Quieting the Bedroom: Troubleshooting and Fixing a Noisy Air Vent

If you are a light sleeper, practically any noise can keep you up at night. A faucet dripping, a creaking door, or a noisy air vent. Aside from keeping you up though, all of these things have one thing in common: they need to be fixed. Especially that noisy air vent, because it is doing more than keeping you awake at night. 

A noisy air vent is a sign that something is wrong in your HVAC system. Possible causes include closed or blocked vents, old air filters, disjointed ducts, debris, leaking refrigerant. Unusual noises can also indicate electrical control problems, bad motor, or compressor malfunction. Each of these problems should be identified and addressed promptly. 

Is Having a Noisy Air Vent in Bedroom a Bad Thing?

Some noise coming out of the air vent is normal. You know that the HVAC system is working because you can hear the air being pushed out of the vents. The sound that it makes is very low and can fade into the background fairly easily.

When we say “noisy vent”, we are talking about something that gets your attention. This can be a rattle, a hiss, clicking – a sound that the vents are NOT supposed to make. Sometimes the noise can be subtle, but the point is that the sound is something new that wasn’t there before.

A noisy air vent means that something is wrong – either in your vents or with the HVAC system. Ignoring the sounds of your HVAC system doesn’t make the problem go away either.  The longer that the problems go unresolved, the longer they have to get worse.

The problem in your vents can also do more than keep you up at night. If there is dust and debris in your air vents, the noise in your vents is warning you of what you are breathing in.  Wet sounds can indicate the presence of a leak somewhere in your system, meaning water damage for your home and the potential for mold spreading through your vents.

What is Causing a Noisy Air Vent in Bedroom?

The type of sounds you will hear out of a noisy air vent in the bedroom will depend on the cause of the noise. If you are trying to find the source of the problem, it helps knowing what to look for. Here are some common issues to look for and what they sound like.

Closed or Blocked Vents

A closed or blocked vent is a common problem, and one that is easily remedied. A vent can be blocked by a piece of furniture or a fixture that was unwittingly placed in front of the vent.  Or, the vent could have been closed off manually and forgotten about.

While there are times that you may want to close off or block an air vent, having too many that are closed can cause the system to not work properly. Blocked vents can cause a whistling sound in your ducts or cause your air conditioner to turn off and on. Check your house for any vents that have been accidently blocked or closed off and never reopened to ensure that your system is running as intended.

Old Air Filters

Air filters trap the dust and debris, preventing it from circulating around your house. Over time, these filters become saturated and must be replaced. This should be done about every three months, but is a task that is easily forgotten.

Thumping, whistling, or buzzing noises are indicators of a dirty air filter. Swapping them out should make the sound dissipate.

Even if you do not hear any sounds that sound like old air filters, it is a good idea to keep these changed out regularly. When the filters get clogged, their efficiency is reduced, meaning that you will be breathing in dirty air.

Disjointed Ducts

Disjointed ducts rob your air conditioning system of air and can be very noisy. You can recognize disjointed ducts by the rattling and clattering noises they can make. 

Disjointed ducts are wasteful in terms of energy and heated or cooled air. This means that you are spending more money on your energy bill and getting less heating or air conditioning to show for it.

If you can locate the disjointed ducts, use metal tape to seal them. You should also follow up by calling a professional to repair them, as the tape will only fix them in the short term. 

Debris issue

Even after you replace your air filters, you may still hear pieces of debris rattling around inside your vents. This means that the debris is a little more heavy than normal, and your air filter will have no real effect on it (other than potentially blocking its path). 

If you hear flapping, rattling, or buzzing in your air vents and have already eliminated your filters as a potential issue, you may need to clean your ducts.

A professional can inspect your ducts and clean them for you if you are experiencing this. Debris may be indicative of other issues as well – check the ducts carefully to see what introduced the debris in the first place.

Refrigerant Line Leaking

If you hear bubbling or hissing coming through your vents, chances are that you are hearing a refrigerant line leak, which is caused by tiny cracks in the coils. The refrigerant is under high pressure, which is what produces the hissing noise. Bubbling means that the leak is large.



Refrigerant Piping
Photo Credits: www.hvac-eng.com

Handling a refrigerant leak is dangerous, so if you think that you have this problem, you shouldn’t handle it by yourself. Refrigerant is toxic to humans and highly flammable, so you shouldn’t wait to fix the problem either. Turn off the HVAC and call a professional immediately to resolve this issue.

Electrical Control Problems

When your air conditioning or heater turns on or off, it is normal to hear a click. This sound means that your thermostat is interacting with your HVAC system, signaling it on or off.

However, if you hear a constant clicking, then there may be issues with your thermostat or system relay. These electrical control issues can cause your energy bill to grow out of control or to heat or cool your house inconsistently.

