Why Is My Air Conditioner Making Weird Noises?

There's nothing like sitting down to dinner after a long day and hearing what sounds like the faint wail of a trumpet or trombone, perhaps punctuated by intermittent clicking or clanking sounds. But this is no orchestra that is soothing you—it's your air conditioner. As worrisome as these unusual noises can be, they're actually a good thing. Aside from the vehicle parked in your garage, your central air conditioner is the most complex piece of machinery in your home. And like your vehicle, when something is wrong with it, it makes noise. Air conditioner noise is like a cry for help—and it's a cry that Shamrock Heating & Cooling knows how to answer while putting your questions to rest and your mind at ease.

Air Conditioner Noises You Can Hear Inside

You can trace most air conditioner noises to one of three places:
  • The indoor unit
  • The ducts
  • The outdoor unit/compressor
Indoor noises are generally softer than outdoor noises. But this doesn't mean you should ignore them. Any noise is a sign of trouble and that a repair is necessary. The three most common indoor noises include:
  • Clicking, which could signify a faulty thermostat.
  • Hisses or whistles in the ducts. Some noise is common in metal ducts, as air moving through them causes expansions and contractions. But steady, low-grade noise often indicates air leaks, which will undermine the efficiency of your air conditioner and cause you to waste money on conditioning air that you cannot enjoy. Some noises—such as fluttering and gnawing—are often the result of a trapped insect or animal, such as a wasp, bird, or mouse.
  • Rattles, which usually point to a problem with the fan.
  • Squealing, which often means the blower motor is faltering.

Outdoor AC Noises that You Can't Ignore

Outdoor noises are more likely to cause you to drop your dinner fork and dash off to investigate. When you do so, turn off your air conditioner and call Shamrock Heating & Cooling. We'll be able to diagnose the problem based on what we hear and what we see:
  • Banging suggests just what you might suspect: a part is loose or broken. Often, that part is a connecting rod, crankshaft, or piston pin.
  • Clanking—perhaps combined with banging—also indicates a loose part. Sometimes, it means that the fan and its blades have fallen out of balance and are hitting other parts. In the worst scenario, the compressor itself is “clanking around,” which almost always calls for a replacement.
  • Hissing or bubbling, which you may be able to see if refrigerant is leaking.
  • Humming or buzzing noises are often the result of an electrical problem but require a close inspection to determine the root cause. The fan motor could be faltering. The copper lines could be rubbing against something. A part or wiring may have come loose. Dirt and debris could be interfering with this complex piece of machinery.
  • Screaming, singing, or whining noises can be triggered by a refrigerant leak or excessive pressure in the compressor. This can be dangerous, so if you've forgotten to turn off your air conditioner, be sure to do so now before calling Shamrock Heating & Cooling.
  • Trombone- or trumpet-like noises are usually orchestrated by leaky refrigerant valves.
For air conditioner repair in Tempe, Chandler, and the surrounding areas, contact Shamrock Heating & Cooling today!

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