How to Diagnose–and Get Rid of–Air Conditioner Noise

Posted by Wattson on Jun 6, 2017

air conditioner noise

Most Florida homeowners rely on their air conditioner to maintain a cool, comfortable home nearly all year long. When you start hearing air conditioner noise, you may start to wonder if your home’s comfort is about to be interrupted. Here are some common air conditioner noises, what each might mean, and what you need to do to get rid of them.

1. A “Slapping” Sound

A fast slapping sound that can be heard when the unit is running usually points to a foreign object that has gotten inside. From plant material to children’s toys, small objects in your A/C unit can become stuck in the blower or otherwise make contact with the blower and create a slapping sound as it turns. If you’re uncomfortable taking yours apart, a call to the local handyman should have the problem resolved in short order.

2. Loud Banging or Clanging

If the noise you’re hearing is more of a loud banging or clanging rather than a slapping sound, it’s usually due to a broken part that’s moving around inside the unit. This type of air conditioner noise can also be caused by parts that have become off-balance and may be coming into contact with other parts. Before loose or off-balance pieces cause more damage to other components, it is usually best to shut off the air conditioner and schedule maintenance as soon as possible.

3. Rattling and Humming

Rattling and humming sounds from your compressor are not often serious problems, but they should be addressed before small problems become big ones. In most cases, rattling noises are due to loose hardware that can be easily re-tightened. In some cases, rattling can be a sign of a failing motor. The louder the rattling, the more likely the problem is to be serious.

4. Squeals and Screeches

A slight squeal when your A/C first starts up is usually not a problem. If the sound persists, however, it’s time to call for help. A squeal can point to a problem with a belt or motor bearing, both of which tend to be simple fixes that you’ll want to schedule before the unit stops working and you’re left in the heat. Some screeches can be caused by a lack of lubrication for moving parts. If you try to fix this yourself, be sure to select the correct oil, as standard household products are not designed for the heavy wear that Florida heat puts on air conditioners.

5. Clicking

Along with slight squeals, clicking air conditioner noise during startup and shutdown can be completely normal. If the clicking sound persists for more than a minute or so, it could be a faulty electrical component, such as a control or the thermostat. Electrical components can be dangerous to repair yourself, so it’s best to call for professional assistance right away.

6. Humming or Buzzing

A humming or buzzing air conditioner noise is not a serious problem, in most cases. Like some of the other sounds, the louder or more persistent the humming and buzzing are, the more likely it is to be a larger issue. Slight noises could be due to loose parts or vibrations that are quick fixes for a skilled repair technician. If your compressor makes a humming sound but fails to start, it may be from loose wiring or a possible problem with the motor.

7. Whistling or Screaming

A high-pitched air conditioner noise that is best described as a scream or whistle points to the most dangerous problems. First, shut your air conditioner off right away, and do not attempt to re-start the system. A screaming or whistling air conditioner noise could be caused by a refrigerant leak–something that poses a threat to your entire A/C unit and your family. It could also be a sign of high-pressure situation inside the unit. In either case, stay away from the compressor unit until it has been evaluated by a professional.

Dealing with Air Conditioner Noise

In many cases, a little bit of air conditioner noise is a perfectly normal part of the unit’s operation. For some units, especially older ones, even some louder sounds are not going to be preventable. One way to minimize the nuisance of air conditioner noise is to add insulation to your home. This will keep cold air inside your home where it belongs so your noisy A/C unit runs less often. Some types of insulation, such as spray foam, also have noise-deafening properties to help keep the sounds outside. The result is a cooler, quieter, more comfortable home for you and your family.

Spray foam insulation is the easiest way to add insulation to your home while also lowering your monthly energy bills. To learn more, schedule your free spray foam insulation consultation today!

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