My Refrigerator is clicking

In this article I'm going to talk about the Clicking Noise that may occur with your refrigerator. I answer Appliance Questions online and this is a very common complaint. So I will write it here to save me from retyping it over and over.

The components on the side of the compressor are called your relay, starter and capacitor. There are a few different styles but they pretty much do the same thing. They allow the electrical current to enter the compressor. IF the compressor is going bad, say shorted windings in the motor, this will cause the compressor to draw to many amps of electricity. When the compressor draws too much current, the overload will overheat and "CLICK". When you hear that click, that is the sound of, your refrigerator isn't going to get cold anymore and you better fix it quick noise. That's why you're here.

The clicking noise is very distinct and it will sound like it's coming from under the refrigerator or from the back. You may also hear buzzing. The overload will click when it cools down and lets current through the circuit again. So, click off, click on. But if the component parts are bad or the compressor is bad this cycle will happen again, and again, again, and so on and so forth. Usually about the rate of every minute or so.

Now, there are a few other things that will cause this to overheat and shut off. One is if your condenser coils are covered in pet hair and haven't been cleaned in some time. Lint, dust, hair, who knows what else can be there but you get the point. If those coils are not kept clean, the compressor will run hot. That will cause the overload on the side of the compressor to overheat and "click"-no cool. Unplug the fridge and clean the coils. This may fix the problem if the overload or compressor weren't damaged. You will know right away. If the fridge runs fine after cleaning the coils then you are okay. You will know usually within a few minutes if the something has been damaged. It will still click.

Another thing that can cause the click is an adaptive defrost control board. It contains a relay that sends power to the parts on the side of the compressor. When the defrost board doesn't send full power to the compressor, this causes an increased amp draw to make up for the voltage drop. Increased amp draw equals "CLICK"

One more thing that may cause this clicking sound is the condenser fan not working. The condenser fan is the fan that is next to the compressor. It has a couple jobs. Evaporate the defrost water and keeping the heat off the condenser coils and compressor. If the fan isn't running when the compressor is running, guess what will happen. "CLICK" I think you know why by now, but just in case, the compressor overheats and the overload on the side of the compressor, protects it by shutting off the power. Hopefully if your fan motor was bad, the overload did its job and saved your compressor. You can place a separate fan on the floor blowing on the compressor and coils to temporarily get you by until your new parts arrive.

Okay, you cleaned the coils, got a fan if you needed one and it still clicks, now what? The first thing to do is replace the components on the side of the compressor. Hopefully the compressor starts up and the new components don't click like the old ones. If they don't click you are good to go. Good job, you just saved a bunch of money on appliance repairs.
But what if it still clicks? Well, to put it nicely, your refrigerator may need to find a new home(scrapyard). That means your compressor has internal damage or you have some sort of freon restriction. If your refrigerator is less than five years old it may be covered by the manufacture's limited warranty. That means this repair will not cost you. But, if it's older than that or you don't have some sort of extended warranty plan, this repair will cost you at least $300. And if you are really unlucky it could cost around $600. The difference in price being whether you only need freon work, or you need the compressor replaced.

I think I've covered the basics. You now know what the annoying clicking sound is when your refrigerator gives up and stops getting cold. The clicking is capable of happening periodically. Make sure the refrigerator isn't running in temperatures above 85 - 90 degrees F. Don't let the refrigerator be exposed to direct sunlight. Keep the coils clean. Don't leave the doors hanging open for long periods of time. If you are having a defrost issue this sound could be heard. That is because with a defrost issue, the compressor runs constantly and that will cause it to overheat.

If you are having a Defrost Issue be sure to read about Defrost Problems on my blog.  Search for Frost in my Freezer.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you have more questions about this I can be found on YouTube.com/ApplianceOutlet.  Post your Comments or Questions either on this Blog or at the bottom of my YouTube videos.

61 comments:

  1. 12/6/08 - Excellent help!!!! Unfortunately for us it is the worst case scenario 3 months after purchasing a used housed BUT at a much lower cost than if we'd called a repairman. We're gonna go for a new frig and get it added to our home warranty service. It was only 6 years old. Anybody remember when refrigerators lasted a minimum of 15 years. Should have moved my old refrig with me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is not what I wanted to hear...I wanted you to say that it wasn't a problem and that I should ignore the fact that my refrigerator is showing that it is 69 degrees...That all would be ok tomorrow.
    Since you didn't, and I have already looked at the coils and they look clean, I guess it is off to Refrigerator Land tomorrow.
    Thanks for the information, even if it was not what I wanted to hear.

