Modern air conditioners are designed for quiet operation. The variable speed compressors and sound-dampening technology found in high-efficiency AC units typically keep noise levels below 55 decibels. Just like pain is a warning sign that your body is suffering an injury, unusual sounds coming from your air conditioner are a sign of impending common AC problems and should be addressed immediately.
AC Problems: Banging or Clanking
These sounds are usually signs of a loose or broken part inside the compressor, motor, or blower assembly. They could also be an indication that the indoor blower is unbalanced or that the motor mounts are loose.
Air Conditioner Problems: Thwapping
This sound is best described as being similar to the one made by the playing card that you would stick in the spokes of your bicycle tires as a child. This is usually an indication that something is stuck in the blower blades or that something inside the housing is coming into contact with the blower as it rotates.
Air Conditioner Making Clicking Noise
A clicking sound as your HVAC units turns on and off is normal and not a cause for concern. Repeated clicks from the control panel or compressor, however, may indicate a faulty relay. It could also be caused by a malfunctioning thermostat.
Air Conditioner Making Buzzing Sound
A variety of issues could cause your outdoor unit to start buzzing:
- The fan blades or other parts may be loose or out of balance.
- There may be debris in either the indoor or outdoor unit.
- The air filter may be dirty and need to be changed.
- The condenser coils may need to be cleaned.
- The blower or fan motor could be about to fail.
- The copper refrigerant lines could be rubbing against something.
It could also be a sign that you have a refrigerant leak. If this is the case, you will notice that your AC is only blowing warm air. If not addressed, a refrigerant leak can eventually cause your AC to freeze up.
Air Conditioner Making High-Pitched Sound
The fan motor, compressor, blower motor, and blower wheel and housing can all start to squeal when they malfunction. Squealing and screeching can also be a sign of less serious problems, such as a worn belt or a problem with the motor bearings. The sounds can also be an indication that the blower motor unit simply needs lubrication.
If the sound is more of a high-pitched scream or whistle, there is a good chance that you have a refrigerant leak. This is caused by a buildup of pressure within the compressor. This can seriously damage your air conditioner and is a dangerous situation for your family. You should turn your AC off immediately and contact a repair professional.
Humming or Hissing
The refrigerant piping or loose parts can occasionally cause an air conditioner to hum or vibrate. It can also be a sign of electrical problems or a capacitor that is failing. If the humming is coming from a compressor that refuses to start, there may be an issue with the motor.
If you hear a hissing noise inside the walls of your home, you may have a leak in your ductwork. The sound occurs as air escapes from the system. Although not a dangerous situation, leaking ductwork is wasteful since the cool air that you are paying for is being lost inside the walls instead of being directed into your home. A light hissing sound coming from the vents is usually a sign that your filter is the wrong size or is not positioned correctly.
Air Conditioner Making Rattling or Tapping Noise
Air conditioner rattling is typically an indication that there are loose or deteriorating parts. There may also be leaves, twigs, or other debris clogging up the system. A tapping noise could also be the result of a defective electrical contactor.
Preventing AC Problems
The best way to prevent problems that can cause your air conditioner to make unusual noises or malfunction is to have it professionally serviced and inspected annually. Swan Plumbing, Heating & Air offers an affordable annual HVAC tune-up service that includes checks of your HVAC system’s most critical components. Our technician will ensure that your air conditioner is ready for the demands of the summer season and will let you know if there are any parts needing repair or replacement.
What to Do If Your Air Conditioner Is Making Strange Noises
If your air conditioner starts making a strange noise, you should immediately turn it off to avoid causing further damage to the system. You should then call a licensed HVAC professional to diagnose and correct the problem. At Swan Heating & Air Conditioning, we are available 24 hours a day to handle emergency repairs. We realize that an unexpected AC repair can put a strain on the family finances, so we are proud to offer coupons for both our diagnostic and repair services. If a repair is not a feasible option, our installation experts can also help you find a quality replacement air conditioner. Call today for more information about our repair and installation services or to schedule a service call.