Refrigerators make a variety of noises while they operate. From gurgling, cracking, and humming, these sounds are the by-product of the operating machinery that makes our fridges cold. However, when your refrigerator makes a disturbing chirping or squealing noise during operation, you may want to call a technician ASAP.
Refrigerators use fans to circulate cold air inside your fridge, and to help cool down the parts they used to produce said cold air. The squealing sound that you’re hearing may be coming from these fans. Unfortunately, this isn’t normal, and it means that there is a malfunction of some sort.
In this article, we will discuss why your refrigerator is making a squealing noise, and what you can do to fix it.
What makes your refrigerator squeal?
The squealing noise you’re hearing is probably coming from the fans hidden inside your refrigerator.
If you have a no frost refrigerator, there are two fans that you’ll need to check: one is inside the fridge (evaporator fan), while the other is at the lower backside of the fridge (condenser fan).
Direct cooling (manual defrost) refrigerators do not have these fans. However, the compressor can also make a squealing sound. This part is present in all refrigerators, whether manual defrost or no frost.
FURTHER READING: How does a refrigerator work?
Malfunctioning evaporator fan
A malfunctioning evaporator fan is the most common cause of the squealing noise that is coming from your refrigerator.
If the squealing noise is coming from inside the refrigerator, and it is accompanied by a warmer than usual temperature in the interior, then this is probably the case.
The evaporator fan is responsible for distributing the cold air throughout your refrigerator. If you do not fix this, your no frost refrigerator won’t cool properly.
How to fix a malfunctioning evaporator fan
There are several reasons why your evaporator fan is not working properly. It is either (1) frozen over, (2) dirty, (3) bent out of shape, or (4) the fan motor has given out.
A dirty or frozen evaporator fan can be fixed by yourself without any special tools. However, if the fan itself is bent out of shape, or the motor is not working at all, you’ll have to call a technician to install a new evaporator fan for you.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to defrost your refrigerator to melt the ice (if any) that is blocking your evaporator fan. If that doesn’t solve your problem, then you’ll have to take off the panel of your fridge so you can access the evaporator fan.
If the evaporator fan is dirty, just take it off and remove all of the gunk out with a brush. Try to spin it a few times, there may be something caught around the fan that is preventing it from spinning properly.
Warning: Do not submerge the evaporator fan in water as there are electronic parts inside it.
If the fan is bent out of shape, then it won’t do you any good if you try to bend it back into shape. It will just come out unbalanced and will still make a squealing noise. You should replace the evaporator fan right away.
When the fan motor is the one causing the problem, then you’ll have no other choice but to have it replaced by a technician.
Malfunctioning condenser fan
If the squealing noise is coming from the back of the refrigerator, then it may be the condenser fan that is causing the issue.
The condenser coils “transfer” the heat from inside the refrigerator to its exterior. Since these coils get hot, they need to be cooled somehow. In older refrigerator models, the condenser coils are air-cooled, hence why they are exposed at the back of the fridge.
For newer no frost refrigerators, the condenser is hidden at the back of the fridge, which necessitates the help of a fan to cool it down.
During the course of its operation, the condenser fan accumulates dust, grime, and lint that can hamper the fan’s spinning. The fan blade itself can also be bent if a foreign object somehow gets caught while it is spinning. These can cause the squealing noise you’re hearing from your refrigerator.
How to fix a malfunctioning condenser fan
A dirty condenser fan is easy enough to fix. However, as with the evaporator fan, if the condenser fan itself is bent out of shape, or the motor is not working at all, you’ll have to call a technician to install a new condenser fan for you.
Unplug and move your refrigerator where you’ll have easy access to its backside. Next, remove the rear panel (if any) so you can have access to the condenser fan. If it is dirty, take the fan off and remove the grime out with a brush. Try to spin it a few times, there may be something caught around the fan that is preventing it from spinning properly.
Warning: Do not submerge the condenser fan in water as there are electronic parts inside it.
As with the evaporator fan, don’t try to bend it back into shape if it is warped – have it replaced right away. The same goes for a faulty condenser fan motor.
If you find no fault in either the condenser fan or the evaporator fan, then the squealing noise is most likely coming from the compressor itself.
This is problematic as the compressor is the “heart” of the fridge, and if there is any problem with it, it will mean expensive repairs on your side or complete replacement of your refrigerator.
What likely happened is that the oil used to lubricate the compressor has leaked; the unlubricated parts are being exposed to so much friction which is causing the squealing and chirping sounds.
It could also be a loose part, or the compressor itself has come loose. Whatever it is, the best course of action is to have it diagnosed by a technician.
How to fix a malfunctioning compressor
If the problem is caused by loose parts, or if the fix is relatively inexpensive, go have it fixed.
However, if the fix entails a replacement of the compressor itself, don’t even bother. The cost of replacing a compressor is so expensive that you would be better off just buying a brand new refrigerator.
In summary: the squealing noise your refrigerator makes is a serious matter that should be dealt with ASAP! Call a technician to properly diagnose your problem.
- How to fix a noisy refrigerator. (n.d.). PartSelect. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.partselect.com/Repair/Refrigerator/Noisy/
- How To Repair A Refrigerator That’s Making A Loud Noise. (n.d.). Fix.Com. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.fix.com/repair/appliance/refrigerator/noisy/
Miguel Mores worked for 5 years as a member of the product management team for a home appliance company in the Philippines. He started 101appliance to answer the most common customer questions that he has encountered during his time in the industry. He now works in the digital marketing field and manages a small online bookstore on the side.