Air conditioners are complicated systems that rely on many different elements, such as a compressor, evaporator coil, condenser coil and refrigerant to regulate your home’s temperature and humidity level. While these machines are generally strong and reliable, it’s not uncommon 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 attributed to several sources.
1. The AC Makes a Dripping Noise
This is an often reported air conditioner sound you may hear on hot, humid days and is no cause for alarm. Simple condensation buildup is likely the culprit. As your air conditioner performs, moisture from the inside air accumulates on the evaporator coil and drips into the drain pan beneath it. This pan is meant to capture and funnel the condensed water a safe distance away from your home via a drain line. Although, if the drain becomes clogged or broken, water can accumulate in the pan, leading to a dripping or splashing noise as freshly collected condensate drips into the pool below. If the dripping noise becomes too irritating, find 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 blocked and should be cleared. A float switch ought to automatically shut off your conditioner before the drain pan overflows and creates 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 be forced to solve the drain pan issue 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 simply means your AC should not ever sound like running water. If you hear this water noise, it may mean the evaporator coil has frozen over and is now thawing and dripping water onto the ground.
This can take place for a few reasons, including:
- Dirty air filter: A filter plugged with dust, dirt and other debris restricts airflow. This may make the temperature inside the evaporator coil to get 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 system is undercharged or leaking and the refrigerant level is not high enough, it loses the capability to absorb the heat. This can make the temperature to drop below freezing and ice to develop on the coil.
- Dirty evaporator coil: Dust and dirt 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 might freeze.
- Malfunctioning thermostat: Poor temperature calibration might cause the air conditioner to run continually, even when the indoor temperature is already at the ideal degree. Continuously running an air conditioner can make the evaporator coil so cold that it freezes completely.
- Blower issues: The blower circulates air across the evaporator coil. If it isn’t working correctly or operating at a low speed, the lack of airflow could freeze the evaporator coil.
3. The AC Makes a Gurgling or Bubbling Sound
Refrigerant is a critical element of the cooling process. If a leak has developed or air has become trapped in the refrigerant line, you may hear gurgling or bubbling as the refrigerant flows. Similarly, your system may gurgle because of overcharged refrigerant. Always leave AC repair work to a professional who can verify the proper refrigerant charge.
4. The AC Makes a Hissing Noise
A hissing noise from your air conditioner could indicate one of these malfunctions:
- Refrigerant leaks: Depending on the place and severity of a refrigerant leak, it may create more of a hissing noise than a gurgling or bubbling sound.
- Issues with the compressor: The compressor located in the exterior 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 controls refrigerant flow throughout the compressor may also leak and hiss.
Schedule Air Conditioning Services
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