With the way technology is going, it seems like by now there’d be a way for our air conditioners to diagnose themselves when there is a problem, and shoot us a text message telling us what the problem is. This actually probably isn’t too far off in the future, but for now, it’s not a reality.
This means that homeowners have to rely on other methods to detect the warnings their cooling systems are sending out. Maybe it is a drop in cooling power, or an unexpectedly high utility bill. Or, you may have HVAC circuit breakers that are constantly tripping.
One of the most common signs, however, that something is amiss with your cooling system is strange sounds. A “strange” sound is really anything outside of the normal noises you hear when your AC runs. You hear it every day, so if something alarming comes up, it’s best not to ignore it.
We’ve listed six of the most common sounds people call us about, below.
There probably isn’t a banshee inside your cooling system. But if you hear a loud, mechanical shrieking noise, you’re right to be alarmed. It’s probably the sign of a motor problem, or the sign of a motor bearing that’s worn down.
There’s a bit of good news here–this is a very common repair. Motor bearings do wear down over time and they require routine lubrication. This is some we check on during maintenance, but it’s possible to have this repair need between tune-ups.
This is another indicator of a motor problem. It could be that the motor has accumulated a lot of dust throughout the year. If you had maintenance done, this should have taken care of the problem.
However, if you don’t have a proper air filter in your air conditioner, dust accumulation can happen pretty easily. Be sure to keep an air filter in and change it every 1-3 months during periods of AC use–this air filter is in place to protect the important components within your air conditioner.
This could be a benign noise. Sometimes you’ll hear gentle rattling as your air conditioner cycles on and air starts moving through the ductwork. Your ductwork can fluctuate with the temperature of the air, and thus you’d hear this noise.
But if you discover the rattling noise you hear has grown louder or more persistent, you might be dealing with loose components that are being knocked around, bent fan blades, or even an air conditioner that’s coming loose from its slab.
This is indicative of a refrigerant leak, and sounds something like air being let out of a tire. Refrigerant is not a fuel–your air conditioner has enough to ideally last its entire lifespan.
But if you have a leak, your air conditioner won’t be able to function to the best of its ability, and will eventually breakdown if the leak isn’t found, properly repaired, and refrigerant recharged (refilled).
Clicking is a somewhat natural noise that an air conditioner makes when the system starts up and cycles down. However, if the clicking doesn’t stop the whole time the compressor is running, it’s possible you have a problem on your hands.
This is probably one of the most alarming sounds you can hear coming from your air conditioner, and almost definitely indicates that a component has become loose or broken and is banging around. Please don’t hesitate to give our pros a call if you hear this!