Why does my fridge make a popping sound? Easy Fixes

My mini fridge makes popping noise what should I do? If you ever find yourself in such a situation, then there are two paths I’d suggest you to take.

The easier way out would be to invest in a quiet mini fridge, (click on the link to read my detailed guide).

On the other hand, you’ll have to put on your DIY gear and get to work, inspect and possibly fix the problem yourself or have a professional do the work for you.

It’s quite normal for a mini fridge to make popping noise. Popping sounds can be due to refrigerant circulation, thermal expansion or it could be as a result of different components in the fridge turning on and off.

On the other hand, popping noise could be an indicator of something faulty within the refrigerator. It could be a fault water valve, faulty compressor or other problems.

Tools required?

  • Bubble level
  • Nut driver set
  • Wrench set
  • Screwdriver set
  • Towel
  • Replacement parts if needed 

1. Vibrations

Vibrations that occur inside the fridge cooling system can cause popping sounds. However, vibrations are common in regular refrigerators and rarely in mini fridges.

The fridge compressor motor at times can cause vibrations that can send items inside the fridge to knock against each other. You’ll likely hear these vibrations as continuous popping sounds especially when heard from the outside of the refrigerator.

Additionally, if the appliance is placed on an uneven surface, the back-and-forth movement will highly cause popping sounds. I have written a guide on anti-vibration pads for air compressor, luckily you use the same products to shield your appliance against vibrations.

2. Thermal Expansion

Thermal expansion is one of the biggest culprits of popping noise in all types of refrigerators.

Refrigerators often have temperature shifts from cold to hot- they expel hot temp from the items stored inside therefore achieving coldness. However, it’s important to note that there is also very slight temperature changes inside the refrigerator.

This causes the items stored inside to expand and contract. It’s something normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern as its how the refrigerator works.

an image of blue cosmetic mini fridge

3. Water Valve

Even though most mini fridges lack freezers- ice making capability, there are few capable.

If you own one with ice making capabilities, the water valve located on the back of your fridge could be the cause of popping noise. The valve regularly opens and closes to allow water into the ice maker- and when it opens, it produces a popping sound.

If the water valve is operating optimally, the popping sound will happen rarely. You may note that the popping noise happens regularly, and in such a case, I’d recommend you to inspect and make sure the water supply isn’t interrupted.

To replace a faulty water valve here’s what you should do:

  • Switch off the unit and unplug the unit from power supply
  • Also remove the back panel to access the valve
  • Take off the wire harness to disconnect the old valve
  • Then install new valve and secure it- same way the old one was installed.
  • Return the wire harness and then reattach the water line to the valve
  • Fix back the back panel and power on your refrigerator- it should function like normal.

4. Evaporator Coil

If the popping sound kicks in immediately after the defrost cycle has begun, then the culprit in this case is the evaporator coil getting cold.

Additionally, if you have a malfunctioning timer stuck in the cooling cycle, then it could mean that you deal with the popping sound until you call in a certified technician.

5. Issues with Condenser Coils

Refrigerator condenser coils are responsible for dissipating heat from the refrigerant. The coils are usually located on the back of the fridge, and they work by releasing heat into the air. Over time, these coils can become clogged with dust and dirt, which can reduce their efficiency.

Additionally, if you hear popping noise coming from the condenser coils, then it means there is a problem with condenser coils and in most cases, the issue arises from dirt and dust.

To clean your condenser coils, you’ll need to remove them from the fridge and brush them off with a soft brush. You can also vacuum the coils with a soft-bristled attachment. Once you’ve cleaned the coils, be sure to replace them before turning on the fridge. Otherwise, you could damage the unit.

If your fridge isn’t cooling properly, one of the first things you should check is the condenser coils. If they’re covered in dust or dirt, they won’t be able to dissipate heat properly, and your fridge will have to work harder to keep things cool. Regular cleaning of the coils can help prolong the life of your fridge and keep it running efficiently.

6. Compressor Overload

Another factor that could be causing popping noise in your fridge is possibly compressor overload.

This often happens when the compressor suffers a locked rotor, or it gets too hot or probably trying to start when there’s too much pressure.

To inspect if compressor overload is the cause of the popping noise, you need get behind the refrigerator and see if the noise is coming from the compressor.

Alternatively, place your hand over the compressor and when the popping noise comes up, you should be able to feel it.

One of the major causes of compressor overload includes using a gauge wire that’s too light or an extension cord that’s too long.

7. Defrost Heater

A defrost heater is an electrical device that is used to thaw ice and frost from the evaporator coils of a refrigerator or freezer.

The defrost heater works by heating the coils to a temperature that is above the freezing point of water, which causes the ice and frost to melt and drip off of the coils. In most cases, the defrost heater is located underneath the evaporator coils in the refrigerator or freezer.

Defrost heaters are designed to operate at a specific temperature and for a specific amount of time. The timing of the defrost cycle is controlled by a thermostat, which turns the heater on and off as needed.

Most defrost heaters will cycle on and off several times throughout the day, in order to keep the food at a consistent temperature.

If the defrost heater turns on and off repeatedly, there may be a problem.

There are several potential causes here. One possibility is that the defrost timer is malfunctioning and no longer prompts the defrost heater when to switch on and off. An significant accumulation of frost may also be forcing the defrost heater to operate continuously.

8. Coolant Circulation

The final possible reason of popping sounds that we’re going to examine is a healthy refrigerator operation. Your refrigerator really contains a considerable amount of liquid which is the coolant that helps regulates the temperature in your refrigerator.

As it circulates throughout your refrigerator, the coolant’s temperature fluctuates continuously. This can result in a great deal of popping, bubbling, and other fluid-related sounds. These are usually normal and shouldn’t cause concern.

However, if these noises become particularly loud or are followed by a loss of temperature regulation, they may indicate a more serious condition.

9. The Fan

Mini-fridge temperatures shift throughout the day. This necessitates a regular adjustment in fan speed in order to accommodate these variations. As the fan slows down and accelerates up, a popping sound may result.

However, should you be concerned about this? No, the fan’s speed will vary often during the day. It may generate a popping sound whenever it does so. This is normal.

Final thoughts

Is your mini fridge making popping noise? Above methods will help you identify the source of popping as well as allow you to fix the noise problem.

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