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Why Is My AC Screaming? And Other Noise Complaints

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If you find that your AC is making a noise that can appropriately be described as “screaming,” it’s not because it’s excited about finding the best ice cream parlor this summer. It’s probably a refrigerant leak, and it’s very serious.

That being said, you may be wondering if it’s ever a good thing for your air conditioner to be making certain noises. That answer is “No.”

Strange noises from your air conditioner should always be investigated. There’s a high probability that whatever’s causing the noise can lead to more damage if it isn’t taken care of soon.

We’ll list some of the most common noises below and explain what the issues might be.

Screaming or Whistling

As stated above, this is often a sign of a refrigerant leak. This is definitely one of the worst problems that your air conditioner can develop, so turn off the AC right away and call in for repairs. Even if for some reason you don’t plan on calling for repairs immediately, we highly advise against running the AC while it has this problem.

Whenever your AC is forced to run without enough refrigerant, it will drag in efficiency and create the risk of the evaporator coil freezing. Worst of all, it can damage the compressor to the point that it might need replacement (and when that happens, there’s little to do but replace the entire AC).

Banging and Clanking

These are the noises that typically accompany a broken or loose part. One of several mechanisms in the compressor may have broken, or the compressor itself could be to blame.

The worst-case scenario is that your compressor would need to be repaired. A better-case scenario would be something more simple, like a blower fan needing to be readjusted.


A rattling noise can sometimes be fixed with no more effort than changing the air filter and looking for loose screws or bolts. It’s common to hear these kinds of noises when your air conditioner is beginning to get too old and hasn’t had proper maintenance performed regularly.

Common reasons for rattling includes:

  • A loose casing
  • A loose fan
  • Leaves and debris in the system


Buzzing might be difficult to pick up on if you haven’t listened for it before. You might even hear it only when you go outside and get close to the outdoor AC unit. In almost every case, buzzing is caused by electrical problems. Common causes include components like:

  • The condenser fan motor
  • Contact relay switch
  • Circuit breaker

It’s not uncommon to start hearing buzzing noises as your air conditioner gets older.

The lights in our home can sometimes buzz too, and we typically ignore them. However, don’t develop the same habit when it comes to your air conditioner just because it seems to be working still. Many house fires are caused by electrical problems, such as those that can develop from buzzing noises like these.

Is your AC making noises that are driving you crazy? Contact Air On Demand today and we’ll help you find the problem.