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Sierra Pacific Home & Comfort, Inc. Blog

Beware These Sounds Coming from Your AC

woman-covering-her-earsThere is no such thing as a completely silent air conditioner. AC systems make noise as they cycle on and off and as they run. You’ll even hear ductwork fluctuating with temperature changes throughout the day or night. And let’s face it, even though we may not get as scorching of temperatures as other parts of the state, our summers can be brutal and our air conditioners go through a lot, potentially requiring a number of repairs throughout their lifespan.

Fortunately, you can avoid the biggest and most sudden of repair needs by remembering to schedule routine air conditioning maintenance. During your system tune-ups, we’ll fully inspect, clean, and adjust your air conditioner and its components to ensure its effective and efficient functionality. With or without tune-ups, though, if your cooling system is making noise that you don’t recognize, it’s time to call in the pros! Read on to learn about some sounds you should beware of when it comes to your cooling system.

Gurgling or Hissing

This is a sign of a refrigerant leak.

Here’s the thing—there’s a common misconception among homeowners regarding refrigerant. They believe that it’s like gasoline—it’s a fuel that depletes over seasons of using your air conditioner. This just isn’t the case, however. Upon manufacturing, your air conditioner should have been supplied with enough refrigerant to last its entire lifespan. So, if your system is losing refrigerant, it means you have a leak.

What a leak does is make it impossible for your air conditioner to effectively do its job, and it may even result in a complete system breakdown. Fortunately, you can potentially detect a leak by listening for gurgling/bubbling (when the refrigerant is in liquid form) or hissing (when it’s in gas form).

If you do have a leak, we’ll be able to accurately locate it, repair it, and refill (what we call recharge) the refrigerant level.


One of the largest and most important components of your air conditioner is the air handler—it’s responsible for circulating air throughout your home while the air conditioner is running. The motor of the air handler goes under a lot of strain while the system is running, so to help it operate there are a number of oiled bearings.

Eventually, through the natural aging process, these bearings wear down, and the friction your air handler motor will increase. This causes the motor to emit a grinding noise while the system is running. If you do hear this noise, it is time to call for repairs! Getting a handle on this quickly will help you avoid your cooling system overheating and burning out as a result.


Short-cycling is the process where an air conditioner, or a heater, turns on and off rapidly, instead of going through natural cooling cycles like it’s meant to. This is typically the result of an electrical issue within the system, and it prevents your cooling system from actually providing sufficient cooling. It also accelerates the rate of wear and tear on your air conditioner.

These are just a few examples of unnatural sounds you may hear come from your AC. If you hear anything out of the ordinary, the best thing you can do is give our professionals a call so we can check it out and make sure your system stays in good shape.

For quality AC service in Sacramento, CA, contact Sierra Pacific Home & Comfort, Inc.—The Guys in the Big Red Trucks!

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