As the scorching summer sun beats down on our homes, the comforting hum of a window air conditioner can be a lifesaver. But what happens when that hum turns into an annoying rattle, a clatter, or an unsettling drone? Suddenly, your cool haven becomes a hub of unwanted noise pollution.
We’ve all been there, desperately seeking solace from the heat, only to be thwarted by a window AC unit that seems hell-bent on keeping us awake or disrupting our much-needed peace and quiet. Fear not, though, for this comprehensive guide is here to help you regain your tranquility.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the art of silencing a noisy window air conditioner, step by step. Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or just someone tired of enduring sleepless nights, we’ll provide you with a range of strategies to bring serenity back to your space.
Why is my Window Air Conditioner So Loud?
Before diving into the remedies for your clamorous air conditioner, let’s first pinpoint some common reasons behind its disruptive behavior.
- Age: Over time, the components in your air conditioner can wear out, leading to increased noise. This is especially true if your AC unit is older and hasn’t been properly maintained.
- Installation Issues: If your window air conditioner isn’t installed correctly, it can vibrate or rattle against the window frame, causing noise. Ensuring a secure and level installation can help mitigate this problem.
- Cleanliness: Dust and debris can accumulate in the AC unit’s fan blades or other components, causing noise when they spin. Regular cleaning and maintenance can help keep it running quietly.
- Fan Speed: Running your air conditioner on a high fan speed setting can produce more noise. Lowering the fan speed can reduce the noise level, although it may impact cooling efficiency.
- Vibration Isolation: Using vibration isolation pads or rubber mounts can help reduce the transmission of vibrations from the AC unit to the window frame, minimizing noise.
- Mechanical Issues: Sometimes, mechanical problems like loose parts or a damaged fan motor can cause loud noises. These issues may require professional repair or replacement.
- Dirty or Clogged Filters: A clogged or dirty air filter can strain the AC unit, making it noisier. Regularly cleaning or replacing the filter can help maintain smooth operation.
- Improper Sizing: If your AC unit is too small for the space it’s cooling, it may have to work harder, resulting in more noise. Conversely, an oversized unit can lead to short cycling, causing increased noise as well.
- Refrigerant Issues: Low refrigerant levels or leaks can lead to unusual noises and reduced cooling efficiency. This problem should be addressed by a qualified technician.
- Airflow Restrictions: Blockages in the airflow, either inside the unit or in the room, can cause turbulence and noise. Ensure that nothing is obstructing the unit or its vents.
Window Air Conditioner Noises
Loud Clicking Noise
The clicking sound could be caused by different components of the AC and not only the compressor.
It all depends on the source of the noise problem: If you only hear the clicking sound once you start the AC (but it doesn’t start), that could indicate a problem with the capacitor, thermostat, or compressor.
But if you only hear the clicking sound once the AC is running, don’t freight as it’s likely that small objects have nestled on the blower fan.
The most probable culprit, in this case, is the compressor. It’s responsible for circulating refrigerant that highly contributes to cooling your home.
The compressor components can become loose because of wear and tear, resulting in loud banging sounds as they bang against each other inside the compressor. In most cases, the compressor unit needs to be replaced as there isn’t a way you can open the compressor without damaging the outer shell as it’s hermetically sealed.
There are several reasons why your window air conditioner could be producing buzzing noises.
While buzzing noises could indicate that you have a malfunctioning compressor, they are also an indicator of other problems that need troubleshooting.
Such problems include:
- Loose wiring
- Failing motor
- Broken capacitor
Three culprits could be responsible for the loud screeching or squealing noises from your window air conditioner. They include:
- Bad fan motor
- Faulty blower motor
- Faulty compressor
If the loud screeching noises coming from the outside unit, you will likely have a bad compressor. When the motor inside the compressor goes bad, it can result in loud screeching noises.
If you hear the screeching noises from the inside of your home, then it’s likely that the blower fan motor is to blame. Over time the bearings on the fan motor can wear out, resulting in screeching/squealing noises.
