Air Conditioner Noises: What Do They Mean?

Air Conditioner Noises: What Do They Mean?

After a long hard day at work, often the only thing holding you together is the thought of spending a quiet, relaxing evening at home. But if your air conditioner starts making a racket as soon as it turns on, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get to enjoy the night as you had hoped. Going ballistic and totally losing your cool won’t solve anything. Breathe deeply, calm down, and read on to better understand the underlying causes of air conditioner noises. You’ll find that most of the issues can easily be fixed by a qualified AC technician.

Common Air Conditioner Noises

High pitched squealing

You’re not likely to get any peace if your AC unit sounds like a train on the verge of derailment–emitting the high-pitched screech of metal-on-metal.

There may be several reasons for the screeching sound, so it may do you some good to observe the unit yourself. If the squealing is coming from the outside, there may be some issues with the AC fan’s motor or the compressor. The fan motor that blows air over to the condensing coils has bearings and these may be shot, causing the noise. The compressor’s motor, on the other hand, can also make a squealing noise if it has gone bad.

If the squealing appears to be coming from inside the air conditioner, then either the blower motor or the belt may have some issues. The blower has a motor with bearings in it that can wear down, resulting in screeching noises. If your AC has a worn out or misaligned belt, it can create a squealing noise as well. The belt typically spins the AC’s blower fan.

A high-pitched squealing noise indicates that you should call a professional HVAC contractor in immediately to help diagnose the problem and offer solutions to the issue. Doing so will save you from more costly repairs in the future

Thumping or thuds

Thumping or clanging is perhaps one of the most common noises a faulty HVAC system elicits. Thuds in your HVAC system will usually mean that something has come loose somewhere. It could be that a part of the motor has broken off and is thumping around in the housing, or it could also be the fan or any of its components.

Sometimes, however, the thuds are due to a problem in the ductwork. Thuds can be heard when air passes forcefully through the ductwork where something appears to have come loose. If you hear thumps and thuds, that’s an indication that repair or replacement of the loose component by a professional should be imminent.


You certainly don’t expect your AC to gurgle. Experienced AC technicians will tell you that gurgling in your air conditioner is not as common and if and when it happens, is likely not a major issue. However, a gurgling or bubbling noise from outside your AC condenser unit is usually the sign of a refrigerant leak. There can be no cooling without the refrigerant, so it’s best to call for professional assistance. Don’t attempt to solve the issue on your own, as refrigerant gases can be dangerous to the untrained.

Air conditioner noises can be the only thing stopping you from a restful sleep. While there is no single cause for those weird noises, accurately identifying them and contacting a reputable HVAC professional should be your first order of business. Give us a call at 929-4295 to take a look at your AC today.

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