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  3. This happened to my frige today - the guy at the parts place said they didn't have an exact replacement for the replay/capacitor but they sell a "universal" solid-state unit which replaces the reply and/or capacitor and overload cutout. I took a chance that the compressor was still good and bought the universal unit - it worked! Here's what it was:
    http://www.supco.com/images/pdfs/Ultimate%20URCO%20Series.pdf

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  4. This all sounds like these are scenarios for fridges that aren't working. Our fridge works fine however it makes this repeated and fast clicking noise. Is this still the same problem? It almost sounds like it except for the not working part.

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    Replies
    1. AN ICE MAKER THAT IS DRY / INOP, KEPT US AWAKE AT THE BEACH RENTAL.WIRED IT DOWN = NO NOISE

      Delete
    2. My ice maker stopped working and I hear this annoying clicking all the gd time. Good to know that it's to do with the ice maker. The fridge is working fine other than this. Thanks!!

      Delete
  5. Mine was doing the same thing, turns out its a relay on the circuit board. This is a common problem for GE fridges, and it can be replaced for about $100.00, and takes about 5 minutes to do the work. Locate your circuit board and see if the clicking is comming from there, it should be one of the large black boxes on the circuit board.

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  6. useful info overall, as well as Jon's insight. I have a 'clicking' GE fridge, and at first I figured that it was a bad relay on that 'main board'. However, I also have noticed that my condenser fan is not working, go figure. There is voltage at the connector when the compressor is running, but the fan doesn't run. It's definitely not an over-heating issue, as I have eliminated that issue with a back-up fan. So, I have disconnected the fan for now, and am contemplating replacing the 'main board'...

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  7. update... replaced the 'main board' as the 'clicking' on the old board became constant and the fridge ceased to operate properly. I can confirm that this is a VERY COMMON problem with GE refrigerators, as I spoke with the parts store rep. and they informed me. I am happy to say that my fridge is cooling nicely once again! Oh, and the fan is working again as well!

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  8. Hi. thanks for the information I checked the parts on the side of the compressor and discovered that they had a burnt smell and something was rattling inside, so im going to replace them in hopes this will fix the problem.

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  9. I have the same problem as SweetJuice, in my apartment. A much faster clicking (once per second) that goes on for about two hours sometimes. My freezer is going through a weird melt-refreeze cycle, but my fridge is staying cold as far as I know. Help?!

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  10. Did u manage to sort problem?... i may have solution for the fast cicking prob.. let me know

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  11. my frigidaire is doing the clicking, this is the second time. about 6 months ago i replaced the overload switch and start capacitor, and cleared up the problem. when it started again i went a head and change the overload and starter cheap enough. i checked the current draw on the compresser and it was about 10 amps and seemed to run ok, until it warmed up now we are clicking again, looks like the big whammy. i will check the current again with it already warmed up and see. since my wife likes the big expensive refrigerators it might be cheaper to change the compresser. 600 to fix a 900+ fridge almost seems worth it but cheap or expensive 17 cu ft or 24 cu ft they all have the same cheap guts in them.

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  12. Mr Bill, you are just the best. I replaced the overload relay on one fridge and it is working very fine after I almost threw it away. But guess what, my other fridge is now clicking, but still working great. I will wait till it dies because I have a backup and then try fixing. Everyone should have a backup fridge...LOL

    Charley

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  13. Thank you very much for your article. Had just replaced the relay two weeks ago and clicking is back. May just replace the refrigerator at this point. Thinking compressor may be going bad.

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  14. Thanks so much! This article was very informative and helped me so much. I cleaned the coils and checked the components...I think it's the relay. I will be replacing that soon. Wish me luck!!

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  15. Well I cleaned all the coils and its still ticking. Dont know what Im going to do next.. Guess I will take my sledge hammer and beat the shit out of it...Its driving me nuts...

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  16. Our indesit BAN10MF (I think that's the right model No.) was making the loud clicking intermittently but the cooling of the fridge and frost-free freezer was unaffected. The first time it happened it was under warranty and the service engineer replaced the PCB. When it happened 9 months later I replaced the two capacitors on the PCB in the top of the unit and that fixed the clicking and everything seems fine 9 months on.

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  17. Mine started doing this after we were out of power for an entire day. Once the power came back on, the clicking immediately started and I'm worried it was damaged by a power surge. Would the addition of a power surge to the equation change anything about your analysis?

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  18. We have an old (20 yrs probably) refrigerator that we use in our garage that just started making the continuous clicking sound. It's staying cold - both refrig and freezer - but I'm wondering if this is a potential fire hazard, i.e. should I turn it off until it's fixed? Thank you!

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  19. Heard the click, than electrical buzz for 20 seconds, then click. Repeat every 2 minutes. I unplugged the fridge, cleaned the coils, let it sit overnight. When I plugged it in the next morning it worked like a champ! Thanks for the info!

