Why is my air conditioner making a humming noise?

May 31, 2019

 

If your air conditioner is humming, it may mean there is an electrical or mechanical problem. Take steps now to verify the issue with your air conditioner.

Possible causes of your cooling system’s humming might include:

  • The condenser fan motor on the unit might be unable to spin but still has power reaching it, creating resistance that produces a pronounced—and often loud—humming sound.
  • There could be a mechanical or electrical [malfunction|failure|breakdown]9] with the contractor relay switch, the component responsible for starting the outside unit when the indoor temperature rises to the level where cooling is needed. When the contractor breaks, it can create a humming sound. The switch can be found in the exterior condenser unit outside your home.
  • The circuit breaker is overloaded - normally, your circuit breaker trips when it becomes overloaded. However, if the circuit breaker is faulty and cannot trip, you may hear an electrical humming noise.
  • Ice on condenser - if your unit freezes up, this can result in a loud humming or buzzing noise. If your air conditioner is frozen, there are a few other likely causes such as a refrigerant leak, clogged air filter or damaged blower motor. A broken blower motor will often create a humming or buzzing noise, and is located in your furnace. If the furnace is positioned near the exterior condenser, you may mistake the source of the humming noise. With the AC running, determine if the humming or buzzing is louder near the exterior condenser unit or the furnace.
  • The AC Condenser Fan Motor is broken - similar to the blower motor failing, a broken condenser fan motor can also create a humming noise when it breaks. If the indoor blower is on but the fan is not turning, your fan motor may emit a loud buzz. Some people perceive this sound as more of a hum than a buzz. There can be several causes for a failure of this component including debris entering the condenser, overgrowth near the unit, loose parts, etc.
  • Loose components inside the air conditioner - Your HVAC system is a complex machine with a lot of moving parts. Over time, it’s possible that a few parts broke loose due to average wear and tear. A loose part may cause premature wear and loud noises, including a humming noise.
  • Refrigerant pipes are vibrating - If your refrigerant lines are undercharged, it can cause vibration. This vibration may sometimes sound like a humming noise. There may be other causes for a vibrating refrigerant line, such as an improperly mounted expansion valve.

A humming sound is evidence that something inside your air conditioner is off and needs a closer look. Given the causes above, it’s crucial to determine where the sound is coming from. Your entire HVAC system is interconnected. The air conditioner relies on adequate airflow to operate efficiently. Air blows through the air filter, and it’s the blower motor (located inside the furnace) that circulates air through the entire system to heat or cool your home. If the air filter is dirty, or the blower motor breaks, that can cause issues with your condenser unit located outside the home.

Fixing the AC humming issue requires a technician to perform a diagnostic assessment on the whole unit. This work should never be completed by a homeowner, but only by a certified professional. Your HVAC system has hazardous refrigerants running through it that should be carefully handled only by a professional. Electrical components to your system should never be adjusted by a novice due to the risk of electrocution. Homeowners are better served hiring an HVAC company to examine and repair their system if they notice any odd humming, whirring, or buzzing noises coming from their unit.

If a component like the blower motor is faulty, it may be because your furnace is near the end of its lifespan. The blower motor is not a part that needs to be replaced on a regular basis. Working with Barlow Service Experts, we will not only diagnose your problem and offer recommendations to resolve things as soon as possible, we’ll also review your HVAC system as a whole. If your unit has to be replaced, we have affordable options with top tier service available through financing. We also have the Advantage program that will get you a new system for a low monthly rate.