Here’s the thing–if you are asking yourself this question, the answer is probably no.
Now, there is no such thing as a silent air conditioner. You will likely always hear the compressor cycling on and off if you’re near the outdoor unit. When your indoors, you’ll hear the air coming through your vents, and you might even detect your ductwork flexing as temperatures fluctuate.
But if you hear anything unfamiliar, you’re right to be concerned! It warrants at least a call to an HVAC professional to determine what’s going on and how to remedy it. Read on as we uncover some of the common noises we get called about, and why they’re bad news.
Hissing or Bubbling
This is indicative of a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant is a vital component in your air conditioner–it’s what makes the cooling process possible! Upon manufacturing, your air conditioner is filled (charged) with enough refrigerant to last its entire lifespan. It’s not something that depletes like a fluid, but rather it’s in a closed-loop system.
It is possible, however, for your refrigerant line or evaporator coil to spring a leak, particularly if you have an aging air conditioner. Depending on where the leak is located, you’ll either hear hissing–like air being let out of a tire–if it’s in its gas form, or bubbling/gurgling if it’s in its liquid form.
A refrigerant leak can and will wreak havoc on your air conditioner, and can lead to permanent compressor damage, which would result in a complete system breakdown. So if you suspect a refrigerant leak, the best thing you can do is give us a call!
This sound is likely coming from the air handler. This is the component of your cooling system responsible for circulating the cooled air throughout your living space as the system runs. The air handler motor goes under a lot of stress and to help it cope it’s equipped with a number of oiled bearings.
Eventually, these bearings wear down. It’s a natural process, but friction on the air handler motor increases, and if you don’t replace the motor bearings in a timely manner it can cause the cooling system to overheat. You’ll know this friction is occurring if you hear a grinding noise coming from your air conditioner.
Short-cycling is the name given to the process where the air conditioner’s compressor rapidly turns on and off. You’ll hear it cycle on, run for a very short time, cycle back off, and then again cycle back on just minutes later.
What’s happening is something–whether an electrical issue, installation error, or clogged air filter–isn’t allowing your air conditioner to complete a full cooling cycle. Short-cycling is both the symptom of a problem and the cause of further problems. If you hear your system doing this, please don’t hesitate to reach out!