Why Does My Air Conditioner Sound Like Running Water?

Air conditioners are complicated systems that rely on numerous 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 awry. One of these sounds is dripping, gurgling, bubbling or running water. These distressing 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 you should be alarmed. Simple condensation buildup is most likely the culprit. As your air conditioner functions, moisture from the indoor air gathers on the evaporator coil and drips into the drain pan beneath. This pan is designed to collect and move the condensed water a safe distance away from your home via a drain line. Although, if the drain becomes plugged or compromised, water can accumulate in the pan, producing a dripping or splashing noise as freshly collected condensate drips into the pool down below. If the dripping noise becomes a nuisance, locate the drain pan under the indoor portion of your air conditioner and empty it.

Also, take AC dripping sounds as a indication that the condensate drain line is blocked and needs to be cleared. A float switch should automatically shut off your conditioner before the drain pan overflows and causes 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 solve the problem before your unit will run normally again.

2. The AC Sounds Like Water Is Running

While air conditioners produce condensate as a component of the cooling process, they do not run on or use water. This simply means your AC shouldn't sound like running water. If you hear this water noise, it might 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 plugged 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 goes through the evaporator coil. If the air conditioner is undercharged or leaking and the refrigerant level is low, it loses the capacity to absorb the heat. This can cause the temperature to drop below freezing and ice to develop on the coil.
  • Dirty evaporator coil: Dust and grime may build up on a forgotten evaporator coil, effectively insulating it and preventing the refrigerant within it from absorbing heat. When this happens, the coil may freeze.
  • Broken thermostat: Poor temperature calibration could cause the air conditioner to run continually, 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 issues: The blower moves air over the evaporator coil. If it isn’t working correctly or performing at a low speed, the lack of sufficient 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 gets trapped in the refrigerant line, you can hear gurgling or bubbling as the refrigerant flows. Similarly, your system could possibly gurgle because of overcharged refrigerant. Always leave AC service work to a professional who can make sure the proper refrigerant charge.

4. The AC Makes a Hissing Noise

A hissing noise from your air conditioner could be the result of one of these malfunctions:

  • Refrigerant leaks: Depending on the location and seriousness of a refrigerant leak, it may generate 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 moves through the system. This component may make a hissing noise if it becomes damaged.
  • Internal valve leak: The valve that controls refrigerant movement throughout 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 identify and address the cause to stop additional damage. [companyname] can identify and repair any concern causing your AC to sound like running water, whether that’s condensation buildup, a refrigerant leak, a stopped up drain line or a frozen evaporator coil. Every AC repair comes with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or schedule a repair estimate, please contact [companyname].

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