How To Fix Your Noisy Refrigerator

Over the last few months the fridge on the boat has been getting louder and louder. I’ve had no problem sleeping aboard even in some rough weather over the years, but at this point the fridge actually wakes me up at night. It sounds like I’m on a tarmac whenever it’s running. Noise from a refrigerator is usually caused by the exhaust fans. If you’re having the same problem, here a few simple steps to fix your noisy refrigerator.

spraying fan

Not All Models Are The Same

There are hundreds of different models out there, which vary in design. These instructions are based off of the Isotherm Cruise 187. You’ll have to refer to the manual for your model or contact the manufacturer for instructions on accessing the fans, but otherwise the fix should be the same.

The CR 187 has (2) 92mm computer fans mounted inside the top of the cabinet. There were just 4 small screws that needed to be removed, and then the top of the fridge pulled right off. It took a little wrestling, because access was somewhat restricted by the cabinet that my fridge is installed in, but the top is plastic, so it wasn’t too hard. The fans on the CR 187 are mounted inside the top panel.

Lubricating The Fans

lubricating fan
lubricating the fan with bicycle oil

After removing the top I peeled the stickers off of both of fans to gain access to the bearings, and then added a little bit of oil to the center of each fan. After spinning them by hand a few times to work it in, I wiped some of the excess oil off. You really only need a drop or two. Most people recommend using machine oil, such as sewing machine oil, but pretty much any oil will do.

I used a synthetic bicycle lubricant on my fans, because I already had it aboard. I also sprayed some Boeshield T-9 inside the outside edge of the hub on each fan. I haven’t seen this recommended anywhere, and it’s probably not necessary, but since T-9 is safe for electronics I figured it can’t hurt.

Finishing Up

Isotherm used very short wires to connect the fans, which actually pulled out before I even got the top off all the way. So an additional step I had to do was make 2 short jumper wires otherwise I would have had to pull the fridge out of its cabinet, just to reconnect the fans. After that I just screwed the top panel back in place and it was done.

Give It Time

When the fans run for the first time you’re not going to notice a huge difference. It’s takes a little time for the oil to work its way in. When my fridge first fired up for the first time after putting the fans back in, it was just as noisy as before. After running maybe 4 times or so, though, the oil worked its way in, and now it’s very quiet when it runs.

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