Fridge Makes Clicking Noise? Expert Tips on How to Troubleshoot -
Appliance Troubleshooting

Refrigerator Making Clicking Noise: Quick Home Troubleshooting Guide 2023

Written by

Jason Carter

Refrigerator Making Clicking Noise: Quick Home Troubleshooting Guide 2023

Let’s face it:

Trying to decipher the unusual clicking noise coming from your refrigerator can be quite nerve-racking. Is it normal or a bad thing…? Why is this happening…? And what can you do to fix the issue?


While it is normal for most fridges to click occasionally, sometimes it might become unusual or out of hand.

That said…

Instead of playing a kitchen detective, this post has everything you need to know. Here, my focus is on why a fridge makes clicking noise, how to troubleshoot, as well as recommended solutions.

With that in mind:

Today’s main contributor is Jack Billings; an experienced, L.A.-based Fridge Repair Maestro with years of experience under his belt.

So, keep reading to learn more about this issue.

Refrigerator Making Clicking Noise

Decoding the Mystery: Why Is Your Fridge Making Clicking Noises?

Well, when a refrigerator makes clicking sounds, you are most likely looking at a faulty or misaligned motorized part. In most cases, it is usually a condenser coil or fan issue. However, this problem can also arise from a refrigerator’s malfunctioning board, damaged compressor, faulty defrost timer, or a broken ice maker. Fortunately, most of these issues can be DIY-fixed.


I will walk through each possibility; covering the possible problem, how to identify it, and what to do to fix it.

Jack says, “Most refrigerator clicking issues are easy fixes provided you have the right information, tools, and safety gear.

Speaking of safety:


In general, you should…

  • Put on protective gear e.g. safety goggles, insulated gloves, closed rubber shoes, and coveralls
  • Switch off your refrigerator before and when working on it
  • Use appropriate tools e.g. insulated screwdrivers, a multimeter, and electrical tape
  • Wipe off any water in and around your workspace to avoid electrocution
  • Use the right replacement parts to avoid damaging your fridge
  • Be attentive. Electrical appliances come with warning signs that must be taken seriously

As always:

If you are unsure about anything, do not hesitate to hire a pro or consult our team of experts.

With that in mind, let’s get to it…

5 Common Issues Causing Clicking Noises in Refrigerators & How To Fix Each


To get the best solution, you must first understand the problem. And that starts by being sure about the source, frequency, and loudness of the clicking noise.

So, here is a list of possible parts to check.

1. Dirty Condenser Coils and Fan Motor Issues

Condenser fan motor is broken and had been replaced

Get this:

The condenser fan motor and coils are critical parts of any refrigerator; usually located at the bottom. Generally, the fan is responsible for cooling the refrigerant when it passes through the condenser coils. 


PartCondenser Coils and Fan
LocationAt the back or bottom of the fridge
Ease of TroubleshootingEasy
Special NoteBe careful not to damage the coils.
CostCondenser Coils: $100 – $700
Fan Motor: $25 – $130
Repairable?Condenser Coils: Clean or Replace (by a pro)
Fan Motor: Remove obstruction or Replace

Jack states, “If you are facing a ‘refrigerator clicking but still cooling‘ type of situation, the issue probably lies in the state of your condenser coils and fan.”

Here, you are looking at two possibilities:

  1. The fan is busted, jammed, or misaligned
  2. Your condenser coils are lint-covered, greasy, and dirty


First of all, is the clicking sound coming from the back or bottom of your fridge?

If so, you are on the right trail.

From my experience, one way to tell whether you have a busted fan motor (i.e. the source of the clicking) is by listening for the frequency.

A faster clicking rate indicates that fan blades might be hitting debris or foreign objects when rotating.

This also applies to the fridge’s evaporator fan.

If that is not it:

The most neglected part of a fridge – the coils –  could be causing the noise (indirectly).


