New refrigerator seems to be running 24/7 with a high pitched whine
December 1, 2020 6:11 AM   Subscribe

I recently bought a new refrigerator when the old one broke down. It seems to run constantly -- at least 90% of the time -- and emits a rather high pitched whining sound for a majority of the time it's running. This can't be normal, can it?

Any time it's running there's the sound of a fan blowing air, and on top of the fan sound is usually an whiny sound of a compressor, akin to what you hear from an old ice machine a few doors down the hall in a hotel. The compressor sound isn't painfully loud, but it's loud enough to be heard from anywhere downstairs in our house. It'll stop for a while, with the fan still running, and then 5-10 minutes later the whine starts again for at least a half an hour.

I found a similar experience here with some good answers, but it's a few years later, and I think the fact that mine is running all the time seems like an added wrinkle here. It just doesn't seem normal that a brand new modern refrigerator can make this much noise for so long. If it were running intermittently throughout the day I could maybe stand it, but it seems like it's always on, even when we're not opening the door.

I know people have different sensitivities to sounds, but I'm in my mid-40s and my wife hears it, too, so I doubt this is a question of my hearing being too sensitive. And I just can't believe a modern fridge has the fan and compressor running for so much of the day. Do I have a chance of getting this thing fixed or replaced, or should I just focus on trying to muffle the sound somehow?
posted by tonycpsu to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The page you lists a few negative reviews for noise or other problems, but the reviews are 89% "would recommend to a friend". So, no, this is not normal, and yes, it should be possible to fix it, or to get the vendor to replace it, if there is still a warranty in effect. One thing to do before calling anyone is to make sure it is level. Use a carpenter's level, and adjust the footings to be sure it is set absolutely level. Also make sure nothing is blocking any air circulation vents inside the fridge and freezer. If that doesn't correct the problem, make the call. If you get no satisfaction from the retailer, contact Whirlpool customer service directly.
posted by beagle at 6:42 AM on December 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This was 100% my experience after I bought a new Samsung refrigerator. I called Home Depot within 48 hours and made them take it back because I knew I could not live with it. The combination of accelerating/decelerating fan noises and the high pitch sound drove me crazy.

I ended up buying a Fisher & Paykel fridge that is still noisier than my old Amana because modern fridges run the fan/compressor a lot more than old fridges that clunk on/off. But we’ve lived with it now for 4 years, and it is OK (though it makes weird loud popping noises a couple times a day).
posted by Maarika at 6:44 AM on December 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I agree with beagle: the noise seems like something people would be talking about on the page you linked us to, if it were normal for that model.

The fridge running so much may be normal though. The Whirlpool site directed me to this manual, which notes: "Your new refrigerator may run longer than your old one due to its high-efficiency compressor and fans."

In your shoes, I would probably look for a phone number on the Whirlpool site, in hopes of finding someone who could listen to the noise over the phone and tell you if it's how that specific fridge is expected to sound.

In the meantime, can you turn down the room thermostat a few degrees? It might run more quietly and/or for less of the time in a cooler room.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 7:21 AM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's normal for a brand new fridge to make so much noise it's significantly bothering you. New fridges are pretty quiet. Contact the store you bought it from and/or the manufacturer, this should be covered under warranty.

I think it's easy to gaslight yourself about how loud an appliance noise really is. I recently noticed that my fridge seemed louder than usual, but spent several weeks waffling about it because, well, fridges are just loud and maybe my expectations are too high. Finally caved and got someone out to repair it... and now my fridge is whisper quiet and I barely ever notice it making noise. And this is at least a 5-10 year old fridge.

Rule of thumb: If the noise is bothering you, something's wrong.
posted by mekily at 7:34 AM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: These particular noises sound weird and unusually loud, but it is normal for more recently made fridges to run 80-90% of the time, in contrast to the occasional off/on of older fridges.
posted by caek at 8:44 AM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

It is almost certainly as "normal" for new refrigerators as it is incredibly obnoxious. A terrible addition to all the incessant noise pollution in modern life.
posted by dancing leaves at 11:59 AM on December 1, 2020

This is not normal. You're under warranty, right? Don't settle for fixing. Get a replacement.
posted by cyndigo at 1:59 PM on December 1, 2020

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