Air Conditioner Sounds

Air Conditioner sounds

You may have heard that silence is golden! However, something is comforting about the soft hum of an air conditioner in the warm summer months. But, if you have recently upgraded your air conditioner and are enjoying the benefits of quieter HVAC system operation, you may notice some new sounds that weren’t so obvious before — especially the sound of your neighbor’s air conditioner!

Even a whisper can seem loud when you are in a library! If your new energy efficient air conditioning system operates at a sound level that is lower than your previous heating and cooling system, you may be more aware of surrounding sounds! The noise of your old unit may have covered up the sounds from your neighbors HVAC system making it seem like the neighbor’s unit got louder!


The Various Sounds of Indoor Comfort


When an air conditioning system turns ON, it creates sound. If the thermostat or control system detects that your home needs to cool down, a single-stage air conditioning system will turn on at full power. A single-stage system moves the conditioned air at one consistent speed. When the thermostat or control system reaches the set temperature, the whole system shuts down as quickly as it started.

A two-stage air conditioning system is designed to operate lower and higher speed options, minimizing the effect of full ON  or  OFF cycling compared to single speed units. Two-speed and variable speed systems do tend to run longer because they were engineered to maintain consistent indoor comfort at the lower speed. This may also reduce the ON/OFF noise when compared to a single stage unit because it cycles less often.

A variable speed unit can adjust output levels at various speeds depending on the thermostat or control system settings. These systems tend to run for more extended periods but at a lower capacity to maintain indoor comfort.


Listen Up!


An air conditioner’s sporadic  ON/OFF cycle may catch your attention when you are outside. But, if an air conditioner’s soft hum amplifies into something else, you may want to take notice.

Air conditioning components are designed and engineered to contribute to the efficient transfer of heat and movement of cool, conditioned air. As a result, there are lots of sound-producing moving parts! Yet, when a component’s intended function is compromised, an air conditioner’s hum may turn into a buzzing roar, clatter or squeal.  If you discover a significant change in sounds, it may be a signal to contact a licensed professional HVAC dealer for an inspection.

In an air conditioner, a rattling sound may indicate that the fan blade may need an adjustment or be cleaned of debris. Changes in the particular sound coming from an air conditioner may indicate:

  • Loose parts, bearings or motor components
  • Dirt or debris is interfering with proper operation
  • A specific part is out of balance
  • Bearings need lubrication
  • Piping to the inside is rubbing against an object
  • Coils need to be cleaned
  • Air filter needs to be changed
  • An issue with the compressor


Get into a Maintenance Rhythm


Communicating new sounds to a licensed professional HVAC contractor may help them determine a probable cause and a potential fix. Regular maintenance may ward off some noise-inducing malfunctions, potentially reducing the cooling emergencies and helping extend the life of your system. While each contractor has their own air conditioning maintenance process, professional maintenance services may include the inspection of sound producing elements, as well as:

  • Check for adequate air flow
  • Inspect refrigerant lines
  • Clear drain lines and pans
  • Inspect exterior fan and lubricate moving parts
  • Check and tighten any loose electrical connections
  • Inspect system controls
  • Replace parts that are showing wear and tear


What’s that Sound?


An air condition system is intentionally sized and installed to move a specific amount of air. When unusual sounds come from the room vents, it may indicate a pressure imbalance between the air drawn into the system and cooled, conditioned air flowing into the indoor spaces.

If the air filter or supply vents are blocked, there is an issue with the intake ductwork, or if too many registers are closed off, the pressure and the speed of the air may change, possibly increasing the sound level.  If unusual noises are coming from the vents where the conditioned air is blown into a room, ductwork should be inspected by a licensed professional HVAC dealer. Debris in the ductwork or loose or ill-fitting ducts may echo sounds through the vents into living spaces.

A professional or licensed HVAC dealer should inspect the air conditioning system to determine if proper air flow is being compromised.  

 Amana brand Indoor Comfort