Why Does My Air Conditioner Sound Like Running Water?

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

1. The AC Makes a Dripping Noise

This is an often reported air conditioner sound you could hear on hot, humid days and is no reason for alarm. Simple condensation buildup is probably the culprit. As your air conditioner operates, moisture from the interior air gathers on the evaporator coil and drips into the drain pan beneath. This pan is designed to collect and direct the condensed water clear of your home via a drain line.

Then again, if the drain becomes clogged or damaged, water can accumulate in the pan, leading to a dripping or splashing noise as freshly collected condensate drips into the pool below. If the dripping noise becomes an annoyance, find the drain pan under the indoor portion of your air conditioner and clear it.

Also, take AC dripping sounds as a signal that the condensate drain line is blocked and must 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 break. Plus, if your AC keeps turning itself off because of a full drain pan, you’ll need to correct 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 utilize water. What this means is your AC should never sound like running water. If you hear this water noise, it might mean 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 particles limits airflow. This may lead the temperature inside the evaporator coil to get below freezing, which then freezes the condensate gathered on the coil.
  • Low refrigerant level: Chilled refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor air as it passes through the evaporator coil. If the network is undercharged or seeping out and the refrigerant level is low, it loses the ability to absorb the heat. This can cause the temperature to slide below freezing and ice to form on the coil.
  • Dirty evaporator coil: Dust and grease may build up on a forgotten evaporator coil, effectively insulating it and preventing the refrigerant inside of it from absorbing heat. When this occurs, the coil may freeze.
  • Failing thermostat: Poor temperature calibration might cause the air conditioner to run continuously, even when the indoor temperature is already at the desired degree. Continuously running an air conditioner can make the evaporator coil so cold that it freezes over.
  • Blower problems: The blower forces air across the evaporator coil. If it isn’t working right or running at a low speed, the lack of sufficient airflow could freeze the evaporator coil.

3. The AC Makes a Gurgling or Bubbling Sound

Refrigerant is a vital ingredient in the cooling process. If a leak has formed or air gets trapped in the refrigerant line, you might hear gurgling or bubbling as the refrigerant flows. Additionally, your system could possibly gurgle as a result of overcharged refrigerant. Always leave AC repairs to a professional who can ensure the proper refrigerant charge.

4. The AC Makes a Hissing Noise

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

  • Refrigerant leaks: Depending on the site and extent of a refrigerant leak, it may produce more of a hissing noise than a gurgling or bubbling sound.
  • Problem with the compressor: The compressor located in the exterior condensing unit pressurizes the refrigerant as it moves through the air conditioner. This component may make a hissing noise if it becomes faulty.
  • Internal valve leak: The valve that manages refrigerant flow 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 diagnose and address the cause to stop further damage. Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can diagnose and repair any concern 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 AC repair comes with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or request a repair estimate, please contact Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing.

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