Air conditioners are sophisticated systems that rely on many different components, 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 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 distressing noises can be traced back to several causes.
1. The AC Makes a Dripping Noise
This is a common air conditioner sound you could hear on hot, humid days and is no reason you should be alarmed. Simple condensation buildup is probably the culprit. As your air conditioner operates, moisture from the inside air accumulates on the evaporator coil and drips into the drain pan beneath. This pan was created to catch and move the condensed water a safe distance away from your home via a drain line. However, if the drain becomes blocked or compromised, water can accumulate in the pan, leading to a dripping or splashing noise as freshly collected condensate drips into the pool underneath. If the dripping noise becomes an annoyance, identify the drain pan under the indoor portion of your air conditioner and remove the water.
Also, take AC dripping sounds as a indication that the condensate drain line is clogged and needs to be cleared. A float switch is supposed to automatically shut off your conditioner before the drain pan overflows and creates water damage, but the float switch could always not work properly. Plus, if your AC keeps turning itself off because of a full drain pan, you’ll have to solve the drain pan issue before your unit will operate normally again.
2. The AC Sounds Like Water Is Running
While air conditioners produce condensate during the cooling process, they do not run on or use water. This means your AC should not ever sound like running water. If you hear this noise, it might indicate 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 choked with dust, dirt and other debris limits airflow. This may cause the temperature inside the evaporator coil to drop below freezing, which then freezes the condensate collected on the coil.
- Low refrigerant level: Chilled refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor air as it moves through the evaporator coil. If the system is undercharged or leaky and the refrigerant level is minimal, 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 accumulate on an ignored evaporator coil, effectively insulating it and blocking the refrigerant within it from absorbing heat. When this happens, the coil could freeze.
- Failing thermostat: Poor temperature calibration may cause the air conditioner to run continually, even when the indoor temperature is already at the desired number. Continuously running an air conditioner can make the evaporator coil so cold that it freezes over.
- Blower problems: The blower moves air over the evaporator coil. If it isn’t working effectively or performing at a low speed, the low level of airflow can freeze the evaporator coil.
3. The AC Makes a Gurgling or Bubbling Sound
Refrigerant is a vital part of the cooling process. If a leak forms or air has become stuck in the refrigerant line, you might hear gurgling or bubbling as the refrigerant flows. Similarly, your system could very well gurgle due to overcharged refrigerant. Always leave AC repair work to a professional who can verify the right refrigerant charge.
4. The AC Makes a Hissing Noise
A hissing noise from your air conditioner could be the result of one of these problems:
- Refrigerant leaks: Depending on the place and seriousness of a refrigerant leak, it may create more of a hissing noise than a gurgling or bubbling sound.
- An issue with with the compressor: The compressor located in the exterior condensing unit pressurizes the refrigerant as it flows through the system. This part of the system may make a hissing noise if it becomes defective.
- Internal valve leak: The valve that controls refrigerant circulation within the compressor may also leak and hiss.
Schedule Air Conditioning Services
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