There’s a common subject you’ll see written about air conditioners–that noises coming from the system indicate something is wrong with it that needs anything from minor troubleshooting to a major repair. On our blog alone, you’ve probably seen us mention this dozens of times.
What you normally don’t see, however, is anything listing out the sounds your air conditioner should make. No air conditioner is silent, after all, and giving us a call for every single sound you hear coming from your cooling system would get pretty tiring. So, how do you know what’s a normal sound and what isn’t? Read on to find out!
Perhaps the most important sound you should hear coming from your AC is the hum of the compressor as the air conditioner operates. When your AC’s compressor starts up is when you’ll begin hearing this humming. It means the system has received a signal from your thermostat that the interior of your living space needs cooling, so then the compressor’s motor starts up.
From there it puts the liquid refrigerant under pressure, changing it to a hot gas, where it will then circulate to carry out the heat exchange process that makes the air conditioner’s job possible. Once your compressor turns on, you can expect to feel cool air coming from the system (if you don’t, your compressor might be malfunctioning).
2. Fan Blowing
The primary noise you’ll hear when your air conditioner is running through a cooling cycle is the blower fan pushing air through your air conditioner and into the ductwork. It should be a relatively steady noise, and a gentle one at that–many people like this sort of “brown noise”!
3. Water Dripping
Now, water is not part of the cooling process, but water does form during the cooling process. You won’t always hear water dripping, but occasionally you will. Have you ever watched a window AC from the outside and noticed water dripping from it as it operates?
The same thing happens to your standard central air conditioner, as condensate forms during the cooling process. The difference is that with a central air conditioner, the water drips into a condensate drain and drain pan before exiting outside. So while you will ideally never see the water, you might hear it.
4. Gentle Rattling
The keyword here is “gentle.” Your ductwork is going to rattle a bit as the air moves through them from your air conditioner and the temperatures fluctuate. Most of your ductwork is likely made from metal or flexible plastic, and both of these change shape a bit as the material is heating or cooling.
If the rattling is a bit too intense, or you notice it’s gotten louder than it used to be, then it might be time to call for repairs.
5. Clicking at the End of a Cycle
When your air conditioner finishes each cooling cycle, you’ll hear a handful of clicking noises coming from it. This is the typical sound of machinery stopping, like the compressor and the motors. Hearing clicking at other times could indicate trouble, like failing capacitors or loose components. Listen to your air conditioner as it cycles down, and you’ll grow accustomed to that normal clicking sound!