Do you keep asking yourself ‘why is my refrigerator popping’ on a daily basis?

Written by Jason Hutchinson
6 Min read
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Refrigerator popping? We’ve got the answer

If you are reading this article because your fridge has been making mysterious popping sounds, and you are unsure of what to do, then look no further because we have all the answers here. Please do read through this article before you spend any money on getting a professional in to do repairs because chances are, there is an easy fix for your refrigerator popping noises.

Below, you will see we have made a troubleshooting list which you can run through, this will enable you to identify where the refrigerator popping noise coming from. Then, for all the problems that require a fix, we will detail how you should go about solving your issue.

It could just be thermal expansion

We have put this first on the troubleshooting list because this is the best-case scenario as it means that you do not actually have a problem with your refrigerator and therefore do not need to take action. If you have a good knowledge of physics then you will know what we are talking about when we say thermal expansion. If you have no idea what we are talking about then don’t worry about it, we will explain all.

Basically, when things heat up they expand, and then when they cool down they shrink. Most people don’t know this but refrigerators don’t just stay at one temperature the whole time they cycle through temperatures, making sure that the food is always at the correct temperature. The constant heating and cooling of the materials inside the refrigerator mean that they are constantly expanding and shrinking, and this can create refrigerator popping noises.

This can happen to any refrigerator, however, it can be more common in new refrigerators that have recently been set up. This is because in the early stages the materials will not be used to the temperature fluctuation and are therefore more prone to making popping sounds. If you run through the rest of the troubleshooting and have found nothing wrong with your refrigerator, then this is most likely what is causing the refrigerator pops. This is great news for you, as you can just leave it!

Standard vibrations

This is second in the troubleshooting list as it may result in you having to fix an issue, but it may also just be another situation where you do not have to fix anything.

Refrigerators, just like a lot of other appliances, can vibrate and make noises when they are turned on. They are complex pieces of equipment with lots of moving parts so you can expect that they will create a certain level of noise, even when they are working perfectly fine.

The issue with vibrations could come if they are being amplified because the refrigerator is off balance. An off-balance refrigerator could cause more issues down the line, issues that may not be as easy to fix as balancing it. To test whether your refrigerator is balanced you can use a bubble level to check, you need to check that it is level both left to right and front to back. If it is level both ways then that’s great news as you can leave it! If it is not level one or both ways then don’t worry, it is really simple to re-balance it if you follow our instructions below.

First things first you need to unplug your refrigerator, once you have done this you can remove the covers at the front and back of the base. These should come off easily either by snapping in and out or by unscrewing them.

Doing this should reveal the leveling feet at each corner of the refrigerator. Depending on the model and brand of your refrigerator these should have some sort of bolt or screw on them that allows you to adjust the height of the feet. If you cannot find the screw/bolt to adjust the height you should be able to find it in the product manual. While adjusting the leveling feet continue to check the bubble level so you know which way to adjust each foot.

Once the bubble level indicates that the refrigerator is level both back to front and left to right, then you can replace the covers at the base of the refrigerator and plug it back in. Hopefully, re-balancing the refrigerator has eliminated some of the refrigerator pops. However, even if it hasn’t, it was still worth it as having a balanced fridge will reduce the risk of problems in the long run!

A broken water valve

This is the part of the troubleshooting where we start to identify actual problems with your refrigerator. Refrigerator popping does not normally mean that the water valve is broken, however if the water valve is broken it will normally create a popping sound, hopefully that makes sense. Basically what we are trying to say is that if your water valve has broken or is breaking, it will probably be accompanied by refrigerator popping noises. Therefore, the root of your popping noise issue may be a broken water valve. A broken water valve would also result in your water and ice dispensers not functioning properly.

Replacing the water valve on your refrigerator is a slightly more complex task than re-balancing it, but you can still do it yourself and we will explain how by breaking it down into simple steps below.

  1. Again, the first step is to unplug your refrigerator
  2. Next, place a towel under the water supply valve (should be on the back of the fridge) to catch any water
  3. Now remove the cover on the back of the refrigerator and cut off the water supply to it
  4. Loosen the compression nut on the water line using a wrench, allowing you to then take the water line out
  5. The next step is to unscrew the water supply valve and remove it, then detach the wire harness from it
  6. You then need to also detach the water lines that are connected to the water and ice dispensers
  7. From now you just need to replace everything but with the new valve, so first attach the water lines and wire harness to the new valve
  8. Then screw the new vale back into place and attach the water supply line to it
  9. Tighten the compression nut to hold the water supply line in place
  10. Turn back on the water supply, making sure that there are no issues
  11. If all seems to be working correctly then you can replace the back cover and plug the refrigerator back in

Issues with the defrost heater

Yes, you did just read that correctly, you could have an issue with the heater in your refrigerator. As we mentioned earlier a refrigerator will go through warmer and cooler cycles. It gets warmer at times to prevent frost from building up. The part of the refrigerator that causes the temperature to increase is the defrost heater.

This heater will make a popping sound when it comes on, however, this should only be 3 or 4 times a day. If you are hearing a popping sound coming from the defrost heater more regularly than this then there is most likely something wrong. The issue could either lie with the timer on the defrost heater, if this is broken it could mean that the heater is turned on more often than it should be. The other possibility is that frost is accumulating too quickly in your refrigerator, meaning the defrost heat has to be turned on more regularly than expected.

Unfortunately, if you have identified that the issue lies with the defrost heater, then you are going to need some professional help to fix/replace it. It is one of the more dangerous parts of the refrigerator and would not be safe to mess with if you do not have appropriate training.

Dirty condenser coil and circulation

We’ve grouped the last two problems into one because they both come from the same part of the refrigerator and have similar causes. Basically, for your refrigerator to keep cool it is constantly circulating coolant around the condenser coil.

Now, one of the sources of your mysterious refrigerator popping sounds could just be the healthy popping noises coming from the circulation of the coolant. The constant changing of the temperature of the coolant can create popping and gurgling noises. This is nothing to worry about.

If you are getting a more constant and more unhealthy stream of popping noises coming from the coolant, then it could be a sign that it is time to clean your condenser coils. The coils should probably be dusted once or twice a year anyway, as the build-up of dust and dirt is going to cause the refrigerator to have to work harder to keep cool, which will increase the refrigerator popping noise produced.

The condenser coils are usually found on the bottom of the refrigerator and you can get to the from the panel on the back.

Rounding it up

Hopefully, this article has helped you to identify where the mysterious popping sounds you were hearing from your refrigerator were coming from and has provided you with a solution. If after all of the troubleshooting you are still hearing popping coming from your refrigerator and you are convinced that it is not just the sounds you would expect a working refrigerator to make then you may need to seek some professional assistance to find a fix.

Can refrigerators explode?

Yes, they can but it is very rare. This is normally a result of an issue with the compressor. In order to keep your compressor in good shape make sure that you regularly clean the refrigerator condenser coils. If your refrigerator does get very hot then evacuate the area and alert the emergency services.

Appliances made simple. 

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