How To Reduce/Minimize Noise From Air Conditioner Unit?

When the summer heat beats down, your AC unit works harder than ever. However, sometimes the air conditioner makes more noise than you bargained for. When your AC is making too much noise, what can you do to quiet it? 

You can reduce noise from your air conditioner unit by using a sound blanket or fencing, or changing its location. Other solutions include ensuring that it is well-maintained and calling an HVAC professional.  

Noisy air conditioners are not only a nuisance; they can be symptomatic of a more significant issue. Read more to discover ways to reduce noise from your AC unit or eliminate it entirely. 

1. Determine Where the Noise Is Coming From

The first step to achieving a quieter AC is determining where the noise originates because discovering the noise source will establish the best course of action to take. It also confirms whether or not a more serious issue is happening, such as a faulty compressor. 

The type and age of an air conditioner also contribute to its noise level. It’s common for older heating, cooling, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems or window units to produce a fair amount of noise. Occasional clicking when the unit activates or a loud blowing from the compressor is normal. 

Newer AC models, especially variable-speed units, are designed to produce the least amount of noise possible. If these units are loud, then there may be a more significant issue that needs to be addressed. 

Further, if your AC unit is producing unusual noises such as whistling or clanking, there may be maintenance issues or parts that need repair.

In most cases, however, changing the location of your air conditioner is the simplest way to reduce the noises it makes. 

Read: Can Black Mold Grow In Window Air Conditioners?  

2. Replace or Change Your Air Conditioner’s Location

Depending on the type and age of the unit you have, the easiest solution may be to change the location or replace the entire unit itself.

This strategy may not be the most viable with larger HVAC units that include a furnace. However, window units and split stacks are flexible in their location.

I’ll discuss these two issues in more detail below: 

Change the Location of Window Units or Split Stacks

Window units and split stacks put a premium on flexibility. While they aren’t as powerful or efficient as larger HVAC units, they provide modest cooling and can go almost anywhere in your home. 

In general, you want these units to be away from bedrooms and high-traffic areas where the noise can disrupt sleep or conversation. Often this is as simple as moving the unit a room over where it can still provide adequate cooling for your home. 

You also want to avoid putting your unit in narrow passageways where the sound will echo. 

Consider Replacing Older HVAC Units

In homes with an HVAC unit, outdoor compressor, and ductwork, it’s not as simple to change the system’s location. Altering the site of any part of this system can take significant time and money. 

With large HVAC units, you should consider their age and the degree of maintenance they require. Most HVAC units can last between 10-25 years, although this varies widely on the unit, its performance and maintenance, and its parts. Units can last longer with replaced parts but may not be as efficient as newer models. 

If you’re not ready to replace your unit and want to reduce noise today, consider soundproofing the unit itself. 

Read: Quietest HVAC System

3. Use a Sound Blanket or Fencing

Typically the best option for quieting HVAC units is to block the noise from the compressor. This option doesn’t require you to move or replace your unit. All you need is a sound blanket or fencing to reduce the noise at its source. 

Use a Sound Blanket for Newer Models

On newer models, any ambient noise is likely coming from the compressor. The quickest solution to a quieter home is to use a compressor sound blanket to envelope the outdoor unit. 

According to Soundproof Central, AC sound blankets can block noise by 30 to 50%. While they completely insulate the unit, they don’t contribute as much heat and help to increase the unit’s performance by maintaining a stable temperature. 

Read: Should You Give Your Air Conditioner A Break?

Provide Fencing for Older Models

In older units, the sound culprit is typically the fan, not the compressor. Compressor blankets don’t perform as well in these instances because they can’t block the sound of the noisy fan. 

A relatively quick solution is to provide fending around the AC unit. Fencing will prevent noise from leaking and redirect it upwards, away from your home. 

According to Soundproofcow, you want to use sound-reflecting materials such as wood and place the fence 3 feet (0.91 meters) away from the unit for the best airflow. Avoid having gaps in the fence that noise can leak through. 

4. Maintain Your Air Conditioner Unit

In instances where there’s nothing wrong with your AC except the noise levels, blocking the sound with external materials is the simplest solution. However, when there’s an unusual noise coming from your AC, it may be a sign that you need to give it some TLC. 

Maintenance is a preventative measure that ensures your unit works at maximum efficiency and doesn’t run into significant issues during its peak performance. Your air conditioning unit should be able to work at its best during the hottest parts of summer without breaking down. 

Typically, the required maintenance for air conditioners is regularly replacing or cleaning the air filters. This action clears any blockages and allows your unit to run at maximum efficiency. 

Clogged-up filters force the unit to work harder by pulling in more air against the blocked airflow. Partially obstructed airways will create narrow channels for the air and result in whistling from the air ducts. 

On window units or units with permanent filters, you usually only have to remove the filter and use a vacuum cleaner to remove all the dust from the filter. If there’s significant grime, you may need to use a hose to wash off the filter. However, you should make sure the filter is completely dry before putting it back.   

HVAC units usually incorporate replaceable filters with guidelines on when to replace them. However, you may need to replace these filters during peak performance seasons more often. 

5. Call an HVAC Professional

If you hear loud blowing or general noise from old units, there’s likely nothing wrong with the unit itself. The AC is working as hard as it can to do its job. 

However, in more severe cases, unusual or specific sounds can indicate a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Often these unusual noises mean that a loose or faulty part needs to be replaced. 

If you hear clanking, hissing, banging, rattling, or any other specific noises you’ve never heard before, the best course of action is to call a professional. AC units, especially HVAC models, have many moving parts that work together to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. 

If any of these parts malfunctions, it affects the whole system’s performance and, in the worst cases, can shut down your unit entirely. 

Read: Is It Cheaper To Run A Portable Air Conditioner Or Central Air?

Conclusion

Our air conditioners are our best friends when trying to beat the heat. However, sometimes they make more noise than we’re comfortable with. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize the noise from a loud AC unit. 

The most straightforward fix is to change the location of your unit and perform maintenance. For HVAC units, sound blankets or fencing can block noisy compressors. In situations where your unit is making unusual noises, call a professional to ensure it’s working at its best.