While air conditioners may seem like one of the best inventions in history for those who live in warm climates, they can also be extremely disturbing when they rattle all night long. There’s only one thing worse than checking into a hotel with a noisy air conditioner unit—and that’s having a loud A/C at home!
Check out our 10 favorite answers to the “how to reduce air conditioner noise” question so you can sleep cool and soundly!
1. Soundproof Blanket
Using a soundproof blanket is number one on our list for preventing air conditioner noise because they’re economical and super easy to install. An air conditioner sound blanket also has exceptional noise canceling features.
Just like with anything that causes noise, adding multiple dense layers will help to block the sound. A soundproof blanket can stop over a third of the noise generated by an air conditioner unit.
Look for those specifically designed for air conditioners—they often feature a universal fit. They’ll wrap around the unit and can be secured, usually with hook and eye closures. There’s no need to worry that the blanket will affect your cooler’s performance; they’re frequently used by homes and businesses all over the world to reduce noise levels and are even known to boost air circulation.
Using this method is effective, affordable, convenient to install yourself, and prevents noise for both you and your neighbors. However, sound blankets are less functional on older air conditioner models, as they still have noisy fans within the motor.
2. Soundproof Fencing
This option isn’t as easy as the one above, but it’s slightly more effective for AC noise reduction and looks better on the outside of your home. Using soundproof fencing, you can build a barrier around your air conditioner that encloses it from all sides.
If carried out correctly, it should muffle any noise created by the outdoor unit.
You have various choices regarding soundproof fences, but the ideal ones for this job are wooden fences (bamboo is a good option) or mass loaded vinyl.
When designing your fence, you must cover the unit from all sides to form an air conditioner sound barrier—think of it like building a cover or a box for it. For example, if you only cover two sides, it will only amplify the noise and cause sound reverberation.
Make sure to leave a couple of feet between the fence and the A/C unit. This will allow for better noise reduction, as the sound isn’t hitting the new surface straight away and causing vibrations or rubbing. It will also allow for air circulation and prevent overheating.
For the best noise reduction, don’t leave any gaps between the fence panels. If you’re not one for DIY jobs, you may be able to find a ready-made air conditioner fence. Finally, if you don’t like the look of the fence and want to soundproof even further, plant some dense shrubs and trees around the fence.
3. Change Your Noisy AC’s Location
If you have the opportunity to move your air conditioner unit, this may be the best option. The further it is from certain rooms, such as bedrooms and the living room, the less it will trouble you.
Placing it at the back of your home, away from windows or doors, or somewhere that’s not frequently used, will save you money and time on air conditioner soundproofing while minimizing the disturbance at the same time.
When you double the distance of the air conditioner, you can reduce the sound by up to 6 decibels. Considering an air conditioner makes between 25 and 55 decibels of sound, this is a sizable amount.
Try to avoid installing it near hallways, air ducts, or between brick walls, as the noise generated by the A/C will reverberate through the narrow space and sound louder. If you’re unsure if you can move it, bring in a professional to let you know the options available.
4. Fix the Surface
A possible cause of your air conditioner noise is the unit’s vibrations against the unsteady surface it’s installed on. This can be solved in either two ways: smoothing out the surface so the body is stable or using foam to soften the vibrations.
Start by removing the unit and checking out the surface, whether it’s a floor or a wall. If it’s not totally smooth, use a solid, smooth material such as cement or wood to mount the unit on and prevent it from rocking around.
Add some foam anti-vibration pads around the air conditioner to absorb shocks, prevent vibrations, and absorb any noise that comes out of it.
5. Soundproof Your Home
This is an excellent option if there are other noises outside that bother you, such as traffic or your neighbor’s dog. There are plenty of opportunities to soundproof your home, from doors and windows to walls and ceilings.
The upside to this option is that you’ll block out other noises too, and the inside of your home will be so quiet you can hear a pin drop. The downside is that your air conditioning will still be loud, so your neighbors will hear it, as will anyone enjoying some time out in the yard.
If your A/C unit is close to a window or door, focus your attention on soundproofing that first, as this is likely where most of the sound is traveling through. Here are some tips on how to reduce air conditioner noise by soundproofing your home:
- If there’s a gap at the bottom of your door, install a door sweep to prevent noise from coming in.
- To cover up gaps in the frames of windows and doors, weatherstripping tape is the ideal solution. It’s easy to install, durable, and a cheap way of soundproofing.
- Noise blocking curtains are an excellent option to soundproof your windows and lower the amount of noise that travels in.
- Mass loaded vinyl or acoustic panels are the best ways to soundproof walls.
- Use an acoustic caulk to fill in any gaps or cracks in the surfaces of your home, as sound can travel easily through these.
- Consider softening out your rooms. Sounds reverberate off hard surfaces, which magnifies the noise. Along with thick curtains, add carpets, soft wall hangings, and upholstered furniture to soften sounds and reduce the acoustic impact.
