Normal Sounds a Refrigerator Makes

Woman getting food out of refrigerator
Believe it or not, not all sounds a refrigerator makes are indicative of a problem. In fact, many of them actually mean the appliance is running as it should. If you wake to hear your machine making any of these noises in the middle of the night, grab some water and head back to bed knowing that everything is running smoothly.

  • Clicking/ ticking. This clock-like noise usually means the defrost time is turning on or off.
  • Gargling. A gargling noise can often be heard coming from the door and usually means water is trapped in the rain tube. It should go away after a few (3 - 7) seconds.
  • Crashing. Ice cubes were just dumped from the tray to the bucket below.
  • Humming. The ice maker is filling with water.
  • Snap. This is the sound a water dispenser chute makes once it closes. You should only be hearing this right after getting a drink of water.
  • Hissing/ sizzling. Refrigerators that self-defrost may do this when dripping water hits a defrost heater.
  • Vibrating. If your model has an ice maker feature but is not connected to a water source, it will occasionally vibrate.
  • Buzzing. Older models may buzz throughout the day due to the circulation of refrigerant.
  • Squeaking. New refrigerators may squeak as the door closes or opens. This is because the rubber around the doors has been newly sealed and is very strong. After a bit of regular use, this noise should go away.

Sounds You Should Not be Hearing from a Refrigerator

Though we’ve covered many noises that are normal, dare we even say healthy, for a refrigerator to make, it’s important to note that many other noises mean something is broken, disconnected, or wrong.

  • Loud clanking noises may mean that the gears behind your refrigerator are rubbing against each other and causing friction.
  • Loud rattling often signifies a gear has become loose and is hitting into something it shouldn’t be.
  • Dripping sounds could indicate that you're experiencing a leak. Even if no water is visible, it’s possible water is dripping throughout or behind your model.

A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to how loud the noise is that your appliance is making. If it can be heard in other rooms or frequently throughout the day, you should have your refrigerator inspected.

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