Someday, probably a lot sooner than we think, we’ll likely have air conditioners that can self-diagnose malfunctions and report back to the homeowner what exactly is wrong, in detail. It’s not too crazy of an idea, right?
In the meantime, though, before this turns into a reality, we have to rely on other methods for our AC systems to show us warning signs that something is amiss. Perhaps it’s a drop in cooling power or an unexplained spike in your energy bills. Or, it may be that your circuit breakers for the indoor and outdoor units are constantly tripping.
One of the most common signs that something bad is happening with your cooling system is the presence of strange noises. But, what qualifies as a strange noise? Honestly, anything outside the normal hum of the fans and the compressor, plus the occasional clicking as the system comes on and shuts down, and the temperature fluctuations cause your ductwork to expand and contract. So, what AC sounds mean trouble? Here are 6!
Have you ever heard what seems like a pretty loud, mechanical shrieking noise? This is most commonly causes by a motor problem—or it’s at least the sign of a motor bearing that’s worn down. Motor bearings do wear down as a natural part of the AC aging process, but just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it should be neglected.
Eventually, worn-down motor bearings create too much friction for the motor and permanently damage it. Our technicians can quickly and accurately replace the bearings in order to save your motor and prevent further subsequent damage.
This is another sign of a motor problem—typically caused by a motor that has too much dust built upon it or has lost too much lubrication. This is a natural part of wear and tear, like the worn-down bearings we mentioned above. But still, you’ll want to take care of this right away.
Rattling can be indicative of nothing more than a loose cabinet door you can fix yourself. However, if this isn’t the problem then you may be dealing with loose components that are being knocked around in the blower fan, or you might have bent fan blades.
4. Hissing or Bubbling
If you hear a sound like air being let out of a tire, or a faint bubbling noise while your air conditioner is operating, then you might be dealing with a refrigerant leak. Many homeowners believe that refrigerant is something that needs to be replaced every once in a while anyway. But this isn’t the case—ideally your air conditioner is supplied with the amount of refrigerant it needs throughout its lifespan.
If this hissing or bubbling noise is accompanied by low cooling power, you’re almost certainly looking at a refrigerant leak. And if that’s the case, you’ll want to take care of it right away so it doesn’t cause your air conditioner to break down prematurely.
Clicking can be a natural sound—your ductwork may be fluctuating due to temperature changes when the AC turns on or off. However, if you’re hearing clicking the whole time the compressor runs, you may have a problem on your hands. Also, if you notice your air conditioner is “hard-starting,” or struggling to come on and then booming once it does, then it’s a sign that it’s having a hard time powering the compressor and needs a professional inspection.
This is likely one of the most alarming sounds you’d hear coming from your air conditioner. It may be something relatively minor, like a loose fan belt or a bent air handler that the fan blades are knocking into. But one thing is for sure—you should not try to operate your air conditioner if you hear this sound. Be sure to call in an HVAC pro so we can at least inspect your system.