Why Does My Air Conditioner Sound Like Running Water?

Air conditioners are complex systems that rely on numerous elements, including 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 uncommon for AC units to make strange sounds, which may indicate that something is amiss. One example of a sound is dripping, gurgling, bubbling or running water. These worrying noises can be traced back 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 probably the cause of the sound. As your air conditioner functions, moisture from the interior air accumulates on the evaporator coil and drips into the drain pan beneath. This pan is meant to collect and move the condensed water away from your home via a drain line.

Although, if the drain becomes blocked or damaged, 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, locate the drain pan under the indoor portion of your air conditioner and empty it.

Also, take AC dripping sounds as a signal 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 not work properly. Plus, if your AC keeps turning itself off because of a full drain pan, you’ll be forced to solve the issue before your unit will function normally again.

2. The AC Sounds Like Water Is Running

While air conditioners make condensate during the cooling process, they do not run on or consume water. This means your AC should not ever sound like running water. If you hear this noise, it may mean the evaporator coil has frozen over and is now thawing and dripping water onto the ground.

This can happen for a few reasons, including:

  • Dirty air filter: A filter clogged with dust, dirt and other crud limits airflow. This may make the temperature inside the evaporator coil to fall below freezing, which then freezes the condensate accumulated on the coil.
  • Low refrigerant level: Chilled refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor air as it moves through the evaporator coil. If the system is undercharged or seeping out and the refrigerant level is minimal, it loses the capacity to absorb the heat. This can make the temperature to slide below freezing and ice to develop on the coil.
  • Dirty evaporator coil: Dust and dirt may accumulate on a forgotten evaporator coil, effectively insulating it and preventing the refrigerant inside from absorbing heat. When this occurs, the coil might freeze.
  • Failing thermostat: Poor temperature calibration might cause the air conditioner to run constantly, 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 troubles: The blower forces air over the evaporator coil. If it isn’t working correctly or running at a low speed, the low level of airflow could freeze the evaporator coil.

3. The AC Makes a Gurgling or Bubbling Sound

Refrigerant is a critical part of the cooling process. If a leak forms or air has become stuck in the refrigerant line, you might hear gurgling or bubbling as the refrigerant flows. Additionally, your system may gurgle due to overcharged refrigerant. Always leave AC repair work to a professional who can verify the correct refrigerant charge.

4. The AC Makes a Hissing Noise

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

  • Refrigerant leaks: Depending on the place and extent 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 flows through the air conditioner. This element may make a hissing noise if it is defective.
  • 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 like running water from your air conditioner, take steps to identify and address the cause to stop more 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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