While it’s still on the cooler side in some parts of the country and homeowners there are just now starting to schedule air conditioner maintenance, those of us here are already using our cooling systems on a pretty regular basis. That said, our cooling systems go through a lot, and as a result accumulate wear and tear faster than they would in other parts of the country, potentially requiring more repairs.
First off, to prevent the biggest and most sudden of repair needs, we encourage you to schedule maintenance at least once a year for your AC system. During this service, our professional will clean, inspect, and adjust your system to ensure its efficient performance. With or without maintenance, however, if your air conditioner makes sounds you don’t recognize, it’s time to call in a professional. So, what sounds exactly should you pay attention to?
Hissing or Gurgling
Some people describe this as a hissing sound, while others may describe it as a gurgling or bubbling noise. Pretty much, any sound that seems to resemble the last few bubbles of a drink being sucked through a straw is not something you want to hear coming from your air conditioner. It indicates that air bubbles are somewhere in the system where they should not be. They’re probably in the refrigerant line, which means that there is a leak.
Refrigerant leaks are a bigger deal than you likely realize, because they deprive your air conditioner of the fluid it needs to cool your home. As the refrigerant level in the air conditioner drops, so does its ability to cool down your home. Eventually, the refrigerant level drops low enough that the air conditioner can’t sustain the operation, and will start breaking down. Be sure to call for professional repairs as soon as you can when you hear this noise.
The air handler of your air conditioner is the part responsible for actually circulating air throughout the living space while the system is running. The air handler’s motor goes through a lot of stress while the system is running. In order to help it cope with the strain, the system has a series of oiled bearings.
However, over time, these bearings wear down due to natural wear and tear, and the friction on the air handler motor increases. As a result, you may hear the motor start to emit a grinding sound while the system is in operation. If you hear this noise, it’s time to call for repairs right away. The bearings need to be replaced before the air conditioner overheats and burns out as a result.
Short-cycling is when the air conditioner turns itself on and off every few minutes rather than completing a full cooling cycle. It’s usually the result of an electrical issue in the system. Short-cycling prevents the air conditioner from providing effective cooling, and accelerates the rate at which the system wears down.
If short-cycling is allowed to go on for too long, your cooling system will be more likely to break down in other ways, which will shorten its lifespan. If you hear your air conditioner rapidly turning off and back on again, give us a call!