A hissing sound is a sign of a refrigerant leak. In normal operation, the refrigerant operates in a closed-loop inside the AC system. However, the copper lines and coils that carry the refrigerant often leak over time, resulting in a loss.
How To Fix a Noisy Window Air Conditioner?
1. Improper window air conditioner installation
Although installing a window air conditioner is generally less complex than installing a through-the-wall unit, it’s essential to adhere to specific guidelines to ensure a secure setup.
Firstly, it’s crucial to ensure that the AC unit is level from side to side and slightly tilted backward. This tilt helps prevent moisture from accumulating and pooling inside the unit.
If you’re mounting the AC unit on a wall that isn’t solid, consider reinforcing the brackets for added stability. Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions precisely to guarantee a safe and efficient setup.
To further mitigate potential noise issues:
- Confirm that both the top and side closure panels are correctly in place and securely fastened. Properly sealed panels help maintain the unit’s efficiency and reduce noise.
- If you notice adjacent windows rattling due to the AC’s operation, tighten the screws securing them. Additionally, if possible, apply caulking around the window frames to dampen vibration noises.
If, after addressing these installation-related matters, the noise problem persists, consider the following steps to further troubleshoot and resolve any issues.
2. Insulate the Sides
One common challenge when it comes to window air conditioner units is that they seldom fit snugly into your window space. Often, the noise you’re hearing is a consequence of the vibration and rattling that occurs between the AC unit and the window frame.
To tackle this issue, some manufacturers include sliders with their units to mitigate the problem. However, these sliders often fall short in effectively resolving the noise.
A more effective solution is to employ foam insulation or purchase air conditioner weatherstripping online. These materials provide a more robust and dependable way to address the issue by sealing the gaps and preventing rattling, resulting in a quieter and more comfortable environment.
3. Make Sure the Unit is Leveled
A frequent cause of the rattling in your window air conditioner may be related to its installation. It’s possible that the unit wasn’t initially installed on a level surface or has been accidentally shifted from its level position due to external factors.
Even minor irregularities such as bumps or unevenness in your window frame can disrupt the level orientation of your AC unit. When the unit operates on an uneven surface, its internal components, which are designed to function on a flat plane, may start to vibrate or make contact with other surfaces, leading to the noise issue.
To address, a simple solution is to use a spirit level. By ensuring that your AC unit is properly leveled, you can often eliminate the rattling and restore its smooth and quiet operation. This step is worth trying before dismissing other potential causes.
4. Clean the Dirty Condenser Fan
While the condenser fan noise is not related to compressor noise, optimal maintenance will help prevent foreseeable problems with the compressor.
First, turn off power to your unit at the breaker box (or remove the fuse if you have individual fuses).
- Next, unplug your machine from the power supply. Sometimes there are screws on both sides near where the cords enter the machine.
- Carefully remove these screws and set them aside so they can be re-installed later when you’re done cleaning the unit.
- Now, you want to take a broom or a paintbrush and gently sweep any loose debris from the front grille of your air conditioner.
- Take special care that nothing falls into the fan blades, which are right below where you’re standing.
- You should then vacuum out this area with a small attachment (a crevice tool will work great) on your vacuum cleaner to get rid of any dust bunnies that may have accumulated there over time.
- Lastly, use an all-purpose household cleaner like Fantastik Heavy-Duty All-Purpose Cleaner mixed about half and half with water (about 2 cups of cleaner mixed with 2 cups of water).
Spray this mixture into the back grille of your unit, and then use a damp cloth to gently wipe down all debris that’s gathered there.
Now, turn the power on at the breaker box (or replace the fuse) and plug in the air conditioner so it can run for about 5 minutes or so.
You’ll notice that any loose dirt is likely to be blown out of the front grille. If you don’t see any dust coming out, repeat these steps until you do.
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5. Inspect the Window AC Compressor
You can try opening up the back cover or removing the front grille to take a look at your compressor for signs of damage.
If you notice that there are burn marks, debris in the fins, oil leaks, loose wires, etc.
