A refrigerator is a home appliance everyone has, but unfortunately it can be one of the noisiest. If you refrigerator makes a lot of noise, it can end up being very disruptive to your day-to-day life, and you’ll probably want to get it fixed ASAP.
A refrigerator’s compressor is often the reason your fridge is so loud, because it is one of the few moving parts. However, it plays a vital role in keeping your fridge at the right temperature, so you can’t live without one. So, how do you quieten a noisy refrigerator compressor?
In this article we will explore what the role of the compressor is, why it might be making noise, and what you can do to get your kitchen quiet again. Keep reading on to find out more.
What Is A Refrigerator Compressor?
A compressor is the “heart” of a refrigerator, as it works by circulating the refrigerant throughout the system. The temperature signals inside the fridge signal for the compressor to start working when the temperature of the refrigerator rises above a certain point. The temperature inside a fridge can rise because no fridge is airtight — cold air can get out and warm air can get in.
How Does A Refrigerator Compressor Work?
A compressor is comprised of a motor and a pump. It works by drawing in the cold refrigerant gas in liquid form as it leaves the evaporator, and then puts pressure on the gas and compresses it. As the gas is compressed, the temperature goes up.
The compressor then pushes out the hot, compressed gas through the outside metal coils (tubes) on the back or bottom of the refrigerator. The gas changes to a liquid as it cools, because it is under pressure, and this liquid continues to flow through the system until it reaches the expansion valve. The valve forces the liquid through a very small hole, turning it into a very cold mist, which evaporates through the freezer coils.
As the liquid moves through the freezer coils, it cools down the fridge by drawing out heat from the surrounding air. These coils then move back to the compressor, where the compressor puts pressure on it, and it becomes a gas again.
This process keeps happening again and again until the temperature is back to its set level, and the temperature signals tell the compressor to stop working.
Causes Of A Noisy Compressor
If your refrigerator compressor is being noisy, you’ll want to know why so you can fix the issue properly. A compressor will make different noises depending on the cause. The main causes and noises of a compressor are:
- Dripping noise — this could be caused by the flow of oil in the compressor
- Gurgling noise — this could be caused by ice melting during the defrost cycle
- Vibrating noise — this could be caused by uneven placement of the fridge on the floor
- Whirring noise or pulsating noise — this could be caused by the compressor fan adjusting
- Hissing noise — this could be caused by the floor refrigerant
- Rattling noise — this could be caused by water lines moving against the refrigerator, or items placed on top of the fridge
- Sizzling noise — this could be caused by water dripping down the heater after defrosting
- Banging noise — this could be caused by items on top of the refrigerator
- Buzzing noise or clicking noise — this could be caused by the water inlet valve opening and closing to dispense water or fill the ice maker
How To Quiet A Noisy Refrigerator Compressor
There are many different solutions to a noisy compressor. Below are some of the most effective ways to quieten your refrigerator compressor and restore peace in your home.
Identify The Source Of The Noise
Before you can get to fixing the noise coming from your refrigerator, you will need to spend a bit of time working out where the sound is originating from. As we have mentioned above, there are a number of reasons your compressor could be making noise, so try to figure out what is wrong first before trying to fix it, because this will make your job much easier.
Common causes of a noisy fridge include the way your fridge is positioned, vibrations of the fridge against the floor, and the fans.
Clean The Compressor And Fans
Dirt and debris can get caught up in the compressor and the fans which can lead to your fridge making noise. Cleaning these parts can get them working smoothly again, but we do advise you consult a professional to do this as opening up your fridge can void its warranty.
If you do decide to go ahead and clean the compressor and fans, ensure you read the fridge manual first. You will need to turn your fridge off and unplug it from the wall before cleaning. Take the rear access panel off by removing the screws and then use a vacuum cleaner to get rid of any dirt and dust.
If the fans are really dirty, you may want to replace the blades. If you are replacing the fan, the compressor also might need replacing.
Tighten The Compressor
Over time, the nuts and bolts of your compressor can come loose. Tightening these nuts and bolts up can help to reduce the amount of noise it makes. To do this, pull you refrigerator away from the wall. Unplug it before you do anything.
Try to see if you can turn any of the bolts or screws. If you can, then these need to be tightened. You should also check any other nuts, bolts or screws you can see at the back of your refrigerator. These may also have come loose and may need to be tightened.
Use Acoustic Foam
Acoustic foam can be great at absorbing noise, and can help to reduce sound by 50 to 90%. You can cut the foam to the right size and attach it to the wall behind your fridge. The foam will immediately absorb any sound waves produced by your fridge.
There are compression coils at the back of your fridge, so you cannot fully cover these with foam as it may cause the fridge to overheat and stop working. Therefore, you’ll need to make sure the foam isn’t touching your fridge but is attached to the wall instead. Don’t worry, even if there is a gap between the foam and the back of your fridge, it will still help to reduce the noise produced.
Level The Refrigerator
If your refrigerator is placed on uneven ground, you may find that it rattles and vibrates against the floor because it is not level. Because a fridge comes with adjustable legs, you can help to reduce the noise by adjusting these legs so it sits level.
If you want to check whether your fridge is level or not, you can shake it. If it seems to be unbalanced, then you may need to adjust the legs.
You may need help from another person to adjust the legs and level the fridge because they are heavy! It is also a good idea to regularly check the legs of the fridge from time to time. They can become uneven thanks to vibrations and general use of the appliance, and may need adjusting every so often to help with the noise.
