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How To Stop And Prevent Your AC From Leaking Water

At ARS/Rescue Rooter, we often get calls from homeowners wondering, “Why is my air conditioner leaking water?” If you see a substantial amount of water dripping from your home’s AC or pooling below the unit, it’s a problem requiring immediate attention. A leaking air conditioner can indicate serious problems that may keep your system from operating properly.

The last thing you’d want is for the air conditioning to conk out, particularly during the blazing heat of summer. It’s crucial to have a professional HVAC technician determine the cause of your malfunctioning equipment. Otherwise, the system may fail as the temperature increases outside.

Read on for insight into what causes an air conditioner to leak water and how you can prevent AC problems from occurring.

How Does Water Form In Your Air Conditioning System?

Condensation builds up as your AC unit pumps cold air into your home. A modern AC unit has both an outdoor and indoor unit that helps with proper airflow. The inside AC system has an evaporator coil that chills the warm air outside to a comfortable temperature inside. As condensation forms, dripping water lands in the drip pan.

In this process, moisture pools in the drain pan, and excess water funnels through the condensate drain line. The drain pipes lead out of your home, so you won't find your air conditioner leaking water as long as they are functioning properly.

However, there are many ways that this process can go wrong. If even just one part is not working, you may notice a leak to deal with.

Reasons Your AC System Can Leak Water

Is water leaking from an air conditioner dangerous? While you can still use leaking air conditioners, it's not recommended for extended use. You should turn off the system to check what the cause of the problem is, which will most likely be one of the nine common reasons below.

AC leaks can be caused by simple problems like dirty air filters or more serious threats like frozen evaporator coils. Inspect your unit for the following causes of leaks.

Clogged Drain Line

A clogged drain line prevents an air conditioning unit from emptying any drain pans properly. When faced with a clogged condensate drain line, dirt and debris have built up, making it difficult for water to escape properly outside the home.

You can try to clear the blockage yourself with a wet/dry vac, but be careful not to damage the HVAC unit.

When in doubt, call a professional to handle the clogged drain lines when you discover your AC unit leaking water.

Damaged Drain Pan

An older unit may have a rusted drain pan that prevents the dripping water from reaching the condensate line.

If the drain pan is damaged, it may cause a water leak if the water flow is obstructed. Since the drain line leads outside the home, you may find leaking water inside if the drain pan cannot filter the condensate properly, which can lead to water damage over time if left untreated.

You can replace the drain pan, but if that doesn't fix the problem, call an HVAC technician.

Drain Line Is Disconnected

You'll find your AC leaking water inside with a disconnected drain line! The drain pan funnels water into the drain line, but the severed connection sends water leaking all over instead of leading it outside the home.

AC systems leaking water due to a problem with the water drains require professional attention to repair. When in doubt, have your AC leak looked at by an HVAC technician for the best results.

Broken Condensate Pump

An air conditioner leak may be due to a pump failure. This doesn't mean that the condensate pump is bad, necessarily, but that there is a drainage issue causing water accumulation to spill over. If the pump cannot drain water, manually empty the drain pan to see what the issue is. If the pump won't work, it's time to replace it.

You can also call a professional to diagnose the problem if you're not sure what's causing it.

Frozen Evaporator Coil

Over time, the evaporator coil reaches its limit. Instead of cooling hot air and improving indoor air quality, the evaporator coils get dirty and slow down as refrigerant leaks into the unit. With no heat to absorb, it gets colder and colder until it freezes your air conditioning unit and stops.

To fix a frozen coil and restore airflow to your home, you'll need to start by turning off your AC. You'll notice your AC dripping water, but this is just the unit thawing out. Call a professional to look at the unit later to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Dirty Air Filter

A dirty filter causes air conditioners to work harder. This extra strain makes it difficult for the oxygen to reach the evaporator coils, which can cause the coil to freeze when the necessary heat is not absorbed.

You'll want to make sure the air vents are clear and not blocked by any debris. Replace your air filters once a month for the best results. A clean air filter will improve the quality and prevent any freezing or water damage from harming the unit.

Outdoor Temperatures Too Cold To Run AC

Do not operate the AC unit if the outside temperature is too cold. This can cause the coils to freeze and damage the unit. Instead, wait for the weather to warm up before turning on the unit.

