AC Noises and Troubleshooting Tips
Sometimes, your air conditioner can make funny noises. Some of these noises are nothing to worry about, but some signify big problems. A healthy unit has a consistent, low hum during its regular operation, so a strange noise can easily stand out. However, not every odd sound means your unit is on the verge of giving out. The team at Getzschman Heating and Cooling discusses some of the unhealthy noises an air conditioning unit can make and what can cause them.
Loose Parts: If you hear a steady rattling from your unit, it may have a loose part. First, check that the screws and bolts on the cover plates are properly tightened. If they aren’t the problem, you may need to check inside the unit. Carefully remove the cover plates to look inside. Listen for any rattling or loose parts to locate the issue, and then turn off the unit completely at the breaker. Tighten any loose parts you can find, and turn on the unit to check for rattling.
Motor Issues: If the rattling persists, it could mean there’re are issues with the motor. Motors are complicated, so contact an HVAC specialist to take a look at and repair the motor. Slight rattling may not be much of a problem, but the louder the rattling is, the bigger the problem is.
Debris: However, rattling or soft thumps in the unit could also be caused by accumulated debris. While the unit has grilles in place to keep branches and larger debris out, some bits and pieces of foliage or other debris can get into the unit. Simply turn off the unit at the breaker, remove the cover plates, and clear any foreign obstructions in the unit. But if you notice any bent fan blades or other damages caused by branches and other debris, call a professional to make the appropriate repairs.
2. Hissing or Whistling
Leaky Ductwork: If you hear any kind of whistling or hissing around your unit, the ductwork seals may have small cracks or openings. Take a look at the duct leading from the unit into the wall to check for any damage or wear.First, ensure that any screws, bolts, or connections are tight and snug. Examine any of the caulking, and caulk any areas that need it. If the duct seams have been covered with heat tape, ensure the tape is properly adhering to the seams. Replace any heat tape that won’t stick to the ducts.
Coolant Leak: Hissing or whistling can also indicate a coolant leak. If you suspect this is the case, call your local professionals to investigate. They may need to solder large openings or cracks in the line, or if the damage is extensive enough, they may need to replace the coils entirely.
3. Loud Thumps and Knocks
Broken or Loose Part: If you hear some kind of banging in your unit, you may have a serious problem with the motor or with disconnected parts. Broken parts may have fallen into the blades to cause loud knocks, or the issue could simply be a loose fan blade that thwacks the guard as it rotates.
Either way, if you hear loud thumps in your unit, call an HVAC specialist. A part is most likely damaged, disconnected, or broken, and your unit may require replacement parts or extensive repairs.
4. Squealing or Screeching
Worn Belt: Like the belt in our vehicles, the AC unit belt can get worn over time, resulting in screeching. If the belt wears down too much, it can break and your unit will essentially stop working. So, while a belt replacement can be expensive, it’s necessary for that blast of cool air in your home. A technician can determine whether or not your belt needs to be replaced so you aren’t left without air conditioning when you least expect it.
Dirty Fan Rotor: Try cleaning the interior of your AC unit, but if that doesn’t work, contact a local specialist for help.
Defective Relay: Your unit may click a bit when it turns on or off. This isn’t entirely abnormal. But if you hear repetitive clicking from the unit or control panel, you may have a defective relay. If you don’t have a lot of experience with electrical work, it can be dangerous to make the repairs yourself. Call a professional to keep yourself safe and your unit functional.
AC Troubleshooting: Things to Check Before Calling a Tech
Omaha summers are something to be reckoned with. Nebraska doesn’t joke around when it comes to heat and humidity, so make sure your air conditioning system doesn’t either. You want a system that will withstand the elements and keep your home and family comfortable. If you often find that your system isn’t performing, you need to get to the root of the problem to figure out if it just needs some help or needs to be replaced. Getzschman Heating & Cooling uncovers the top AC problems we see and explains why they’re happening.
When Your AC Unit Won’t Turn On
- Check your thermostat: Make sure your thermostat is set to cool instead of heat or being off completely.
- Check Your Electrical Panel: Make sure the breaker isn’t tripped.
- Check the Power Switch: Sounds silly, but make sure your furnace/AC unit’s power is switched on. Also, make sure to check to outdoor unit for the same thing.
