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Serving Northern California Since 1946

Serving Northern California Since 1946


DeHart Plumbing, Heating, and Air Inc. Blog

Sounds You Should Never Hear from Your AC


As temperatures begin to warm up even more and remind us that summer is well on its way, we’re starting to use our air conditioners on a more consistent basis. That said, our cooling systems go through a lot over the years, accumulating wear and tear faster than systems in cooler areas of the country. This also means they may even require repairs more often.

To avoid the biggest and most emergent of repair needs, it’s important that you schedule maintenance at least once a year for your cooling system. During this service, our pros will fully inspect clean, and adjust your system to ensure its efficient and effective operation. But with or without professional maintenance, your cooling system may show signs that it need repair—and often times those signs are in the form of strange noises. Read on as we uncover some sounds you should never hear from your AC system and what they mean.

Hissing or Gurgling

Depending on where the problem is located, you may hear a hissing or gurgling sound coming out of your air conditioner. It can sound something like air being let out of a tire, or the last few bubbles of soda being sucked from a straw. This indicates that air is escaping or that there are air bubbles somewhere in your system where they shouldn’t be—signaling a refrigerant leak.

Refrigerant leaks are a much bigger deal than many homeowners realize because they deprive cooling systems of the fluid they need to actually do their job and cool the air. As the refrigerant levels—charge—in your AC decreases, so too does the system’s ability to cool your living space. Eventually, the refrigerant charge will drop so low that your air conditioner won’t be able to sustain operation and will break down. Be sure to call for repairs as soon as possible if you hear this noise coming from the system.


The air handler of your air conditioner is the component that’s responsible for circulating air throughout your living space while the system is running. The motor in this component is put under a lot of stress while your AC is in operation so, in order to help it cope, there are a number of oiled bearings.

Eventually, those bearings wear down, and the friction on the air handler motor increases. This can cause the motor to emit a grinding noise while the system is in operation. If you hear this noise, it’s time to call for repairs. The bearings will need to be replaced before your cooling system overheats and burns out as a result.


Short-cycling refers to the process where the air conditioner turns itself on and off rapidly, instead of going through a full cooling cycle. It’s typically the result of an electrical issue within the AC system. Short-cycling prevents the air conditioner from providing sufficient cooling, and also accelerates the wear and tear on the system.

If short-cycling is allowed to go on for too long, your cooling system will be more likely to break down in other ways, which will ultimately shorten its lifespan. If you hear your air conditioner rapidly shutting off and turning back on, it’s time to give our pros a call!

For expert AC repair in Modesto, CA, contact DeHart Plumbing, Heating, and Air Inc. today.

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