Why Your Fridge Keeps Making Popping Noises: 8 Steps To Fix

A modern refrigerator in the kitchen

Has your fridge been making some strange popping noises? Don’t let the suspicious popping sound get you down!

Doing your own troubleshooting with your fridge can save you money on repair bills. It’s also a great way to get a little bit more handy around the house.

Loud popping noises in a refrigerator are typically due to the condenser coils heating and cooling. Fridge popping noises can also be caused by thermal expansion, refrigerant circulation, or components turning on and off – which are all normal. However, popping noises from a fridge can also indicate a broken water valve, a fridge that isn’t level, issues with the ice maker, and more.

Below, I’ve prepared a list including 8 steps to fix a refrigerator popping noise to help you get things back to normal.

Read on to make your fridge quiet again!

Why trust us? This article was written by Craig Anderson and Andy Fulenchek.

Craig has helped thousands of other homeowners repair their appliances since 2016.

Andy is one of our resident appliance repair experts with over a decade of experience. He currently runs his appliance repair company with a team of trusted technicians.

How to Fix Popping Sounds in Your Fridge

Think you need a box of expensive tools to fix your fridge? Think again! You’ll only need the few basic tools below:

  1. Bubble level.
  2. Screwdriver set.
  3. Nut driver set.
  4. Wrench set.
  5. Towel.
  6. Replacement parts if needed.

Now that you have everything you’ll need handy, let’s dive into the actual causes of the issue.

#1 Thermal Expansion

Thermal expansion is the first thing I recommend you consider when it comes to your fridge making a popping noise.

Your fridge doesn’t have one uniform temperature throughout the day – it actually cycles through a few different temperatures while keeping your food at a consistent, safe temperature.

Thermal expansion is just a fancy phrase for explaining that things change size as they heat up. Your fridge is made out of several different types of materials. There are metals, plastics, and rubbers throughout your fridge, and they all expand at different rates when heated.

Expansion can especially occur during a defrost cycle or if you just changed the temperature in your fridge. The popping is entirely normal and shouldn’t be cause for concern.

Thermal expansion happens in old and new refrigerators alike. If there are no other signs of damage or malfunction in your fridge, the popping noise is just a natural byproduct of physics at work. 

#2 Vibration

Normal vibration could also explain why your refrigerator is making a popping noise.

Your fridge vibrates while it operates. The mild shaking could be responsible for those popping sounds. The popping sounds can be caused by vibration on the fridge walls or by the vibration of the food inside it. Two plates tapping against each other can sound like a popping sound.

In my opinion, the normal vibrations mentioned above usually aren’t cause for concern. If there’s nothing else wrong with your fridge besides some shaking and popping sounds, it could be just how your fridge has settled in. However, your fridge could be off balance, which will lead to more problems down the road.

spirit level inside a fridge
Use a bubble level to check if your fridge is balanced

Here’s how you can re-balance your fridge:

  1. Unplug your fridge.
  2. Place a bubble level on top of your fridge.
  3. Remove the front and back covers at the base of your fridge. The covers can be simple grates that snap in, or you might need to unscrew them.
  4. Your fridge will have four “leveling feet” with one in each corner.
  5. Adjust your fridge’s leveling feet as needed. The adjustment can be made by turning a screw or bolt on the leveling foot. Make sure to consult your owner’s manual to find the exact location.
  6. Keep checking the bubble level on top of your fridge.
  7. Start with the bubble level positioned left to right, then repeat steps 2 through 6 for a front-to-back orientation. 
  8. Once your fridge is level, put the covers back on.
  9. Plug your fridge back in. 

#3 Ice Maker Issues

Ice makers inside refrigerators have arms that rotate around to make them work. If the ice inside doesn’t pre-melt the ice cubes in the compartment, the arms can break them, causing the refrigerator popping noise.

When the ice doesn’t pre-melt and gets broken by the ice maker’s arms, it can obstruct the free flow of water in the water dispenser and cause overflowing and leaking.

Please look out for any leaking or puddling beneath your refrigerator or excess water coming from the ice maker.

#4 The Defrost Heater

Would it surprise you to know that your fridge has a component design to heat it up?

Every fridge comes with a defrost heater. The heater has one job – to remove frost buildup from the fridge. You’ll probably hear a popping sound when the defrost heater turns on.

From what I’ve seen, your defrost heater should turn on roughly four times daily. Some days, your defrost heater will turn on more often, and others when it will turn on less often. Look out for sudden or consistent changes, which could signify a problem. 

