Refrigerator Makes Humming Noise

Refrigerator Makes Humming Noise

nicO and 3 contributors
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Your refrigerator makes humming noises as part of normal operation, but sometimes the volume or duration increases a lot. Let's look at some possible causes after we look at what is normal.

Your refrigerator will make some noises as it operates. Sometimes, what is normal might not sound that way.

Here are the things that normally hum, usually not too noticeable: the ice maker, the ice dispensing system, the evaporator fan, and the condenser fan.

The compressor makes a noticeable low hum. Sometimes, the hum grows louder when the refrigerator has to cool down more, like after a defrost cycle.

Changes in the humming can happen. For example, you may have moved your fridge from your kitchen to a different location, like a garage.

Changing the cabinet work or flooring can make your fridge sound louder.

Humming can also be amplified by cabinet work if the fridge is touching it.

If nothing here applies, move to the causes.

Causes

1

A fridge out of level might also make strange noises. Level your fridge.

  • Start by adjusting the front feet. Use a bubble level and make sure your fridge is level side-to-side.
  • Tilt the fridge back slightly. This will allow doors to close on their own.
2

Your Ice maker may hum more loudly if it is struggling to operate properly. You may notice that the ice maker isn't producing ice. Possibly, the mold heater is failing, and the unit can't remove the cubes easily, and it gets noisy. You might also find that the tray drive on flip-over and twist units is failing, and it gets very noisy when it tries to empty the cubes.

The best way to check this is to observe your fridge closely (especially listen) when it is trying to produce ice. If you hear the unusual humming at that point, you have probably found the issue.

Here is a Refrigerator Ice Makers in case a replacement is needed.

The water inlet valve can fail as well and sometimes makes a louder hum when that is occurring, especially if the plunger is jammed. You may get no ice production or very small pieces because the valve won't open properly. Here is a guide from one model showing how to replace it.

Here is a link to some Refrigerator Valves for replacement.

If the ice-making system checks out, go on to the next item.

3

Sometimes, an ice block can form, and the auger can't break it free. Then, you will likely hear a humming noise each time it tries to dispense. You should check the ice bucket for a clog and break it up with a wooden implement or use a steamer or warm water to melt it.

Also, the auger may be bent, or the motor can fail and not start, although it can hum.

Another problem can be the water inlet valve for the water dispensing system. This valve can also fail and make a humming noise. Often, it may continue to work for some time, but the noise lets you know something is going wrong.

Many models combine the valve for controlling water to the ice maker(s) with one for controlling water for the water dispenser. Others use a single valve for controlling water flow to the fridge and then have valves that feed the other components. All of these can hum, so take note of what is going on when you hear the hum.

If the dispensing system checks out, go on to the next item.

4

Listen to where the humming is coming from. Does it sound like it is inside the Refrigerator compartment or Freezer compartment?

If the hum comes from another location, skip this and go down to Condenser Fan Failure.

Ice, bad bearings, and electrical failures can all cause the evaporator fan to start making a humming sound.

The fan blades may start striking ice build-up because of a failed defrost system. Running a forced defrost cycle is a good idea to see if there is just too much ice. You can look at the back wall of the freezer; if there is ice on the back wall, there is likely ice in the evaporator area, which may impede the fan.

On Twin-Cool units, the evaporator fan in the back of the fresh food (refrigerator) compartment can commonly rub against ice buildup (loud) as they are prone to develop ice on the fresh food evaporator near the evaporator fan. A forced defrost is a good first step. Other issues:

  • Sometimes, the motor may be jammed with ice and may hum.
  • The fan blades can strike ice and make a louder humming sound. (usually very loud and shuts down when the Fresh Food doors are opened, especially on dual evaporator fridges)
  • The sound of failed bearings on the motor will make a very audible hum.
  • The fan may be unable to start and will hum instead. Replace it if this occurs.

Here's a link to refrigerator parts to find evaporator fan motors for various models.

Here's a guide for an LG refrigerator evaporator fan motor replacement. Other makes are similar.

Here are a couple of guides for Whirlpool Evaporator Fan replacement:

Newer models

Older Models

And a guide for Samsung fresh food (refrigerator) compartment evaporator fan.

If these things check out, go on to the next item.

5

Occasionally, the motor or its bearings start to fail, and the fan becomes much louder. Sometimes, debris may make its way close to the fan and create a humming noise when the blades strike it. If the fan fails entirely, you likely won't have much sound at all since the unit will shut down the compressor because of thermal overload.

Here is a guide for replacing the condenser fan motor on an LG refrigerator.

Here's a link to Refrigerator Parts, where you can search for Condenser Fans

If things checked out, go on to the next step.

6

Abnormal compressor sounds, like loud humming, occur when the compressor never slows down or stops. Many compressors are set up to run continuously but not at a high setting. If the compressor is continuously running more loudly, you should check your refrigerator for some of these items; some aren't really compressor failures, but the compressor will be affected as far as making noise. Some will hum when they can't start.

Excessive Frost

If you see frost building on the rear panel of your freezer, it suggests a failure in the defrost system. The evaporator probably has an accumulation of frost or ice. These will impede airflow, and the compressor will work harder trying to cool the freezer properly. You probably have a failed defrost system.

Refrigerant Leak

This is harder to spot, but you might hear a slight hiss right after the compressor shuts off (if it ever does) or, more commonly, see oil on portions of the refrigerant tubing near the compressor.

When you remove the cover of your evaporator, you might see frost on your evaporator that only covers a portion of the coils. Usually, the freezer and refrigerator will be showing higher temperatures as well. You will likely hear the compressor running more.

Refrigerant leaks need professional assistance. If you don't see any issues go on to the next item.

Sealed System Plugged

There may be debris in your sealed system so that refrigerant can't flow. This is a job for a qualified technician. Usually, there will be little or no cooling in the refrigerator if this is the case.

This can occur if a refrigerator is moved improperly. Tipping many refrigerators to the side will allow compressor lubricant to get into the capillary tube, and once there, it is very difficult to move it through.

If you have checked these things and found nothing, you should consult an appliance repair professional.

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