5 Ways to Quiet a Noisy Refrigerator Compressor

a noisy refrigerator

Last updated: December 18, 2020 at 15:42 pm

There are a lot of things in a house that can make noise such as the central heating, dishwashers, washing machines, extractor fans and even the people who live there.

But:

A refrigerator is the only one that is constantly running. If the noise is irritating you it’s not an option to turn it off for some relief. You also might find it difficult to move it elsewhere away from your living space if you’re in a normal sized house. For this reason, if a fridge is noisier than it should be, it can be a major source of stress.

In this article, we’ll go through which noises are completely normal, and detail 5 ways to quieten a noisy refrigerator compressor to reduce the noise in your kitchen. If that doesn’t sound achievable, we also have an article on ready-made quiet fridge freezers which would cut out any additional work.

Noises A Fridge Is Supposed to Make

  • Firstly, you can expect creaking and popping noises. As the walls of the fridge heat and cool they will contract and relax
  • You may hear drips, sizzles and hisses as the internal drip dray fills up inside
  • If you have an ice tray, you’ll likely hear drips, clatters and bangs as it makes ice
  • The fan in the compressor will also make a whirring noise
  • Sometimes the fan will be louder if the door is left open and it needs to work harder to cool itself back down

Most fridges make between 32db and 45db of sound. If you measure it and yours is making more than this there may well be a problem. You can check the sound level by downloaded a decibel metre app for your smartphone.

5 Ways to Reduce Refrigerator Compressor Noise

1. Make Sure Your Fridge Is Level

This doesn’t directly fix the noise from the compressor but if the fridge is not level then vibrations caused by the machinery that powers the fridge may increase. This will cause a significant increase in noise. To combat it ensure the fridge is completely level and if it’s stored in a compartment make sure it fits snugly to minimise movement. If noise is still an issue when you’ve done this then the problem is likely the compressor.

2. Try and Make Sure It’s the Right Size for You

This may sound strange. After all what difference can the size make? One of the key components of the fridge staying cool is how much there is inside it. If the fridge is full, the items become cold and help maintain the temperature. If it’s normally half empty, the compressor will have to work harder to keep a cool, even temperature

Therefore if you have a fridge that is too large, noise is likely to be more of an issue. Try and get one in a size that allows it to be 75% full most of the time.

Tip:

You can also fill the bottom shelf the the fridge with bottles of water. I do this to keep the fridge full and also make myself drink more water at the same time – win/win!

3. Apply Soundproofing Materials

Each fridge has coils that help to cool it. You can’t cover these as it would cause the fridge to overheat and may break it altogether. Instead, you can apply a soundproof barrier to the wall behind the fridge. There are a couple of materials you can use.

The first option is acoustic foam tiles. These can be easily fitted to a wall and if the grill at the back of the fridge is touching the, it can reduce noise from the compressor by between 50-90%. The fridge may not be silent afterwards but unless you’re standing right beside it, you shouldn’t be able to hear it.

The second option is mass loaded vinyl. This material is very thin and easy to mould into any space at all. You can put this on the back wall instead of acoustic foam for the same effect. Mass loaded vinyl both blocks noise from passing through and absorbs it and so it greatly reduces the sound that escapes. If your fridge is in a small alcove you could even line the alcove itself with MLV and deaden the sound even more.

4. Put the Fridge on an Acoustic Mat

Even when working in tip-top condition the compressor will make some noise. Soundproofing behind the fridge will take care of part of it. The walls are not the only places affected by sound though. If it is sitting on a solid floor, particularly one made of wood, this can transmit a lot of sound. You can buy an acoustic mat to put the fridge on which will reduce and absorb the sound.

5. Perform Maintenance

Fridges can be complicated so you may want to call in a professional for this. If you’re fairly good at repairing items though feel free to give it a go yourself. Make sure it is unplugged before you start – safety first!

Take off the back panel and you should be able to see the fan. Check to make sure it isn’t damaged and if all is well vacuum around the area to remove any dust or dirt. You should then wipe the fan down with a damp cloth and dry it. While doing this make sure it’s securely in place and not coming loose. If it is, tighten it or even replace the screw altogether.

You can then look at the compressor. Look for signs of rust, missing parts or wear and tear. If you find any damage, then you could investigate getting it replaced. If this is not cost-effective and/or the fridge is incredibly old, you might want to consider replacing it. Some modern fridges don’t use compressors so that would solve the problem of noise completely.

Conclusion

A fridge will always make some noise as part of its normal operation. If you’re finding it annoying, then moving it to another location may be enough to resolve it. If this isn’t possible for you then ensure that the fridge is placed on a level surface, preferably in an alcove or enclosure and try to keep it three-quarters full.

Still not enough? Try adding soundproofing materials or even replacing the fridge. It is important to choose a solution that you can both afford and keeps the noise that is acceptable to you. Home should be your haven and hopefully, these tips will help.

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About the Author: AJ

Hi, my name's AJ! I write about living a quieter life, soundproofing tips and recommending the best quiet products here on Quiet Living.