Window AC Sounds Like Water? Most Common Causes & Fixes!

Updated: | Author: Brad Javernick | Affiliate links may be present.

If you have a window air conditioner and you just installed it recently, it can take some time to adjust to how it works.

You might hear some worrying noises from the machine every now and then. It’s important to understand where each of them comes from and which ones you should actually be worried about.

Hearing water noises from your window AC is normal to a certain degree. If the noise resembles running water, you might have a problem. In this case, you should check the drain pan to see if it’s overflowing and ensure that the AC is tilted to the outside and not the inside. If you want to get rid of dripping noises, you should consider investing in a drip cushion.

Water Noises from Your AC are Normal to an Extent

If your window air conditioner is making water noises, that’s actually normal and expected. Hearing constant dripping is common for many units. This is an unavoidable part of using a window air conditioner and the best thing you can do is simply get used to it.

Use a Drip Cushion

If the dripping noises bother you too much, you can invest in a drip cushion. This is a cover that goes on top of your air conditioner and catches water as it drips down from above.

The soft surface of the cushion eliminates the noise almost entirely. Even if you hear something, it will still be muffled and quiet compared to having water drip down directly on the AC itself.

This can be especially helpful if your window AC sounds like water after rain. Depending on the layout of your home, there will probably be a lot of water dripping down from above the AC for a few hours after heavy rain.

What to Do If Your AC Sounds Like Water is Running Through It

If you have a water gurgling sound in your window air conditioner, you might have a problem on your hands. This is not normal and could indicate that something is wrong with the AC unit.

Even worse, you may notice your window AC spitting water inside and making noise all the time. In this case, you most likely have something affecting the internal cycle of the air conditioner and preventing it from circulating water as intended.

Empty the Drain Pan

The simplest fix to this problem is to empty the air conditioner’s drain pan. If it overfills, your AC unit will start filling with water in unintended places. If this kind of problem is left unattended for too long, it can lead to permanent damage to your air conditioner.

Accessing the drain pan is easy in most household air conditioner units. You may not even have to unscrew anything. Just be careful when taking the pan out. If it’s already full, it’s easy to accidentally spill it all over the interior of the AC in the process of taking it out.

Tilt the AC to the Outside

A window-mounted air conditioner should be tilted slightly to ensure it drains in the right direction. Sometimes, you might accidentally tilt it towards your room without noticing. This can happen when you’re cleaning the window or the AC itself, or when performing maintenance on it.

Verify that the air conditioner is tilted in the right direction. If not, simply push it a bit. Don’t apply too much pressure though, as you might end up breaking the air conditioner out of its frame.

After you’re done, check on the AC a few times while it’s running to ensure that the problem is gone and that water is coming out of the right side.


“Why does my window AC sound like running water?” is the kind of question most homeowners don’t want to find themselves asking. This kind of situation usually evokes thoughts of expensive repairs.

But in most cases, you’ll discover that your AC is either running as intended. Or, if there’s a problem, it usually has a simple fix that won’t break the bank.

In any case, make sure to address the situation as soon as you’ve discovered it. Otherwise, it can get very expensive over time and may eventually require a complete replacement of your air conditioner.

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About Brad Javernick

Brad is a licensed home inspector and the editor of Home Oomph. He's a massive DIYer, and loves to take on new home renovation projects!

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