Using and Maintaining HVAC Systems in Rental Properties

What Should You Do If Your Air Conditioner Is Squealing And Screaming?

Screaming and squealing are not usually good signs, especially when they come from the air conditioner. Some homeowners assume these noises are not truly a big deal if their air conditioner is still blowing cold air or if the squealing sounds only last for a few minutes each cycle. But, in fact, ignoring the squealing could lead to a completely non-operational AC unit before long. Here's a look at what's probably going on and what you should do during this situation.

What is causing the squealing?

Squealing and screaming are almost always caused by a problem with the blower, which is the part of the AC that blows the chilled air out into the room. (This is also known as as the central fan.) As such, you are likely to hear the same noises when winter comes and you turn the heat on; furnaces usually use the same blower unit as the air conditioner. The blower is powered by a motor, and like the motor in your car, it has a belt that propels it. This belt can become frayed or torn with regular use, which would cause a high-pitched squeal as it moves around the track. Squealing can also be caused by a worn ball bearing within the blower motor. In this case, the squealing will be really high-pitched and will have a tinny quality to it.

What should you do?

Stop using the AC.

With the AC still pumping out cold air, it can be tempting to keep using it, especially if it is unbearable outside. But continuing to run the system will certainly leave you with a broken-down unit that does not work at all. Running the blower with a broken belt or a worn ball bearing can cause it to overheat, which can present a fire hazard. Turn the AC off, and use fans to stay comfortable in the meantime. 

Call your HVAC company.

You need AC repairs. Luckily, neither of the issues that cause squealing and screaming are really expensive to repair. Any HVAC technician should be able to replace either the belt or the ball bearings. If your AC is less than 10 years old, these might be covered under warranty. If they are not, the part will probably be $100 or less, and then you'll just have to pay for a few hours of labor. 

Your AC unit should not be screaming, screeching, or squealing, so make sure you take appropriate action if it does! For more information, reach out to companies like Reading Heating & Air Conditioning Inc.