Why Your Refrigerator Makes Loud Popping Noises

January 6, 2022
Refrigerator Repair

It’s normal for your refrigerator to make noises while it’s operating. But sometimes loud and strange noises can emit from your fridge, which indicate  something is wrong that needs to be fixed.

If you hear a loud popping noise regularly from your fridge, this is a good sign something is faulty within your fridge that needs to be repaired. In this article, we discuss the key reasons why this might be happening and what, if anything, you need to do about them.

It might just be thermal expansion

Before we discuss any possibly faulty components, we need to point out that it’s normal for your fridge to make popping noises. This is due to thermal expansion, which refers to the process of objects changing size when they heat up. For example, if you have plastic containers in your fridge and they suddenly change temperature when you open the fridge door, they might make a popping noise. The same is true for various components within your fridge, like the shelves. The bottom line is that hearing popping sounds from time to time isn’t anything to worry about; it’s only if they’re loud and occur all the time that you should investigate the cause further.

It might just be your fridge vibrating

If you determine that it isn’t thermal expansion, the next cause to investigate is if the popping sounds are the result of your fridge vibrating. It’s normal for your fridge to vibrate slightly during operation as it’s usually caused by the compressor running. However, if your fridge is vibrating a lot and you can hear popping noises, this might be caused by your fridge not sitting level on the kitchen floor.

To make sure your fridge is sitting level, you need to:

  1. Turn the power to your refrigerator off.
  2. Get a bubble level and place it on the top of your fridge. Check the reading to see if your fridge is sitting level (the bubble should be in the middle).
  3. If your fridge is sitting level, you can move on to the next component. If your fridge isn’t level, you need to adjust the legs/feet. 
  4. To adjust the legs/feet, remove the lower cover at the bottom of your fridge on the front and the back (if applicable). This will give you access to the legs/feet.
  5. Adjust the legs/feet until your fridge is level (you’ll have to adjust them slightly then check the bubble level, or you can get a friend to help you).
  6. Once the fridge is level, replace the covers, turn your fridge on, and check if the popping sound has stopped. If you can still hear a popping sound, move on to checking the next component.

The defrost heater might be faulty

The purpose of the defrost heater is to help remove frost in your fridge. Defrost heaters turn on a few times a day and when they start, it’s common to hear a popping sound. But if you can hear a popping sound coming from your fridge much more regularly, this indicates a problem that needs to be fixed.

Fixing the defrost heater yourself is difficult and requires expert knowledge. But there are a couple of things you can do before calling an expert.

  1. Start by locating the defrost timer and attempt to move it into the defrost zone. This should start the heater up. If it doesn’t this indicates the timer is faulty and will need to be replaced.
  2. Next, check that the defrost heater isn’t covered in frost. If it is, this indicates the heater is faulty and will need to be repaired by a technician. If the timer is okay and the heater isn’t frosted over, the defrost heater is probably not the cause of the problem so you should check the next component. 

The water valve might be broken

If the popping sound is coming from the ice maker unit, it could be the result of a faulty water valve. The valve opens to allow water into your ice maker when required. Sometimes it can become defective, and this might cause a loud popping noise to occur.

Replacing the water valve is simple, you just need to:

  1. Unplug your fridge or turn the circuit breaker off.
  2. Turn the water supply to your fridge off.
  3. Pull your fridge out from the wall and remove the lower cover.
  4. Locate the water valve and remove it. Make sure you put a towel on the floor to catch any water dripping out.
  5. Next, attach the new water valve.
  6. Put your fridge back together, put it back against the wall, turn the water supply back on, and turn the power back on.
  7. Check if the popping sounds have stopped. If you still hear popping sounds, you’ll have to check the next component.

The condenser coils might be dirty

Loud popping noises could be coming from the condenser coils at the back of the fridge. The coils have hot coolant in them, which can sometimes cause a popping sound to emit from them, especially if the coils are dirty. 

It’s a good idea to clean the coils a few times a year to avoid any problems. To clean the coils, you simply need to pull your fridge out from the wall, use a vacuum cleaner to remove the dust, then wipe them. If the coils are frosted over, turn your fridge off and let them defrost before proceeding.

Hopefully, at this point, you have managed to find the cause of the popping sound and have fixed it!


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