AC Compressor Noise When On: 7 Simple Steps to Fix It

If your AC compressor noise when on is causing concern, you’re in the right place. This comprehensive guide will walk you through a detailed troubleshooting process, aimed at identifying and fixing the noisy culprit in your air conditioning unit.

AC Compressor Noise When On
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Identifying Different Types of Compressor Noises

Accurately identifying the noise your AC compressor is making is crucial as it points toward specific issues within the unit:

Buzzing: This noise may be due to electrical issues like failing capacitors or loose wires. Capacitors help start and run the compressor, and when they malfunction, a buzzing sound may occur. Loose wires can also create a buzzing sound and are potential fire hazards.

Hissing: Hissing usually indicates a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant leaks can occur at connection points or due to tiny punctures in the coils, resulting in a drop in system pressure and the associated noise.

Clicking: A clicking noise when the AC starts could be relay switches trying to power the compressor. If these relays are faulty, the repetitive clicking is a sign of the system trying and failing to engage.

Banging: A banging noise can suggest a loose or broken internal compressor component, such as a piston or crankshaft, or even that the entire compressor is loose. This requires immediate attention to prevent further damage.

Once the type of noise has been identified, you can move on to troubleshoot each of these problems specifically.

Steps to Troubleshooting AC Compressor Noise When On

Troubleshooting the AC compressor noise when on requires patience and attention to detail. Below are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Safety First

Always prioritize safety when dealing with electrical appliances. Shut off the power to your AC unit at the breaker box to eliminate the risk of electrocution. Confirm that the power is indeed off by attempting to turn on the system with your thermostat.

Step 2: External Inspection

Inspect the outside of your AC unit. Tighten any loose screws or bolts you see, as these could cause rattling sounds. Ensure the unit is on a stable surface and that the enclosure is not damaged or dented, which could affect internal components.

Check for any signs of wear or damage to the lines, coils, or other visible parts. If you spot damage, a professional should assess whether repair or replacement is necessary.

Step 3: Check the Refrigerant Levels

Incorrect refrigerant levels can cause your compressor to make noise. If there’s too little refrigerant, the compressor will strain; too much, and the refrigerant can flood the compressor, leading to noise and damage.

A licensed professional can measure the pressure and adjust the refrigerant levels appropriately, as this task requires specialized tools and knowledge of environmental regulations.

Step 4: Inspect the Mounting Area

The compressor should be securely mounted. Excessive vibration can cause parts to loosen and result in noise.

Check the bolts that secure the compressor and tighten them if necessary. Inspect the rubber or spring mounts for signs of wear or deterioration, which can happen over time and may require replacement to prevent noise and damage from excessive vibration.

Step 5: Clean the Coils

Condenser coils, if dirty, can cause the compressor to overheat and make noise. Turn off the power to the unit and use a garden hose to gently wash away dirt and debris from the coils.

Be careful not to bend the delicate fins. For more stubborn grime, use a commercially available coil cleaner following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 6: Check for Refrigerant Leaks

Use a soap solution to check for leaks: apply it to the connections and look for bubbles that indicate a leak. Refrigerant leaks not only cause hissing noises but can also lead to poor performance and damage to the compressor.

Due to the dangers of handling refrigerant and the need to repair the leak properly, this is another step best left to professionals.

Step 7: Review the Compressor’s Internal Parts

Internal issues with the compressor, such as valve failures, worn pistons, or other internal damages, can cause loud noises. Diagnosing internal mechanical issues is complex and typically requires disassembly of the compressor, which should only be done by a skilled technician.

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When to Call a Professional

If your troubleshooting does not quiet the noise, or if you’re uncomfortable performing any of these steps, it’s wise to contact a certified HVAC technician. Moreover, any tasks that involve refrigerant, electrical repairs, or disassembling the compressor should be handled by professionals due to the specialized knowledge, skills, and tools required.

Maintaining Your AC Compressor

Regular maintenance is key to preventing compressor noise and ensuring the longevity of your AC unit. Schedule annual check-ups with a certified HVAC technician, change or clean your air filters regularly, and keep the area around your outdoor unit clear of debris and plant growth. By staying proactive, you can keep your AC running smoothly and quietly for years to come.

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