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Your A/C Compressor Is Making Weird Noises, But What Is It Saying?

Posted on August 20, 2013

Is your A/C compressor talking to you? If it’s making weird noises other than the routine start-up sounds and a soft hum, you need to pay attention. Those clicks, clanks or hisses are telling you to call your HVAC contractor. Here are some worrisome noises and their possible causes. 

  • A loud hissing or screaming: This is one of the most dangerous sounds you can hear. If you hear a loud hissing or screaming, turn off your air conditioner, and cut the power. It could mean that your pressure sensor has failed, which can lead to a dangerous pressure buildup. Call your contractor immediately.
  • Soft hissing or bubbling: A hissing can indicate that your air conditioner has lost most, if not all of its refrigerant. A bubbling can indicate a refrigerant leak. Either way, you should turn off your air conditioner and call your contractor. A lack of refrigerant can damage your A/C. Further, refrigerant is a toxic substance that only a professional should handle.
  • Loud banging and clanking: Does it sound like something is knocking around in there? It could be a loose piston pin, rod, crank shaft or motor mount. If you own a newer system, the unit is most likely sealed, which could mean that you will have to replace the entire unit. If your system can be repaired, you should still consider a more energy-efficient replacement to save money in the long run.
  • Softer clanks and rattles: Sometimes a spring can work loose, packing bolts are left inside the unit, or loose refrigerant tubing can begin to rattle around. These are all minor fixes.
  • Buzzing: A buzzing near the outside fan motor can indicate an electrical issue. Turn off the power, and contact your HVAC-system professional.

Remember that routine maintenance is the surest way to keep your A/C compressor running quietly.

Need assistance translating the A/C compressor noises that your system is using to talk to you? Contact Comfort Systems. We’ve quieted noisy A/Cs in the Wichita area for 60 years.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about A/C compressors and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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