Having a house can be a pain. You have to deal with the dreaded repairs on top of the monthly payments, renovations, and maintenance. As a homeowner, you will eventually come upon an air conditioner that is leaking water. What begins as a minor annoyance can quickly degrade ceilings, walls, and floors, not to mention the performance and efficiency of the air conditioner. Worse, mold can grow in damp environments and damage the air you breathe. And before you know it, your air conditioner has stopped working or isn’t chilling. We’re here to make certain it doesn’t happen again. Our crew at SuperTech HVAC has fixed hundreds of leaking air conditioners, so we’ve seen it all.
Is there AC unit dripping water?
How to fix AC unit dripping water
First and foremost, your air conditioner does not cool your air. It takes the heat from inside and sends it outside.
This is accomplished through three stations:
- The warm, humid interior air is sucked from the living rooms and blown over the evaporator coil via a filtered return vent. The cold refrigerant in the coil absorbs the heat and converts it to hot gas. A fan blows the cool air back into the living areas through supply vents.
- The hot gas in the coil travels outside to a compressor, where it is compressed into an even hotter vapor.
- The heat is discharged outside when the hot gas reaches the condenser. The refrigerant returns to the first station as a chilly liquid to absorb more warm indoor air.
During this process, moisture from the humid air collects on the evaporator coil, drips into the primary drain pan, and then slides down a drain line to the outside while warm humid indoor air is constantly fanned over the coil and the heat is extracted.
Every time the air conditioner runs, water drips into the drain pan and down the drain line. If water collection and dripping are typical, how can you tell if something is wrong with your air conditioner?
Let’s have a look.
What Is the Best Way to Tell If My Air Conditioner Is Leaking Water?
Something is interrupting the usual cooling cycle if your air conditioner is leaking water. There are some indicators to look out for.
Do you have a puddle in your basement or in your closet unit, or do you smell mold? While you’re away, water from a leaking attic unit might fill your ceiling and drip down your walls. The dread. Thankfully, you can avoid water damage from an air conditioner leaking water into your home by having additional safety switches installed by an HVAC professional. Because these safety elements aren’t required by code, they’re usually left out of most HVAC installations.
However, they are a component of SuperTech’s new air conditioning unit installation. Here are two examples of popular switches:
- A pan switch is attached to your air conditioner and, if tripped, turns it off. When there is too much water in the drain pan, this happens.
However, if the pan switch is installed incorrectly or the drain pan is tilted, the switch may not be tripped before the AC water overflows and damages your home
- A similar purpose is served by an E-Z trap fitted directly on the drain line. When a clog arises, the clear tubing allows you to see it. If you don’t inspect and clear it in a timely manner, and water builds up in the pipe, a float switch trips, signaling your thermostat to turn off the system. The crisis was averted.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: what causes a water leak in an air conditioner?
Let’s take a look at the top four reasons:
- Due to a damaged drain pan, the air conditioner is leaking water.
- Remember that the condensation on the coils falls off into the drain pan in your AC system.
- The sort of AC unit you have and its location will determine how you set up your drain pan.
However, the goal stays the same.
A primary drain pan is included in every system. It is located just below the evaporator coil. A secondary drain pan, installed beneath the entire unit (not just the coil), is required for horizontal systems to catch any runaway liquid from an AC dripping water, especially if the unit is in your attic.
Consider this: most drain pans are composed of one of three materials:
- The most common and least durable are galvanized steel drain pans. They typically last 20 years and are less expensive than stainless steel.
- Stainless steel drain pans are more corrosion resistant and last longer (up to 25 years), but they are more expensive.
- Polymer drain pans are the cream of the crop. They are less expensive and last longer than steel. This is due to the fact that they don’t corrode and bacteria have a hard time adhering to them, which is common with stagnant water in a clogged drain pan (more on that later).
This is the harsh reality: if your steel or polymer drain pan is rusted or otherwise damaged, water will escape in places it shouldn’t.
If this occurs, do not attempt to seal the pan on your own. The seal won’t stay long, and you’ll be back to square one in no time.
Call an HVAC technician like SuperTech HVAC or arrange an appointment online here to avoid the headache. We’ll be able to repair it quickly.
