Normal or Not? Identifying Common AC Noises

Normal or Not? Identifying Common AC Noises

Air conditioning equipment isn’t cheap, so unusual noises may fill your head with visions of hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repairs. Fortunately, not every sound that your air conditioner makes means something bad. Learning to recognize the noises your system makes and their underlying causes can help you to spot problems before they lead to wallet crunching repair bills.

Although your home’s central air conditioning system may produce a few noises when functioning normally, it should generally operate smoothly and quietly. Below you will find three categories of sounds that your central AC may produce, along with their likely causes.

Whooshing Vent Noise

Your interior supply vents should generally be quiet, but they may sometimes produce a whooshing noise as air rushes through them. If this sound is new, then it may indicate an excess volume of airflow moving through your ductwork. This extra air may be the result of blockages at one or more vents. If you’ve recently moved furniture, ensure that you haven’t covered a vent elsewhere in your house.

Should You Worry?

In general, you shouldn’t be concerned about the sound of rushing air from your vents unless the noise is new or excessively loud. One possible cause for concern is if the strength of the airflow also seems much too high. This extra airflow may be the result of undersized ductwork, supply vent blockages, or an issue with stuck dampers. You may also have a variable air handler set too high for your system.

Bangs, Rattles, or Clicks During Compressor Engagement

Your AC compressor engages whenever the system turns on. When your compressor engages, you may hear an audible hum or click, but this noise should not be excessively loud. In most cases, you shouldn’t be able to hear your compressor engaging from inside of your home. If your compressor has an issue, then it may produce loud banging, rattling, or clanking noises.

Should You Worry?

Your compressor is your system’s most expensive and sensitive piece of equipment, so any loud or jarring noises should be a cause for concern. If you hear rattling when the compressor engages, then check for objects that may have fallen into the condenser unit and obstructed the fan. Since your condenser fan turns on with the compressor, obstructions can produce loud bangs or rattles.

If you cannot find an obstruction, then you should call an HVAC technician to inspect the unit as soon as possible. Do not run your AC if you cannot find the source of the noise; you may cause additional damage to your compressor or the other components.

Continuous Screeching or Squealing

Several air conditioning components may produce screeching or squealing noises. You may hear these sounds coming through your vents, or they may originate with your outdoor condenser unit. Depending on the cause of the problem, the sound may be continuous, or it may only be audible when your fan first turns on.

Should You Worry?

Squealing, screeching, or screaming noises from any part of your AC system indicate a problem. Failing bearings in your condenser fan, compressor, or air handler can all produce continuous metallic screeching or grinding noises. Meanwhile, a sharp squeal that’s only audible when the fan first engages usually points to a worn air handler belt.

In general, you should avoid using your AC anytime you believe that a bearing or fan belt may be failing. These problems can cause additional damage to your compressor or air handler and result in higher repair costs.

When your AC system produces noises that you can’t identify, Baton Rouge Air Conditioning and Heating can help get to the bottom of the problem. Contact us today so you can get back to enjoying a cool and quiet air conditioner.

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