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Why Does My Air Conditioner Sound Like Running Water?

Air conditioners are complex systems that rely on several elements, such as a compressor, evaporator coil, condenser coil and refrigerant to regulate your home’s temperature and humidity level. While these machines are typically strong and reliable, it’s not unheard of for AC units to make strange sounds, which may indicate that something is amiss. One of these sounds 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 cause for alarm. Simple condensation buildup is most likely to blame. As your air conditioner functions, moisture from the interior air accumulates on the evaporator coil and drips into the drain pan beneath it. This pan is designed to collect and direct the condensed water away from your home via a drain line.

Then again, if the drain becomes clogged or compromised, water can accumulate in the pan, leading to a dripping or splashing noise as freshly collected condensate drips into the pool down below. If the dripping noise becomes too irritating, locate the drain pan under the indoor portion of your air conditioner and remove the water.

Also, take AC dripping sounds as a warning sign that the condensate drain line is plugged and should be cleared. A float switch is supposed to automatically shut off your conditioner before the drain pan overflows and creates water damage, but the float switch could always not work properly. Plus, if your AC keeps turning itself off because of a full drain pan, you’ll be forced to solve the problem before your unit will run normally again.

2. The AC Sounds Like Water Is Running

While air conditioners make condensate as a part of the cooling process, they do not run on or use water. What this means is your AC shouldn’t sound like running water. If you hear this water noise, it could 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 clogged with dust, dirt and other debris restricts airflow. This may cause the temperature inside the evaporator coil to drop below freezing, which then freezes the condensate accumulated 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 leaky and the refrigerant level is minimal, it loses the capability to absorb the heat. This can cause the temperature to fall below freezing and ice to form on the coil.
  • Dirty evaporator coil: Dust and grime may accumulate on a neglected evaporator coil, effectively insulating it and preventing the refrigerant inside of it from absorbing heat. When this takes place, the coil may freeze.
  • Malfunctioning thermostat: Poor temperature calibration could cause the air conditioner to run constantly, even when the indoor temperature is already at the correct level. Constant running of an AC unit can make the evaporator coil so cold that it freezes completely.
  • Blower troubles: The blower moves air over the evaporator coil. If it isn’t working effectively or operating at a low speed, the lack of airflow may freeze the evaporator coil.

3. The AC Makes a Gurgling or Bubbling Sound

Refrigerant is a vital part of the cooling process. If a leak has formed or air gets trapped in the refrigerant line, you may hear gurgling or bubbling as the refrigerant flows. Additionally, your system could possibly gurgle as a result of overcharged refrigerant. Always leave AC repair work to a professional who can make sure the correct 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 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 outside condensing unit pressurizes the refrigerant as it moves through the air conditioner. This element may make a hissing noise if it gets defective.
  • Internal valve leak: The valve that manages refrigerant circulation through 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 further damage. Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can detect and service any concern 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. Each and every 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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