Because of a clogged drain line, the air conditioner is leaking water. The drain line is attached to the drain pan and carries the condensate (water) from your air conditioner outside, as we’ve already mentioned. Dirt and debris can get into your air conditioning system through air filters, especially if they are of low quality, old, or damaged. (See the previous post on the frozen air conditioner.) The condensate drain line could be one such area of collection. If the accumulation of dirt and debris is severe enough to obstruct the line, the drain pan may be flooded.
Algae is also a possibility. The organisms thrive in the moist, dark parts of the drain pan and line, and can quickly build up to the point where water flow is obstructed.
The accumulation of water can cause the drain line to get clogged and the connection to the drain pan to become stressed. The vibration from the air conditioner can exacerbate the wear and loosen or totally separate the line from the pan, causing your air conditioner to leak water.
Due to a failed condensate pump, the air conditioner is leaking water.
Because gravity cannot constantly transfer the water from the drain pan outside, condensate pumps are used. Your air conditioner could be underground in a basement or in the attic of a townhouse with a long condensate line.
In that case, a centrifugal pump is required to move the water forward. The float switch is triggered when the condensate from the evaporator coil reaches a specified level in the pump’s tank, and the pump is turned on.
The pump, like any other component of an air conditioning system, might fail. Your air conditioner may leak water as a result of this.
Again, if the condensate pump’s tank or tubing splits due to prolonged use, the water will leak out and drip or pool around your AC unit.
Frozen Coil Causes Air Conditioner To Leak
Reduced airflow and a refrigerant leak are two reasons that can cause your evaporator coil to freeze.
The chemical liquid does not become warm and transform into a gas when there is no warm air to absorb by the refrigerant in the coil. Instead, it comes to a halt.
A dirty filter, a blocked return vent, a damaged fan, a collapsed airduct, and even a dirty coil can all cause airflow to be restricted.
The remaining liquid in the coil expands as the refrigerant escapes, lowering the coil’s temperature. Then it comes to a halt.
The drain pan, as you might expect, can catch typical amounts of dropping water from the air conditioner. However, if the coil is frozen and you’ve turned off the air conditioner as directed, the melting block of ice will overflow the drain pan and line, causing water to leak out.
We’ve encountered all four of these AC issues before.
What should you do if this occurs?
Is there water inside your air conditioner? What Should I Do Now?
First and foremost, turn off the air conditioner! As previously said, the dripping water is a result of your faulty air conditioner. Shut down the entire system to avoid further water damage. Second, clear up the water that has leaked. A shop vac may be required. If your coil is frozen, you will have to clean up the water as the ice melts. Third, if your AC leak is caused to a frozen coil, try these simple fixes
Defrost your evaporator coil by turning the fan on while the AC is still off. Warm air will be blown over the ice, speeding up the thawing process. Change your air filters. Is there any dirt or grime on the floor? Don’t second-guess yourself; just throw it out and replace it. Examine your air vents. Look around your home for anything that might be obstructing airflow into the return vent. Check to see if there are any obstructions inside the vents if possible. Hopefully, you’ve just repaired your air conditioner. Don’t hold your breath, though. If the problem is caused by a clogged drain pan, drain line, or condensate pump, you’ll need to contact an HVAC professional for ac repair. Call SuperTech HVAC if you live in Maryland.
Our staff (or someone similar to us) can check to see if the problem has been resolved or go to the root of the issue. It’s not a simple task! Okay, we’re almost done with this section. One more piece of advice.
How can I prevent my air conditioner from dripping water in the future?
Replacing your old, unclean air filters with new (properly sized) ones should be at the top of your maintenance priority list. (For more information, see our blog on air filter replacement.) Have your air conditioner serviced by a professional in the spring, before the hot summer months arrive. The majority of air conditioning problems can be avoided. The HVAC technician should inspect your drain pan for cracks or rust and fix it to prevent algae growth. Among other things, he should cleanse the drain line and make sure the condensate pump is operational. That concludes our discussion. You’re now prepared to cope with a leaking air conditioner.
We’ve attempted to demonstrate how, with the proper knowledge, you can quickly identify and resolve some AC dripping water difficulties. If you’re unable to do so, contact an HVAC professional. That’s us in Maryland! For a long time, our SuperTech HVAC team has been assisting homeowners with their HVAC issues. We’ve seen it all, so give us a call or book an appointment online.
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