Why Does My Air Conditioner Sound Like Running Water?

Air conditioners are complex systems that rely on various elements, such as a compressor, evaporator coil, condenser coil and refrigerant to regulate your home’s temperature and humidity level. While these machines are usually robust and reliable, it’s not uncommon for AC units to make strange sounds, which may indicate that something is amiss. One such sound is dripping, gurgling, bubbling or running water. These distressing noises can be traced back to several origins.

1. The AC Makes a Dripping Noise

This is a frequent air conditioner sound you could hear on hot, humid days and is no reason you should be alarmed. Simple condensation buildup is most likely the culprit. As your air conditioner operates, moisture from the interior air accumulates on the evaporator coil and drips into the drain pan beneath it. This pan is designed to catch and funnel the condensed water away from your home via a drain line. Although, if the drain becomes plugged or damaged, water can accumulate in the pan, resulting in a dripping or splashing noise as freshly collected condensate drips into the pool below. If the dripping noise becomes an annoyance, 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 blocked and needs to be cleared. A float switch is supposed to automatically shut off your conditioner before the drain pan overflows and produces 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 have to solve the problem before your unit will function normally again.

2. The AC Sounds Like Water Is Running

While air conditioners make condensate as a component of the cooling process, they do not run on or utilize water. What this means is your AC shouldn't sound like running water. If you hear this sound, it might indicate 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 choked with dust, dirt and other particles 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 leaky and the refrigerant level is not high enough, it loses the capacity to absorb the heat. This can allow the temperature to drop below freezing and ice to build up on the coil.
  • Dirty evaporator coil: Dust and grime may coat an ignored evaporator coil, effectively insulating it and preventing the refrigerant inside it from absorbing heat. When this takes place, the coil may freeze.
  • Malfunctioning thermostat: Poor temperature calibration could cause the air conditioner to run continuously, even when the indoor temperature is already at the ideal number. Constant operation can make the evaporator coil so cold that it freezes up.
  • Blower problems: The blower circulates air across the evaporator coil. If it isn’t working effectively or performing at a low speed, the lack of airflow can freeze the evaporator coil.

3. The AC Makes a Gurgling or Bubbling Sound

Refrigerant is a critical ingredient in the cooling process. If a leak has formed or air gets caught in the refrigerant line, you might hear gurgling or bubbling as the refrigerant flows. Along those same lines, your system may gurgle as a result of overcharged refrigerant. Always leave AC repairs to a professional who can verify the proper refrigerant charge.

4. The AC Makes a Hissing Noise

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

  • Refrigerant leaks: Depending on the location and extent of a refrigerant leak, it may generate more of a hissing noise than a gurgling or bubbling sound.
  • Problem with the compressor: The compressor located in the outdoor condensing unit pressurizes the refrigerant as it passes through the AC model. This component may make a hissing noise if it becomes damaged.
  • Internal valve leak: The valve that regulates refrigerant circulation 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 diagnose and address the cause to prevent additional damage. [companyname] can detect and service any malfunction 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. Every AC repair comes with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or set up a repair estimate, please contact [companyname].

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