Air conditioners are sophisticated systems that rely on various parts, including a compressor, evaporator coil, condenser coil and refrigerant to regulate your home’s temperature and humidity level. While these machines are usually sturdy and reliable, it’s not unusual for AC units to make strange sounds, which may indicate that something is amiss. One such sound is dripping, gurgling, bubbling or running water. These worrying noises can be traced back to several origins.
1. The AC Makes a Dripping Noise
This is a frequent air conditioner sound you might hear on hot, humid days and is no cause for alarm. Simple condensation buildup is likely the culprit. As your air conditioner operates, moisture from the interior air collects on the evaporator coil and drips into the drain pan beneath it. This pan is meant to collect and move the condensed water a safe distance away from your home via a drain line. Although, if the drain becomes plugged or compromised, water can accumulate in the pan, producing a dripping or splashing noise as freshly collected condensate drips into the pool underneath. If the dripping noise becomes a nuisance, identify the drain pan under the indoor portion of your air conditioner and remove the water.
Also, take AC dripping sounds as a warning sign that the condensate drain line is plugged and must be cleared. A float switch should automatically shut off your conditioner before the drain pan overflows and causes water damage, but the float switch could always fail. Plus, if your AC keeps turning itself off because of a full drain pan, you’ll have to solve the problem before your unit will operate normally again.
2. The AC Sounds Like Water Is Running
While air conditioners make condensate as a part of the cooling process, they do not run on or use water. This means your AC shouldn't sound like running water. If you hear this water noise, it may be because the evaporator coil has frozen over and is now thawing and dripping water onto the ground.
This can develop for a few reasons, including:
- Dirty air filter: A filter clogged with dust, dirt and other particles blocks airflow. This may lead the temperature inside the evaporator coil to fall below freezing, which then freezes the condensate accumulated on the coil.
- Low refrigerant level: Chilled refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor air as it passes through the evaporator coil. If the air conditioner is undercharged or leaky and the refrigerant level is minimal, it loses the capacity to absorb the heat. This can allow the temperature to slide below freezing and ice to develop on the coil.
- Dirty evaporator coil: Dust and grease may coat a neglected evaporator coil, effectively insulating it and stopping the refrigerant inside of it from absorbing heat. When this takes place, the coil may freeze.
- Malfunctioning thermostat: Poor temperature calibration may cause the air conditioner to run constantly, even when the indoor temperature is already at the correct level. Constant running of an AC unit can make the evaporator coil so cold that it freezes over.
- Blower issues: The blower forces air over the evaporator coil. If it isn’t working right or performing at a low speed, the low level of airflow could freeze the evaporator coil.
3. The AC Makes a Gurgling or Bubbling Sound
Refrigerant is a critical ingredient in the cooling process. If a leak forms or air comes to be caught in the refrigerant line, you may hear gurgling or bubbling as the refrigerant flows. Along those same lines, your system could possibly gurgle because of overcharged refrigerant. Always leave AC repairs to a professional who can ensure the proper refrigerant charge.
4. The AC Makes a Hissing Noise
A hissing noise from your air conditioner could signify one of these problems:
- Refrigerant leaks: Depending on the location and severity of a refrigerant leak, it may produce more of a hissing noise than a gurgling or bubbling sound.
- An issue with with the compressor: The compressor located in the outside condensing unit pressurizes the refrigerant as it moves through the air conditioner. This element may make a hissing noise if it is faulty.
- Internal valve leak: The valve that regulates refrigerant circulation within the compressor may also leak and hiss.
Schedule Air Conditioning Services
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