Tenant says fridge is working, but makes a loud sound. Help!

21 Replies

Hi there, fellow REIs!

I have a tenant who is complaining about her refrigerator. She says the unit is cooling properly, buy makes a LOUD, short, humming/buzzing sound every time it comes back on to cool. Of course, the biggest concern for me is that it cools her food - which it does. However, she keeps saying that she's concerned that it won't come back on at some point. I bought the unit used, & after doing some investigating, I've learned that it was purchased in 1985. So I guess it's far surpassed its life expectancy; but of course, I don't want any premature expenses. Please give me some advice on how to handle this one. Should I just replace it, try and fix it, or tell her she'll just have to deal with the noise?

Thanks, in advanced, for all responses!


@Katrina P. I think you are losing sleep over this, considering you spent the time to find out when it was manufactured. If it is a good tenant that you want to take care of just replace it and everyone is happy. You could send a repair person out to take a look, but at that age it probably isn't worth it.

I always buy used appliances for my rentals from a place that warranties it for a year and has a in house repair team.

It is going to die. Probably soon. Solenoid switch at the very least. I don't think you can fairly call replacing a 29-year-old fridge, "pre-mature."

Replace it. Much better to do that when you can plan it, rather than scramble in some wildly inconvenient time.

And then consider incluing in your lease for your next tenant that appliances are not included, but they are free to use the ones in the house if they understand and agree that you are not going to be repairing or replacing them.

@Katrina P. ...Replace if it's in the lease...Main reason, I stopped providing appliances in my affordable homes. Either had to move/store if tenant brought on or repair/replace, so I got out of appliance business.. One tenant stated her food spoiled over weekend when fridge went out(gave her a $50 grocery card)....lesson learned...

I would worry about a fridge that old catching on fire or something. A buzzing or humming noise generally means something is on it's last leg. It might still come off and on but doesn't mean it's not dangerous.

This fridge is way past it's prime.

Would just replace that sucker especially if this is a good tenant that pays on time. Get one without an ice maker so you will not have leaks with the supply line etc. behind the fridge.

No legal advice.

I agree with others, better to replace it on your terms than scramble when it gives out. Also agree with @Joel Owens about not getting an ice maker.

@Rolanda Eldridge was it a good tenant you wanted to keep happy? You technically aren't required to replace their spoiled food due to a fridge kicking the bucket (that would be covered by their renters insurance), but I can certainly understand wanting to keep a good tenant happy.

We had a similar issue with a somewhat newer fridge. We shopped around and replaced. You will save yourself some bucks if you replace before its broke. I don't subscribe to the fridge broke I replace your food school I just think you get a better deal when you plan these types of purchases. Our tenant was really happy since we got a deal on a bigger fridge and she had the next size up from a mini-fridge to start with.

Definitely replace it ASAP with a nice new one. Go to Home Depot and have it delivered. It's easy to get credit there, if you're short on cash.

Replacing it is most likely your best course of action. However, it's worth mentioning that right after we bought our condo (2008) the fridge made exactly that sort of sound. There was an issue with a fan blade. We put in a new blade, and it has worked ever since.

This may easily not be the issue with your fridge.

If it's from 1985 I wouldn't put a dollar into trying to fix it. Just buy a new one now before the current one goes out and you have a pissed off tenant that has already warned you about the fridge problems. I usually buy from Lowes and if you time the sales out you can get a great deal along with free next day delivery and free haul away of your junker.

Lowes with 6-18 mo no interest. Or if you dont have the funds, I have seem some really good used fridges at thrift stores for like $200 in my area. Either way, Id replace it if its really that old. Good luck

Sometimes the electric company gives you a rebate if you buy a new energy efficient refrigerator, so you might want to investigate that option.

Thank you guys so much for your replies! I will be replacing it asap! They are new, good (so far) tenants, so I will definitely keep them happy :). Thanks again!

Replace with a newly used one. I'm still surprised landlords are still supplying tenant's with appliances besides the oven.

I purchase more of my appliances on craigslist.com. I look for people selling like new appliances in the $50 to $150 range. Most of the time you can buy a fully functioning appliance for less than you would pay the repair guy just for showing up to the property. People on craigslist are selling appliances because they have purchased newer more modern appliances. I have even gotten some for free just by offering to haul them out of the basement.

People talking about financing a refrigerator makes me nervous?!

What happens when the roof needs replacement? We only buy new appliances and a few at a time to get wholesale pricing. Around here a used fridge is worth a $50 rebate from the power company if it works but during winter we put them in a garage for pickup and they are naturally cold even if they don't work.

Have they vacuumed the coils lately? I'd have them (you) try that first.

@GingerC. They are not the "do-it-yourself" types, so I won't tell them to vacuum. Then, I'm out of state, so that won't work. Then there's my handyman that does all my repairs for me, who says he knows nothing about repairing refridgerators. So, I guess I'll be purchasing a newly used one :).

I would also see if you can connect and start working with a local appliance shop that does appliance repair and provides refurbished units. You will save money, as opposed to the big box stores, and they specialize in rental-unit appliances and the issues that come along with them. Our guys will take the call from the landlord and do the initial troubleshooting over the phone with you (based on what you say is happening with the appliance), coordinate the scheduling and repair with the tenant, and once they get there will let you know what is in your best interest (repairing or replacing). Try doing any of that with Home Depot or Lowes.

Again, these shops, in my experience, specialize in rental unit appliance service and provide better service. Home Depot and Lowes are really geared towards the actual owner-occupied appliance issues.

@MarkRusso GREAT idea! Thanks for the tip! I'm all over it :).

I've had this happen. Most likely it is the thermostat. The sound is probably the fan grinding against the built up ice. That said, I'd replace it given the age.

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here