Fortunately, most household sounds aren’t the creepy stuff of horror movies. Your home includes an array of potential noisemakers that announce themselves when conditions are right. Common structural expansion and contraction, temperature changes from heating and cooling equipment, water flowing and air in motion are all common sound sources inside a residence. However, in some cases, household sounds mean your home is trying to tell you something. No unusual or unexplained household sounds should be allowed to persist without at least clearing up the cause. Some may turn out to be things you can’t do much about—but wish you could. Others should be effectively tracked down and silenced. Here’s some guidance on which is which and how to tell the difference:
Your A/C unit incorporates more moving parts than most any other household device. The furnace, meanwhile, utilizes natural gas burners and produces high temperatures. Both systems move air under pressure and produce temperature fluctuations. Probable A/C and furnace noise causes and cures include:
- Squeals and squeaks – When the unit is cycled on, these sounds usually originate in the indoor air handler. Dry bearings in the fan blower motor or pulley, or a defective motor, are common causes.
- Rattling, banging and thumping – Indoors, these are usually loose blower components. Outdoors, the A/C compressor may be loose on its mountings or the condenser fan defective.
- Minor muffled noises from air vents – Ductwork made of thin sheet metal contracts and expands from A/C and furnace temperature changes while the system is running and after it cycles off. These internal sounds are generally harmless, however, an HVAC technician can evaluate them and suggest remedies.
- Loud booms when the furnace cycles on – Delayed ignition of gas at the furnace burner produces explosive sounds. Usually the consequence of dirty or damaged burners, this noise should be resolved by an HVAC contractor ASAP.
Toilet Water Running
The sound of a toilet intermittently running when nobody’s in the bathroom is a familiar annoyance and a major source of water waste. The noise you’re hearing is the the toilet fill valve opening to add water to the tank. In the majority of cases, fluctuating water level is caused by a leaky flapper valve in the bottom of the tank that permits seepage into the toilet bowl. Want proof? Place a few drops of bright food coloring in the tank water and wait a few hours. If you see traces of the color in the toilet bowl water, you’ve got a leaky flapper valve. A professional plumber can resolve this common noise by installing a new flapper.
Buzzing Electrical Outlets
This usually indicates a defective ground or other connection in the household circuitry, or some problem with whatever device is plugged in. Due to the increased danger of shock or fire, for safety reasons, no electrical noises should be ignored. Contact an electrician immediately.
Sounds of Life
Unexplained scratching, scuffling or the pitter-patter of little feet means you’ve probably got uninvited houseguests. Rats, raccoons, possums and other creatures frequently take up residence in an attic if they can gain access. Scratching noises inside wall voids are more often smaller rodents like mice. Many of these creatures can be difficult to evict by yourself and require a professional exterminator.
Burping Or Sucking Drains
Your home plumbing system requires proper venting to eliminate pressure imbalances as water flows through drain pipes. When a plumbing air vent is clogged or collapsed, pressure equalizes through household drains instead, often producing gurgling noises or sucking sounds.
An intermittent, low humming noise is normal as the unit cycles on. However, if the sound remains constant 24/7, your refrigerator is straining to sustain cold temperatures. You can try cleaning the coil on the back of the unit with a vacuum attachment if it appears extremely dusty. However, a more likely cause is a refrigerant leak that requires professional service.
For more information on household sounds and what they may or may not mean, check out Senica Air Conditioning, Inc.’s HVAC solutions or call 866-881-5935.