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5 Sounds That Could Come From Your Outdoor Unit and What They Mean

Heating and air conditioning systems are one of the noisiest appliances at your home. Even operating at peak performance, they are loud and often make a lot of distinct sounds. And, while it may be perfectly normal for your heat pump to make a few odd sounds here and there, there are some sounds that may indicate there’s a problem with your outdoor unit. Here are a few of the alarming sounds your heating and air system may make and what the sound may mean.

Hissing

Hissing coming from your outdoor unit could be a leak from your heating and air conditioning system’s compressor valve, a leaky refrigerant line or a leaky internal valve. These problems, if not fixed as soon as possible, could lead to worsening issues with your system. If you notice a constant hissing sound coming from your outdoor unit when it is running, contact a licensed heating and air contractor immediately.

Sometimes you also may hear short or periodical hissing coming from your unit. In most cases, this isn’t a problem. Your outdoor unit may hiss when pressure is released from the expansion valve. Your heating and air conditioning system’s expansion valve releases pressure that builds up from the refrigerant, which changes from liquid to vapor, and keeps your home cool.

Clicking

It’s normal to hear a click or two when your heating and air system powers on to heat or cool your home. However, there may be an electrical issue with your system if you hear quickly repeating clicks coming from your outdoor unit. The issue could be in your system’s relay switch, control board, capacitor or compressor. What you’re hearing is your system attempting to start, but not receiving enough electrical power to fully turn on – somewhat similar to when you try to start your vehicle with a dead battery.

Electrical issues, if ignored, can damage your heating and air conditioning system, be a fire hazard for your home, or pose a serious electrocution risk for you, your family and anyone else in your home or near your outdoor unit. If you notice constant clicking coming from your heating and air conditioning system, or it clicks repeatedly and won’t turn on, call a licensed heating and air conditioning company immediately.

Rattling or Clanking

A rattling or repetitive clanking sound coming from your outdoor unit could indicate that there’s a loose part, broken component or another obstruction somewhere inside. It could be anything from a loose screw or fastener to an issue with your blower assembly. It could even be a foreign object or obstruction, such as a stick or pebble.

A loose part in your outdoor unit could quickly cause damage to other components. If you hear rattling or clanking come from your outdoor unit, shut your system off immediately and call a licensed heating and air conditioning contractor as soon as possible. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about a loose or broken part, but having a tune up performed on your system at least once per year is good preventive maintenance. This can help ensure that all of your heating and air system’s components are securely fastened and any outside debris is cleared from your system.

Screeching or Squealing

One of the most unpleasant sounds you may hear coming from your heating and air conditioning system is a screeching or squealing sound. Often, a squealing sound coming from your outdoor unit means that there’s a problem with your compressor or the bearings on the fan motor. The compressor applies pressure to the refrigerant in your system, and when you hear a squealing sound, it may mean that the compressor is not working properly.

If you hear constant screeching or squealing while your heating and air conditioning system is running, it could be bad bearings in your fan motor. Worn and bad bearings are one of the most common issues with heating and air conditioning equipment. If the bearing becomes seized, it could lead to overheating and further damage to your equipment.

Grinding

A grinding sound coming from your heat pump often indicates an issue with one of the fan motors or the compressor. You could have a bad bearing in the condenser or blower fans, a loose fan belt or one of the blades might have broken. You could also be hearing a worn out or bad valve in the compressor. Ultimately, if you hear a grinding noise, it means that one of your unit’s components is rubbing against another of your unit’s components in a way it’s not supposed to.

Parts grinding against other parts could quickly lead to a domino effect, damaging other parts of your system. If you hear a grinding noise coming from your heating and air conditioning system call a heating and air conditioning contractor as soon as possible. This is another issue that could often be avoided by preventive maintenance. Barineau’s Total Comfort Service Program offers an annual 28-point inspection, discounts on repairs and other perks for $109 per year.

In most cases, if something doesn’t sound right with your heating and air conditioning system, it’s probably not right. There are some cases where your outdoor unit might stop running, make funny noises, then emit what looks like smoke, but that’s likely just your system entering defrost mode. Learn more about defrost mode in our blog, “Is Something Wrong With My Heat Pump?

If your system is making a funny noise, don’t hesitate to call Barineau Heating and Air Conditioning. We’ll be glad to diagnose your issue and have you and your family back on the way to being comfortable. Schedule an appointment online, or by calling us at (850) 580-4029.

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