Portable Air Conditioner Rattling Like a Snake? Fix It Now

Portable Air Conditioner Rattling Like a Snake? Fix It Now

Trying to sleep? Maybe watch TV or have a conversation with your family? Then competing with a portable air conditioner that’s rattling is going to get on your last nerve. 

Don’t worry, we’re here to save your sanity!

Your portable AC can rattle or vibrate for a variety of reasons including, sitting on an uneven surface, loose parts, issues with the fan, debris inside the unit, and problems with the compressor or exhaust hose. That’s just to name a few.

The good news is, most of those are easy to fix, so keep reading and we’ll tell you how.

What’s Making Your Portable Air Conditioner Rattle?

As indicated above, there are multiple reasons for a rattling air conditioner but in most cases, you should be able to fix the problem in just a few minutes and get your quiet air conditioner back again.

#1 Fixing an Uneven Surface

If you’ve ever had a table or chair sitting on an uneven surface, you’re probably familiar with the sound of it rattling or banging against the floor as it moves.

When your air conditioner is running there’s a good chance it’s jiggling a little bit, and this could be the cause of the rattling noise.

Note that in most cases this won’t be the cause of the rattling, but since it is a chance, we’ll include it. 

Step 1: Inspect Your Surface

If you want to be precise, get a bubble level and check the level of your floor. 

Step 2: Level Your Surface

If your floor is uneven, you have a few options. Either move your air conditioner to another spot or use something like folded paper or cardboard to level up the floor under the air conditioner.

#2 Improper Installation

Did you follow best practices when installing your air conditioner? If anything isn’t properly aligned, it might be the cause of the rattle. 

Step 1: Inspect Your Installation 

Make sure that everything — especially the window panel and exhaust hose — is properly sealed. 

Step 2: Replace or Fix the Foam Seals 

Make sure the seals are in place and not damaged. Either realign or replace as necessary, so that everything fits snuggly in place. If you have an issue due to an even window frame, you can try using duct tape to hold everything securely. 

Any air leaks could lead to rattling on windy days. 

#3 Look for Loose Parts

Man inspecting inside of Portable Ac
Inspect the Inside of Your AC

If it sounds like marbles are rattling around in your unit, maybe it’s something else rattling around in there! Overtime, it’s only natural for anything that’s not securely tightened to shake loose during operation. 

Open up Your Unit 

You’ll need to get inside to the guts of your AC to check for loose nuts and bolts or anything else. One small piece of insulation can make a noise like a freight train!

First, unplug your unit and then check all screws, bolts, fittings, and anything else that might need tightening. 

#4 Inspect the Fan

This is something of a continuation of the previous section, since your fan — or parts of it — can come loose too. And a loose fan will make a ton of noise while your AC is running. 

Step 1: Make Sure the Fan is In Good Working Condition

Visually inspect the fan. Make sure it fits tightly within the housing, and that there are no cracks or bends in the blades. Also confirm that the blades aren’t meeting up with an obstruction.

Step 2: Correct any Issues 

If the fan wheel is loose, find the screws that hold it in place and fully tighten them. You may be able to straighten out bent blades but if any are broken, you may need to replace the fan.

#5 Look for Debris inside the Unit

While the vent openings are fairly narrow, it is possible that something has worked its way inside. Dust and dirt will build up, but perhaps something else is inside rattling around.

Step 1:Inspect

Start off by unplugging the unit. Once you have it open look for any foreign objects that may have accumulated inside — anything that could shake or rattle.

Step 2: Clean

Remove anything that you may find, and then it’s a good idea to carefully clean all of the interior components, including the fan. You can use a soft cloth, brush, or even a can of compressed air.

#6 Check Your Exhaust Hose

Portable Air Conditioner Exhaust Hose Connected To Window
Check the Exhaust Hose

The rattling noise could be coming from your exhaust hose, either a loose connection or even something restricting airflow.

Step 1: Inspect the Hose

Make sure that the connection between your air conditioner and the hose is secure. If one of the clips holding it in place is broken or it has come loose, this could cause a rattling noise as your air conditioner runs.

Step 2: Is the Airflow Blocked?

If there’s something inside the air hose that is creating a blockage, it may rattle around when your air conditioner operates. Detach the hose and make sure there’s nothing inside.

Also make sure the hose is free of any bends or kinks.

#7 Is it Your Compressor? 

Compared to other types of air conditioners, portable air conditioners have a short life cycle. If the compressor is faulty or beginning to malfunction it can cause rattling noises. 

Call a Pro

A problem with the compressor is more serious than the other things mentioned and will likely require a technician. In some cases, the compressor can be fixed or replaced, however, there’s a good chance the entire unit will need to be replaced.


As you have seen from the above, there are several reasons why your portable air conditioner may rattle.

To recap, the causes may include:

  • Uneven surfaces
  • Improper installation
  • Loose parts
  • Issues with the fan
  • Debris inside the unit
  • The exhaust hose
  • Your compressor

Hopefully, fixing one of those will return your air conditioner to its previously quiet state.

While you’re here, why not check out some of our related posts below? Perhaps we can help you with something else.

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more