Then this may be due to tampering by somebody who doesn’t know enough about air conditioners and should never have been inside in the first place.
If it looks like somebody has tampered with your unit when you open it up to take a look, turn off power at the breaker box (or remove the fuse), unplug your team from the power supply, and call in an HVAC professional to inspect it before turning on again.
6. Buy a Window AC Compressor Cover
While a soundproof window air conditioner compressor cover will help reduce the noise from your compressor, it won’t completely eliminate it. If you’re looking for complete silence, you’ll need to look into other options, such as an acoustic enclosure or soundproofing your entire home.
Second, a soundproof window air conditioner compressor cover can actually make your unit less efficient. That’s because the cover will trap heat inside, causing your unit to work harder and use more energy.
Third, if you live in an area with extreme temperatures, a soundproof window air conditioner compressor cover can actually be dangerous. That’s because the cover can trap heat inside, causing your unit to overheat and potentially catch fire.
So, while a soundproof window air conditioner compressor cover has its benefits, it’s important to weigh those benefits against the potential risks before making a purchase.
7. Get a Soundproof Box for Window AC
Making a soundproof box for your air conditioner is a great way to reduce the noise it makes. There are many different ways to do this, but the most effective method is to use soundproofing material.
- There are two main types of soundproofing materials: acoustic foam and mass loaded vinyl. Acoustic foam is the more popular choice because it is more effective at absorbing sound. Mass loaded vinyl is also effective, but it is more expensive and not as easy to work with.
- To make a soundproof box for your air conditioner, you will need:
- Soundproofing material (acoustic foam or mass loaded vinyl)
- Tape measure
- Ruler or straight edge
- Sharp knife or box cutter
- Glue (optional)
Measure the air conditioner unit and add 2 inches to all sides. This is the size of your soundproof box. Cut the soundproofing material to the correct size using scissors or a sharp knife. Make sure the edges are straight and even.
Tape the soundproofing material to the air conditioner unit, making sure there are no gaps. You can optionally glue the material in place for a more permanent solution. Trim any excess material from around the edges of the unit using scissors or a box cutter. Your soundproof box is now complete! Enjoy the peace and quiet.
8. Inspect the AC Fan Blades
Now, delving a bit deeper into the technical aspects, if the previously mentioned solutions haven’t successfully resolved the noise problem with your air conditioner, it’s time to investigate the interior of the unit. However, ensure that you turn off the power before attempting any internal inspection or maintenance.
After safely disconnecting the power supply, you can proceed to remove the unit’s cover and examine the fan blades. If the source of the noise appears to be within this area, it could be due to a damaged or misaligned blade. Alternatively, if the fan blades seem to be in good condition, the issue might be dirt or dust accumulation on the rotor.
To address these potential issues, carefully clean the fan blades using a dry cloth to remove any lint or foreign objects that may be catching on other internal components. Once this is done, restore power to the unit and assess whether this maintenance has resolved the noise problem.
9.Inspect the Motor
If your fan blades are clean, yet the rattling persists, it’s time to focus on the motor as a potential source of the noise.
In the case of an older window air conditioner or one that has been reinstalled after a period of storage, it’s possible that the motor bearings have become loose over time. In such instances, replacing these bearings with new components can help resolve the issue.
Alternatively, especially if your AC unit has been inactive or in storage for an extended period, you might find that the motor requires fresh lubrication. You can accomplish this by removing the motor’s caps and adding a few drops of lubricant to both the caps and the motor shaft. This maintenance step can often eliminate the rattling noise and ensure smooth motor operation.
Meet Mike O’Connor, (a DIY enthusiast), living in Cincinnati, a city ranked as the noisiest in the USA.
As a work from home dad, I have a first hand experience of how noise can truly affect your well being.
Soundproofing isn’t something that should be taken as a hobby, it should be a skill that every homeowner should be equipped with.
Most of the work documented on this blog comes from purely first hand experience, and the products recommended work as indicated.