Is Your Air Conditioning Leaking Water? Here Are 8 Possible Explanations

An air conditioner (AC) keeps your house cool and comfortable by removing heat and humidity from the air. As the AC extracts humidity from the air, it creates condensate, or water, in your furnace or air handler. This water is normally sent to a drain pan and routed through piping into your home’s drain system.

As a side effect, faulty components or sludge buildup can cause the piping to become backed up. When this happens, water backs up in the drain pan within your furnace or air handler. It can then leak into your home. This is especially troublesome if your furnace or air handler is installed in the attic or above a finished ceiling.

In a majority of homes, municipal codes necessitate a secondary or safety drain pan that is located underneath the furnace or air handler. This secondary drain pan has piping that is sent to the outside of the home. In general, the outlet of the pipe is located above the outside of a window so it’s easily noticeable if water is draining from this pipe outlet. It is not normal for this to occur. If you see water spilling from piping on the outside of your home, this is likely a sign the primary drain is backed up and water is now draining from the safety drain pan.

Here are the most frequent explanations for why your AC is leaking water and how to resolve the issue. Some homes will also use a safety device that will automatically shut off your AC if the drain becomes clogged. In this case your system will stop cooling except if the drain is free of any obstructions. Regardless, if you notice water leaking, ensure you set your thermostat to "off" to avoid anymore water damage and call a Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning service provider to correct the issues.

Leaking air conditioners routinely demand professional help, which is why we’re here to assist you at Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We consistently deliver Expert air conditioning repair across North America, backed by a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.*

1. Condensate Drain Is Blocked

When hot, humid air runs along the evaporator coil, water forms on the cold metal surface. In the end, the water drains into a pan underneath the indoor coil within the furnace or air handler. As the cooling sequence takes place, the condensate flows out of the pan and into drain piping before the pan becomes full.

However, mold, mineral deposits, dirt and other debris could clog the drain. This prevents the water from flowing away properly. Leave the unclogging process to an Expert like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning to ensure it’s completed properly and without causing additional damage. Service Experts can also install a safety device that will autonomously shut off your AC just in case the drain becomes backed up again later on, thus minimizing water damage inside your home. Of course, scheduling maintenance on your AC will help keep your condensate drain clear and unhindered.

2. Drain Line Is Disconnected

While unusual, the drain line connection to the drain pan can become loose or disconnected. This may be the cause if someone is working close to the unit or when changing out the air filter. AC leaks may occur when the drain line disconnects from the pan. Inspect your AC to determine if the drain line is still attached to the coil drain pan. If it is no longer connected, we suggest calling an HVAC technician to take care of this issue right away. Arrange an appointment with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today.

3. Condensate Pump Isn’t Working

Some air conditioners require a condensate pump to efficiently drain the water. These pumps are necessary when the home’s drain system is located above the AC unit. Even if the drain is unobstructed, water might back up in the pan and leak out if the condensate pump is inoperable. First, double-check that the pump is still powered. If that’s not the problem, the AC leak may be due to a broken condensate pump. You should call an air conditioning contractor like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning to resolve the issue.

4. Evaporator Coil Is Dirty or Broken

If you see small drips in lieu of a bigger puddle nearby the outside of your furnace or air handler, water could be dripping off the evaporator coil rather than properly moving into the drain pan and condensate line. This can occur if the coils are soiled, or if holes in the insulation surrounding the coils redirect the water. The smart approach to keep the evaporator coil from going downhill is to keep up with annual air conditioning maintenance using a Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning membership.

5. Low Refrigerant Level

If you notice a leak and the AC isn't cooling like it’s supposed to, the refrigerant level may be insufficient due to a leak. Air conditioners use refrigerant to generate cold air, so getting it looked at thoroughly during seasonal maintenance is very important for the life span of your unit. Without enough refrigerant, the evaporator coils could freeze over and cause the drain pan to overflow as they thaw. Despite some expectations, your AC does not need to be replenished unless there is a leak. The system is sealed and recharging is only required when a leak appears inside the system. Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning as soon as you can to take care of AC refrigerant issues quickly.

6. Dirty Air Filter

Your air conditioner's filter should be changed regularly to encourage enough airflow. Without adequate ventilation, the evaporator coils may become too cold and freeze. The evaporator coils will then thaw, causing excess water to accumulate in the drain pan—potentially creating an overflow. To resolve this, try changing your air filter. If the problem remains, further repairs might be the best option. Fortunately, HVAC technicians from Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning are happy to serve you, ensuring the problem gets resolved.

7. Outdoor Temperature Is Too Cold to Run AC

Air conditioners are built to provide enough cooling for warm weather. Starting your AC when outdoor temperatures are 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower will sometimes cause the evaporator coils to freeze. Once thawed, the water and ice will drop off the evaporator coils and possibly result in an overflow thanks to ice blocking the drain pan opening. If a water leak persists, schedule a Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning technician backed by our 100% service guarantee* to help solve the problem.

8. Damaged Drip Pan

Air conditioners are made to last, but nothing lives forever. If you use an AC that is 12 years or older, the drip pan could be damaged or corroded due to normal use. If the drain pan has holes in it, a water leak could appear as condensate seeps directly through it. Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can replace the drain pan and ensure your AC gets back to working properly.

Our Experts Can Tackle All Your Air Conditioning Repair Needs

Whatever the reason why your AC is leaking water, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help. We’ll troubleshoot and fix your air conditioner, getting it back to running again without delay.

Our technicians are highly trained, knowledgeable and certified to perform exceptional work. We have full confidence in our repairs—in fact, we back up everything we perform with a one-year 100% Satisfaction Guarantee!*

We’ll even talk about enrolling in a worry-free membership plan. This can help you catch AC issues, like water leaks, faster so you can avoid future breakdowns while keeping your house comfortable.

Contact us at 540-302-8645 to schedule your air conditioning appointment in North America today!

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