For the past few weeks Heather and I have noticed a growing rumble coming from our refrigerator. Whenever the appliance turns off after a cooling cycle, a horrible knocking/rattle noise can be heard coming from the bottom of the fridge.
During a free moment yesterday, I did some searching online to try and learn what might be the cause of our rumbley refrigerator. Searching on terms like “refrigerator rattle” and “refrigerator knocking” led me to some disturbing news. The knocking noise could be emanating from the compressor. Not a good thing.
One site I read indicated that a knocking compressor might not be all bad, and that a simple solution could be making sure the coils are kept clean. Heather and I had cleaned under the fridge once or twice over the last year, but it was clearly still pretty messy down there. The previous owners of our house had a long-haired cat; and judging from the shape I’ve found some of the other parts of the house in, I don’t think appliance maintenance and cleaning was very high on their To-Do list.
Hoping to spare Heather and me the cost of a new compressor or even a new fridge, last night I set to task of seriously cleaning out the underside of the fridge. If all went well, the cleaned up coils would improve the efficiency of the appliance, put less stress on the compressor, and chase away the knocking.
At least that was the plan.
First I spent a hefty amount of time vacuuming under the fridge from the front using a bunch of great vacuum attachments we already had. When I started the coils and surrounding area were covered in cat hair and dust, but I was able to restore them to gleaming smooth blackness. I wasn’t able to reach all the way to the back of the fridge, so I attempted to pull the fridge out of its resting spot snuggled between our cabinets and the pantry.
Apparently this refrigerator had magically grown in this location many years ago; home builders stumbled upon it and constructed a house around the appliance. I don’t know how else to explain how tightly that frickin’ fridge was stuffed into the space in our kitchen. It was rubbing against the counter on the left, the wall on the right. It was even scraping the cabinets that bridged over the top of the fridge. It took me twice as long to pull the behemoth out into the middle of the kitchen then it did for me to clean it. And I think I pulled three muscles doing in the process.
I inspected the area behind the fridge and found it disgustingly dirty – but bone dry (this will be important later on). I abandoned my cleaning for awhile to let my arms rest and then returned to the fridge about fifteen minutes later. Now where the floor had been dry there was a growing puddle of water.
We have hardwood floors in our kitchen, so the sight of the expanding water on the floor gave me a good scare. If we don’t have money for a new fridge we certainly don’t have the cash for fixing a warped wood floor.
I grabbed all the towels that were handy and began mopping up the water. I then feverishly worked on removing the back panel from the fridge so that I might learn the source of the water. What I discovered was that the water line into the ice maker was spraying water right at the point of connection. Instead of wasting time trying to figure out how to tighten or correct this issue, I hurried down into the basement to locate the shut-off valve for the ice maker water supply line. I turned it as tight as it would go and shortly after the water stopped leaking from the fridge’s underside.
I finished my vacuuming and general cleaning up behind the fridge. I attempted to tighten the connection between the supply line and the ice maker, but when I turned the water back on the leaking started up again. So I shut everything down and put the fridge back in place. No more automatic ice and water dispensing for us.
What baffles me is why the ice maker sprung a leak when it did? When I pulled the fridge out the floor and surrounding area was completely dry. Everything was fine. No water anywhere.
Because of how the fridge is constructed I wasn’t able to reach the ice maker from the front with my vacuum, so I’m confident I didn’t break it while cleaning the front of the fridge. But obviously something happened to the connection between the time I slide the fridge out and when I came back fifteen minutes later to clean. So if we didn’t have a true problem with the refrigerator before, we do now.
Then to add insult to injury, the fridge continues to make knocking sounds during compressor shut down. So all my cleaning, pulling, pushing, mopping, and water shutting off was for naught. It looks like another hit to Heather and my home equity line of credit may be in the future.