Why Does My Refrigerator Make a Rattling Noise?

woman stood in front of the fridge

If your refrigerator starts to make a rattling noise, it could signal something is wrong with its inner workings. Usually, changes in sound are your first sign of a problem, and you should try to troubleshoot immediately. 

Some rattling is normal, but if you notice louder or more frequent rattling noises, check some of these common problems.

Why Does My Refrigerator Make a Rattling Noise?

Some rattling noises coming from your refrigerator are normal. As your fridge operates, it vibrates slightly. If you have loose items such as dishes stacked on top of the fridge, or items such as bottles packed tightly inside, those objects will start to rattle as the fridge itself moves.

Other Reasons for a Refrigerator Making a Rattling Noise

There are a few reasons your fridge might start making a louder or more frequent rattling noise than usual.

Drain Pan

The drain pan is a part at the bottom of your refrigerator that collects condensation as it drips off your condenser coil and other fridge parts.

As the fridge vibrates, the drain pan moves position subtly. Rattling could indicate that your drain pan moved out of position. Fixing the noise is as easy as moving it back into position.

Condenser Fan Blades

The condenser fan is a part near the bottom of your fridge that pulls in outside cool air to cool down the compressor and other parts. Usually, this fan works silently, but if it collects dirt and dust, it starts making noise, including rattles.

Not all fridges have condenser fans, so check that there is one behind your rear access panel. Try cleaning it and see if the noise stops.

Defrost Timer Motor

Your fridge periodically runs a defrost cycle to prevent frost and ice build-up. If you notice a rattling near the defrost timer, that could signal that the motor is failing.

However, the defrost timer is hard to locate and even harder to test and replace. Try to eliminate other possible sources of rattling and call in a professional if you think the defrost timer is the cause of the issue.

The Compressor

The compressor is often the source of the periodic rattling as it turns on and pumps refrigerant through your appliance, then turns itself off. Some sporadic rattling is normal, but if you notice it getting louder and louder, that is a sign that the compressor is failing.

Once you have to replace the compressor, you might as well replace the whole fridge as it is more cost-effective.

Conclusion

Although it sounds unsettling, periodic rattling noises from your refrigerator are normal. However, loud or excessive rattling is a sign that something is wrong. Troubleshoot some of the other probable causes mentioned in this article, such as the drain pan or condenser fan, before calling a professional.