The good news is that the problem can be fairly inexpensive to repair.  However, you should call a professional due to the careful handling of the wires that are involved.

Bad motor

A bad HVAC motor can have several sounds that mean different things. Loose motor parts will likely create a banging or rattling. The motor bearing or a worn belt can create screeching or high pitched sounds, and humming can be an unbalanced motor.

A bad HVAC motor can inflate your energy bill or cause other problems with the rest of your system. The costs to repair an HVAC motor range up to several hundred dollars if you hire a professional. If you try to fix the motor without any expertise, you could cause further issues which would drastically raise the costs.

Compressor malfunction

If you hear hissing or humming and have checked every other potential source of sound, then you may face a serious issue – a compressor malfunction. If a compressor fails, you are likely looking at a big expense to repair, so it is important to address the issues as quickly as possible.  

If your compressor is straining, you are likely to hear a hum, while hissing means that the pressure in the compressor is too high, humming might mean a strained compressor. Grinding indicates the compressor is failing. 

This is not something you can repair on your own. Fixing the compressor requires help from a licensed professional. 

Ways to Soundproof Your Air Vents

If you have checked all the issues on the list and are still left with an air vent too noisy for your tastes, it may be time to soundproof your air vents. There are several ways to soundproof it, some ways better or cheaper than others. Here are some ideas to get you going.

Renovate your Home

While it is possibly an extreme solution to soundproofing, if you have some time and some money to throw at the problem (and you wanted to change the look of your home anyway), renovating your home may not be a bad option. Once you get the needed materials, you can identify the noisy spots and take action to resolve the noise.  

One of the ways that you can eliminate the noise of your vents is to completely drywall over these spots, guaranteeing that the noise will be eliminated.

By removing these vents and replacing the drywall above your door, you can almost completely guarantee that you can remove any and all noise issues that the vent previously presented. However, it is probably best to consult with a specialist so that your HVAC system continues functioning effectively.

Block the Vent

Normally you don’t want to block your vent as it may decrease the efficiency of your HVAC system. However, you may still be able to get away with blocking off the vent entirely in a room that doesn’t require it.

You will require some sealant first. Remove the vent covers, then coat the inside with the sealant, coating it so that there are no gaps. Replace the vent covers, and you are done!

This is a relatively cheap fix, and it should take no more than ten minutes of your time. If you want you can drywall over the vent instead.

Clean your Ducts

Cleaning your ducts can take some time, but the process can rid you of any rattles and dust buildups on your air filters. Take off the vent covers, vacuuming and washing them to take out all the dirt. Use an attachment to reach deeper into the vents and take out all the webs and dust.  

Clean your Ducts

Noise deeper in will likely be out of your reach. You can get a specialist to give your ducts a deeper cleaning and get all the particulates rattling around out of your system. You should clean your vents once or twice a year to keep them quiet.

Create a Sound Maze

Another way to block a vent is to create a sound maze. This has the advantage of soundproofing your vent while avoiding the complications of lowering your HVAC’s efficiency. 

You will need some foam material, quarter-inch thick plywood, and wood glue. Cut the wood into four pieces cut shorter than your vents. Take the foam and glue it between the wood pieces. 

Glue one side to the vent, then stack the other three pieces in, gluing them half an inch apart in a zigzag. Once you are done, place the vent cover back on, and you’re done! This should effectively make your air vent quieter.

Fill Opening with Sealant

Similar to blocking off the air vent itself with sealant or plywood, you can use acoustic sealant on the openings of the air vents to block off the noise of air rushing past. This in effect is the same thing as blocking off the air vent, so be careful when you are doing it to take the effectiveness of the HVAC system into consideration.

This method should take you no more than a few minutes and will cost you no more than the cost of the sealant. Make sure that you fill all the gaps well so that there is nowhere for air to escape through.

Plug Vent Grate

Another solution that is similar to blocking of the air vent is creating a plug for your vent. This allows you to control the noise while still allowing you to address ventilation if necessary since the plug can be removed or reapplied as necessary.

Measure the dimensions of the air cover and cut a piece of plywood to match. Tape this down with waterproof tape onto the air vent, making sure to create a clean seal so that no air can escape. When you need ventilation, simply remove the tape and set the plywood aside until it is needed again.

Conclusion

​​A noisy air vent is not only annoying, it is indicative of other problems within your HVAC system. If you are hearing strange noises, you should track down the problem and try to correct it as quickly as possible. This, along with regular maintenance, will ensure that your HVAC stays free of serious issues.

If your bedroom air vent is still too noisy, there are other ways of soundproofing your air vent – from remodeling, to blocking off the air vent, to creating a sound maze. When soundproofing, consider the effectiveness of your HVAC system. And if you have any questions about strange or loud sounds from your vent, the best thing you can do is consult a professional.