Well, if you have dirty, lint-covered condenser coils, heat dissipation will be hampered. Thus, forcing your compressor to run frequently to cycle refrigerant.

Hence, the unusual clicking might just be your compressor in overdrive.


As I mentioned earlier, these are easy DIY fixes. But remember – safety first.

Jack explains:

“I always advise my clients to start by cleaning the coils. But be a bit cautious when doing this to avoid damaging them. I recommend using a vacuum cleaner and a refrigerator coil cleaning brush for this.” 


“Once the coils are clean, it is important to inspect the condenser fan.

You should…

Check for any dirt and debris that may be hindering the fan blades’ free movement. Then, switch on your refrigerator to ascertain that the fan’s motor is working as intended.

This will also allow you to asses if cleaning the coils has resolved the clicking.

2. Compressor and Start Relay Issues

Whirlpool Fridge Start Relay Replacement

Get this:

When you have a refrigerator compressor clicking on and off, the issue is most likely coming from the start relay.

According to Jack, “One way to tell that you have compressor/start relay issues is by checking if the fridge is cooling. If it is not, this is probably the problem.”


PartCompressor or Start Relay
LocationBottom or Back of the Fridge
Ease of TroubleshootingEasy
Special NoteCompressor failure is rare. So, the problem probably lies with the Start Relay. Generally, if you hear rattling when shaking the relay, it’s faulty.
CostCompressor: $200 – $600
Start Relay: $10 – $60
Repairable?No. Replacement only.

To quote Jack:

“There are so many things that can affect your compressor’s operability.”

Aside from a faulty condenser fan or dirty coils, this vital refrigerator part can malfunction when there is:

  • An issue with the start relay
  • A power overload
  • Or overheating

In fact, there are times when something as trivial as ‘the fridge light not turning off‘ can cause compressor malfunctions.

Interesting, right?


Speaking from years of experience, actual compressor failure is quite rare. Unless, of course, you are dealing with an old appliance.

And in case of failure…

The noise will most likely be in the form of rattling or knocking rather than clicking; as is evident in this Maytag MSD2433HEW user’s Reddit thread.


Most of the possible issues above (except the start relay) are easy to tell without necessarily dismantling parts of your fridge.

That said, here is a neat trick…

According to GE Appliances, to test a start relay, all you have to do is dismount and shake it. If the relay rattles, it is faulty. PS – this works for all refrigerator brands.

Another way to be sure is by using a multimeter to do a continuity test.


When the relay fails, the clicking can become more frequent and sometimes louder.” – Jack.


You might notice temperature irregularities; i.e. your fridge getting warmer or colder without any thermostat adjustments.


Once you have established the noise source, here is what you should do.

Check for overheating, overloading, and that the rest of the fridge’s functions are running as intended.

What’s more?

“If you have a refrigerator relay clicking, a quick DIY replacement will suffice. It is easy but you must ensure you get the right replacement part for your fridge’s model.” according to Jack.


For a refrigerator compressor that is hot and clicking, you should consider hiring a professional. This type of replacement not only requires skill and knowledge but also a lot of experience to pull off.

3. Fault in the Circuit Board (PCB)

Fridge Control Board Replacement

Another instance where you might find yourself in a fridge-clicking-not-cooling situation is when there is a fault in the PCB.

Jack says, “As the brain of your appliance, fridge control board clicking often points to serious issues.


The issues could range from blown capacitors to faulty switches/relays.


PartPCB/Control Board
LocationUsually, at the back of the fridge
Ease of TroubleshootingSlightly complex
Special NoteThis issue is quite common in GE refrigerators
Cost$50 – $350
Repairable?Yes. But, if unsure, a complete replacement is recommended.

Now, what causes refrigerator control board clicking?

Well, according to Jack, This could be because of several reasons; with the most obvious one being that the PCB is physically damaged.”


Component failure, power surges, loose connections, or electrical malfunctions can (cause other components in the PCB to) produce clicking noises.


