Why does my window AC sound like it has water in it?
Have you once woken up when your window air conditioner sounds like water?
You thought you were dreaming like it was raining when those dripping sounds were coming from AC making gurgling noise!
The sloshing water sound you hear inside your AC unit may be alarming, but it is a totally normal occurrence. Why is that?
Because of the warm water, it draws and cools it before it spits cool air out.
The science behind this process will be explained below.
When you suspect that your AC is leaking, it means it can no longer contain the water inside of it.
But why is there water? Here, we need to understand the evaporation process in an air conditioning system.
Are you ready to dig in with our AC water cycle 101?
The water cycle has four main parts: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. But we only need to understand the logic behind evaporation and condensation concerning AC water drips.
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The cooling process in air conditioning involves collecting moisture with its drain pan. From there, evaporation sets in when moisture has been removed from the pan by the condensing coils. These coils are responsible for the evaporation process. That’s why you hear the movement of water from within, something like a gurgling sound or sloshing.
When one of the AC parts fails for several reasons, the condensed water will flood the drain pan or drip pan. Thus, the dripping noise starts.
Air conditioners will stop conditioning the air when there is excess condensation. This mostly happens during hot months because the air compressor works hard to keep up the cycle between the evaporator and condenser coils.
But water overflow is not the only problem that arises from AC malfunction.
Here are several AC problems that cause it to make noise:
1. Not Cold Enough or not Cooling Completely
Common problems for AC not cooling enough are the condensing coils. Over time, condensing coils can harbor dust, dirt, and mold and clog them from functioning. Relative to this, the condenser’s inability to work is due to a compressor malfunction.
The compressor serves as the heart of the AC unit. And because of the compressor, many moving parts are involved. If it fails, it could result in certain noises, such as:
- Banging air conditioner noise due to loose parts
- Hissing sound or bubbling noise due to refrigerant leak
You have a compressor malfunction when:
- You hear the noises above
- Your AC doesn’t cool
- Your AC doesn’t turn on
When the AC has a hard time turning on, it could be an electrical problem. Hence, you need to call your air conditioning repair personnel.
Humidity plays a huge factor in causing the evaporation process to fail. If water leaking is coming from the AC unit, it means too much water overloads the drain pan and can mean different things.
- Faulty compressor
- Evaporator failure
- Clogged drain pan
- High humidity
- Old AC unit
Make the following suggestions:
- Tilt the AC unit slightly, such as the back panel facing down, so excess water will go that way instead of dripping inside the room.
- Check the rubber drain plug and remove it to drain the water.
- Clean the filter since collected dirt may clog the normal operation of the air vent. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and wash it with water and mild soap.
- Return the filter when it has thoroughly dried.
- Let an experienced aircon service clean the entire unit. They use specialized tools in cleaning, such as power washing. And they know which part of the AC must be covered to avoid touching or soaking electrical components.
PRO TIP: The thermal expansion in ducts causes water leaks and popping noises. Fix the AC ducts and conduct a biannual checkup and cleaning that will fix the noise and lower the energy bills simultaneously.
Another problem that causes window AC water sound is when coils freeze. There are a couple of reasons why ice forms on coils.
Sometimes you will notice that your window air conditioner is not cooling the room enough, and you see frozen coils when you remove the filter.
Dirty filters cause the evaporator coil to impede the process of cooling. This is because the collected dirt in the filter restricts the airflow, causing ice to build up around coils.
If it isn’t about a dirty filter, the ice buildup on the condenser coil may come from a leak in the refrigerant piping or refrigerant line.
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Having a frozen coil is not suitable for the overall function of the AC because it wouldn’t be able to produce cold air and release warm air. Get the help of an AC technician when your coils develop ice and are not cooling.
PRO TIP: Defective compressors affect the air conditioner’s cooling efficiency, causing the unit to make an unusual noise.
Why is my air conditioner making a gurgling noise?
The gurgling noise could be damaged in the refrigerant, condensate drain line, condensate pump, condensate pan, or expansion valve. Once there is a refrigerant leak, it hampers the process of dumping hot air outside. A damaged expansion valve will allow space for air to interfere with the liquid refrigerant. This kind of AC trouble needs a professional fix.
A similar occasion happens when there is a clog in the condensate line. The clogging will overflow the drain pan. If not, it will cause water to pool at the base of the AC, letting excess water leak in front of the AC unit.
Why does my AC sound like popcorn?
That loud popping or banging sound could be a sign of a compressor failure. This is because the liquid refrigerant enters the compressor as it supposedly does. After all, warm vapor should enter the compressor instead.
The popcorn popping sound from the refrigerant is damaging to the compressor and needs an AC professional.
Why does my AC make noise after rain?
Your AC should function normally after rain. But if it is heavy rain, there is a chance that the water has gotten inside the sensitive parts of the air conditioner unit, leaving a cracking loud noise.
A cracking or popping noise after the rain should cause an alarm as it may affect the electrical components, such as the fan motor, of the AC. Turn off the AC immediately and let an electrician handle it.
Why is my window air conditioning unit leaking water?
A leaking window AC unit can mean clogged or damaged ducts, dirty air filters, pooled drain pan, a faulty compressor, and a leaking refrigerant.
Should I remove the drain plug from my window AC?
If only to reduce the pinging noise caused by the water droplets thrown by the outside coil, you can only open the drain hole. Also, remove the drain cap or plug when there is water overflow on the drain pan.
Ensuring that the drain plug is intact increases your AC’s efficiency by helping the slinger ring, and the fan blade uses water in the evaporation and condensation process.
Why is my window AC unit spitting out water and making noise?
The spitting is due to the slinger ring. As explained in number 5, the slinger ring helps in the water cycle process to support the window unit process cooling system effectively by spitting, dripping, or spraying water on the rear side of the unit.
PRO TIP: Constant popping or crackling of your AC should not be ignored. Sometimes it can be about extreme performance and electrical issues and need to be shut down. DIY fix is not advisable but a professional’s job.
Strange noise or buzzing noise from AC are not simple issues to deal with. Sometimes it is difficult to identify the cause of AC noise because air conditioners are electrical appliances engineered by experts. Only a professional aircon technician can diagnose the problem correctly if it is beyond simple filter cleaning.
Also, this troubleshooting guide is only intended for a window AC unit. It is a different case for other AC types like portable air conditioners, split types and their air handler, central air conditioner, and air source heat pump. Yet, they rely on the same principle of condensation and evaporation.
If, after conducting practical troubleshooting, your AC keeps producing popping, gurgling, crackling, hizzing, and other odd noises, or if the situation has gotten worse, some of its internal components have been damaged.
Call for help from licensed professionals to ensure that your AC will function normally again.
Robert is an electronic engineer with more than five years of experience with a solid affinity for helping people reduce noise. He writes about these silent home appliances and easy soundproofing measures to help everyone avoid the negative effect of extended exposure to high noise levels.