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Your Noisy A/C Compressor: So What’s the Meaning of That Sound It’s Making?

If the outdoor unit of your A/C starts making some unusual noises on top of its usual hum, it probably means something has gone wrong. There are a number of potential problems that could cause a noisy A/C compressor, so you’ll want to enlist the help of a professional to figure out why it’s making such a racket. Different noises coming from the outdoor unit can signal different problems:

  • Banging: Often caused by loose internal parts or mounts in a compressor, banging could be a sign that the compressor needs to be replaced.
  • Rattling: Usually this is a sign that something like a bolt, piece of tubing, or spring is loose. It can also be caused by refrigeration tubing that runs too close to the frame or other part of the unit and is rattling against it.
  • Clicking: Repeated clicking or ticking can be due to the fan making contact with a piece of debris or bent screen. Defective controls can also cause ticking by signaling relays to repeatedly turn on and off.
  • Buzzing: This is another noise that could be due to signals from defective controls, but it can also be due to arcing between loose wiring and electrical connections.
  • Bubbling: If air bubbles get into the refrigerant lines due to a small leak, they can make bubbling noises as they travel. A larger refrigerant leak will cause a temporary hiss until the refrigerant is exhausted.
  • Loud screaming: High pressure switches should turn off compressors before this happens, but if the compressor operates at too high a pressure, it can emit a loud scream or hiss. This can be a dangerous situation, and the system should be turned off immediately.

The internal components of the outdoor units of air conditioners can present multiple hazards to homeowners, so they should only be worked on by professionals. If you need help troubleshooting an A/C problem such as a noisy A/C compressor, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions. We have been providing quality-minded service to the Orlando area since 1969.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas 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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