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Why Does My Air Conditioner Sound Like Running Water?

Air conditioners are sophisticated systems that rely on many different components, such as a compressor, evaporator coil, condenser coil and refrigerant to regulate your home’s temperature and humidity level. While these machines are generally sturdy and reliable, it’s not unheard of for AC units to make strange sounds, which may indicate that something is amiss. One such sound is dripping, gurgling, bubbling or running water. These worrying noises can be linked to several sources.

1. The AC Makes a Dripping Noise

This is a frequent air conditioner sound you may hear on hot, humid days and is no reason for alarm. Simple condensation buildup is probably to blame. As your air conditioner operates, moisture from the inside air accumulates on the evaporator coil and drips into the drain pan underneath. This pan is meant to catch and move the condensed water away from your home via a drain line.

Although, if the drain becomes blocked or compromised, 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, find the drain pan under the indoor portion of your air conditioner and remove the water.

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

2. The AC Sounds Like Water Is Running

While air conditioners produce condensate as a part of the cooling process, they do not run on or utilize water. This means your AC shouldn’t sound like running water. If you hear this sound, it may be because the evaporator coil has frozen over and is now thawing and dripping water onto the ground.

This can develop for a few reasons, including:

  • Dirty air filter: A filter plugged with dust, dirt and other particles limits airflow. This may lead the temperature inside the evaporator coil to get below freezing, which then freezes the condensate collected on the coil.
  • Low refrigerant level: Chilled refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor air as it moves through the evaporator coil. If the network is undercharged or seeping out and the refrigerant level is minimal, it loses the capacity to absorb the heat. This can cause the temperature to drop below freezing and ice to form on the coil.
  • Dirty evaporator coil: Dust and grime may coat a neglected evaporator coil, effectively insulating it and stopping the refrigerant inside it from absorbing heat. When this happens, the coil might freeze.
  • Broken thermostat: Poor temperature calibration may cause the air conditioner to run continuously, even when the indoor temperature is already at the correct number. Constant running of an AC unit can make the evaporator coil so cold that it freezes over.
  • Blower troubles: The blower moves air over the evaporator coil. If it isn’t working correctly or operating at a low speed, the lack of airflow could freeze the evaporator coil.

3. The AC Makes a Gurgling or Bubbling Sound

Refrigerant is a critical component of the cooling process. If a leak forms or air comes to be caught in the refrigerant line, you can hear gurgling or bubbling as the refrigerant flows. Along those same lines, your system could very well gurgle as a result of overcharged refrigerant. Always leave AC service work to a professional who can ensure the correct refrigerant charge.

4. The AC Makes a Hissing Noise

A hissing noise from your air conditioner could signify one of these malfunctions:

  • Refrigerant leaks: Depending on the location and severity of a refrigerant leak, it may produce 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 passes through the air conditioner. This element may make a hissing noise if it gets defective.
  • Internal valve leak: The valve that controls 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. Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can detect and fix any issue causing your AC to sound like running water, whether that’s condensation buildup, a refrigerant leak, a plugged drain line or a frozen evaporator coil. Every single AC repair comes with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or schedule a repair estimate, please contact Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing.

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