Most households throughout the United States rely on heating and air systems to maintain comfortable living conditions through all four seasons. Learning how to recognize and respond to signs of trouble with an HVAC system can save a lot of time, money and stress down the road. There are plenty of things that can go wrong with an air conditioner or heater, especially if they are aging or haven’t been maintained on a regular basis.

Rattling or Vibration

A high-frequency rattling noise or hum-like vibration from the unit often indicates a loose connection or component. This sound doesn’t always mean there’s a serious problem, but any loose fit should be tightened as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Constant rattling or humming noises could also be a symptom of motor failure.

Bubbling, Gurgling and Flowing

All unfamiliar sounds in a home should arouse suspicion, but sounds associated with moving water require immediate action. Flowing, dripping or gurgling around the unit or behind the walls could be a sign of several different problems, ranging from a low refrigerant supply to a broken pipe. Even small leaks can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage, so it’s a good idea to address them immediately.


Many domestic furnaces click audibly as part of their standard operations. Usually this sound is associated with the activation or deactivation of the unit. However, excessive or repetitive clicking can be a symptom of a bad switch, faulty connection or failure in a critical component. Homeowners should contact an HVAC professional, like those at Master Service Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, to diagnose and repair the system.

High-Pitched Sounds

Whether it’s a squeal, squeak or whistle, high-pitch sounds can be a sign of pressure build up or faulty components in a heating or air system. Owners should turn off their unit immediately and contact a professional if their unit suddenly starts making one of these sounds. Even if the unit doesn’t pose a safety risk to the occupants, continuing to run the machine in this state can cause serious or irreparable damage to the equipment.

You don’t have to be an expert in heating and air systems to recognize a problematic noise. Homeowners who take the time to check their system on a regular basis and follow the recommended maintenance schedule can expect to get good value and efficient use out of their system.

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