Defrost heater activation/deactivation can cause a refrigerator popping sound that’s completely normal. However, if your defrost heater keeps turning on and off several times throughout the day, it’s a different story.

There are several possible causes for your defrost heater to keep turning on and off. One is that your defrost timer has broken and is no longer telling your defrost heater when to turn on and off. Another issue could be excessive frost buildup that is causing your defrost heater to turn on all the time.

In either case, the defrost heater is one of the few fridge components needing expert assistance. The heater is big, so you’ll need all the help you can get.

#5 Soundalikes

When your refrigerator is making a popping noise, there’s a chance you’re hearing something else. There are many other noises that can sound like popping that are not actually popping.

The first set of soundalikes comes from your ice maker. Whether the ice maker is currently harvesting ice or just settling, your ice maker can make noises that sound a lot like popping. 

The door seal on your fridge could also be making what seems like a popping sound. The seal in your fridge and freezer door prevents cold air from escaping and helps to maintain the temperature inside the appliance. When you open the door, it’s common to hear a popping sound.

Refrigerator popping noises can also come from fans in your fridge. A few fans scattered throughout your fridge can make noises very similar to popping. If the popping sounds more like a scraping or clicking noise, it could be a problem with your fridge’s fans. 

A diagram of where a refrigerator's fan is located
A faulty fan could also make a popping sound.

#6 Water Valve Problems

A water valve issue could also explain why your fridge is making a popping noise. Water valve noises are normal throughout the day; however, if you’re experiencing problems with your ice maker and water dispenser along with the popping, the valve could be broken.

Here’s how to switch the water valve out. 

  1. Unplug your fridge.
  2. Locate the water supply valve on the lower back of the fridge. 
  3. Place a towel underneath your water supply valve. 
  4. Remove the back cover.
  5. Shut off the water supply. 
  6. Use a wrench to loosen the compression nut on the water line.
  7. Remove the water line. 
  8. Unscrew the water supply valve from its housing. 
  9. Detach the wire harness from the water supply valve. 
  10. Detach the lines for the ice maker and water dispenser. 
  11. Attach the lines to the new valve.
  12. Attach the wire harness to the new valve. 
  13. Screw the new valve back into the housing. 
  14. Attach the water supply line. 
  15. Tighten the compression nut on the water supply line. 
  16. Turn on the water supply. If you notice a leak, turn the water back off and tighten the compression nut again. 
  17. Replace the back cover.
  18. Clean up your towel and tools.
  19. Plug the fridge back in. 

#7 Issues With the Condenser Coil

The condenser coils are part of the system in your fridge that moves coolant around, and any failure in it could explain why your refrigerator is making a popping noise.

I find that loud popping noises can be caused by the condenser coils handling hot coolant. In such cases, there’s no reason to worry, as the noise is usually nothing more than the normal operation of your refrigerator.

Your condenser coils are typically located on the rear or bottom of your fridge and can be accessed with the panel on the back. If you hear a constant popping noise and notice it’s coming from your condenser coil, it could be an issue with your condensers.

The best thing you can do to take care of your condenser coils is to keep them clean. Once or twice a year, you should dust off your condenser coils to ensure that they are not collecting dirt and debris. The more junk stuck to your condenser coils, the harder they will have to work to keep your fridge cool, leading to unwanted noise.

Cleaning fridge condenser coils
Have your refrigerator’s condenser coils cleaned at least once a year to keep it working efficiently.

#8 Refrigerant Circulation 

The last possible cause of refrigerator popping noises is refrigerant circulation. As your fridge works, a lot of liquid is moving through it. The liquid, known as coolant, helps your refrigerator regulate its temperature.

The coolant constantly changes temperature as it moves around your refrigerator, which can cause popping, gurgling, and other fluid noises. Said noises are typically normal and shouldn’t be cause for concern. However, if the noses get extremely loud or are accompanied by a loss of temperature control, they must be addressed.

Addressing Refrigerator Popping Noises

When your refrigerator is making popping noises, it’s understandable that you feel concerned about it breaking down or drawing a lot of power.

Luckily, as I hope this piece has helped you better understand, in most cases, the popping noise is completely normal and is no cause for concern. And even when there’s an issue, addressing it should be simple and quick. In many cases, replacing the water valve and leveling your refrigerator should do the trick.

Thanks for reading. If this article was useful and answered your questions, please check out our other resources below and consider subscribing to our newsletter.

Have a great day!


I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more