Air conditioners are complicated systems that rely on many different elements, which includes a compressor, evaporator coil, condenser coil and refrigerant to regulate your home’s temperature and humidity level. While these machines are generally robust and reliable, it’s not uncommon for AC units to make strange sounds, which may indicate that something is awry. One of these sounds is dripping, gurgling, bubbling or running water. These worrisome noises can be attributed to several causes.
1. The AC Makes a Dripping Noise
This is a frequent air conditioner sound you may hear on hot, humid days and is no reason for alarm. Simple condensation buildup is probably to blame. As your air conditioner operates, moisture from the indoor air gathers on the evaporator coil and drips into the drain pan beneath. This pan is designed to catch and funnel the condensed water a safe distance away from your home via a drain line. Then again, if the drain becomes plugged or compromised, water can accumulate in the pan, resulting in a dripping or splashing noise as freshly collected condensate drips into the pool below. If the dripping noise becomes too irritating, locate the drain pan under the indoor portion of your air conditioner and remove the water.
Also, take AC dripping sounds as a signal that the condensate drain line is clogged and must be cleared. A float switch ought to automatically shut off your conditioner before the drain pan overflows and produces water damage, but the float switch could always fail. Plus, if your AC keeps turning itself off because of a full drain pan, you’ll be forced to fix the problem before your unit will run normally again.
2. The AC Sounds Like Water Is Running
While air conditioners make condensate during the cooling process, they do not run on or consume water. This means your AC should not ever sound like running water. If you hear this noise, it might mean the evaporator coil has frozen over and is now thawing and dripping water onto the ground.
This can happen for a few reasons, including:
- Dirty air filter: A filter clogged with dust, dirt and other particles blocks airflow. This may cause the temperature inside the evaporator coil to get below freezing, which then freezes the condensate accumulated on the coil.
- Low refrigerant level: Chilled refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor air as it goes through the evaporator coil. If the air conditioner is undercharged or seeping out and the refrigerant level is low, it loses the capacity to absorb the heat. This can make the temperature to drop below freezing and ice to build up on the coil.
- Dirty evaporator coil: Dust and dirt may coat a neglected evaporator coil, effectively insulating it and stopping the refrigerant within it from absorbing heat. When this takes place, the coil may possibly freeze.
- Failing thermostat: Poor temperature calibration may cause the air conditioner to run continuously, even when the indoor temperature is already at the ideal level. Constant operation can make the evaporator coil so cold that it freezes over.
- Blower troubles: The blower circulates air across the evaporator coil. If it isn’t working right or operating at a low speed, the lack 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 trapped in the refrigerant line, you can hear gurgling or bubbling as the refrigerant flows. Additionally, your system may gurgle because of overcharged refrigerant. Always leave AC service work to a professional who can verify the correct refrigerant charge.
4. The AC Makes a Hissing Noise
A hissing noise from your air conditioner could be the result of one of these issues:
- Refrigerant leaks: Depending on the place and extent of a refrigerant leak, it may produce more of a hissing noise than a gurgling or bubbling sound.
- An issue with with the compressor: The compressor located in the outside condensing unit pressurizes the refrigerant as it flows through the system. This element may make a hissing noise if it gets faulty.
- Internal valve leak: The valve that controls refrigerant flow within the compressor may also leak and hiss.
Schedule Air Conditioning Services
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