    ReplyDelete
  20. My refrigerator/freezer is clicking about every second or so. This has been happening on and off for about the last month - it will start clicking, and the temperature will rise for about 24-36 hours. Then it will magically work for another 2-4 days. Then it starts all over again.
    Of course, it wasn't clicking when the repairman came, and he didn't have any answers for me.
    I have already cleaned the bottom of the appliance, but I'm not sure if that will help, because of the fact that it is a refrigerator/freezer combo. Does that change where the coil is located?
    My next appointment is scheduled for a week from now - any tips so I can make sure my refrigerator will actually get fixed the next time the repairman comes?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks. This is the second time this year, and last time the repair guy replaced the defrost sensor and the compressor relay, so I'm guessing it's probably a different issue this time. Hopefully since it just started an hour ago I can get it cleaned out in hopes that I don't need repairs again.

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  22. what if my refrigerator is sounding like its on a timer.

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  23. My refridgerator started clicking and the ice, water and light wouldn't work. The clicking would occasionally stop but always return randomly. I replaced the main board and it works perfectly. It takes about 15 minutes and is very easy to do. My neighbor just had a repairman out to fix hers and it cost just under $400. The part was under 150 and took one day to get.

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  24. My refrigerator started to make a clicking sound yesterday. It wasn't that noticeable. Came home today & the ice had melted from the ice maker & food thawed out & fridge side not coolong. When the fridge clicks, the lights in the fridge dim & so does the lights in the house. Unplugged fridge & blowing a fan on the compressor. Any other suggestions

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  25. I am at my wits end. I purchased a Fridgdaire fridge and had trouble with since the day I bought it. They have put in a new fan, an universal relay,therometer, seal around the door and it still keeps clicking when it starts and only runs for two minutes off for 4 minutes and this is how it runs day and nite. Could you please help me with this problem? Ready for the loonie ben.

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  26. My 8-year old Kenmore, 19 cu ft, stopped cooling but the fan works fine. My first step will be to purchase a digital multimeter since my ancient analog one doesn't seem to work in the ohm area (or I need new glasses....).

    Have web-shopped for a new one and at $ 900.-, installing a new compressor seems to be foolish until I have followed the above relay/capacitor tests.

    Thanks, Mr. Bill, you're the best!

    My Frigidaire from 1958 never died, I just left it behind when I sold our house in 1980. Now everything we buy - except Tupperware and toilet paper - has its obsolescence built in.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thank you so very very much. I am a widow with three children and after just paying to get my car repaired today the last thing I needed was for my fridge to give out. I cleaned it and it is working without the clicking sounds. Thank you again so very much for posting this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome Job! I'm glad I was able to help. If you have anymore questions you know where to find me.
      Thanks for taking the time to read my post.
      Bill

      Delete
  28. My maytag Msd2641k has the click problem. It's 4 years old. You said clean the coil first, but how does the coil looks like? Where is the Control Board? The refrig is still running fine with the click.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's possible that the freezer temperature is starting to rise. The coils that I'm talking about are in the back of the refrigerator by the compressor. You will have to pull the refrigerator out from the wall and get behind it to check the coils and clean them. Before you remove the cover in the back, unplug the refrigerator. You do not want to try to clean back there with the compressor and the compressor fan running.
      Let me know how you make out.

      Delete
    2. I think the coil means those bronze pipes connecting to the compressor? The click most likely caused by dust as you said, because after I pulled out the refridgrator, It stopped clicking. I cleaned the rear panel, coils, fans and parts of the steel panel(difficult to reach). Now no click.

      Delete
  29. Our GE is 7 years old w/ this clicking sound. I cleaned the back - which has never been done (what a mess)! Plugged it back in and the clicking stopped and the fan began to cool the coil again. Thanks for the help. PS - I will be cleaning this every six months now!

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  30. My Frigidaire is 4 years old and I've never cleaned out the underneath of the coils. It started clicking just about an hour ago and I found this article. Cleaning out the bottom fixed my fridge. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    ReplyDelete
  31. It is genuinely an superb and helpful product or service of details.
    I am pleased that you basically distributed this useful details with us.
    Please keep us advising like this. Thanks for talking over.

    ReplyDelete

  32. Yes,it is the most common complaint regarding refrigerator and people have so many doubts. I also came across with this problem. And thanks to you for writing on this issue and clearing our doubts regarding the clicking noise.

