Someday, in the not too far off future, we may have air conditioners that self-diagnose malfunctions and report them back to the homeowner in detail. It’s really not too far-fetched of an idea when you think about it.
In the meantime, however, before this becomes a reality, we need to rely on other methods for our air conditioners to send warning signs that something is wrong. Maybe it’s a drop in cooling power, or an unexplained spike in your energy bills. Or, it could be that your circuit breakers for the indoor and outdoor units are constantly tripping.
One of the most common signs that something is wrong with an air conditioner is strange noises. What qualifies as a strange noise? Honestly, anything that’s different from 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 the ductwork to adjust.
What sort of sounds are we talking about? Well, we’ve listed 6 ominous sounds below. If you hear any of them, please give our team a call right away.
We’re talking about a rather loud, mechanical shrieking sound. This is most commonly the sign of a motor problem, or at least the sign of a motor bearing that is wearing down. The fact that the motor bearing wore down is not uncommon, or “bad,” but it must be remedied right away.
A worn-down motor bearing will eventually 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.
A grinding sound is also indicative of a motor issue. It’s typically caused by a motor that’s accumulated too much dust, or has lost too much lubrication. Again, this is a natural part of wear and tear (and something that is checked during professional maintenance) but it is not something to ignore.
In addition to this grinding noise, you may smell an acrid stench from your vents—a sign the motor is already overheating. Please turn off your air conditioner right away in this case, and call our pros!
Rattling can actually be a really minor “problem.” It may be indicative of nothing more than a loose cabinet door—something you may be able to fix on your own with a few twists of a screwdriver.
Alternatively, however, it may be that loose components are being knocked around in your blower fan, or that you have bent fan blades. It could even be that your AC cabinet is coming loose from the slab, or you have duct damage and that’s where the sound is coming from. When it doubt, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!
Also described as a “bubbling” noise, hissing is typically the sign of a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant is the fluid that makes the whole cooling process possible in your air conditioner. Without enough of it, your air conditioner will start experiencing a number of problems, including full system failure.
In addition to a hissing or bubbling noise, refrigerant leaks are signaled by a drop in cooling power and possibly ice development on the evaporator coil (this is never normal and should not be removed by the homeowner).
We mentioned clicking above as a natural sound an air conditioner makes—and it is, when the system starts up and cycles down. But if you’re hearing it the whole time the compressor runs, you might have a problem on your hands.
Also, if you notice your air conditioner is “hard starting”—that is, it’s 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 perhaps one of the most alarming sounds you can hear come from your air conditioner. It can be something like a loose fan belt, or a bent air handler that the fan blades are knocking into. This is most likely to occur in an older air conditioner. But if you hear it in a newer AC system, it’s definitely a sign that you need to call a pro.