Air conditioners work hard to keep our homes comfortable and will often make some noise in the process. However, too much noise can become an issue and may indicate potential internal problems with your system. Also, the abrasive noises that come from outdoor or indoor components can impact the comfort levels of homeowners and neighbors alike.
Understand the basics of your AC system first
Modern AC systems utilize two primary types of coils to remove heat from your home: evaporator and condenser coils. Located inside the home, the evaporator coil draws heat from the air utilizing refrigerants that flow through the system. A blower fan then pushes the chilled air out into the home. The now warm refrigerant travels back outside to the condenser coil where a compressor will condense the coolant and release the trapped heat through a compressor fan. The cycle then repeats.
Identify the source of the noise
Knowing how the AC system works means knowing there are lots of moving parts necessary to keep the system running properly. Over time these may begin to wear and homeowners may be able to identify the source of the problem by listening for these sounds:
- Rattling in the outdoor unit – Exposed to the elements outside, these units have greater potential for collecting debris such as dirt, leaves, branches, and, in Florida, wayward reptiles.
- Scraping noises – Both indoor and outdoor components of a split system have fans and motors that push air out of the unit. If a fan blade is bent or unbalanced, there’s a good chance it will scrape against the housing that holds it and emit a loud noise as it does so.
- Squeaking – When the bearings within the motor are low on lubricant a squeaking noise can be heard. Squeaking is a minor problem that eventually builds up to much worse noises, such as grinding.
- Grinding sounds – This is usually the indication of a failing bearing that will deteriorate quickly and cause other components to fail. Loud grinding noises signal metal-on-metal contact that shouldn’t be happening.
- Hissing – A hissing sound is a serious problem such as a refrigerant leak. This type of problem requires the immediate attention of a licensed HVAC technician.
Reducing AC noise
Keep in mind that just because an air conditioner makes some noise all hope is not lost. In much the same way your engine hums to life when you start your car, an air conditioner has parts that work in harmony to do the job you give it. There are a number of solutions that help keep the noise lower in your AC system:
- Advancing air conditioning technology – Manufacturers now insulate internal components such as compressors in an effort to dampen overall noise. Mounts within today’s units also reduce impacts and noise through the use of innovative new materials. In higher efficiency units, variable speed blower fans run at quieter and lower speeds to reduce energy consumption.
- A quiet fence for a noisy outside unit – If you’re not looking to spend a lot on a new system, consider installing a fence around the unit outside. Be sure to keep several feet of clearance around the unit in order to allow for proper air flow.
- Service call – One of the best ways to quiet a noisy system is to call an HVAC professional to diagnose the problem. Most inspections last about 30 minutes and can save you hours of lost cooling or heating time.
If you have questions regarding a new noise or ongoing problem with your air conditioner system, give our HVAC team a call at (772) 398-0023 in Port St. Lucie and (772) 220-1496 in Martin County.