    ReplyDelete
  33. My 5 yr old side by side Frigidaire started clicking about 2 weeks ago. It was the type of noise I was used to hearing when the ice was getting ready to drop, but when this new noise started, it never stopped... almost sounded like a machine gun! (only not as loud) We tried everything: unplugging it & restarting it, defrosting everything... nothing worked! This wasn't a noise at the bottom of the fridge, but on the inside of the fridge side. (not the freezer side) There is an area on the top left hand side where the water line is set up & connected to the filter, which I replaced.. this is where the noise was. The fan was still blowing but you could feel a slight vibration where the clicking was. I didn't have the tools to open this area & was unable to get someone out here to look at it either without charging me an arm, a leg & my left eye! (I live in the country) My water dispenser still worked, the ice maker is fine, the freezer is fine. Out of the blue, after about a week of clicking, it mysteriously stopped, but now my fridge isn't as cold as it's supposed to be... only 50 degrees! What do you think caused this & what do I need to do to get my fridge cold again????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i have the same problem with my Frigidaire. The clicking noise is coming from that exact same spot near the damper on the top left side area. Wish I knew the fix for that. kept me awake all night!

      Delete
  34. what if it makes that clicking sound every second or so?
    Not all the time, but from time to time it starts clicking???

    ReplyDelete
  35. My 5 year old GE just started clicking continuously this morning and its doesn't appear to be running. I took off the rear cover and the coils looks alot cleaning than I expected. It clicks kind of loudly followed by three oe so quieter clicks then clicks loudly again. I pulled the cover that exposed the circuit board and that is where the clicking is coming from. Of course its Sunday and I can't get a repairman or an open service center. Any ideas for today?

    ReplyDelete
  36. Mr Bill (or anyone familiar), i have a 10 year old GE fridge GTS18HCMFRWW that has been fine. i just noticed the compressor clicking on and off very quickly. come to find that everything in the freezer has been defrosted. the fan works fine. i unplugged it and all. i let it thaw for a couple hours. plugged it back in, and i still clicks right off. within 5 seconds. thoughts? please help. thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the Overload part!!! new one $25. All fixed. Check the Overload and relay first. If you pull the overload off the compressor, shake it, if it rattles like a baby rattle, it has most likely had its day.

      Delete
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  45. MrBill,

    Mine is a 3 year old Maytag Model# MSD2572vew00

    Your writeup was very helpful. I have further question.

    Mine started a simple cycle...relay clicks on and compressor sounds like it is running...this lasts for only 9.5 seconds then the relay/compressor shut down for the next 139 seconds. Then...the cycle repeats...No Cooling. I have repeated this with the frig after it had been off for a week. Same results, so it is not likely an overheating problem.

    My question: Is the compressor SURELY bad...it does run for 9.5 seconds. Some 'thing' is making a decision to turn off the compressor after 9.5 seconds. It could be because, the compressor is at fault or is it possible that the 'decision maker' is at fault? Is there some sort of pressure or temperature sensor that makes this decision to shut down the compressor? One of them could be bad? I would like to be very 'sure' before junking a 3 year old frig....

    Thanks...

    ReplyDelete
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  48. This did help. Mine made a really loud grinding noise before it turned on and now it's making the clicking noise every couple minutes but still cooling. Any suggestions for that? It was vacuumed out back in late March/early April of 2013.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I have a question...... what if the clicking is repeating about every second and the fan doesn't come on at all? BTW, the clicking is distinctively coming from behind the circuit board.

    ReplyDelete
  50. My fridge hadnt been cleaned in forever and wouldnt freeze at all. Yesterday, my mom and I cleaned out the coils, but this morning as I came downstairs I heard 3 clicks and have been freaking out a little because I have little trust for appliances (year ago dryer caught fire) so I have been staring the blasted thing down all morning, and we had ice in the freezer overnight, so I dont know if its got defrosting problems or if something screwed with the coils...

    ReplyDelete
  51. My freezer stopped cooling (fridge side is ok) and is making a buzzing noise every few minutes that lasts about 10-15 seconds. Sure could use some advice on what this might be. I'm going right now to check the coils and make sure everything is clean. Thanks in advance for anything you might tell me.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Thanks for additional information, I m a technician but I fail to fix one latest Samsaung fridge, once it cut off it takes long sometimes to come on, Its controlled by a PC board and there is a running capacitor goes to the compressor, There re actual 3 wires goes to the compressor, one is to the overload, two is to the starting relay, when I measure voltage between live and neutral I got 230V, across the starting relay 0 later on the compressor starts and I measure between the starting relay I got around 300V, between neutral and live I still got 230 it makes me worry, I don't know if the compressor have to be replaced or its the Pc boad or the running capacitor please help me sir?

    ReplyDelete
  53. Amana refrigerator model number bz20ql . Bottom Freezer. Ice maker ready but none ever installed. This refrigerator works great. Have cleaned to coils front and back, as well as the fan. About once a day it starts to tck like a clock. Or a water dripping into a sink. But unlike everyone else it works just fine. The ice doesn't melt and then freeze, everything stays cool. There is cold air movin in both comperents. If it was a relay switch or compressor problem, wouldn't that not be the case? The fan is not hitting anything.

    ReplyDelete