A refrigerator has many components, like a compressor, condenser, evaporator, expansion device, coils, and fans. Their functioning usually requires a lot of electrical power, and they might produce clicking sounds during their operation.
However, when these clicking sounds become excessively loud, repeat pretty often, or become continuous, it is a sign that one or more of the components isn’t working usually and might be drawing excessive electricity to maintain its function.
In this article, I have listed some of the most common causes of clicking noises from your refrigerator and how to fix each. Read until the end for answers to other common refrigerator-related issues.
Common Causes of Refrigerator Clicking Noises
If you are going to read nothing else from this article, here are some of the most common causes of refrigerator clicking noises:
- Dirty condenser coils
- Bad start relay
- Faulty compressor
- Broken condenser fan
- Broken defrost timer
- Ice maker issues
Now, let’s look at these causes in greater detail.
Dirty Condenser Coils
Condenser coils are those long tubings at the back of the fridge. Their primary function is heat dissipation so that the refrigerant can continue functioning. However, since these usually face the wall, dirt and dust tend to accumulate on them. This leads to them being neglected, leading to many issues with the refrigerator.
When not cleaned, the condenser coils become less efficient when dissipating the heat absorbed by the refrigerant. This forces the fridge to cycle the refrigerant more often and, in turn, produce that clicking sound.
How to fix:
- Turn your refrigerator around to access the back.
- Disconnect power.
- If the coils aren’t exposed, you might have to remove the bottom panel.
- Vacuum over the coils to remove coarse dust.
- Use a condenser coil brush and scrape the dust for a deeper clean.
- Avoid using any liquid to clean as it may damage the coils.
- Reattach the bottom panel and reconnect to the power supply.
Bad Start Relay
The start relay is the component that delivers electrical power to the condenser. This is, therefore, an essential component for the cooling system to function correctly. However, if you notice clicking sounds along with the inability of your refrigerator to keep things cold, this might point toward an issue with the start relay.
How to fix:
- Turn the refrigerator around, disconnect from the power supply, and remove the access panel.
- The starter relay is usually located beside the compressor and may be hidden under a cap.
- Remove the cap to expose the start relay.
- Remove the start relay and replace it with a new starter relay.
- Put back the cap and cover the access panel.
The compressor is involved in the circulation of the refrigerant. It first compresses the air, followed by rapid expansion leading to the cooling effect that keeps the items in your fridge cold.
Many factors can contribute to the ineffective functioning of the compressor, including a lack of power supply, inadequate refrigerant, condenser coils not functioning correctly, or wear and tear over time. In such cases, the condenser will not only produce a lot of sounds. Still, it will also be unable to cool the items in the fridge and might also draw excessive voltage leading to increased electricity bills.
If your refrigerator is working but unable to cool items in it, we have a separate helpful article.
How to fix:
We do not suggest that you try to repair a faulty compressor. It is best to replace the compressor and make sure you consult a qualified technician in this regard since it cannot be done at home.
Broken Condenser Fan
To cool several components of your fridge, fans are usually placed at the base to blow the cool air at the condenser, thus preventing the refrigerant from overheating. Yes, your fridge has fans!
If these fans malfunction or get stuck, they might also produce clicking sounds. You might also notice that your refrigerator isn’t keeping items cold. If you hear rapid clicking sounds, it could indicate that something is impeding the fans’ movements, such as ice.
How to fix:
Fixing a broken condenser fan can be pretty tough. Therefore, it is suggested that you replace it. We highly recommend not trying this yourself if you aren’t a qualified technician. Make sure you get professional help to avoid any unnecessary complications.
Broken Defrost Timer
The defrost timer’s primary function is to ensure that the compressor turns off when the required amount of cooling is achieved. However, if this timer is faulty, your refrigerator will keep working excessively, produce excessive ice, and draw a lot of voltage, thus leading to the clicking noise.
How to fix:
Here you would again need to replace the defrost timer with the help of a professional since it can be challenging without extensive knowledge of the refrigerator’s internal circuits.
Ice Maker Issues
If your refrigerator has an ice maker, you’ll often hear several sounds while it functions and ejects ice. However, if you’re consistently hearing clicking sounds from it and have looked through all of the components above, then it is very likely that the icemaker is the source of these sounds.
An icemaker has many components, including a compressor, evaporator, water valves, and ice scoops, and due to improper functioning of any of these, clicking sounds may be heard. In addition to that, you might also encounter other icemaker issues, such as it making too much or too little ice.
We have written a separate article that you can check if your ice machine is making too much ice.
How to fix:
We recommend you consult a qualified technician concerning issues with the ice maker.
Is it Normal For a Refrigerator to Make a Clicking Noise?
