Why Does My Air Conditioner Make This Weird Noise – Top 5 AC Noises Explained

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We live most of our lives indoors in an insulated world, protected from the sun, the heat, strong winds and rain. Given the extreme temperatures in Arizona in the summer, being inside in air-conditioned comfort is a good thing. But it might surprise you to you know, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that most Americans spend over 90 percent of their lives indoors. The breakdown is 87 percent in home or office and 7 percent of the time commuting or driving in cars. All this time inside behind insulated windows and closed doors means we often don’t hear the sounds of the outside world. That is, except for those annoying leaf blowers.

The Sounds of Silence – A Healthy Air Conditioner

Are you inside right now? Close your eyes and listen. Hear anything? A little white noise or possibly the quiet whirring of your AC fan outside? Essentially, when your air conditioner is working properly, you should be hearing little or no noise at all. Silence is the sound of a healthy air conditioner. For most people, out of sight – and out of earshot – is definitely out of mind. Most air conditioners are built to last and with regular service, can run problem free for years. People rarely think about their air conditioning unit until it starts making odd sounds.

Clunks, Clatter and Racket

In the air conditioning industry, we receive many calls from customers who go to great lengths to imitate the “weird noise” their air conditioner is making. Some of the voice impressions are downright hilarious! In case you’re not so talented at making air conditioner sounds, we’ve compiled a list of the most common noises made by ailing air conditioners and what all that racket generally indicates.

High Pitched Squeal

This is a sound you may also associate with faulty automobiles fan belts. An ear piercing, high-pitched squeal or squeaking generally indicates a problem with belts slipping or an issue with the bearings.
Clanking, Ka-chunk or Loud Rattling during Start-up
These noises are sometimes caused by loose mounts, but more often than not, can indicate a problem with the compressor. This is not a sound you want to ignore.

Tick-tick or Clicking Sounds

A rhythmic tick-tick or clicking sound is often caused by an obstruction of one sort or another hitting a fan blade. An obvious question is, “How can something hit the fan blade when it’s in an enclosed area?” There are a variety of reasons. One of the most obvious is high winds during monsoons or thunderstorms can blow branches and debris into your unit. Clicking sounds can also be caused by defective relay switches.

Buzzing or A Loud Hum

As with any electrical device or motor, if you happen to hear a buzz or notice loud humming coming from your air conditioning unit, you’ll want to turn it off right away. If you hear crackling or detect a burning smell, you’ll want to act immediately. Turn off the AC unit at the circuit breaker and call for service. Electrical problems can be very serious.

Wind Whistling Sound Near Vents Inside the House

If you hear wind whistling, whooshing or the faint sound of a distant train coming from your vents, you can rest assured, it is not an errant Amtrak whistle or a ghost train calling to you from the other side, but rather a pretty decent hint that there’s a loss of pressure or an opening somewhere in your duct work.

The sounds listed above (and others you may have heard) are strong indicators that your air conditioning unit needs service. Why not let the pros at Ellsworth Home Services perform a complete inspection of your HVAC unit to guarantee a quiet, cool summer for yourself and your family?