Rattling Sound in a Refrigerator

A refrigerator may produce several noises during its normal operation that will grab your attention. From the whirring of fans to the crash of ice dumping into the bin from your ice maker, the refrigerator is far from the quietest appliance in the home. Most of these noises are nothing to be concerned about, but one noise that you may need to pay attention to is rattling. While it may also be harmless, a rattle can sometimes indicate something that needs to be repaired. Knowing what is causing the rattle will help you make this determination.

If you know where to look, you can find the source of your refrigerator's rattle.

Compressor Noise

The heart of your refrigerator is the compressor, which is definitely the part you never want to replace because of the expense. This device, located on the back side or bottom of the refrigerator, compresses the refrigerant to heat it up during the cooling cycle. Occasionally a compressor will rattle as it turns on or off throughout the day and night. For some compressors, this is a normal noise, but it shouldn't be too much of a disruption. If the rattling is very noisy and coming from the compressor, the bad news is that there is not likely a repair that will fix the noise, which means the compressor needs replacement. But as long as the refrigerator is working, you may want to tolerate the noise until you absolutely must replace the compressor because of the expense. Buying a new refrigerator may be the best option.

Condenser Fan

Located at the bottom or rear of the refrigerator, the condenser fan blows air on the condenser coil and often accumulates dust and debris. Both the condenser coil on the exterior of the refrigerator and the fan should be cleaned in regular intervals to avoid excess buildup of dust and dirt. If the fan blades get too dirty, they may produce a buzzing or rattling sound that can be annoying. If the coils are dirty and the fan is not functioning properly, it can also affect cooling efficiency in the appliance.

Drain Pan

When the melted frost in a freezer with an automatic defroster runs down off the cooling coil, it drips into a pan in the freezer and then goes through a drain and is carried away by a tube which leads to a drain pan beneath the refrigerator where the water evaporates. Sometimes this pan can come loose after years of gentle vibration caused by the refrigerator. A loose drain pan can rattle when the compressor is running and may need to be tacked back in place or otherwise supported to prevent the rattle.

Defrost Timer Motor

The defrost timer is one of the components of the automatic defrost system in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator, which lets the system know how long to run the heater to melt frost before returning to the normal mode. The motor that operates the timer sometimes develops a rattling sound when it begins to malfunction. Replacing the timer is the logical way to repair this problem.