Outdoor air condenser unit outside residential home
July 31, 2018

Have you ever had a problem with your car and had to describe it to a mechanic — and the best way you could think to describe it was to mimic whatever buzzing, clanking, or revving sound it was making? It’s a frustrating and somewhat embarrassing experience, to be sure. We often see the same scenario with homeowners and their air conditioners.

AC units can make all sorts of noises when something goes awry, and it’s not always easy to pinpoint the root cause. So you don’t have to go through the dreaded experience of imitating strange buzzing and rattling sounds when you’re on the phone with your local HVAC specialist, we’ve compiled a list of the most common AC unit noises and what they might mean.


It’s normal to hear a brief clicking sound when an AC unit turns on or off. However, if you notice that the clicking is louder than normal or that it persists while the AC unit is on, you know there’s a problem. This is usually a sign of an electrical issue such as a defective relay or a failing thermostat.


Buzzing can have all sorts of causes ranging from simple to very serious. It could be loose parts, debris in the outside unit, dirty condenser coils, or a dirty air filter. Or it could be something more serious, like a failing fan motor, an off-balance blower, or a refrigerant leak.


Rattling is a telltale sign of loose parts and is especially common in older AC units. It could also be a sign of debris in the outside unit or, worse, a deteriorating motor in the compressor.

Banging or thudding

Loud banging or thudding is another sure sign of a loose or broken part. It may be something inside the compressor, such as the the connecting rod, crankshaft, or piston pin; or it could be a problem with the blower assembly or motor. If you hear this type of noise coming from your AC unit, you should turn off your AC system immediately.


Squealing is sometimes normal upon startup with certain AC units, but if the sound is louder than normal or just recently started, you likely have an AC problem on your hands. Squealing is usually a sign that either the outdoor fan motor or the indoor blower motor is failing. It could also indicate that there’s a problem with the blower wheel and housing.

Let Russell’s Diagnose Your AC Issues

Are you a Virginia or North Carolina homeowner who is having trouble with your air conditioner? Wherever you are in the Chesapeake, VA area, you can rely on the HVAC specialists at Russell’s Heating & Cooling to diagnose your noisy AC system. We’re committed to offering outstanding customer service and will help you determine the best route for your AC — whether that’s repair or replacement. We also offer convenient maintenance plans to help you prevent these types of problems in the future!

Find out what’s causing that loud noise coming from your AC unit. Call (VA) 757-995-2807 / (NC) 252-489-4431 or contact us to schedule an appointment with your local AC experts!

Is your AC making strange noises?

We can tell you what’s wrong.

(VA) 757-995-2807 / (NC) 252-489-4431

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Maintenance Plans

Russell's HVAC, HVAC service technician, VA

Regular annual maintenance keeps your system operating at peak efficiency. Experience has shown that a system that runs well keeps your utility costs in line — in fact, independent 3rd party research shows that you can save over $30 per month on utility bills.


Just like your annual physical at the doctor’s office keeps you healthy, an annual tune-up or safety and efficiency check on your heating and cooling systems can keep your home working smoothly.

What Our Customers Are Saying

  • I can't complement your team enough on the wonderful job done with regard to the installation of the new system in our home. More specifically, we want to recognize the outstanding efforts of: Roberto-- the initial visit and diagnosis of the problem.

    Dan & Connie, Virginia Beach
  • I recently had your team install a new gas package unit including all new duct work at my house in Chesapeake. I had a split system that had undersized ducting which was removed by your installers.

    Mike & Sandi, Chesapeake, VA
  • We purchased a one time service for $79. They came out on time, checked out the geothermal system...they were very professional and kind.

    Nicholas H., Chesapeake, VA
  • We would like to thank your company for an excellent job. We are very pleased with the new (Mitsubishi ductless mini split) system that was installed last week. It works wonderfully at heating our home.

    Danny and Teresa S., Chesapeake, VA
  • Not one single idea for improvement. Keep doing what you do. OUTSTANDING!

    Charles J., Norfolk, VA
  • Great job!...World class employees!

    Colleen & Jim C., Suffolk, VA
  • Everything went great! This is the second big project we've had done through Russell's and we couldn't be more happy! We had the most dedicated, polite, and respectful crew! The team consisted of Elliot, Chase and Sean. Sean was here for the removal process on day one, and did awesome!

    J. Luhan, VA Beach
  • Hi Nate, please pass along our appreciation for you, Elliot and Steve. We are very happy with you being able to arrange our ( Lennox ) replacement system so quickly!

    T. Johnson, VA Beach
  • Thank you for running a top notch company and sending over to us two excellent folks Terry and Shawn. They did an awesome job putting in our new furnace system. Also thank you for Donald and Nate who did a superb job as well. Please reward these guys with some sort of commendations or rewards....

  • ...folks need to know how wonderful working with Russell's Heating & Air Conditioning is. They were very professional all the way thru the process of getting our unit installed down to the payment plan. I have been telling our neighbors and my co-workers about the experience.

    Pamela F., Chesapeake, VA
  • Every moment from the time an appointment was set up until the day the work was completed was a pleasure. Every employee was a delight to work with. The proof that the product was great came when the electric bills started coming in the airconditioning season.

    Douglas P., VA Beach
  • I am extremely satisfied with both the Lennox unit I purchased and the employees of Russell's. Even with poor window and door quality in this overly tired house, I am actually cooled off sufficiently enough to call it chilly.

    Robin W., Chesapeake, VA
  • Over the years I have gained the utmost trust in my service technician Corey Lesko's knowledge and work ethic while servicing my system.

  • I am writing this letter to commend your company on a great job! We were very pleased with how the company performed in every area...the installers did an impeccable job. They were very knowledgeable, efficient, and hard workers—staying focused to the task in the extreme heat.

    Pastor Larry E. O'Brien, Churchland Assembly of God
  • A year ago, I contracted with Russell's to tune up and clean the heating and cooling system. How impressively your specialist cleaned my system...he also found a defective automatic (programmable) thermostat. Quite quickly, he replaced my automatic thermostat. The results?

    R. Snider, Norfolk, VA
  • You recently installed a new Trane unit for us. We want you to know we are completely satisfied. The outside unit is now a hum versus the roar of the old one...we also want to recognize the installer...we cannot overstate what we think of his workmanship.

    K. Hawkins, Portsmouth, VA
  • Great and prompt service – as usual. Everything from ordering the a/c unit to installation went smoothly. Thanks for everything.

    B. Fenstermaker, VA Beach
  • Everyone was very nice. I felt well informed about my purchase. Your staff is great! I don't usually return opinion forms, but you need to know you have a staff you can be proud of!

    V. Horn, Chesapeake, VA
  • You have a new customer for life and I will definitely tell all my friends about your prompt, courteous service, your knowledgeable technicians, and your very reasonable prices. Thank you very much Russell's. You warmed much more than just my heart!

    G. Knoop, Chesapeake, VA
  • Your company was very responsive to my needs. The quality of your work was extremely high.

    Ms. Bright, Chesapeake, VA
  • Your workers actually made this total replacement project an enjoyable learning experience...they were always willing to stop and answer any questions. Their pleasant and cooperative attitudes cannot be praised enough!

    J. Wellons, Portsmouth, VA
  • Very pleased with both the price and service. The installation went off without a hitch and everything exceeded our expectations. When finished, the work areas, including the attic, were so clean you couldn't tell anything had been done.

    T. Marsh, VA Beach
  • Great expertise and timely service.

    H. Turbeville, Chesapeake, VA