How to Quiet a Noisy Refrigerator Compressor

How to Quiet a Noisy Refrigerator Compressor 1

I don’t know about you, but there are few sounds in the house as annoying as a “chatty refrigerator”.

Plenty of people don’t even notice the sounds that refrigerators make (aren’t they lucky), but if you have sensitive ears the way I do – especially for low, consistent, annoying sounds like the ones that refrigerators make – this appliance probably drives you nuts.

Thankfully, though, fixing the problem is relatively simple and straightforward.

It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either!

In this detailed guide, we are going to go over a handful of steps you’ll want to follow to quiet down your noisy refrigerator in a hurry.

Almost all of these steps can be tackled with nothing more than household tools and stuff you have laying around the home. Some of them, though, require a couple of supplies and some handedness with tools – or at least a willingness to hire a handyman to knock it out (or someone in your friend and family circle with the skills to pull it off, too).

At the end of the day, though, everything we breakdown below will help contribute to a much require refrigerator that works the way it should without driving you crazy!

Let’s get right into it.

  1. What’s the Real Problem?
  2. Level the Legs!
  3. Think About a Soundproofing Mat
  4. Run Some Baffling Behind the Fridge
  5. Consider the Surrounding for Ambient Sound Dampening
  6. Thinking About a Full-Blown Enclosure?
  7. Clean Out the Condenser and Fan Systems
  8. Bonus Step – Maybe Start Thinking About a New Fridge!

1. What’s the Real Problem?

The first piece of the puzzle shouldn’t surprise anyone, and it involves figuring out what exactly is causing your refrigerator to make these annoying sounds in the first place.

After all, it won’t do you much good to start trying different things to quiet down your refrigerator if they aren’t going to have much of an impact when you’re done.

The first place you’ll want to inspect is the actual compressor system itself.

Far and away the noisiest part of any refrigerator, the compressor is almost always going to be running a motor and pump system – and that means plenty of ambient noise. This is doubly true if you have a fridge and freezer combination unit.

Other areas to check include:

  • The ice maker or water system (if you have one)
  • The drip tray can make gurgling noises, can drip, and can hiss quite loudly
  • The refrigerator walls themselves, especially since they are prone to cracking and popping as the temperatures in the refrigerator change

… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Luckily, all you have to do to isolate the sounds that are bothering you is to press your ear up against the refrigerator to see where they are coming from.

Then look up a schematic of your refrigerator online to see where certain parts are located inside of your fridge and you’ll have a much better idea of how to tackle things going forward!

2. Level the Legs!

Leveling out the legs on your refrigerator can change the amount of noise it pops out into a space, even if you don’t have to level it all that much.

Think about it like this:

Refrigerators (even the most compact refrigerators) are pretty big and pretty heavy. When they are sitting on legs that are anything but level there going to shake and they are going to vibrate – and all of that motion is going to produce a lot of noise.

If the legs are way out of level your refrigerator is going to “talk” – and maybe even start to walk around your kitchen.

By sliding underneath and leveling things out (just by spinning the feet that are included on the bottom of every refrigerator) you’ll be able to clear up those noises once and for all.

3. Think About a Soundproofing Mat

Of course, if leveling your refrigerator hasn’t done enough to quiet things down it might be time to get a soundproofing mat.

There are a lot of “sound deadening” options available on the market today that you’ll want to take a close look at.

Few of them (if any) are made specifically with refrigerators in mind, though.

But that’s okay – the same kinds of products used to quiet down music studios, fitness centers, and even the interiors of cars can be used with your refrigerator to keep it quiet, too.

The bulk of these sound dampening mats are made out of a material called butyl rubber, a specific kind of rubber that is incredibly dense with very little elasticity. This allows the sound waves to be absorbed into the material and then not reflected out works, basically deadening the sound immediately on impact.

Other sound dampening solutions are made out of mass loaded vinyl materials, but they work basically the same way!

4. Run Some Baffling Behind the Fridge

If your compressor is the ultimate sound culprit that you’re dealing with it’s not a bad idea to run soundproofing or baffling behind the refrigerator.

The rear of your fridge is where your compressor coils are going to be located in the first place, and that’s where fluids are going to move to release the heat energy produced by the refrigeration process.

