing stops.

2. Common Ice Maker Sounds

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Ice makers are a great convenience, but they can also cause some extra problems. Fortunately, not all sounds coming from your ice maker mean big trouble. It’s normal for ice makers to make some occasional buzzes and hums and knocks.

If it’s your ice maker, you’ll hear the sound coming from the inside of your fridge. Water valves open when the ice maker is empty, which can lead to a buzzing sound. Likewise, you might hear the ice maker buzzing when it’s on, but there’s no water.

If your refrigerator has a self-defrost cycle, you could also hear buzzing as water drips onto the coils. But, you should only hear it while the cycle is in progress, then the buzzing should stop.

3. An Unlevel Fridge

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Check to see if the buzzing is coming from the bottom of your fridge. If so, the reason could very well be an unlevel refrigerator, with only a few legs touching the floor.

The buzzing occurs as a result of the uneven leg or legs vibrating. Simply tip your fridge to level it out and see if the buzzing stops. If it does, you’ve solved your problem; you just need to adjust the legs as necessary, so your refrigerator sits level.

It could also be items, like a stray kid’s toy, that got caught up under your fridge. Check below your fridge and pull it out if necessary to remove any stray items.

4. The Drip Pan Is Out Of Place

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Check the drip pan if your fridge is level, but the buzzing is still coming from below. The drip pan rests beneath your fridge, catching condensation flowing from the defrost drain of the freezer.

Underneath your fridge are also other parts, like the radiator fin and other elements. If the drip pan shifts even slightly, it could be hitting against one of these other parts. The result can be a buzzing noise as the two items vibrate against each other.

If you notice your drip pan is out of place, reposition it and see if this fixes the noise.

5. A Failing Compressor

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It’s not atypical for your refrigerator’s compressor to make a low buzzing sound. You can find the compressor on the back of your fridge. It holds refrigerant to help your fridge with cooling, and it can occasionally buzz when it’s working.

However, if you notice that the buzzing is more constant or getting louder, call a repair service. This is a sign that your compressor needs to run constantly, meaning it’s struggling to keep your fridge cool. While it could be a lack of refrigerant, it could also signal a failing compressor, and either way requires a service call.

6. Dirty Condenser Coils

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You might remember to clean inside of your fridge, but many people don’t think about cleaning behind and under their fridge. However, dust and debris can build up in these areas, causing your fridge to work overtime and buzz like crazy.

Your refrigerator’s condenser coils, which help cool your fridge, are under and on the back of the refrigerator. Regularly vacuuming the coils can significantly preserve the lifespan of your fridge.

If you hear a lot of buzzing, check the coils. If they’re dirty, clean them to see if it solves the issue. If not, you will need to call a service specialist to either deep clean the coils or inspect them for any damage.

7. Malfunctioning or Frozen Ice Maker

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As previously mentioned, ice makers have lots of benefits, but they also become one more thing that can break on your fridge. While some buzzing from your ice maker is typical, loud, frequent buzzing is not. 

Nor is it normal to hear buzzing from your ice maker when it hasn’t been used recently. In some cases, you could be dealing with a broken ice maker, or it could be frozen over or simply have a loose connection. Call a professional to inspect the device and keep things from getting any worse.

8. Bad Condenser Fan Motor

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The condenser fan circulates air through the fridge’s coils, removing heat. It also helps melt defrost water in the drain pan. If the issue is with the condenser fan motor, in conjunction with the buzzing noise, you might notice your fridge is hotter than usual.

If you notice these things, you need to call a pro. You can always check the motor first, just in case any debris is blocking the fan. 

Unplug your fridge and use a screwdriver to remove the rear access panel. The condenser fan is typically near the bottom of the refrigerator.

Check to see if anything is blocking the fan or if there is a lot of dust. If so, remove it, vacuum the area, replace the access panel, and plug in your fridge.

If this did not resolve the buzzing, or you noticed damage to the fan or motor, call in a specialist.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a refrigerator usually last?

The average lifespan of a refrigerator is about 12 years, although depending on your unit, it could be anywhere from 10 to 20 years. If you notice your fridge is struggling to keep things cool or your energy bills are on the rise, your fridge could be on the decline.

Also, if there’s condensation on the exterior or you hear it running constantly, these are also signs of a failing refrigerator. To help extend your refrigerator’s lifespan, keep it clean, including behind and underneath the fridge. Also, don’t keep your fridge near a major heat source.

It’s also helpful to keep your fridge stocked but not overly full. If you can, try to avoid storing food on the top shelf.

The top shelf is typically the hottest place in your fridge (aside from the inside of the door).  Your fridge gets rid of this hot air from the top, sending it out toward the back of the refrigerator. If lots of food and containers block this area, it will keep hotter air in your fridge for longer periods.

How much does a typical refrigerator repair cost?

Of course, repair costs can vary widely depending on the problem, needed parts, and the time it takes to repair. However, a rough average of repair costs is between $325 and $425 for parts and labor.

New refrigerators can cost anywhere from $500 to over $3,000. Therefore, it’s critical to evaluate the quality and age of your fridge against repair costs. If you have a $3,000 fridge that’s only a couple of years old, it makes sense to pay $400 on a repair.

However, what if you bought a $700 fridge and have had it for about five or six years already? In this case, you might opt to purchase a new, comparable fridge instead of springing for a costly repair.

Why is my freezer making a buzzing noise?

Many of the reasons for a buzzing sound in your freezer are the same as with your fridge. It’s normal for your freezer to make low humming sounds.  But if the buzzing is constant or gets louder, it could be a sign of a more significant issue.

It could be a failing compressor, dirty or damaged condenser coils, or issues with the ice maker. Use the same tips as above for your fridge to check potential problems with your freezer.