Tips for Fixing Noisy Air Conditioners

Solutions depend on the age of the condenser

The problem of a noisy central air conditioner condenser can be solved in several possible ways, but if the unit is too old it may just need to be replaced.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Track down the cause

Problem: Noisy air conditioner
The outside condenser of a central air conditioning unit can be very loud. Read on to find the best solution based on the cause of the problem.

Solution:
Fencing one or all sides of an air conditioner’s outside unit can deflect noise. But experiment first: Prop up plywood around the unit so you can judge how much good a fence will do. If you decide to build a fence, keep it at least 3 ft. from the unit to allow airflow. For the best sound reduction, overlap fence boards instead of leaving gaps between them. Aside from a fence, there are a few other approaches you should consider:

  • If your condenser is older, the best solution is a new unit. Newer designs are dramatically quieter than those produced just a few years ago. And they save money. A high-efficiency unit might cut your cooling bills in half and pay for itself in three or four years. The downside, of course, is the initial cost.
  • If you already have a newer condenser, the worst noise is probably coming from the compressor. (Fans on newer units are very quiet.) Contact the manufacturer to find a sound blanket for your model or buy a universal blanket (search online for “compressor sound blanket”). Installation is easy. Don’t bother putting a blanket on an old unit—you’ll still hear the noisy fan.

CAUTION

Shut off all power to the unit. Turn off the thermostat inside the house, switch off the breakers at the main panel and pull out the fuse block at the outside disconnect box.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench

If you decide to build a wooden enclosure, you'll need a post hole digger, a level, miter saw and drill.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Compressor sound blanket