Diagnosing Odd Noises Coming from your Air Conditioner
Air conditioning units make noise. That’s normal. You probably most notice the sound when the air conditioner cycles on. But although some types of noises are common from an AC, are you hearing something that might be abnormal?
An AC making weird sounds or overly loud sounds from any part of a heating or cooling system can be the first sign of trouble. You should actually be thankful that you are getting some warning of a problem. You should not ignore any sound you think is odd or different. Taking care of what’s making the sound while the system is still working may mean you can save it from completely breaking down.
Odd AC Noises: What’s that Sound?
We usually refer to the normal noise air conditioners make as a hum.
Your outdoor AC unit (the condenser) can be loud enough to be heard when you’re outside or inside in a room that’s not far from where it’s located. It’s typical for AC units to operate with sounds at 70-80 decibels. That is about as loud as a running dishwasher or light traffic.
But we’re guessing that if you’re reading this, you are hearing something different than the usual sounds. It’s possible that there is nothing wrong, but to be safe, weird AC sounds are definitely something you do need to look into. You should listen closely and try to identify what type of sound your AC is making. Depending on the sound, a variety of problems could be happening with some part of your cooling system.
At Jon Wayne Heating & Air, we take calls from homeowners who described a wide range of different sounds their air conditioner is making. Our experienced team knows what each sound could mean and can diagnose and fix whatever the problem is, no matter what type or make of cooling system is having the problem.
Screaming or Hissing Sounds
This sound can seem alarming and for good reason. If you hear what sounds like a hissing noise or even something like screaming, get it addressed right away.
Possible cause: This sound could indicate something as hazardous as a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant leaks are potential dangers to your health and can cause further problems in your cooling system. A leak left unaddressed could damage AC valves.
Possible cause: Your AC’s compression pressure is too high.
Recommended Action: Turn off your AC. Since the problem could be a danger to you and your family, you should shut off your cooling system if you hear these sounds coming from it. Then call a professional right away to thoroughly and safely handle whatever is causing this. Call Jon Wayne Heating & Air for service. In the Mt Vernon area, call (417) 466-2515. In the Springfield area, call (417) 831-9500.
Metallic or Grinding Noise
If your air conditioning unit is making noises that sound like metal grinding together, that is not normal. This sound indicates your AC does have a problem.
Possible cause: It is likely there is a problem with your compressor. Specifically, what you could be hearing are the pistons in your compressor not working properly.
Possible cause: The blower fan belts are loose or damaged. That noise could be the sound of the fan belt rubbing up against other AC components.
Recommended Action: Call a professional. If the problem is a fan belt, that is not easy to repair on your own but it may be a relatively easy repair for a skilled HVAC technician to handle. If the problem is the compressor, it may need to be replaced. Having a professional AC tech look at your system will make sure that the problem is accurately diagnosed and addressed.
Squealing Air Conditioner
Is there a high-pitched squealing sound coming from your AC?
Possible cause: If you have an older AC unit, the problem may be with your air conditioner’s motor fan. The belt on your motor fan may have slipped.
Possible cause: There could be a problem with the bearings on the AC motor fan. This could likely be the case if you have a new AC that does not have a fan belt.
Recommended Action: Some homeowners may feel able to try some maintenance steps to tighten up and readjust parts that may be loose or out of balance. However, you may want to call a professional technician to be sure any and all problems are adequately diagnosed and fixed.
Air Conditioner Buzzing
If your AC is buzzing instead of merely humming, that could indicate several possible problems.
Possible cause: Some AC components are malfunctioning. The problem could be something as relatively minor as loose parts or damaged feet on your outdoor unit. Or possibly the fan blades are loose or out of balance.
Possible cause: You could be dealing with a serious problem such as a refrigerant leak or a broken compressor. A refrigerant leak is very hazardous and needs to be addressed immediately.
Possible cause: There could be some sort of electrical issue.
Possible cause: You have a dirty air filter keeping the entire system from working as it should.
Recommended Action: Change your air filter if there are any signs of it being dirty or clogged. If that doesn’t resolve the buzzing sound, and you can identify a loose part or a damaged foot, you may want to try to fix that yourself. If that doesn’t stop the buzzing sound, call a professional. A trained HVAC repair technician, like those on our team at Jon Wayne Heating & Air, has the tools and skills to identify the problem and get it fixed.
Banging, Clanking or Rattling
Does it sound like something is banging around?
Possible cause: Parts inside your air conditioner have become loose or have broken off.
Possible cause: Your compressor is malfunctioning to the point of needing to be replaced.
Recommended Action: If you can spot a loose part and safely tighten it yourself, you might find that you can fix it yourself. But if that doesn’t stop the concerning sounds, call in a professional. A loose part that might easily be fixed can create a lot of havoc on your system and start damaging more components if you don’t get it handled.
Whatever Weird Sound Your AC is Making…
Different or unusual sounds coming from your air conditioner should not be ignored. These weird sounds are clear signs that something is wrong with your air conditioner. To be safe, you may want to turn off your air conditioning system once you hear strange sounds coming from it. While some problems could be minor and easy fixes, others are more serious and even potentially hazardous to your home or family. Whatever the problem is will likely cause further problems or damage if you don’t act quickly to get it fixed.
If you do end up needing professional AC repair service, be thankful that your system only needs a repair instead of a full system replacement. You will have peace of mind knowing that air conditioning repair from a trained and experienced HVAC technician will fix the problem and also ensures no other looming problems exist. You will have your air conditioner working properly again and should last for many years to come.
When AC Repair Service Saves You Money
A good repair job might save you money in the long run. With your AC system working at peak performance, you may see your energy bills going down. When your air conditioner is malfunctioning, it’s likely working harder to keep your home cool. Having it professionally fixed, maintained and cleaned will allow your system to work at peak efficiency. In addition, getting the repairs done right away means that you will have likely avoided, or at least put off, more expensive repairs or even an new system replacement.
When is an AC Not Worth Repairing?
Some homeowners may find they are dealing with problems that put their air conditioner beyond repair. But more often than that, some may find that the necessary repair they need actually isn’t worth it.
Why you may want to choose an AC replacement instead of a repair:
FREQUENT OR COSTLY REPAIRS
When AC repairs become rather expensive and/or this isn’t the first repair your AC has needed recently, it’s time to consider a system replacement. Money spent on further repairs would be better spent by investing in a more efficient system.
AN OLD AIR CONDITIONER
Even if it’s worked well for you for a long time, if your AC is at least 10 years old, it’s likely on its last legs. You could face more repairs or even find yourself with an air conditioner that has suddenly stopped working.
HIGH MONTHLY BILLS
It’s possible that you have a cooling system that is an energy hog because it is very old, dysfunctional or the wrong size unit for your home. There are several reasons why an air conditioner could be using a lot of energy to cool your entire home. Investing into a new system will likely lower your monthly bills as well as help the environment with reduced energy consumption.
Be sure that you choose a professional and qualified heating and cooling company to ensure that you get a repair that fully addresses your air conditioning problem as well as look (and resolve) and other issues.