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What’s With That Odd Noise In Your Air Conditioner Compressor?

If there’s anything a homeowner in the Valley of the Sun doesn’t want to hear, it’s an odd noise in the compressor for his or her air conditioner. The compressor in the outside condensing unit does the heavy lifting by putting the refrigerant under pressure, which cools it and sends it into the indoor evaporator coil. Although a compressor creates noise under normal operating conditions, the following sounds signal there might be an issue:

    • A clanking or banging sound could indicate part failure inside the compressor or loose internal mounts.
    • A buzzing noise coming from the compressor and failure to start could indicate electrical part failure.
    • Ratting sounds could be a sign that the unit is loose inside its housing.
    • Hissing or screaming sound usually indicates that the refrigerant pressure is excessively high, creating a dangerous situation. If you hear this sound, turn the system off immediately and contact an HVAC professional.
    • Another odd noise in the compressor could indicate that the airflow through the condenser and its coils is blocked. Excessive dust following a dust storm, landscaping debris or any kind of blockage can reduce the airflow across the condenser coils. The A/C will continue to run, putting excessive stress on the whole system.
    • A humming sound before the compressor starts could indicate an oil leak. Look for signs of leakage around the concrete pad on which the condensing unit sits.
    • Trumpet or trombone sounds when the compressor turns off could indicate leaky refrigerant valves inside the unit. The sound is short-lived and occurs only when the system turns off.

All these conditions merit a call to an HVAC specialist. Without the compressor, your system can’t cool your home, and in Phoenix’s heat, things could quickly become intolerably hot.

Preventing avoidable problems with the compressor by routinely checking and changing the filter in the air handler and having your system professionally serviced annually reduces the likelihood of compressor failure. Keeping your system and compressor in top-notch condition lightens electric bills and minimizes potential breakdowns.

If you’ve heard an odd noise in the compressor, please contact us at Wolff Mechanical. We’ve provided outstanding HVAC services for the Phoenix metro area for more than 20 years.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Phoenix Valley area of Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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