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Keep Those Ears Peeled: AC Sounds That Signal a Problem

Human beings have some remarkable ways of detecting when something is wrong. Our noses can smell things that have gone bad, our eyes can make out dangerous animals or weather in the distance, and our ears can pick up even the slightest changes in sound.

If any of our customers are musicians, they’ll agree with just how incredible the human ear can be at picking up tiny details. But while our ears might pay attention to the latest hit single that’s blasting through the car radio, they’re less likely to pick up on problems with the air conditioner.

We’re hoping to change that with this blog. Here is a list of five noises that can come from your cooling system which might signal the need to schedule air conditioning service in Bellingham.

Stay Vigilant to Detect Issues Promptly

The truth is that there are many different sounds an air conditioner can make, beyond the five common ones we’re going to list, that might be symptoms of a problem. But these can be hard to categorize from a homeowner’s perspective.

We think it’s important that customers follow a basic rule: any sound that’s loud, uncomfortable, or unusual should peak your interest and cause you to call for repairs. While the sounds below are definitely cause for concern, they aren’t the only noises your system can make.

  • Bubbling or hissing. An AC unit that’s bubbling or hissing is likely suffering from a refrigerant leak. The bubbling sound comes from vapor being transferred through the refrigerant lines, while the hissing can be the sound of refrigerant leaking out. Remember, since refrigerant is often denser than air, you might get oxygen infiltrating your refrigerant lines which can cause major problems, such as overheating and poor performance from the system. In extreme cases acid in the system and compressor failure.
  • Squealing or screeching. Any time an air conditioner starts squealing or screeching, we’d recommend shutting it off and calling for support. These can be noises from a worn-down belt or a blower motor that’s generally in need of repair.
  • Grinding. Grinding is a very uncomfortable noise to hear, which is why it can be easy to detect and act on. If your system is grinding, it’s likely due to ball bearings in your blower fan system that have been worn down and are coming in contact with other metal surfaces.
  • Buzzing. Buzzing sounds are synonymous with electrical components that are on the fritz. If your air conditioner is buzzing, it could be due to a frayed wire or an electrical component that’s been worn down or burnt out. Sometimes this can also be accompanied by a burning smell.
  • Rattling. A rattling air conditioner is a pretty classic occurrence, but it’s still a serious concern. This sound usually comes from a loose component or a screw that’s come apart and might be shifting around inside the system’s casing. This can compound into additional issues if it’s not dealt with quickly.

Don’t notice a sound you’re dealing with on this list? Or perhaps you’ve got a different issue? Schedule an appointment and let us know!

Our team of Home Performance Experts has served the I-5 corridor from Blaine to Marysville, Oak Harbor to Concrete, and the San Juan Islands since 1972 with a mission of Improving Lives™. We look forward to serving you too! Contact Barron Heating and Air Conditioning today for repairs. 

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