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Noisy Fridges And Freezers

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  Fridge & Freezer Noises

We find ourselves asked about noisy fridge freezers a fair bit as well as the odd question on noise from a standalone fridge or freezer although complaints of noise from separate fridges and freezers are more rare.

In this article we will try to explain what the different sounds and noises that you can commonly encounter on a fridge freezer for the most part but some can apply to standalone fridge and freezer models as well.

Do bear in mind however that what one person thinks is a gentle humming noise may sound like a dentist's drill to others as it depends on how you regard noise, where the fridge is installed and a myriad of other contributing factors.

One good piece of advice is that, if it is at all possible in any way, never have a fridge freezer installed in the same room as you sleep, get it as far away as you can as they all emit some sort of noise at some point.

When a normal fridge fridge freezer is plugged in and working the compressor (or motor) will be running up to 60% of the time you have it switched on and, if it is a frost free model it will often run for more than 80% of the time it is powered up. What that means is that, for at least 60% of the time your fridge or fridge freezer will be making some sort of noise, regardless of how quiet it might be or, not as the case may be and there is nothing that you can do to alter this.

  Fridge Freezer Humming Noise

A gentle humming noise is usually perfectly normal and will most probably simply be the compressor running as it should, circulating the gas that makes the refrigeration system operate.

It is actually more of a worry if you never hear a gentle humming noise as that is often indicative of a failure. But, some fridge freezers are very quiet indeed and the important part is that the fridge freezer is cooling correctly.

On newer fridge freezers we now have what is known as "linear compressors", these are compressors that, unlike their older relatives that would only switch either on or off, will actually run at an infinitely variable rate. Think on it like a dimmer switch, you only use the power that you need instead of having all or nothing. These compressors were introduced to reduce energy consumption but an interesting side effect is that the seem to also run quieter. The downside is, they are more expensive.

  Cracking And Groaning Noises

After it was discovered that the old Freon based gasses were a bad thing, creating a hole in the atmosphere and culling polar bears etc, we switched onto a gas known as R134a as a stopgap measure and, from there to a gas known as R600a.

R600a is a butane based refrigerant gas, very close to normal Calor type gas and, yes, it can also ignite and burn just like its relative but, in any domestic refrigerator the quantities of gas in use are miniscule. If you set a flame to it the most you would normally get is a loud pop and maybe a fright under most circumstances. But we drift from the noise thing.

When R600 came along we started to get more complaints about cracking and groaning noises from fridges, freezers and fridge freezers.

The official line is that it is due to expansion and contraction within the refrigerator cabinet as, these days, the evaporators are almost always hidden behind the rear walls to make the fridge and freezer easier to clean. 

There were all kinds of theories as to why this happened and some manufacturers even resorted to injecting oil into the walls of the cabinet to try to quell the noises and wiggle out exchanging the fridge freezer. Problem being of course that even a new one could end up doing the same thing and making the same cracking or groaning noises so exchanging the machine was probably going to be futile.

Often the problem was never solved.

Whether this is caused by the gas, the new eco-energy saving designs or not nobody really knows for sure but, chances are that if you experience this, it is entirely possible it cannot be cured.

The evaporator and fan motor in a GE American fridge freezer

  Whirring Or Scraping Noise

This is usually related to a fan motor and will usually only be heard on frost free fridge freezers and American style fridge freezers. 

Normally it is caused by a build up of ice around one of the fans, how many there are and where they are can vary a lot depending on the make and model of fridge freezer. But, 99/100 this will be where the problem lies.

The trick is to work out why the ice is building up in most cases.

Of course it can also be indicative of a faulty fan motor which is again, not entirely uncommon. 

If the fridge or freezer isn't cooling properly and you get a whining noise from inside it's possible that the fan motor or, motors, have been jammed up with ice.

  Clicking And Buzzing Noises

There are exceptions, the most notable being the Whirlpool American fridge freezers with clicking noises but, often this is the compressor cutting out on the overheat relay. In other words, not good news usually as it will often indicate a compressor failure, especially if you hear a repeated "click, buzz" repeated and the fridge fails to cool down.

On large American side by side units there are electronic modules used that control the various functions such as water and ice. On these electronic modules there are relays that, if the control board goes faulty or the relays fail, can give an almost constant clicking sound.

Gravatar
Tracie Russell
Reply
Quote :
Sounds like it is over freezing and that, depending on the model, may well cause exactly what you describe.

And, that is a fault.


Quote :
Sounds like it is over freezing and that, depending on the model, may well cause exactly what you describe.

And, that is a fault.


