Why Does My Air Conditioner Sound Like Running Water?

Air conditioners are complex systems that rely on several parts, 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 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 worrying noises can be traced back to several causes.

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 likely the culprit. As your air conditioner operates, moisture from the indoor air collects on the evaporator coil and drips into the drain pan underneath. 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 broken, water can accumulate in the pan, producing a dripping or splashing noise as freshly collected condensate drips into the pool underneath. If the dripping noise becomes an annoyance, identify 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 needs to be cleared. A float switch ought to automatically shut off your conditioner before the drain pan overflows and creates 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 issue before your unit will function 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 consume water. What this means is your AC shouldn’t sound like running water. If you hear this sound, it may mean 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 crud blocks airflow. This may make the temperature inside the evaporator coil to fall 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 leaking and the refrigerant level is low, it loses the capability to absorb the heat. This can make the temperature to drop below freezing and ice to form on the coil.
  • Dirty evaporator coil: Dust and grime may build up on an ignored evaporator coil, effectively insulating it and blocking the refrigerant inside of it from absorbing heat. When this takes place, the coil may freeze.
  • Malfunctioning thermostat: Poor temperature calibration might cause the air conditioner to run continuously, even when the indoor temperature is already at the desired number. 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 effectively or performing 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 stuck in the refrigerant line, you might 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 correct refrigerant charge.

4. The AC Makes a Hissing Noise

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

  • Refrigerant leaks: Depending on the place and extent 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 exterior condensing unit pressurizes the refrigerant as it flows through the air conditioner. This component may make a hissing noise if it gets damaged.
  • Internal valve leak: The valve that regulates refrigerant movement through the compressor may also leak and hiss.

Schedule Air Conditioning Services

If you hear a sound like running water from your air conditioner, take steps to determine and address the cause to avoid additional damage. Winnipeg Supply Service Experts can identify 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 request a repair estimate, please contact Winnipeg Supply Service Experts.

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