Heat Pump Sounds like Washing Machine! (Causes & Solutions)

By - Ron Singh

Updated -

Heat pumps make their presence in the house essential by controlling the cooling and heating of the house during different seasons.

However, as a mechanical device, your heat pump will make sounds, but the type of sounds it makes matters.

Hence the need to know why a heat pump sounds like a washing machine and if it’s safe.

A heat pump’s compressor, or some of its units, causes the heat pump to sound like a washing machine. The sound is typical with heat pumps during first startups and shutdowns, which stops after some minutes. However, if the sound persists, contact a heat pump technician to solve the problem.

Why Does My Heat Pump Sound Like a Washing Machine?

Heat Pump Sounds like Washing Machine

The compressor is the main reason the heat pump makes a similar sound to an imbalanced washing machine.

Besides, we are looking at a conversion system here, so there’s a part trying hard to keep working, which could be loud.

For instance, a heat pump’s refrigerant will make this sound when changing from a liquid to gas.

Sounds from heat pumps are hardly audible, probably because they’re installed away from where they might cause discomfort.

For this reason, hearing certain sounds for the first time after a long time may scare you. Also, most of these sounds could mean it’s time for a repair or replacement.

To create heating and cooling magic, a heat pump is a machine with fans, a compressor, and other components.

And as such, these parts tend to make certain sounds, which may sound different in levels at times. 

Notwithstanding, this depends on the type of heat pump you have; there are some newer models with lesser noise.

Other parts that can specifically cause an abnormal sound in your heat pump are:

  • Fan motor and blade.
  • Compressor and its contactor.
  • Reversing valve.

Just as the compressor is to the refrigerator, so is it to a heat pump. When the compressor is trying to change from heating to cooling, it makes noise.

And after making a specific low sound, indicating a change, it will get even louder. Likewise, when the compressor and fan motors begin to age and spoil, they do so with certain loud noises.

Is It Normal for a Heat Pump to Make Noise?

Yes, it is normal for heat pumps to make noise, while sometimes they are not. For example, some sounds may indicate a problem with some heat pump components or an obstruction.

In contrast, some sounds are just an indication of some parts moving and the system working.

You should note that every heat pump system produces some sounds, whether the air source or geothermal heat pump system.

Also, some of these sounds don’t signify danger, while some will notify you of a fault. However, these machines should not make sounds that can scare you, except some faulty parts are present. 

However, the compressor and fans are primarily the creators of these sounds. These noises a heat pump components produce sometimes result from deterioration.

As components like fans tend to degrade with time, normal sounds become noises, which indicates a need for repair or replacement.

Also, other factors will contribute to how loud these sounds will be. For example, factors like pressure and airflow, type of fan, and how fast the fan is will determine the sound level.

So if you hear horrible or loud abnormal noise from the outside unit of your heat pump, then you should take action.

What Noises Do Heat Pumps Make?

You can hear several noises from your heat pump when it’s faulty or just working correctly. These noises usually mean a faulty part needs attention or obstruction somewhere.

However, below is a table showing some sounds and what they signify.

NoisesCauses of the Noises
GrindingDirty components, for example, motor bearings or lack of lubrication.
RattlingLoose screws, parts, and ducts.
Gurgling A low charge of refrigerant 
VibrationIt’s An unbalanced heat pump or too tight refrigerant pipe.
BuzzingBad internal coils or compressor contactor
Metal hitting metalThere is a presence of an obstruction in the fan blades or the fan hitting something, such as other components.
HissingLeak in the refrigerant.

Most of these sounds are normal, but sometimes it gets louder when they don’t stop.

Knowing these sounds will help you know when to call the repairman and when there’s a big issue with the heat pump.

Also, a loud but safe and regular sound you can hear from your heat pump can be from the startup and shutting down.  

Do Heat Pumps Get Louder in Cold Weather?

Yes, it does; in cold weather, heat pumps tend to make more sounds and loud noises. In such cold weather, the great pump does its most challenging magic( heating).

During these periods, the components work hard to change from cold to defrost mode.

However, the idea of a loud heat pump in cold weather, with overworking due to temperature change, is correct.

But, that the temperature and the loud noise will affect its efficiency is entirely off the line. Unlike a regular air conditioning system,  a temperature change will not affect a heat pump’s efficiency. 

In cold weather, you will get more of this noise loud, especially in winter, you could get ice obstructing fans.

How Do I Stop My Heat Pump from Making Noise?

You can stop your heat pump from making noise by practicing safe installation and safety measures.

You can also stop the noise by taking note of the features of the heat pump when purchasing one. But, first, I will explain some methods to help you stop these noises. 

It’s impotent to keep in mind that you can only stop the loud noise, but not the heat pump’s sound. No matter how silent a machine works, it will always make a sound when working.

For these reasons, you can only find ways to eliminate loud noises from your heat pump; below are some of these methods.

  • Proper installation.
  • Installation of protective materials.
  • Proper regular maintenance practices.

#1. Proper Installation

The installation of your heat pump is the key to minimizing noise. Factors like how and where you place your heat pump in your home or other structures determine how much noise you get.

One essential tip for a sound installation is to install on a level surface for proper working. Also, these noises relate more to the heat pump’s outdoor unit, so that’s the main focus.

For this reason, it’s advisable to Install the heat pump a bit far from your house, room, or windows so that it’s not audible.

#2. Installation of Protective Materials

There are materials you can add to your heat pump that help stop loud sounds and noise.

Materials such as sound dampers and vibration absorbing pads will help reduce a noisy heat pump.

With the proper installation location with these materials, you won’t need to spend money on buying expensive pumps with less DB(decibels). 

#3. Proper Regular Maintenance Practice

Maintenance and how you care for your heat pump are essential to a noise-free heat pump. First, inspect your indoor and outdoor heat pump unit to know what needs cleaning or tightening.

Then, instead, do a routine tune-up; maybe every five months will help identify a problem that worsens.

Another maintenance aspect is the air filter change because airflow is the system’s core.

Airflow obstruction will cause problems to an air filter, like the heat pump itself. So changing the air filter is vital to reduce noise.

Maintenance doesn’t only entail servicing the heat pump, but how you act to some strange things you notice.

Never ignore any unusual change in your heat pump system; contact a specialist to help check for any problem. Meanwhile, identifying a problem on time saves you money for major repairs.

You should ensure that your heat pump is working correctly by checking it regularly to avoid any damage.

When it comes to sounds from systems like your heat pump, negligence is not an option. If you notice a weird sound, you should quickly find a fix to it before it gets louder and worse.

Solving the problem of lousy and loud noises from your heat pump depends on what type of sound it’s producing.

And you should contact a specialist immediately when you notice or detect abnormal sounds to avoid further damage.

On the other hand, a heat pump should last 10 to 15 years or more with proper usage and maintenance.

Also, Having a heat pump is the same as having two systems (heating and cooling), unlike an air conditioning system.

However, the efficiency and durability of both the heat pump and air conditioning system are pretty similar.


Regardless of a heat pump’s different sounds, it’s still the best option for many homes.

Sometimes, as a homeowner, keeping track of your heat pump is impossible, so it’s best to have a technician do the job. And remember, when you notice a weird sound,  act fast and contact a technician.

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