Why Is My Air Conditioner Leaking Water?

During the warm summer months, when our air conditioners are working their hardest, it’s not unusual for your unit to experience problems or issues. One of the most common problems with air conditioning systems, both large and small, is a leak. Although leaks in air conditioning units are sometimes small and often overlooked, they should be taken care of sooner rather than later as leaks may indicate a bigger problem.

Why Air Condition Units Have Water In Them

Before getting into what causes air conditioners to leak water, it is a good idea to understand why air conditioner units have water in them to begin with. Air conditioners contain an evaporator coil which cools down the warm air that is sucked out of the room by a blower. The warm air causes the formation of moisture and condensation on the coil. The condensation on the coil will eventually drip into a condensate drain which leads out of your home. However, when the moisture and condensation have nowhere to go, that’s when your unit will begin leaking. So let’s take a look at some common reasons for what may be causing your air conditioner to leak inside of your home.

Loss of Refrigerant

An air conditioner’s pressure will drop if the unit is low on refrigerant. Having low refrigerant will eventually cause the evaporator coil to freeze over, trapping all the moisture and condensation. The coil will eventually end up melting, causing the condensate drain to overflow. There are many ways to tell if your air conditioner has low refrigerant levels. Take a look at five of the most common signs:

  • Your house seems to take forever to cool down
  • Warm air is blowing from the registers and ducts
  • Your electric bill spikes during the months when you use your A/C
  • A hissing or bubbling noise is noticeable
  • There is ice buildup on the refrigerant line

Dirty Air Filter

Air conditioners filters should be changed frequently for numerous reason, but the main purpose of having a clean filter is to allow uninterrupted airflow over the evaporator coil. A dirty or clogged filter will cause the evaporator to coil and freeze, eventually melting and overflowing the condensate drain, as mentioned above. Having annual maintenance to your air conditioner unit before the warmer seasons is a great way to ensure your filters are clean and working properly.

Clogged Condensate Drain

The condensate drain is usually just a simple PVC pipe that catches the water removed from the air and evaporator coil and pumps it outside the home or in a drain pipe. In addition, bacteria, debris, dust, and microorganisms can collect in the drain pipe and form a gross and slimy ‘gunk’ when it is mixed with water, causing the drain to be backed up. Having a clogged drain pipe can make your A/C’s condensate drain overflow, causing a leak.

The best way to prevent your condensate drain from clogging is to have it serviced and cleaned by a professional at least once a year. It may be beneficial to have a Wet Switch water detector, or a similar HVAC condensing overflow shut-off device, installed. These devices are designed to shut down your air conditioner unit once water is sensed where it is not supposed to be and eliminate the chances of serious water damage.

Faulty Condensation Line Pump

If the condensate drain lines are clear of any blockage, a reason your air conditioner may be leaking could be the condensate line pump. These pumps are meant to push the water outside. If the pump isn’t working properly and isn’t pushing the water out, then water will begin to start pooling up, causing the unit to leak. A great way to see if your condensate line pump is working properly is to dump some water in the condensate overflow pan – if the water does not move, then the leaking you’re experiencing is probably caused by pump issues. If this is the case, contact a professional service technician immediately.

Air Leakage

Although it may be unnoticeable, warm air can get into the unit if the seals are not tight enough. When the warm air comes in contact with the cold air, moisture and condensation will start forming. If the amount of air leaks in your unit increase, so will the amount of condensation, eventually forming a collection of water at the bottom of the unit that will eventually start leaking out.

Improper Installation

Like mentioned before, air conditioners are bound to face problems. However, if your unit is leaking right off the bat, then it was probably installed incorrectly. Installing the unit incorrectly could potentially cause the pressure to be off, the unit to be unlevel, or an issue with the condensation trap — all of which cause leaking.

An A/C unit that is installed incorrectly may also have drain pipe fittings that may not be properly secured. Overtime, these fittings can loosen, causing the draining pipe to disconnect from the unit, creating leaks.

What To Do When Your A/C Is Leaking

If your A/C has a leak be sure to contact Tri-Elite Advisors. With years of experience in the HVAC industry, our technicians know how to quickly find the source of the leak and repair it. We can help prevent air conditioner leaks and malfunctions by regularly cleaning and servicing your units. Don’t let a small air conditioner leak turn into a huge problem, contact our HVAC contractors today!