- Check the Batteries: If none of these work, you may need to replace the batteries in your thermostat.
- Check the Evaporator Coil: Is the evaporator coil in your air conditioner dirty or frozen? Either scenario is not a good one. Try cleaning your coil of dust and debris or frost, Make sure to turn the system off and let it thaw completely before turning it on again. If that doesn’t do the trick, it may need to be replaced, and in that case it might be time to just invest in a new air conditioning system altogether. Evaporator coils are very costly to replace.
When Your AC Runs But Doesn’t Cool
- Check the Filter: A dirty air filter can cause a lot more problems than you might think, and in some cases, can shut down your entire AC system! To avoid this drama and make sure your system runs smoothly, we recommend changing your filter every month.
- Check for Ice: Take a look at behind the front door of your unit and look for ice. If it has frozen over, turn on the fan to let it thaw out. Remember to be patient. This may take a few hours. If your system thaws and then quickly freezes up again, it may be time to call a professional.
- Check the Drain: Algae has a tendency to build up in the condensate drain, the plastic pipe that comes out of the side of the indoor unit. Failure to clean this regularly could result in the failure of your AC unit.
- Check the Outdoor Compressor: Make sure your outdoor compressor is working by turning on your AC system and listening for it to kick on. If you find the fan isn’t moving, try pressing the override button, or a reset switch if possible. If this doesn’t work you may need to clean it and try giving the fan blade a little push to get started. If all it needed was a little push, this means you have a bad capacitor that needs replacing.
- Check to see if your refrigerant is low or leaking. Your system won’t be able to cool the air in your home without it. And you can’t just fill your system with more. If your system experiences this, you need a professional HVAC technician to assess the issue, add more refrigerant if necessary, and mend the leak.
When Your AC Motor Runs But Doesn’t Blow Air
- Check the Belt: When your motor is running, but the fan isn’t moving air, this could mean your belt is broken. The belt connects the motor and the fan, so you need to turn off this unit before opening the door to check the belt. If you have a gas unit, make sure you turn the gas off before doing the same.
- Check the Fan: Some fans and motors have sealed bearings that require oiling from time to time. Your problem could be that you need to lubricate the fan. If this is the case, follow the manufacturer’s directions and oil the bearings accordingly.
Still No Signs of Life?
Time to call your tech. Utilizing these troubleshooting tips can save time and money, but if you’ve tried everything and still have no luck, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. The best way to safeguard your system from having problems is to invest in annual maintenance of your air conditioner. Regular AC tune-ups will keep your system humming and healthy for much longer.
3 Signs Your AC Unit Is On Its Last Leg
Sometimes, even professional help can’t save an old air conditioner. But how do you know when to pay for repairs and when to throw in the towel and replace your AC? Here are three things to look for:
1. Age and Performance
The nature of using things means eventually they do wear out. If an AC is over 15 years old, almost assuredly it is not efficient and needs to be replaced. This is especially true if you’re an avid or constant user of the equipment. In addition, if running it all hours doesn’t seem to help, then replacement time is upon you.
2. Discomfort and Humidity Levels
Sitting around and sweating profusely is never comfortable for anybody. However, hot rooms and humidity are more than unpleasant. Computers, laptops, and all sorts of electronic devices get damaged from moisture, in addition to overheating. If you are experiencing such issues, then exchanging your old AC for a new one is an immediate necessity.
3. High Electric Bills and Frequent Freon Refills
It is no secret that running this equipment (especially in hot weather) is never cheap. If your bill seems astronomically high compared to previous years, replacement time has arrived. When fixing your AC becomes a recurring ordeal, this evidence demonstrates the machine is no longer functioning properly.
Freon, known as R-22, is the refrigerant which enables most older air conditioners to cool your home. When low, the equipment will cease delivering cold air. If this problem arises regularly (usually due to a leak), then you will want to replace the unit; especially since the EPA is phasing out this chemical, causing prices to skyrocket. Refilling Freon constantly is, therefore, an untenable proposition.
Now you know what to look for when your AC starts making funny noises, how to troubleshoot issues and when it’s time to look at replacing your old air conditioning unit.