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Why Is My AC Condenser Fan Squealing?

Air conditioner

Sudden loud noises from your home’s air conditioning unit can be quite shocking to homeowners in Opelika, AL, and Columbus, GA. While a steady hum from your outdoor AC unit is normal as a cooling cycle runs, high-pitched squealing coming from your AC condenser fan is a sign that something could be wrong with your air conditioning unit. Learn what causes this jarring sound and what to do to stop it.

What Is the AC Condenser Fan?

Split system central air conditioners have both indoor and outdoor components. The indoor components include the evaporator coils, which are responsible for extracting heat from the air, and the blower, which circulates cooled air through the HVAC system. The outdoor unit is called the condenser, which contains components responsible for releasing heat into the atmosphere.

Inside the outdoor unit sits the AC condenser fan. The fan rotates to circulate air across the condenser coil housed within the equipment cabinet, which releases heat captured from indoor air via the refrigerant. By creating airflow, the condenser fan keeps neighboring system components cool so they can efficiently perform their functions and prevents overheating of these parts.

What Causes AC Condenser Fan Squealing?

If your AC condenser fan is squealing or making a screeching noise, it could be caused by various issues:

1. Worn Bearings

The condenser fan is attached to a motor, which creates its rotation. Inside the motor are bearings that can wear out over time, especially when they’re not regularly lubricated as a part of preventative maintenance. As the system operates on these worn bearings, you’ll hear your AC condenser fan squealing, which can be quite loud.

Running your air conditioner on these worn bearings can further damage the fan motor and lead to other system damage. The issue may be solved by lubricating the bearings, which is a regular part of your air conditioner’s annual preventative maintenance tune up. If you hear a squealing or screeching noise coming from your outside unit fan and you haven’t had your yearly cooling system maintenance visit yet, be sure to schedule one right away with your trusted HVAC company. If the motor is too badly damaged, it may need to be replaced.

2. Slipped Belt

In newer air conditioning equipment, the AC condenser fan and its motor are direct drive, meaning there is no fan belt connecting the two components. If an older model is still in service at your residence, there may be a belt connecting these two parts so the motor can rotate the fan. If this belt slips out of position, squealing is likely to result.

An HVAC technician can reposition a slipped belt to correct this cause of high-pitched AC condenser fan squealing. However, experiencing this problem means your system is older and you’re likely due for a new unit. If a new air conditioner is not feasible at the moment, it may be possible to retrofit your existing condenser unit with a new, energy-efficient direct drive fan motor, which eliminates belts altogether.

3. Compressor Problems

If you notice AC condenser fan squealing, the sound may not be coming from the fan at all. Squealing noises are also common from the outdoor AC system when compressor issues are present. A buildup of refrigerant pressure within the compressor will produce a squealing sound for about 10 to 15 seconds once a cooling cycle starts.

If you hear this type squealing, turn off your air conditioner immediately as there could be a refrigerant leak present. Call your HVAC technician for repairs, and do not run the system again until they have been made. This AC condenser fan squealing noise indicates dangerous conditions. The sensors that normally monitor refrigerant pressure may have malfunctioned or the compressor may need to be replaced.

Call Energy Savers for Air Conditioner Repair

Anytime you notice that your AC unit condenser fan is squealing, the cause typically requires the help of a professional to return the system to normal operation. Turn to Energy Savers for the quick repairs and dedicated maintenance services your air conditioner needs to maintain energy efficiency and strong performance. To request an appointment for service, give us a call or contact us online today.

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