The sound of your air conditioner’s compressor coming on during one of the hottest days of the year is music to your ears–unless you hear one of the accompanying sounds we’re about to describe below.
There are a number of reasons that your cooling system may start making odd noises, but pretty much all of them point to the need for a professional HVAC technician. Having a professional take a look at your air conditioner means getting to the root of the problem without any guesswork or shoddy repairs.
On our team, we encourage homeowners to schedule annual (or biannual, if you have a heat pump system) maintenance tune-ups to avoid up to 85% of the repairs your system might ever need in its lifetime. But there is still that 15% that happens due to nothing more than wear and tear. And so, it’s important to know the signs of an air conditioner in disrepair, so that if one happens between maintenance sessions, you know to give our number a dial.
Read on to learn what sounds you should listen for (and call us about!)
Knocking or Banging
While it’s perfectly normal to hear the compressor of your air conditioner “kick on,” this should cease pretty quickly. Ongoing banging typically means that there is something loose within the system. It could be a fan blade, or it could even be a component stuck in the fan blade or motor.
If you hear a knocking sound, it could be coming from the condenser unit–the outdoor unit of your central air conditioner or heat pump system. Things like loose screws, bolts, or support springs can all cause this noise to occur. Most of these are easy fixes for our technicians, so give us a call!
Hissing or Bubbling
These are noises that indicate a potential refrigerant leak. Depending on where it is located in the system–or rather what stage the refrigerant is in (liquid or gaseous), the sound you hear can vary between hissing and bubbling.
Your air conditioner is supplied with enough refrigerant upon manufacturing to ideally last its entire lifespan. If your air conditioner starts losing refrigerant, it means there is a leak, which absolutely must be located and repaired. Plus, the refrigerant will need to be recharged, which means it needs to be refilled.
Without the right level of refrigerant, your air conditioner won’t be able to do its job as efficiently or as effectively. Eventually, your air conditioner won’t be able to do its job at all and will break down completely.
Screeching or Squealing
No matter how you describe this noise, it can be pretty alarming when you first hear it. Fortunately, it’s actually the sign of a relatively minor problem–but the problem will only stay minor if it’s addressed quickly.
A screeching or squealing noise typically comes from worn-down motor bearings, which need lubrication on occasion. Once the impact motor bearing is either lubricated or replaced, your system should operate normally. The sound is created by friction, which will go away after this fix.
If, however, you let it go on for too long, the consistent friction can cause the motor to overheat, and for your air conditioning system to break down completely.