6. Regular Air Conditioner Maintenance
As your A/C unit ages, wear and tear and blockages can lead to unnecessary noise. When air conditioner components aren’t functioning correctly or are damaged, loose, or dirty, they will create a humming or rattling noise.
For air conditioner noise reduction and general preservation, you must take care of your unit. Regular maintenance will reduce the need for repairs, give the unit a longer lifespan, and make the operation safer. Here are some tips on air conditioner maintenance:
- Regularly clean the vents and filters and remove any dust or pet hair.
- Replace the air filter every few months.
- Bring in a professional to service the unit once or twice a year, depending on how much you use it.
- Clean the evaporator coil and condenser coil at least once a year.
- Trim back foliage at least 2 feet to allow for airflow.
- Use a stiff wire to clear out the unit’s drain channels.
7. Prevent the Water Dripping
If your outdoor unit is high up on a wall, it may be the water dripping that’s causing a commotion. This is a relatively simple fix; all you need is a hose and a large plastic bottle or bucket. Get your longer hose and attach it to the air conditioner’s hose, so you can channel the water to the bucket or plastic bottle.
This will stop it from dripping, and it also means you can recycle the water to save on your bills and conserve precious water. Here are some ideas on how to use your air conditioner condensate:
- Watering the plants in your yard.
- Instead of distilled water in your steam iron.
- Washing clothes.
- Cleaning windows and tiled floors.
- Washing your car.
- Flushing the toilet.
8. Turn Down the Speed
The higher you have the speed, the noisier your air conditioning will be. This is because the motor and components are working harder to cool the room. If you can handle it, turn the speed down on your A/C when you need some peace and quiet.
While it may be less noticeable, the unit will still cool your room down and let you sleep or work with less disturbance.
9. Repair Pipe Insulation
Over time, the weather, UV rays, or poor installation can damage the insulation of the A/C pipes, which not only lessens the efficiency of the air conditioner but also raises the noise it creates. As the insulation wears away, energy is lost through transmission, and this means the system has to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature indoors.
The noise generated by the system can be managed by wrapping the ducts and pipes with absorbent insulation. When you’re looking for insulation, it needs to protect against condensation, as moisture control is critical to maintaining thermal efficiency.
There are several materials available in a variety of diameters to fit all sizes of pipes, including foam rubber, fiberglass, and polyethylene foam. If you’re going to DIY the job, go for foam as it’s easier to cut to size and install. It’s also relatively inexpensive, so you can buy extra just in case.
To start, identify the pipes that need insulating—you’ll likely notice disintegrating insulation in the places that need it. Switch off the air conditioner, remove the old insulation, and wipe down the pipes, before installing the new pieces of insulation piece by piece and sealing it. Where the separate pieces join, wrap it with weatherproof tape to seal it and prevent any energy loss.
Repairing the pipes and ducts with fresh insulation will minimize noise emission and increase energy efficiency.
10. Replace Your A/C Unit
When all else fails, and you think your old, rattly air conditioner may be past it’s best, the best option is to replace it altogether. Not only will this stop the noise, but by upgrading your cooling system to an energy-efficient model, you can save between 20 and 40 percent on your cooling costs.
When shopping for a new A/C unit, look out for a quiet model. Of course, any new model will be quieter than your old one, but there are certain products which are designed to produce as little sound as possible.
The newest innovation in both efficiency and quietness is by far found in ductless air conditioners.
Premium ductless air conditioners that are built for quiet operation usually feature a quiet fan, a sound blanket, an airflow design that minimizes sounds from the air, compressor, and motor.
Also, make sure the unit is the right size for your room or home, so it’s not overworking hard or turning on and off as it’s too powerful.
When installing your new air conditioner, make sure your contractor chooses the best spot, away from quiet rooms, doors and windows, and narrow spaces where the noise can reverberate through. Also, keep outdoor spaces such as patios and your neighbors in mind when choosing a place to install it.
Calm, Cool, and Collected
So there you have it—our 10 ways to reduce air conditioner noise. Hopefully, at least one or more of these options will work for you so you can enjoy your cool and quiet home once again.
If you’re looking for an easy and quick solution that prevents noise for both you and your neighbors, a soundproof blanket or soundproofing fencing is the best technique. If the temperature isn’t too hot indoors, keep the unit at a low speed to reduce noise. Think about sorting out the surface your air conditioner is installed on or moving its location altogether if you have the chance to.
Other solutions include preventing the water from dripping and replacing the insulation on the external system. If you’re having trouble with other noise pollution from outdoors, soundproofing your home is a more permanent and effective solution.
Don’t forget to schedule regular maintenance for your air conditioner unit, not only to keep the noise down but to extend its lifespan, keep it working efficiently, and to save money on repairs in the long term.
On the other hand, if you are looking to stay warm if you live in a place with cooler climates, read this best quiet space heater review.