Why Your Fridge Keeps Making Popping Noises: 7 Steps To Fix

Has your fridge been making some strange popping noises? Don’t let that suspicious popping sound get you down, we’ve got a guide that can get it fixed!

Doing your own troubleshooting with your fridge can save you money in repair bills. It’s also a great way to get a little bit more handy around the house. The problems that cause popping sounds are usually easy to handle on your own. 

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

There’s some details to be covered on this topic. If you’d like to find out more about these popping sounds (and how to fix or quiet them), then read on and let’s get started.

What You’ll Need

Think you need a box of expensive tools to fix your fridge? You’ll only need these few basic tools you can find around the house! Here’s what you should have on hand before you start any of these fixes. 

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

How to Fix Popping Sounds in Your Fridge

Let’s roll up our sleeves and figure out what’s causing that popping sound. We’re starting with the easiest fixes first, so you can use this guide to troubleshoot problems as well as fix them. 

#1 It’s The Thermal Expansion and That’s Okay

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. One of the things that happens to your fridge throughout the day is thermal expansion.

Thermal expansion is just a fancy phrase for explaining the fact 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. These all expand at different rates when heated.

This is going to cause a little popping throughout the day. This can especially be the case during a defrost cycle or if you just changed the temperature in your fridge. This popping is entirely normal and is not a cause for alarm.

Thermal expansion happens in old and new refrigerators alike. It’s just a part of this technology. If there’s no other signs of damage or malfunction in your fridge, that popping noise is just a natural byproduct of physics at work. 

#2 Your Fridge Has Popping Good Vibrations 

That popping sound that’s coming from your fridge could be nothing more than “good vibes.” 

Your fridge vibrates while it operates. That mild shaking could be responsible for those popping sounds. This could be caused by vibrating in the walls of the fridge or by vibrating its contents. Two plates tapping against each other can sound a lot like a popping sound.

This usually isn’t cause for alarm. 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.

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

use a bubble level to re- balance the fridge
Use a bubble level to check if your fridge is balanced
  1. Unplug your fridge 
  2. Place a bubble level on top of your fridge. This will tell you if its level and how far off it is
  3. Remove the front and back covers at the base of your fridge. These 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. This can be done 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 that bubble level on top of your fridge
  7. Start with the bubble level positioned left to right and 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 The Defrost Heater

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

Every fridge comes with a defrost heater. This heater has one job and that’s to remove frost build up from the fridge. When the defrost heater turns on, you’ll probably hear a popping sound.

Your defrost heater should turn on roughly four times a day. There are some days when your defrost heater will turn on more often and some days where it will turn on less often. Look out for sudden or consistent changes as those could be signs of a problem. 

This is a normal popping sound that is created by the defrost heater when it turns on. The sound is not the sign of a problem and it shouldn’t be that big of a nuisance. However, if your defrost heater keeps turning on and off that could be the sign of a problem.

There are several possible causes here. 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 an excessive frost build up that is causing your defrost heater to turn on all the time.

In either case, the defrost heater is one of the few components on a fridge that needs expert assistance. It’s big, it can get a little dangerous, and you’ll need a second, or third, set of hands anyway. 

If you suspect that the defroster is broken, then its time to call a refrigerator repairman to have it checked.

#4 Sound-Alikes

Popping sounds are very common in your refrigerator. In fact, there are many other noises that can sound like popping, but are actually distinct noises. Let’s go over a few of the most common sounds that can trick you into thinking your fridge is popping all the time.

The first set of sound-alikes come from your ice maker. Whether it’s currently harvesting ice or it’s just settling, your ice maker can make noises that sound a lot like popping. 

The next is the door seal. The door seal on your fridge and freezer door prevents cold air from escaping and helps to maintain the temperature inside the fridge. When you open the door, it’s very common to hear a popping sound.

Popping noises can also come from fans in your fridge. There are a few fans scattered throughout your fridge that can make noises very similar to popping. If that popping actually sounds more like a scraping and or clicking noise, it could be a problem with your fridge’s fans. 

#5 Water Valve Problems

It’s normal to hear this popping sound throughout the day. However, if you’re experiencing problems with your ice maker and water dispenser, this valve could be broken. The water valve in your fridge is notorious for creating a loud popping sound when it’s breaking.

Here’s how to switch it 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 

#6 Issues With the Condenser Coil

Have the condenser coil cleaned at least once a year to keep it working efficiently.

The condenser coils are part of the system in your fridge that moves coolant around. Loud popping noises can be caused by the condenser coils handling hot coolant and this can cause them to create a popping sound. This 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 is coming from your condenser coil, it could be an issue with your condensers.

The biggest thing you can do to take care of your condenser coils is to keep clean. Once or twice a year, you should dust off your condenser coils to make sure that they are not collecting dirt and debris. The more junk that’s stuck to your condenser coils, the harder they’re going to have to work to keep your fridge cool. This can lead to a lot of unwanted noise. 

#7 Refrigerant Circulation 

The last possible cause of popping sounds we’re going to talk about is another normal operation of your refrigerator. There’s actually a lot of liquid moving through your refrigerator. This is the coolant that helps your refrigerator regulate its temperature.

The coolant is constantly changing temperature as it moves around your refrigerator. This can lead to a lot of popping, gurgling, and other fluid noises. These are typically normal and not cause for any worry. However, if these noses get extremely loud or they are accompanied by loss of temperature control, they can be a sign of a bigger problem. 

Wrapping Up DIY Fridge Popping Sound Repair 

Popping noises coming from your fridge can be one of the scarier things you experience as a homeowner. However, most of those popping noises are perfectly normal. 

You can follow the steps in this guy to troubleshoot any popping noises that are coming out of your fridge.

If you’ve got other fridge repair problems, check out some of the articles below for more tips and DIY fridge repair guides.