Fridge Making a Clicking Sound? Try These Simple Fixes

Written by Jason Hutchinson
6 Min read
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There aren’t many more annoying issues in the home than when your fridge is making a clicking noise. But, what if we told you there’s no need to call out the repair man just yet.

Sure, that unruly clicking can be frustrating, but there’s normally a very good reason for it. Plus, it doesn’t always have to mean an expensive repair bill.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most common reasons why your refrigerator is making clicking noises and what you can do to solve the problem. Most of the time there’s a super-simple solution.

So, what are those common reasons behind that fridge clicking sound?

7 reasons why your fridge is making a clicking noise

  1. Dirty condenser coils
  2. Bad start relay
  3. Faulty compressor
  4. Broken condenser fan
  5. Broken defrost timer
  6. Ice maker issues
  7. It could be nothing

Dirty condenser coils

The condenser coils on your refrigerator are often seen but not heard. Sitting in the back, bottom, or sometimes behind an access panel on your fridge, they are easily missed. This can mean they regularly end up coated in lint, kitchen grease, or pet hair.

But becoming covered in dust or grime can hinder or even prevent these coils from doing their important work. The job of the condenser coils is to dissipate the heat from the condensed air in your machine after it’s been through the compressor. Once the gas has been cooled it can start the compression cycle again.

When these coils are covered in dirt it’s more difficult for the heat to escape. This can cause the compressor to start working harder to try and reach the correct temperature. So the clicking you’re hearing might actually be the compressor working overtime. Luckily, there’s a simple fix for the problem.

All you need to do to prevent this particular click is ensure your coils are kept nice and clean. Go over them with a duster, or dry cloth, or add the hose attachment to your vacuum and suck up the offending dust.

However, always make sure you’ve unplugged your fridge before attempting to clean the coil and avoid using any caustic cleaning chemicals. Just keep it nice and dry.

Faulty compressor

As we mentioned above, your refrigerator essentially runs on coolant (a super cool gas). This coolant is stored in the compressor. Should something happen to this component, you will start to hear the refrigerator clicking or you’ll be greeted by the aromas of food going bad in the fridge, as it will no longer be keeping cool.

Unfortunately, if it’s broken or not working as it should, you may be hearing the sound of the refrigerator compressor clicking on and off. This could mean bigger issues.

Anything from the fridge light not turning off to a power overload could be causing the problem. So, it may be time to call the professionals.

Broken condenser fan

Another area of that whole compressor/condenser cycle is the compressor fan. This essentially blows air over the condenser coil to help spread the cooled gas around the system. If your refrigerator is making a clicking sound, but your food is staying cool, then the fan could be the culprit.

It could be that the fan has become jammed or that it’s knocking against another surface. All you need to do is unplug the machine and remove the lower back panel. Take a look at the fan next to the condenser and try to spin the blades by hand.

If it’s this fan causing the racket you should be able to dislodge the blockage or gently manipulate the blades away from the surface they’re hitting.

Bad start relay

The start relay could be what’s causing that fridge clicking sound. This is the component that tells your compressor it’s time to go to work and start compressing coolant. It does this by literally clicking into life. But, if there’s an issue here, it’s going to keep making that sound as it tries to kick in again and again at set intervals.

If you think the start relay could be to blame, you just need to remove the back panel and locate the starter motor box. This should be a black box near the compressor. Unplug the relay from the compressor and give it a little shake, if you get a rattle you’ve found the problem.

You can either buy a new start relay online or take your broken one into your local hardware store and get a replacement. But it’s important to ensure you get the correct component for your fridge’s brand and model.

Broken defrost timer

If your defrost timer is busted, then it will cause your fridge to make a clicking sound. The good news here is, that this isn’t a huge problem as your appliance should continue to chill your food.

However, the bad news is, that you may need to consult a repair company or speak to the manufacturer to get it fixed.

Ice maker issues

If you plumped for the fancy fridge with the ice maker then you may be annoyed to hear that there are plenty of elements in this area that could be the source of the irritating racket.

The water inlet, release arm, or even just the ice itself working against the normal vibrations of your machine could be to blame. But the good news is most can be fixed either by resetting your ice maker or with a standard bit of screwdriver work to sure up a loose component. Plus, replacement parts are usually commonplace with your machine’s manufacturer.

It might be normal

You probably don’t want to hear this, but sometimes clicking from your refrigerator is a sign of completely normal operation. In fact, if your fridge makes clicking noises it could even be a sign that it’s in fine working order.

Everything from the coils in the back to the main board, fans, or switches all make clicking noises from time to time. So, it’s probably best to reserve your worries for when your refrigerator is making constant clicking noises.

But how can you prevent those annoying recurring sounds?

Preventing your refrigerator from making a clicking noise

At the risk of sounding like the IT Department, it may sometimes be worth resetting your refrigerator by turning it off and on again.

But, aside from that, keeping up to date with the standard cleaning routine should help keep your refrigerator in fine working order. It also pays to keep a regular maintenance-eye on the components we’ve outlined above. Plus, it also pays to not over or under-load it with food.

However, preventative measures are all well and good, but what happens when the horse has bolted and there's no end to the incessant clicking?

What if the clicking doesn't stop?

If you’ve tried all the above and that infernal clicking is still present, then it may be time to make the call to your local repair team.  

At Appliances Made Simple, we try, where possible, to give you the info you need to keep your tech in top condition. But, sometimes, only the people who made it will know it best.

Having said that, it’s always worth a call to the supplier to see if your fridge is still under warranty. Or, if something drastic happens, can you get a replacement?

Can fridges explode?

Fridge explosions are extremely rare. But, if they do happen, it's generally because the rear has got too hot due to dust or dirt on the condenser coils preventing hot gas from escaping. Prevent explosions by regularly cleaning your coils.

How long do fridges last?

Generally speaking, your fridge should last between 10-20 years.

Why does my freezer keep clicking?

The most common cause of clicking fridges and freezers are dirty condenser coils. The clicking may be due to an overloaded compressor attempting to regulate the freezer temperature but dirt is preventing heat from escaping through the coils.

How often do refrigerators explode?

Instances of refrigerators exploding are extremely rare. While they may get hot, they should not create enough heat to combust. Although, if your appliance is getting hot, try cleaning the condenser coils in the back or bottom, or get a replacement if yours is more than 10 years old.

How long should a refrigerator last?

Your refrigerator should last at least 10 years. Maximum lifespan is around 20 years. But if your machine is over 10 years old and you experience any damage, excessive noise or frost, or your food is turning bad too quickly, it may be time for a new one.

Appliances made simple. 

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