Why Does My Air Conditioner Sound Like Running Water?

Air conditioners are complex systems that rely on many different parts, which includes a compressor, evaporator coil, condenser coil and refrigerant to regulate your home’s temperature and humidity level. While these machines are typically sturdy and reliable, it’s not unheard of for AC units to make strange sounds, which may indicate that something is amiss. One example of a sound is dripping, gurgling, bubbling or running water. These worrisome noises can be attributed to several causes.

1. The AC Makes a Dripping Noise

This is a frequent air conditioner sound you could hear on hot, humid days and is no reason for alarm. Simple condensation buildup is likely the culprit. As your air conditioner operates, moisture from the indoor air accumulates on the evaporator coil and drips into the drain pan underneath. This pan is designed to catch and move the condensed water clear of your home via a drain line.

Then again, if the drain becomes blocked or damaged, water can accumulate in the pan, resulting in a dripping or splashing noise as freshly collected condensate drips into the pool underneath. If the dripping noise becomes a nuisance, identify the drain pan under the indoor portion of your air conditioner and clear it.

Also, take AC dripping sounds as a warning sign that the condensate drain line is blocked and should be cleared. A float switch ought to automatically shut off your conditioner before the drain pan overflows and produces water damage, but the float switch could always fail. Plus, if your AC keeps turning itself off because of a full drain pan, you’ll need to fix the drain pan issue before your unit will operate normally again.

2. The AC Sounds Like Water Is Running

While air conditioners create condensate as a part of the cooling process, they do not run on or use water. This simply means your AC should not ever sound like running water. If you hear this water noise, it could indicate the evaporator coil has frozen over and is now thawing and dripping water onto the ground.

This can take place for a few reasons, including:

  • Dirty air filter: A filter clogged with dust, dirt and other debris restricts airflow. This may lead the temperature inside the evaporator coil to fall below freezing, which then freezes the condensate gathered on the coil.
  • Low refrigerant level: Chilled refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor air as it moves through the evaporator coil. If the system is undercharged or leaky and the refrigerant level is low, it loses the capability to absorb the heat. This can allow the temperature to fall below freezing and ice to form on the coil.
  • Dirty evaporator coil: Dust and grime may accumulate on a forgotten evaporator coil, effectively insulating it and blocking the refrigerant inside of it from absorbing heat. When this occurs, the coil could freeze.
  • Failing thermostat: Poor temperature calibration may cause the air conditioner to run continually, even when the indoor temperature is already at the ideal degree. Continuously running an air conditioner can make the evaporator coil so cold that it freezes up.
  • Blower problems: The blower circulates air over the evaporator coil. If it isn’t working right or operating at a low speed, the low level of airflow can freeze the evaporator coil.

3. The AC Makes a Gurgling or Bubbling Sound

Refrigerant is a vital element of the cooling process. If a leak has formed or air comes to be caught in the refrigerant line, you may hear gurgling or bubbling as the refrigerant flows. Similarly, your system could possibly gurgle due to overcharged refrigerant. Always leave AC repairs to a professional who can ensure the right refrigerant charge.

4. The AC Makes a Hissing Noise

A hissing noise from your air conditioner could indicate one of these problems:

  • Refrigerant leaks: Depending on the location and severity of a refrigerant leak, it may create more of a hissing noise than a gurgling or bubbling sound.
  • An issue with with the compressor: The compressor located in the outdoor condensing unit pressurizes the refrigerant as it flows through the system. This component may make a hissing noise if it gets damaged.
  • Internal valve leak: The valve that manages refrigerant movement within the compressor may also leak and hiss.

Schedule Air Conditioning Services

If you hear a sound such as running water from your air conditioner, take steps to determine and address the cause to avoid further damage. Norrell Service Experts can identify and service any malfunction causing your AC to sound like running water, whether that’s condensation buildup, a refrigerant leak, a clogged drain line or a frozen evaporator coil. Every single AC repair comes with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or request a repair estimate, please contact Norrell Service Experts.

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