No household appliance is completely silent, including refrigerators. Refrigerators require the use of a motor and compressor to work and cool properly. Units with built-in ice and water dispensers have water that enters the refrigerator through supply lines to create ice and dispense both water and ice. A fridge or freezer making a loud humming noise may not necessarily be cause for concern, but some troubleshooting might be useful.
Normal Ice Maker Sounds
Many refrigerators have automatic ice makers that create ice cubes and fill a bin on a constant basis. When the ice maker fills with water, it can make a humming noise. If this noise only happens when the ice maker fills with water, the sound is normal and isn't a sign of a problem. You'll often hear the ice fall into the bin first followed by the refilling process.
Ice Maker Humming
A loud humming or buzzing noise that occurs on a constant basis, such as every 15 minutes or so, might actually indicate a problem with the ice maker. Verify that the ice maker is turned on and that the water supply lines are firmly connected to the refrigerator. If the ice maker is turned on but there is no water supply, the ice maker will hum loudly and may eventually become damaged if water does not enter the unit. If everything seems to be connected correctly but water still isn't entering the ice maker, you might need a plumber to check out the problem.
Air Vent: Fridge Making Rattling Noise
Another potential cause of humming happens when items have been placed too close to the air vents along the sides and back of the refrigerator. Items may rattle against the walls and prevent proper airflow, creating a humming sound. Try rearranging the food in your fridge to move it away from the vents to see if that stops the sound. Pay attention to the spacing any time you load your fridge with more food to prevent rattling and humming.
Uneven Fridge Installation
If the floor in your kitchen isn't level or the leveling legs on your fridge aren't positioned correctly, the appliance could be uneven. When the fridge isn't level, the doors might not stay closed properly, or they might be misaligned. This could result in the fridge making a rattling noise.
If your brand new fridge is making noise, grab a level and check to make sure it's even. You can adjust the fridge by rotating the adjustable legs or rollers on the base. Remove the grill on the front of the fridge to reveal the adjustable components. Turn the screw on adjustable rollers or rotate the adjustable legs to move the fridge up or down. When you get the fridge level, listen to see if the humming sound goes away.
Compressor Needs Cleaning
Your refrigerator's compressor makes a normal sound during operation, but you shouldn't be able to hear it from another room. If you can, it might need cleaning or repairs. The compressor on the refrigerator may get dirty over time, causing a humming sound during operation. To resolve this situation, disconnect power to the refrigerator and remove the panel in the back. Use a soft brush to clean the condenser fan and the compressor. Replace the panel, and restore power to the unit.
Meredith Jameson writes early childhood parenting and family health articles for various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from San Francisco State University.