Use Anti-Vibration Pads
Think about the floor that you refrigerator sits on. If it is a stone or tiled floor, the floor isn’t going to absorb any of the noise produced by the fridge as it vibrates against it and may actually reverberate the sound and make it seem louder. A wooden floor can help with this problem, but putting down entirely new flooring just to quieten your fridge is a big task!
Fortunately, you can use anti-vibration pads under your fridge that will quieten the sound by absorbing the high-frequency sound wavelengths emitted. There are rubber mats that will not only reduce the vibration noise, but they also help to prevent your fridge from scratching the floor as it vibrates. Even better, these mats are often temperature and moisture proof, too.
Use A Soundproof Blanket
Sound-absorbing blankets can be used under your fridge just like anti-vibration pads can be, but they are often more effective. By separating your fridge from the floor using one of these blankets, you should find that your fridge is much quieter because not only will it not vibrate against the floor, but the blanket will absorb much of the sound produced thanks to the thick material.
Foam mats can also be placed underneath your fridge to further absorb any noise.
Soundproof Inside The Fridge
Soundproofing the inside of your fridge may not be the most effective way to reduce the noise of it operating, particularly as the compressor is located at the back of the fridge, but it may help. You could cover the inside of the fridge with Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV). This usually works best if you have soundproofing materials outside of the fridge and underneath it, too.
Build A Sound Dampening Box
Adding a sound dampening box or enclosure around your refrigerator can help to reduce the noise it makes, because the walls of the box will absorb noise. The best material to do this with is wood, as wood is very good at reducing the amount of noise let out into the rest of the room.
It is important you don’t cover all sides of the fridge — of course, you still need to be able to access the fridge! There also needs to be enough room for air circulation at the back of the fridge, so we recommend leaving at least 2” clearance. Not leaving enough room will potentially cause the fridge to overheat.
Another option is to build cupboards, shelves and bookcases around your fridge. Many people have their fridge in a wooden alcove with cupboards earthier side, and this can help to absorb excess sound.
Fill Your Fridge
It may sound silly, but filling your fridge can help to reduce noise. An empty container will make more noise than a full one because there are less items to absorb any noise made. Ensuring your fridge has items inside will help to stabilize it and thus help to reduce the noise
Clean Your Fridge
Cleaning your fridge regularly will help with the general upkeep of the appliance and help prevent it from making more noise in the future. You should check the ice cube trays from time to time to ensure they don’t become jammed, and make sure there isn’t build up of any old food inside the fridge. It won’t smell great and it may be causing the fridge to make a loud noise!
Use White Noise
Using white noise is a temporary fix, and one you can use while you identify and solve the cause of the noisy fridge. A white noise machine will help to block out and mask the sound the fridge is making so you can get a good nights sleep.
Get A Professional Out
If none of the solutions above have worked to reduce the noise of your fridge compressor, it is worth calling a professional to have a look at it. It may be that a part of your refrigerator is broken or needs to be replaced, and a professional will know how to do this.
Buy A New Refrigerator
If you’ve tried all the solutions above and have had a professional to look at your fridge yet it is still noisy, it might be time to buy a new one. After all, refrigerators don’t live forever!
Other Causes Of A Noisy Refrigerator
You may find that is not actually your compressor that is the cause of the noise. There are other parts of the refrigerator that can become loose, broken or need attention that can lead to a lot of sound being produced, but often these noises are simply just the sound of the fridge working normally. The most common other causes of a noisy fridge are:
Ice Maker — if your fridge comes with an ice maker, you may hear a clattering or grinding noise as it makes the ice. You may also hear a noise as the ice is removed from the ice maker mold.
Drip Tray — as water drains away from the drip tray, you may hear a sizzling or gurgling sound coming from your fridge.
Fridge Walls — the interior walls of the refrigerator expand and contract as the temperature changes, which can lead to a loud popping noise, cracking or clicking noise.
Fortunately, all of these sounds are normal and a sign that your fridge is working. You shouldn’t worry about them unless the sound is too loud to bear.
Noisy Refrigerator Compressor FAQs
How do I know if my fridge is noisy?
Fridges are designed to operate at a sound level of between 32 to 47 decibels, so if yours falls into this range, you don’t need to worry. If you think your refrigerator is making a noise louder than this, then you may have a noisy fridge and will want to have a look at what is causing the sound.
Do I need to buy a new refrigerator if my one is noisy?
Not necessarily! There can be many causes of a noise refrigerator and many of these problems are fixable. However, if you have tried the steps we have listed above and have had no luck, it may be time to think about investing in a new fridge. To make sure, you could always get a professional out to have a look at your fridge and see if they can fix the issue for you.
Can I replace the compressor instead of getting a new fridge?
If the compressor is broken but the fridge is fairly new or in good working order otherwise, replacing a compressor is worth it. However, if your fridge is old, it may be a good idea just to buy a new appliance, instead of spending money on replacing parts.
If you do decide to replace the compressor, we recommend you contact a professional to do so. Fridges are large appliances with many different parts, and you’ll need to know what you are doing.
Noisy Refrigerator Compressor: Summary
If your loud refrigerator is disrupting your life, you now know there are many different ways you can restore some peace in your home. We hope this article will help you to reduce refrigerator noise in your kitchen, without having to go to the extent of buying a whole new appliance. Make sure there is always enough room between the condenser fans at the back of the fridge and any sound-dampening material you use to prevent overheating, and don’t try to fix your fridge yourself without the help of a professional.