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Why your Refrigerator Makes Weird Noises

Are the sounds from your new refrigerator driving you crazy? Does it sound loud, noisy, weird, strange, unusual, funny, or about to break? If so, then read on. 

Firstly, if you hear an unusual sound originating from your new refrigerator try to isolate the source. This simple act will quite often lead you to the culprit. It may also lead you to the realization that it's simply an idiosyncrasy of modern refrigeration systems. Today's refrigerators can make a wide variety of unusual sounds. This is a result of both the new ozone friendly refrigerants, and the complexity of the refrigerators now being manufactured. To help you in your quest to find the source of the noise we offer the following list of some of the weird sounds your refrigerator may be producing: 

1 ... Ice Cracking
Probably ice being ejected from the icemaker into the ice storage bucket. Because most icemakers produce ice at the same time every day suspect this source if the sounds always occur at the same time of day. 

Or the heating elements in the defrost system may be removing the ice buildup off the cooling coils. This sound is usually accompanied by a hissing sound as the electric heater in the freezer section begins to defrost the cooling coils. 

2 ... Ice Cracking 2 
If you have an ice storage bucket you may be hearing the ice cracking or snapping as it expands. Primarily heard during the summer, and shortly after the freezer door has been opened. Warm air invaded the ice bucket and caused some of the ice cubes to crack due to expansion. 

3 ... Water Running 
Probably hearing the icemaker filling. Usually heard every four to six hours. Should only have a duration of about 30 seconds. 

4 ... Water Bubbling
Some times described as the sound of a fountain. Primarily heard on refrigerators with a water dispenser. May be the water storage bladder inside the refrigerator section. Usually hidden behind a crisper or shelf. The bladder pre-cools a small amount (one or two glasses) of water so the water dispensed is not too warm. Can be caused by an air bubble within the bladder, or the sudden warming of the bladder itself. Sudden warming can cause the water to bubble. Sometimes heard when standing with the refrigerator section door open. 

5 ... Water Dripping
The defrost system may be operating. If accompanied by hissing, youíre hearing water hitting the defrosting elements. Water dripping sound often heard as the result of water flowing off the cooling coils during defrost, and down the drain tubing. Sometimes accompanied by a gurgling noise. These sounds are normal. 

6 ... Gurgling 
Primarily the sound of refrigerant evaporating (boiling) as it enters the cooling coils. Usually heard just after the refrigerator starts or stops. This is a normal sound for modern refrigerators. In extreme cases may require the addition of sound-adsorbing materials. 

7 ... Whistling 
An interior fan has turned on. The air moves around the interior of many refrigerators even when the refrigeration system is not operating. The air is being moved from a cold area to a warmer area. It's an energy saving method that eliminates the need to start the compressor simply because one area needs more cooling. 

8 ... Whirring 
Associated with the redistribution of cold air within the refrigerator. It's probably the door to an air chute damper being opened to allow air to pass through. Often described as a whirring or ticking noise, it's the sound produced by a small electrical motor used to open the damper. 

9 ... Air Blowing
As described above a fan has turned on. Often heard within the freezer section. Air noises are also more irritating because fan motors are now quieter than in the past. Consumers are use to the sound of air moving when itís accompanied by a fan motor sound. When they only hear the air moving they find it an unusual sound. 

Once you have isolated the source of the sound you can then decide whether you require service. Generally, the answer is, no. Most consumers simply want to be assured that the noise is normal. Or that itís not a symptom of a future problem. But in the end you are the person who will be living with this refrigerator for the next ten years. It's your decision. 


By Donald Grummett

Copyright © 2006 Donald Grummett. All rights reserved


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