The air conditioner in your Sutton, Massachusetts home should never be so noisy that it becomes disruptive. A well-designed and well-maintained AC unit really shouldn’t produce more than a gentle humming sound. Thus, if your cooling equipment starts to squeak and squeal when you turn it on, it’s important to identify the source of the problem. Following are five reasons why air conditioners squeak along with strategies for troubleshooting them.
1. Acclimating to the Summer Season
Although air conditioners in some areas are subjected to year-round demand, residents of Worcester County typically use their cooling systems from late spring to early autumn and then turn them off. This means that this equipment lies dormant for months at a time. As a result, it’s not uncommon for air conditioners to make a few surprising noises when they’re first turned on.
When they’re both moderate and short-lived, squeaking noises aren’t a cause for major concern. They’re an indication that your cooling equipment is waking up and getting into gear. After just 10 to 15 minutes of air conditioner use, these sounds should disappear on their own. However, if they last much longer or if they increase in volume and intensity, turn your air conditioner off and call a licensed HVAC technician in. Loud squeals are an indication of distress and they may mean that your air conditioner has a serious and potentially progressive problem.
2. The Fan Belt Has Slipped
In some AC units, the motor and fan are connected by a belt. This belt is subjected to constant friction during AC operation and thus, it has a tendency to wear down faster than other components. This is especially true in times of high humidity. As temperature and humidity levels rise and fall, fan belts naturally expand and contract. Excess humidity and heat can cause an already well-worn fan belt to slip or snap.
You may have an issue with a slipped or worn fan belt on your hands if you have an older air conditioner or a low-cost, newer model. However, before tampering with this component, be mindful of your manufacturer’s warranty. Although there are a few minor maintenance-related issues that homeowners can handle on their own, attempting to repair or replace moving components can instantly void your warranty agreement.
When scheduling a service to have a worn belt replaced, take some time to consider the age of your air conditioner and the length of its remaining lifespan. Although your air conditioner might be rated to last as long as 20 years, its fan belt will likely wear out long before this time. For most models, this happens after the 10-year mark when much of a unit’s efficiency has already been lost and other areas of performance have already started to decline. If your energy bills are rising and your air conditioner isn’t quite able to cool your home like it used to, it may be more cost-effective in the long run to replace the entire unit instead. This is all the more true if you’ve already paid for other parts replacements or repairs within recent months or years, or if you’ve fan belt has already been replaced before.
3. The Condenser Fan Needs New Bearings
If you’ve got a newer air conditioner that doesn’t have a belt connecting its fan to its motor, the condenser fan is connected with bearings instead. Just like fan belts, these components can get worn out over time. As their integrity is lost, worn bearings will make increasingly loud noises whenever the air conditioner is on. Unlike the mild squeaking sounds that your air conditioner might produce during its first cooling cycle of the summer season, the sounds of worn bearings are virtually impossible to ignore. They can be heard both inside and outside of the home.
It’s important to note that an air conditioner with worn bearings or a slipped fan belt may continue cooling the home at an acceptable rate despite the noise it’s producing. However, continuing to use your cooling equipment in spite of squealing sounds is always a bad idea. Worn bearings that aren’t dealt with right away will eventually damage the air conditioner motor. It’s far cheaper to fix this problem than it is to ignore it.
4. Pest Problems
Sometimes squeaking noises from AC units has a far more distressing cause. If these noises are intermittent and occur whether or not your air conditioner is on, it may be that rodents or other small-sized animals have found their way into your HVAC system. Whenever pests have a way into central HVAC systems, they take advantage of it. For small animals, these spaces offer shelter, warmth, and protection. As with all other possible causes of strange air conditioner noises, it’s best to leave this issue in the hands of trained professionals.
The likelihood of pest problems being the source of your air conditioner’s squeaking is high if you’ve already been dealing with infestations of rodents or other small animals on your property. You can call either a pest control service or a licensed HVAC technician. Although pest control companies can remove small animals from HVAC ducting and other areas of these systems, only an HVAC company can make sure that all possible points of ingress are sealed off so that the problem doesn’t recur.
5. You Need HVAC Duct Repair or Cleaning Services
Most problems with squeaky air conditioners are the result of worn bearings or fan belts. These are the most common causes of high-pitched squeaking sounds and they’re usually age-related. However, there are rare instances in which squeaky ducts can be attributed to excess stress within the cooling system or insufficient HVAC maintenance. Pest problems aren’t the only source of squeaking noises at the interior of HVAC ductwork. If you haven’t had your ducting inspected or cleaned in a while, it may be time to have this portion of your home heating and cooling system professionally assessed and maintained.
With air conditioning and heating equipment, different sounds typically indicate specific problems. To the trained ear, squeaks and squeals are a sign that things have gone awry at the fan motor. Banging and clanging noises are commonly associated with damaged ductwork or loose components that are rattling around within the AC condenser. Although you might define the noises that you’re hearing as squeaks, a licensed HVAC technician may describe them differently. As such, having an HVAC company check the problem out is always far better than trying to both diagnose and repair it yourself.
Scheduling annual AC maintenance is one of the easiest ways to catch and correct problems like these before they wind up causing serious damage. During your air conditioner’s yearly inspection and tune-up service, your technician can swap out worn components, make sure that the fan belt is in position, and determine whether or not the service life of your cooling unit is at its end.
Landry Mechanical Inc Plumbing HVAC & Electric is proud to serve residents of Sutton, MA, and the surrounding area. We offer fast and friendly heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing service. We’re always working hard to help our clients save money and enjoy optimum levels of home comfort. If your air conditioner is making strange sounds, we can find out why and solve the problem.
Get in touch with Landry Mechanical Inc Plumbing HVAC & Electric today to schedule service.