As mentioned earlier, sometimes, the normal functioning of the refrigerator might also produce clicking sounds. So as long as the sounds are heard occasionally, do not impact the functioning of the fridge, and are of low intensity, you can assume that these sounds might just be normal and nothing to worry about.
We have a helpful article with some insights if you own a mini fridge and it keeps clicking.
How To Prevent Your Refrigerator From Making Clicking Noises
To prevent your refrigerator from making annoying sounds, you have to ensure a few things:
- Make sure your fridge is clean. Clean it once every three to four months, both the interior and exterior, so that any dust or debris does not hinder the performance.
- Defrost the freezer once you notice that the ice thickness is getting close to 1 cm. This can conserve energy and improve efficiency leading to a lesser likelihood of clicking sounds.
- Avoid overloading the refrigerator. Sometimes keeping excessive items in the fridge can cause it to work excessively to keep things fresh and, therefore, might draw additional power resulting in clicking sounds.
- Keep a few inches between the wall and the fridge so that heat dissipation can be more effective and overheating is prevented.
- Do not place the refrigerator in hotter rooms, especially in the sun, since it can cause the fridge to overheat, and it also might require the fridge to work excessively, drawing a lot more voltage since the ambient temperature is much higher.
- If your refrigerator has an ice maker, change its filters once every three to four months to maintain maximum efficiency.
- A usual refrigerator lasts between 10 to 20 years. If your refrigerator is getting old and has issues popping up quite often, you should consider replacing your fridge with a newer, more efficient model.
Stop Your Fridge from Making Popping Noises
Sometimes you hear a loud popping sound from the fridge. This sound can occur normally due to the expansion and compression of the refrigerant within the condenser coils or the compressor. However, if you hear continuous loud pops, the condenser coils or compressors may not be working well, and you should get them examined and fixed.
Seek Help If Your Refrigerator Still Makes Noise
The fixes we suggest above should work. However, if you have tried all the remedies mentioned above and your complaint still exists, then you should contact a qualified technician so that you can avoid further damage to your fridge and excessive losses.
Why is my refrigerator making a clicking noise when it starts?
If you hear a clicking sound when the fridge starts, something could be wrong with the start relay, condenser fan, or compressor since they draw the most voltage when the fridge starts.
What does it mean if my refrigerator makes a clicking noise when it shuts off?
Here the start relay is usually the culprit. While shutting off, there is a sudden change in voltage and current. This may damage the start relay and, over time, result in the production of clicking noises while shutting off.
Is it normal for a refrigerator to make a clicking noise when the ice maker is on?
As the ice maker functions, it may make some clicking sounds that are produced due to the operation of its components, especially while ejecting ice. As long as these sounds are less intense, less often, and disappear after the ice maker has done its task, they aren’t something you should worry about.
What is the clicking noise coming from my refrigerator?
The clicking noise can originate from several components in the refrigerator. You can check each component individually to see whether you can locate its source. If unsure, try going through all the above fixes to see whether the sound disappears.
Is the clicking noise coming from my refrigerator a sign of a problem?
Normally a few low clicking sounds that are neither continuous nor loud do not indicate any issue with the fridge. However, if you have noticed that your fridge didn’t produce any sounds before and is now suddenly producing these clicking noises, it might be an indication that there is some issue with the refrigerator.
How can I tell if the clicking noise coming from my refrigerator is a serious problem?
Firstly, the louder the noise, the more likely the issue is serious rather than a simple fix. Secondly, if the clicking sound is continuous and you have not heard similar sounds from your refrigerator before, this could be a sign that the issue is serious. Thirdly, if these sounds are also accompanied by poor functioning of your refrigerator, then the issue could be serious and needs rapid attention.
Remember that sometimes when you hear clicking sounds, there might be no impact on the refrigerator’s performance because it can keep up with the requirements by overworking itself. In such cases, it is important to note whether these sounds were there from the beginning or have just started recently. In addition, an increase in electric consumption might also point towards an issue that could get serious if left untreated.
What should I do if the clicking noise coming from my refrigerator is a serious problem?
If you can identify that your issue is serious, we suggest you contact a qualified professional refrigerator repair technician to prevent further damage.
How much does it cost to fix a refrigerator that is making a clicking noise?
The cost of fixing usually depends on the cause of the clicking noise. Sometimes the cause can be fixed by cleaning or removing any debris stuck so that it won’t cost you anything. On the other hand, you might have to replace the affected components for more serious issues, and it might cost you up to $500 or even more for expensive components like the compressor.
Where can I find a qualified technician to fix my refrigerator that is making a clicking noise?
Usually, the brand you buy your refrigerator from offers repair services and a warranty, so if possible, try contacting them first regarding the issue. In addition to that, you can search your locality on Google for nearby repair centers or qualified personnel available to fix your refrigerator.