I replaced a GE WR55X10552 refrigerator board a few days ago that had a similar issue. In my case, one of the relay switches had gone bad.

After a series of tests, my conclusion was that the clicking came from the switch trying to engage.


This is the easy part – you just have to listen. It is awfully hard to miss clicking sounds coming from the PCB.


Jack says, “You can also look out for things like fridge lights malfunctioning, ice dispenser issues, and LCD panel faults. If your refrigerator is exhibiting all or most of these signs, your control board might be faulty.”


Here, you have two options.

The safest one is to completely replace the control board. Despite being costly, buying a new board reduces the chances of other components failing in the near future.


If you are on a budget or are well-versed with refrigerator board circuitry, you can try doing a repair.

DIY repairs are cheap because you get to fix specific parts of the board rather than buying a new one. A good example is this GE GSH25KGREWW board repair video.

Unfortunately, repairs won’t give any guarantees that the fix will last. Because other parts of the board might fail after some time.

4. Defrost Timer Issues

Refrigerator Defrost Timer


According to LG and most refrigerator manufacturers, a clicking defrost timer is as normal as the rhythm of your heartbeat.

However, the intervals between each click are usually reasonably spaced; usually 20 minutes during a defrost cycle and then 8 hours during a cooling cycle.


If the clicking becomes more frequent (than usual), the defrost timer might be malfunctioning.


PartDefrost Timer
LocationBehind the kickplate next to the control board or at the bottom of the back panel
Ease of TroubleshootingEasy
Special NoteOne way to tell that the defrost timer is failing is by looking for frost buildup within the refrigerator’s compartments.
Cost$10 – $40
Repairable?No. Replace it.

So, according to Jack, several factors can cause defrost timer failure and clicking.

For example:

  • Stuck or jammed gears
  • Timer motor issues
  • Power supply fluctuations (surges and brownouts)
  • Electrical and wiring mishaps
  • Or just normal wear and tear

When any of these factors occur, the timer might get stuck trying to reestablish normal operation. And that can cause clicking from the components, gears, or motor. 


If love being super sure and technical, you can do a full test to see if the timer is working.

But, that’s not always easy for everyone.

This is why I’d also recommend looking out for common signs and symptoms.

For example:

“Aside from the unusual clicking, another way to tell that the defrost timer is malfunctioning is when there is unusual frost buildup,” explains Jack.

“Sometimes, your fridge might get too icy and some motorized components might get frozen.”

On the contrary…

If this part is stuck in Defrost Mode, you may also notice the refrigerator not cooling. This is evident when there is ice melting, thawing, and most perishable foods are starting to go bad.


Replace it.

Jack says, “Defrost timers are inexpensive and very easy to replace. Just remember to get the right parts because they differ in design from one model to the other.”

5. Damaged Ice Maker

LG Refrigerator Icemaker has been replaced


PartIce Maker Assembly
LocationUsually inside the top compartment
Ease of TroubleshootingEasy
Special NoteWhen troubleshooting unusual clicking, this should be the last thing you check. If all other issues above check out, then the Ice Maker is probably the source.
Cost$50 – $150
Repairable?Clean or Replace if damaged.

“You might be looking at damaged motor gears, a jammed-up arm, or even water supply issues,” says Jack. “These issues are quite common in Samsung, LG, and Bosch refrigerators.”


In severe cases, the unusual noises might come from a failing ice maker drive motor.


Well, aside from the unusual clicking sounds, a malfunctioning ice maker will also exhibit faults like…

  • Making too much (i.e. in case of a faulty inlet valve) or not making any ice (usually when there’s no water coming in)
  • Forming huge clumps of ice
  • Presence of water in the bin

According to Jack…

“A close inspection is always the surest way to determine why the fridge’s ice maker is clicking. Start by dismantling it, then look for signs of damage on the motorized parts.”

To add to this:

I always recommend checking if anything is stuck, clogged, or frozen.


