If you’ve seen your air conditioner leaking water, it might indicate that there is a malfunction with your unit. AC units do collect moisture from the air, but this process should not lead to leaks or excessive condensation. Leakage not only creates potential problems for the structural integrity of your household, but the leakage may point to serious problems with your air conditioner.
Despite the potential problems, a leak in your air conditioner isn’t the end of the world. You should immediately turn your AC unit off to avoid any additional problems, but a professional HVAC technician can easily identify and remedy the cause of your leak.
The Reason Your Air Conditioner Collects Water
Before talking about the causes of water leakage, it can help you to understand why your AC unit collects water. Along with helping to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, air conditioners also affect humidity levels. When the AC unit takes the warm air and blows it over the internal evaporator coils, it causes the humid moisture to condense.
The AC unit collects the moisture in a drain pan, and that moisture is transported through a condensate drain line that leads outside of your home. When everything is working properly, the air conditioner performs this function without any leaks. However, if there is a problem with your air conditioner’s ability to remove moisture, the AC unit will begin leaking water.
What to Do if Your AC Unit Starts to Leak
Even though water leakage comes from improper removal of condensation, this issue rarely causes your AC unit to shut down completely. As a result, some individuals might be tempted to continue running their air conditioners; some people might even think that a small amount of water leakage is normal for an AC unit. However, the best thing to do when you see a leak is to shut off your air conditioner immediately and call the professionals at Meade’s Heating and Air.
If you continue to run your AC unit with a water leak, it can lead to greater complications and internal damage. Moreover, the water damage from indoor leaks can harm the foundation of your walls, electrical systems and other important aspects of your home. Along with the potential for breeding mold, a leak can create more costly complications if you don’t turn off your air conditioner as soon as you notice it. Here are a few of the most common causes of air conditioner leaks.
1. A Clogged Condensate Drain Line
A clogged condensate drain line is one of the most common culprits of AC unit water leaks. After the dehumidifying process, the water that collects contains different particles in it. Over time, this dirt and debris collect in the condensate drain line. If the drain line is consistently cleaned, the debris won’t collect, and there is no risk of leakage.
However, if the condensate drain line is dirty, the particles will create a blockage that causes the moisture to collect and spill out of the drain pan. It’s important to note that many AC units have an automatic kill switch that activates when a clog occurs in the condensate drain. If your unit does not have one, you’ll have to make sure to turn it off manually.
2. Frozen Evaporator Coils
In order for the evaporator coils in your AC unit to work properly, they require sufficient refrigerant and free airflow. If there is a block in airflow or a refrigerant leak, your evaporator coils can begin to freeze. This leads to insufficient air cooling and excessive moisture in the drain pan. This overflow of moisture results in leaks from your air conditioner.
3. Drain Pan Rust or Damage
Your air conditioner’s drain pan sits beneath the evaporator coils and collects the moisture that the coils leave behind. The drain pan funnels water to the condensate drain line and dumps it outside the home. If the drain pan is damaged or accumulates rust, the moisture will leak out of the pan before it has a chance to reach the drain line.
All drain pans eventually require replacement. The average lifespan of a drain pan is between 15 and 20 years, and staying up-to-date on the condition of your drain pan can help you avoid leaks.
4. Excessive Dirt and Debris in the Air Filters
When your air filters accumulate excessive dirt and debris, it greatly impedes the airflow in your HVAC system. As such, clogged air filters can contribute to water leakage from your air conditioner in a number of different ways. Blocking airflow can lead to frozen evaporator coils. Since air filters govern the air circulation in your HVAC system, they can be a leading cause of frozen evaporator coils if they are clogged up.
Along with diminishing the quality of air in your home, dirty air filters can lead to increased blockages in your condensate drain line. Since these blockages are caused by the presence of particles in condensed water vapor, dirty air filters ensure that there are larger amounts of debris to collect. Therefore, clean air filters are paramount to preventing water leaks in your AC unit.
5. Malfunctioning Float Switch or Condensate Pump
In order to properly transport condensed water vapor out of the drain line, the condensate pump for your AC unit has to function properly. As water accumulates in the condensate pump’s reservoir, a float switch activates that signals it to release the water outside. Both mechanisms function in unison to ensure that the water leaves your home in the proper fashion.
If either the float switch or condensate pump are broken or malfunctioning, this will halt the flow of excess water to the outside. Instead, a broken float switch or condensate pump will cause the water to accumulate, which eventually leaks back into your home.
Getting Help From a Professional
The five reasons listed above outline some of the most common causes of water leakage from your air conditioner unit. However, there are many other factors that can come into play if you experience a leak from your air conditioner. Condensation buildup, drain line disconnection and improper installation can all contribute to water leakage from your AC unit. Therefore, consulting a trained and experienced HVAC technician is the best way to ensure that you diagnose the problem correctly and receive the proper repairs.
Our technicians at Meade’s Heating and Air serve the people of Sterling and the surrounding northern Virginia areas with expert and efficient AC repair, installation and diagnostics, and we also work with ductless systems. We’ll properly identify the source of any leak your AC unit is dealing with and ensure that it receives the appropriate repairs. If you are currently dealing with a water leak in your AC unit, we invite you to contact us at Meade’s Heating and Air by phone or through our convenient online contact form. We also offer heater and furnace care, maintenance plans and indoor air quality services. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.