There’s going to be a lot of “action” back here – and that means that there’s going to be a lot of potential for a lot of noise.

At the same time, you don’t want to wrap your refrigerator in soundproofing materials that might insulate all that excess heat and will your refrigerator completely.

What you want to do instead is soundproof the back wall behind the refrigerator.

Sound blocking curtains, acoustic panels, and other materials (including sound dampening insulation if you’re willing to open an interior wall) can all work wonders to quiet down your refrigerator in a big way.

A quick fix can be knocked out in a couple of minutes with this approach, too:

  • Get a piece of MDF or plywood that’s just a bit narrower than your refrigerator
  • Cut mass loaded vinyl or butyl rubber sound dampening materials to fit that plywood, gluing it to the surface
  • Prop the whole thing up against the wall behind your refrigerator (maybe fastening with a screw or two just to keep it in place)

… And you are good to go!

5. Consider the Surrounding for Ambient Sound Dampening

Not everyone has an opportunity to slide their refrigerator into a little alcove of cabinets or pantries, but if you do have the chance to do so it’s never a bad idea.

Some people have even taken to building their own miniature alcoves to “hide” their refrigerator – and with a relatively small budget you can pull this job off on your own, too.

What you want to do is stick frame your refrigerator into a tiny enclosure, leaving a gap of an inch or two all the way around the fridge itself.

Cover the interior of that space with sound dampening material – like the mass loaded vinyl we mentioned earlier – and then cover the exposed areas with drywall.

Tape, sand, and paint everything to match the rest of your kitchen interior and you’ll have a custom-built alcove that looks like it always existed and a much quieter refrigerator at the same time.

6. Thinking About a Full-Blown Enclosure?

Of course, if you want to take things to the next level and go beyond an alcove it might not be a bad idea to build a dedicated enclosure with shelving and pantry space for your refrigerator.

This is (obviously) going to take a bigger budget and more specialized skills than knocking out a simple alcove. But in return you get a lot more usable space and an even more custom look than you would have had otherwise.

The whole idea behind this project is to create more physical mass in between your refrigerator and the rest of your home. That extra mass is going to absorb the sound waves, dampening and deadening them on impact, and Whiting things down significantly.

Just know that this kind of project is going to cost more than a few hundred dollars – and certainly north of $1000 if you’re looking to do it the right way.

It can get even more expensive than that if you have to hire experts to handle the heavy lifting of designing and constructing the new full-blown enclosure, too.

At the same time, it upgrades like this (especially to a kitchen) that can add a significant amount of value to your home when you go to sell it.

7. Clean Out the Condenser and Fan Systems

Now that we have gone over a couple of more extreme ways to quiet down your refrigerator it’s not a bad time to talk about a really quick, simple fix that might be able to clear up your issues in less than 15 minutes or so.

Like highlighted earlier, your condenser, compressor, and fan sensor are going to be the number one culprits for producing a lot of refrigerator noise to begin with.

Well, when these components get dirty, dusty, and haven’t been cleaned or maintained in a little while they get even noisier than they are when they are still brand-new.

Not everyone is going to feel comfortable popping the back panel off of their refrigerator to get their condenser coil or fan system, though.

If you are willing to tackle the project (YouTube has plenty of tutorials to help with refrigerator model-specific takedowns) a quick scrubbing and a bit of vacuuming can quiet things down by 30% or 40% in no time at all.

You’ll also be providing some real deal preventative maintenance to your refrigerator. A cleaner system runs more efficiently, consumes less energy, and has more longevity.

That’s always a nice little bonus!

Bonus Step – Maybe Start Thinking About a New Fridge!

If you have tried absolutely everything in this guide to quiet down your refrigerator and still nothing is working it might be time to think about swapping your old refrigerator out for something brand-new.

Truth be told, today’s refrigerators are just better designed and engineered.

Not only are they more efficient and more effective at keeping things cool without causing your energy bills to skyrocket, but they are also better designed with things like sound dampening in mind.

The price of a new refrigerator (especially a halfway decent one) is always going to produce a little bit of sticker shock until you think about how much have to spend on building out a new alcove or enclosure – or even just all your sound dampening materials to keep your old fridge relatively quiet.

Most of the time when you stack those two figures up against one another the new fridge starts to look like a bit of a bargain!

It’s something to consider, anyway.

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