Wouldn’t it be great if we had self-diagnosing air conditioners? You know, when something is wrong, like a refrigerant leak or a loose component, our air conditioners could shoot us a text message and say “Hey, service me!”? It’s really not too far-fetched of an idea—but alas, not a reality yet.
No, for now we have to depend on other methods to determine if our cooling systems are in need of service. Maybe it’s being mindful of whether the cooling output is as powerful as usual. Or it could be paying attention to how often the circuit breaker trips.
One of the most common signs that something is amiss with your cooling system is loud, unnatural noises. Essentially, anything outside of the normal hum of the fans and compressor or the occasional clicking of the system coming on and shutting off is cause for concern. 6 sounds, in particular, you never want to hear coming from your AC include:
What we mean here is a loud, mechanical shrieking noise. This is probably indicative of a motor issue or at least the sign that a motor bearing is wearing down. Motor bearings do wear down as a natural part of use over the years, so that’s not a problem in and of itself.
The bearing must be replaced right away, however, since a worn-down motor bearing will eventually cause too much friction for the motor to where it overheats and is permanently damaged.
A grinding noise is another sign of a motor problem. It’s usually caused by a motor that has accumulated too much dust or has lost too much lubrication. Again, this is a natural part of wear and tear (and something that’s checked during professional maintenance) but it’s not something you should ignore.
The grinding sound might be accompanied by an acrid stench coming from the vents—this is a sign that the motor is already overheating. Please shut your air conditioner off right away if this is the case, and give our pros a call!
This might actually be a very minor problem—a sign of nothing more than a loose cabinet door—something you might be able to fix on your own with a few twists of a screwdriver.
Alternatively, however, it may be that loose components are being knocked around in your blower fan, or that you have bent fan blades. It could even be that your AC cabinet is coming loose from the slab, or you have ductwork damage and that’s where the sound is coming from. When in doubt, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.
No, there is probably not an angry cat stuck in your air conditioner. What you’re likely hearing is the result of refrigerant gas leaving your air conditioning system. Refrigerant is the fluid/gas mixture that makes the whole cooling process possible in your air conditioning system. Without enough of it, your cooling system will start experiencing a variety of problems, eventually leading to full system failure.
Another sign of a refrigerant leak is a drop in cooling power from your AC. You may even spot ice development on the evaporator coil (no, ice on or in your AC is never normal!)
Clicking is a relatively normal sound, so long as you’re only hearing it when the AC system starts up and shuts down. However, if you’re hearing it the whole time the compressor runs, then you may have an operational problem on your hands.
Additionally, if you notice your system is “hard-starting”—that is, it’s struggling to come on and then booming once it does, then it’s a sign that the system is having a hard time powering the compressor and needs a professional inspection.
This is perhaps one of the most concerning sounds you can hear coming from your AC. It may be from something minor like a loose fan belt or bent air handler that the fan blades are knocking into, but it could also be a more important component that has come loose. Whatever the cause, the best thing you can do is turn off your air conditioner until a pro can take a look.