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What’s That Sound? Noises Your AC Makes and When it Means There’s a Problem

Generally speaking, the sounds coming from your air conditioning unit should blend into the background. They’re noticeable only for the first few days of operation before becoming just another white noise in the daily operation of your home. But when an unwanted clunk or bang draws your attention, it can be cause for immediate concern and anxiety.

HVAC Unlimited understands your concerns, so we’ve come up with a list of common sounds air conditioners make, broken up into “safe” sounds of normal operation, and the ones that mean you should call for AC repairs immediately!

Have a feeling you need AC repairs? Contact HVAC Unlimited today for a checkup!

Sounds of Normal AC Operation

  • Takeoff: The sound of your central AC unit ‘kicking on’ is entirely normal. Often characterized by clicking followed by what sounds like a tiny airplane in takeoff, this is the product of the many moving parts in your unit jumping into motion.
  • Gentle blowing: The semi-quiet sound of air in motion is to be expected, as this is exactly how your unit operates—blowing cooled air through your ducts and out of the vents into your home. Normally, this sound is fairly low-key, and should generally be lost in the background.
  • Clicking off: Post-cycle, your unit is likely to make a few minor clicking sounds, not unlike the one heard when it kicks on. This clicking can continue for a handful of seconds after it cuts off, and is just the machine coming to a rest.

Problematic Air Conditioning Sounds

  • Clatter from the fan:As we said before, a click during kick on and kick off is normal, but if your fan continues to rattle and click during operation, it could be a sign that your hardware is loose, or the motor is beginning to fail.
  • Squealing and screeching:Shrill or sharp screeching is likely a sign of a bad or damaged belt, or potentially faulty bearings. Both are fairly easy to repair, and take little time to rectify in the hands of a professional.
  • Internal clank or bang:Repeated banging is often due to a loose or compromised component in the unit, and should be addressed immediately. This sound is often a precursor to the component in question becoming fully dislodged, which can create a much larger problem.
  • A low hum or whistle:This is likely a loose or damaged seal in your unit. Overall this issue is fairly minor and is a quick job for your HVAC contractor.

When to Call for Air Conditioning Repairs

It seems pretty obvious, but honestly, if your unit is creating any unwarranted noise on a regular basis, it’s best to call in for AC repair immediately. Sounds are often your first sign something is going wrong, and it will only get worse if ignored. It’s much easier to call in for a quick repair than it is for a full replacement! Contact the experts at HVAC Unlimited for all of your AC repair needs in Northern Virginia!

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