Creaking doors, noisy stairs and ice makers that rattle through the night…every home has its own set of unique sounds. Over time most people get accustomed to the sounds their home makes. This includes the sounds their HVAC system makes when it kicks on and off. When it comes to your heating and cooling equipment, however, you can’t afford to completely ignore the sounds it makes.
HVAC equipment is powerful, so it’s naturally going to generate sound when it powers up and operates. Air being forced through your air duct system also comes with natural sounds. Many of these sounds are normal but there are some sounds you’ll need to pay attention to because they may actually indicate problems with your system.
While it can be difficult to discern normal noises from troublesome sounds, these tips can help you understand and identify the difference. Just remember, when in doubt, call an HVAC professional.
Humming, buzzing and whirring: During normal operation, your HVAC system may hum, buzz or whir. These are normal sounds and they are typically louder when your system first kicks in. For many homes, this sound becomes a type of background noise every time your heater or A/C turns on. Listen to this sound from time to time to get used to the way your system should sound under everyday operating conditions. This will help you identify problems should the sounds your system makes change.
Air movement sounds: You can usually hear the air moving through your duct work. This typically is a faint but steady sound that is stronger when your system turns on. You may notice that the sound is louder near the point where you change air filters. When the air first starts flowing, it might also shake your air ducts a bit. These are normal sounds of forced air flowing through your home. What is not normal are loud shaking sounds from your air ducts, or hissing sounds, which may indicate poorly sealed ducts or even coolant leaks. If you suspect something is wrong, call an HVAC professional to investigate.
Rattling: As you can imagine, rattling is a sound you should not ignore. This sound is characterized by a prolonged rattle that you can hear over the normal operation of your equipment. It is different from the occasional shifting of your duct work. Rattling can have a few sources, including a problem with your fan. Fan issues can lead to serious damage, so if you do hear a rattle, you should immediately call an HVAC professional.
Keep in mind, older HVAC systems and duct work tend to be a bit more noisy. This doesn’t always indicate a problem. For this reason, it is important to become familiar with what is normal for your system. When something changes, pay attention, especially if it’s accompanied by anytype of change in system performance.
When in doubt, call an HVAC professional. It’s better to find and resolve HVAC problems when they are small than let them become something more difficult and expensive to deal with!