Any condensation created when it's too cold will freeze the coils. A professional air handler will advise you not to run the AC when the temperature is under 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Low Refrigerant Level

If your AC doesn't have enough refrigerant, you'll find the AC leaking water. A hissing or bubbling sound can indicate you're low, or if your home feels warmer than usual, you may need to check the unit.

If you catch a refrigerant leak in time, you can repair the damage before it gets too bad. You can replace the refrigerant yourself or contact a professional to check out the system and perform routine maintenance.

Improper AC Installation

Our technicians know how to fix air conditioners leaking water with the best and most cost-efficient approach, but sometimes the issue is because of poor installation.

If the unit was installed improperly, you would notice several issues arise. Water leakage results from faulty installation, and it can't be fixed by DIY methods like a long wire brush or a float switch. Built-up water located underneath your unit can destroy ceilings if improperly drained.

If the HVAC unit is too big or too small for your home, it won't regulate circulation properly within the structure. You can contact a professional to replace the system so that your home is correctly cooled.

Answers to Customers’ Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to do to address a broken thermostat that makes my air conditioner drip condensed water?

A malfunctioning thermostat that causes the air conditioner to operate more than it needs to, or cycle on and off too frequently, may make the unit drip water. As too much water condenses at the evaporator coil, it begins leaking.

Begin by verifying the settings you programmed into the thermostat and install fully charged batteries. The location of the thermostat can influence its operation, so keep it away from heat sources and sunlight that could distort its reading of your home’s temperature. If you discover the thermostat is still malfunctioning, contact ARS/Rescue Rooter to fix or replace it.

To keep water from dripping out of my air conditioner, what do I need to do to clear blocked condensate lines?

Customers often call us to fix water leaks coming from their air conditioner’s clogged condensate lines. If lines are clogged by algae, debris, or dirt, water cannot readily flow. As water accumulates, it starts leaking from the AC unit. Do-it-yourself homeowners can attempt to break up a clog by using a pipe cleaner, a long wire brush, or a wet/dry vacuum cleaner — but if you lack the experience or knowledge, ARS/Rescue Rooter is standing by to assist!

Why is my central AC system leaking water now?

If you’re wondering, “Are air conditioners supposed to leak water?” you should know that the sudden appearance of a pool of dripping condensate can indicate a serious problem. Leaks in AC systems can occur because:

  • Air filter needs cleaning or replacement
  • Evaporator coil is frozen
  • Refrigerant is low
  • Clogs occurring in condensate lines

When water doesn’t properly drain, it will drip or overflow, potentially causing property damage. The professionals at ARS/Rescue Rooter are adept at determining why a central AC unit is leaking and will come up with a customized repair plan to take care of the situation for you.

What can I do to keep condensed water from dripping out of my air conditioner’s vent?

When you notice drops of condensation falling out of the vent, it may indicate the evaporator coil is frozen or dirty. An AC system’s evaporator coil pulls moisture out of the air as it chills the warm air coming from outside. Frozen and dirty coils cannot keep up with the heat and humidity, leading to condensed water dripping out of the vent.

For optimal performance, change air filters according to the manufacturer’s recommended timetable, and schedule annual maintenance from ARS/Rescue Rooter. Our leak repair experts will make sure that the refrigerant level is adequate. Another tip for avoiding condensed water leaking is to not run your AC when it’s extremely cold outside.

Trust ARS/Rescue Rooter for Your AC Repair Needs

What does it mean when your air conditioner leaks water? No matter what, water leaking from your AC unit is never a good sign. Water damage is expensive and can ruin your home.

Thankfully, the air conditioning repair professionals at ARS/Rescue Rooter can help! Give us a call, and we'll take a look at the system to see what can be done. We'll be happy to take a look at your unit, diagnose the cause of the leak, and get your system in like-new condition again.

Searching for more knowledge to boost your indoor comfort? Sign up for our email newsletter and you'll receive expert tips and advice from our HVAC & plumbing pros. Plus when you sign-up. you'll be entered into a drawing to win a FREE 50 Gallon Gas or Electric Water Heater!

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