Ice maker troubleshooting is relatively easy.

You can start by inspecting it for frost buildup and clumping. Then check the gears that facilitate the movement of its motorized parts to ensure there are no missing teeth.

Thereafter, you can do some cleaning and descaling.

Sometimes, especially in areas that receive hard water, the lime scale and mineral build-up can affect how ice maker components work.

Quick Summary: Brand-Specific Issues and Solutions

Obviously, the fixes above are not one-size-fits-all because there are so many different refrigerator brands and models out there.

The various design available might make troubleshooting processes different in each case.


Here is a breakdown of the most common clicking noise issues affecting popular refrigerator brands…

BrandCommon Clicking Noise IssueSolution
WhirlpoolFaulty Defrost TimerConsult the manual for troubleshooting and testing. If faulty, replace it or contact a professional for help.
SamsungIce Maker IssuesInspect and clean ice maker components. Look out for solenoid, gear, or motor issues. If any, replace the Ice Maker assembly.
GE AppliancesControl Board (PCB) Clicking Every Few SecondsOnce you ascertain this is the issue, replace the circuit board or hire professional help.
FrigidaireFailed Start RelayTest the compressor Start Relay using a multimeter and replace it if faulty.
KitchenAidWater Inlet Valve MalfunctionInspect the water inlet valve for blockages or malfunctions. Then clean or replace the valve if need be.
KenmoreEvaporator or Condenser Fan ObstructionInspect the condenser fan motor for obstructions or damage. If the noise is coming from the upper part of the fridge, it could be the evaporator fan. Remove any obstructions and clean or replace the affected fan if necessary.

In Summary

If you ask any refrigerator brand why your fridge makes clicking noise, they will tell you It is normal.”

And while that is true, sometimes the noises can get a bit unusual and unbearable. Here, I am talking about the clicking getting louder and, in most cases, more frequent.

Just remember…

That noise could be from:

  • An obstructed condenser/evaporator fan
  • Overworking compressor
  • Faulty start relay
  • Damaged defrost timer
  • Faulty circuit board
  • Or an ice maker/water dispenser malfunction

General solution?

For any of the parts above, you should – Inspect, Clean, and Replace where necessary. That’s the fastest way to have a quiet and efficient refrigerator again.

That said:

Big thanks to Jack for his insights and you for your time – I hope the info above helps.

Also, feel free to say something in the comments below if you have questions or experiences you would like to share.

And remember:

You can always get free troubleshooting advice and consultation on our ASK THE EXPERT Facebook community.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Refrigerator Making a Clicking Noise, And Is It a Sign Of a Serious Problem?

Clicking is usually a normal sound in refrigerators. Things only gets serious when it’s unusually loud or more frequent. In some cases, the problem might be mild e.g. fan blade obstruction or dirty condenser coils overworking the compressor.

In others, you might be looking at a faulty start relay, malfunctioning defrost timer, or damaged circuit board. If unsure, always consult an expert about this.

How Can I Determine the Cause of Clicking Noises Coming From My Refrigerator?

Listen keenly and try to establish where the refrigerator clicking sound is coming from. Once you know where, it will be easy to pinpoint the parts that are possibly affected.

In a nutshell, if the noise is coming from the bottom half of your fridge, look for dirty condenser coils, fan obstruction, faulty compressor start relay, and a malfunctioning defrost timer. For the upper half, look for a water inlet valve, ice maker, circuit board, or evaporator fan motor malfunction.

How Often Should I Perform Maintenance On My Refrigerator To Prevent Clicking Noises and Other Issues?

Experts recommend doing a deep clean twice every year or four times if you have pets. Also, be on the lookout for abnormalities e.g. irregular frosting, noises, or temperature changes.

If you notice these irregularities, do your research and get them fixed ASAP. The best way to maintain your appliance is by identifying and fixing issues early; before they worsen or damage other components on your fridge.

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