Thank you. It's a Hotpoint xex95i1tw. Been robbed off by Hotpoint about the noise and also the freezing issue. Told me what's noisy to one might not be to another, it's the gasses expending, it\'s because it's a frost free ff etc. And the freezing of food is oh well, it's designed to be very cool! Yes but not make food rock solid! I've had to throw away that much food since I've had this new ff but Hotpoint customer service and engineers defending the company with their lives! Read quite a few similar reviews from unhappy Hotpoint owners but no, it's not a fault! Last engineer said we were using them wrong! It's a fridge! You put food in there? Never been any more complicated than that! So in your opinion it was a fault? If they change parts for new will it solve the problem or do you think it's a design fault and the thing will never work right? Been waiting for a repair for 3 weeks and coming next week! I've had to buy a little 2nd hand fridge to tide me over. Defeats the purpose of having a brand new ff in the first place lol.

Gravatar
Kenneth
In fairness, with frost free models putting lots of fresh veg or fruit and even putting warm items in to chill can cause condensation, moisture, that will or can also cause that to happen.

Frost free refrigeration is not just as simple. Not by a long way.

You will also get noise from gas expansion on most modern domestic refrigeration, just the way they are really sometimes gurgling or giving the odd cracking noise. Not a lot they can do about that sadly.

Equally a faulty door seal allowing moisture in, a faulty thermostat, fan motor and a host of things can get exactly what you describe but without seeing it and a bit of investigation it really is not possible to say for sure what the issue is.

Gravatar
Tracie Russell
Hotpoint Fridge Freezer
FF just over a year old. Never worked right. Freezes all food in bottom drawer of fridge, supposed to be a chiller for meat/fish but everything rock solid! Also VERY noisy. I mean my FF could be used for special fx in a haunted house! It moans, groans, squeals, clicks, bangs, ticks, sounds like a man with a gruff voice mumbling, few times I\'ve been caught out rushing upstairs to my daughter crying and it\'s the FF! The latest noise sounds like cow on a motorbike! Not exaggerating, in the kitchen we have to raise our voices above the noise. Told it was \'normal\' but now fridge has stopped working completely (ice at the back behind the drawer that freezes everything) and the noises have stopped! Apart from the fan turning and usual very quiet noises of it working. So what could that be? I was told the fan pushes the cold air up into the fridge so Now that the fridge has stopped working, why have the noises stopped? What could be faulty that have stopped it working and stopped the noises? The freezer is working perfectly, the fan nor compressor is iced up. At times the fridge has felt too cold and items on other shelves have frozen. Sometimes it doesn\'t feel as cold as it should. It\'s been problematic since day one! Any advice gratefully accepted
Gravatar
Kenneth
Sounds like it is over freezing and that, depending on the model, may well cause exactly what you describe.

And, that is a fault.

Gravatar
Marina
Zanussi FridgeFreezer noise suddenly stops buzzing & Then it clicks every few minutes until the buzzing starts again!
I was given a fridge freezer 14 years ago, so it\'s old! It seems to switch itself old as the buzzing stops & it starts clicking then it will start to buzz again & seems to switch back on, also my fridge section isn\'t cold but freezer section is ok, although I would say it\'s starting to defrost slightly when the buzzing stops! Could it catch fire? Or will it just stop working ?
Gravatar
Kenneth
That is classic compressor failure symptoms.

Basically at the age of it, it is not viable to repair. Time for a new one.

Gravatar
Craig
Noises
Hi All

I have a full height fridge freezer that\'s probably around 10 years old now and it has started making a really strange noise. It sounds like there is a large cat or small leopard purring (I\'m not crazy) and it comes out goes (like a large cat or small leopard would do if it was purring)

Anyone heard of this before and could recommend a solution? Its actually quite a nice sound but I am slightly concerned about a potential imminent failure.

Cheers

Gravatar
Kenneth
A fan motor fault or compressor perhaps.

With no model info it is impossible to say much more.

Gravatar
John
Compressor bad?
Hi

Fridge freezer was freezing food for a couple weeks in the fridge (thermo not working right?), then yesterday the compressor was making whirring noises like it was worn out/dry (does it do that?) and got very hot to the touch. Turning off the temp control dial to 0 then back on, and it wouldn\'t start. You could hear a click now and then like it was trying to but nothing. Overheat protection? Unplugged it for 30 minutes, switched back on and it started up ok, getting cool on the pipes etc but the noise is still there, not normal compressor noise but constant medium pitched whirring.

Does this sound more like the compressor is dying/dead than the thermo, both or?

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks

Gravatar
Kenneth
Yes, sounds like the compressor has had it!

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